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E-sports 'not just a game' to N.B. middle school squad

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Six students from Maplehurst Middle School in Moncton, N.B., will be competing against kids from across the country this Saturday and they just can’t wait.

The Maplehurst Huskies hosted their first e-sports game last Friday and defeated a school from Manitoba.

The victory got them invited to the Canadian National E-Sports Tournament, the first and only team from New Brunswick to do so.

Teacher and coach Mitchell MacDonald said e-sports is a new initiative at the school with a select few chosen to be involved in competitive video games.

“Instead of just playing it in a social aspect, it’s more in a coaching and competitive atmosphere,” said Mitchell. “I think we’re the first school on the east coast to actually implement any sort of e-sports.”

The students are playing Rocket League a combination of auto racing and soccer.

The team who gets the most points in the span of five minutes wins, but it's more than just a game for all involved.

Grade six students from Maplehurst Middle School in Moncton practice for Saturday’s Canadian National E-Sports Tournament. (Derek Haggett/CTV)

“It’s not just hopping on and playing video games, it's actually ran like a soccer or a basketball team where there's a coach,” said Mitchell. “We have practice. We practice plays and it also shows the initiative of working as a team and collaborating with each other.”

Grade six student Kostya Stromets said being on the team is a lot fun.

“But this is not just playing video games. It's about competition and teamwork. And about learning new skills. This is not just a game for us,” said Kostya.

There's even a student in a separate control room doing comcasting, or play-by-play for the matches.

“It’s not super hard, I play the game at home,” said announcer Mason Louie, a grade eight student. “It’s pretty fun. Just to watch too. Players are really good nowadays.”

A win-win for Grade 6 student Vladyslav Chystiakov.

“There's a period where we can just come down here and play. After our lunch, we can come here for 15, 20 minutes and just practice,” said Vladyslav.

Grade six student Emeka Nwafor likes the idea of working with teammates the most.

“Getting to build team skills with other people and having fun with my friends, basically,” said Nwafor.

There's a sense of pride among the team in making it to the tournament, but the Huskies aren't done yet.

“Very excited. Very excited,” said Vladyslav. “I just can’t wait for it.”

MacDonald's students will be competing against 29 other teams from across Canada and the day-long event will be streamed live online.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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