Around Bosco: Bosco E-sports And The Beginning Of A New Era!
by Diego Santizo, Sports Editor
The St. John Bosco High School E-sports team is currently on the rise and is already getting eyes looking their way as they have struck a deal with Gamer Company Razer.
Bosco E-sports is a relatively new program who not so long ago weren’t even a club on campus and now have struck a deal with one of the world’s leading lifestyle brands for gamers, Razer.
It has been nothing short of a long road to get to where the program is today and a huge contributing factor to why the program exists is Bosco E-sports Head Coach Gabe Giangualano.
“I had a proposal for the school and next thing we know we had a big fifty player tryout which we narrowed down to twenty and that twenty was ultimately the twenty player roster we carried last season ” said Giangualano.
Razer is a company known for landing huge partnerships as they sponsor Evil Geniuses who are one of the best E-sport teams in the world, UCLA who always have a solid E-sports program and now they’ve partnered with St. John Bosco High School.
Seeson Mahathavorn, a global marketing manager for Razer and a Bosco alumni had seen a post on Facebook regarding how Bosco E-sports was starting up and he couldn’t be happier when he found out the founder of it was his old soccer teammate Coach Giangualano. Once he saw how quickly the program as a whole was growing he reached out to Coach Giangualano about a potential meeting.
“Talent starts at a young age. Kobe got drafted to the NBA from high school, so why can’t the next great E-sports athlete? We don’t believe that age or level of development of a program limits the potential of a player that can be found there. As E-sports has grown we’re seeing that pro level players are being found at all ages and parts of the world. Earlier this year, Razer sponsored their first collegiate E-sports team at UCLA and it’s been amazing so far, even with the current pandemic, so why not go even farther back to where many gamers get their start: high school. As for why St. John Bosco, besides being close to me personally, back in July, my former Bosco Soccer teammate and classmate (c/o ’99), Derek Barraza, reached out to me on Facebook, showing me Bosco’s post about launching their first-ever E-sports Summer [Virtual] Camp. He also mentioned that current Bosco Soccer Coach and c/o ’99 classmate, Gabe Giangualano, was leading all things E-sports and it felt like a great opportunity to support a high school team for the first time ever,” said Mahathavorn.
Giangualano pitched his vision for the program and the two sides managed to reach an agreement which led to Razer donating 50 headsets for Braves to in the Fall 2020 E-sports season.
“It was a match made in heaven, honestly the best E-sports peripheral company in the world says we ‘want you?’ You gotta say ‘of course!” said Giangualano as he hopes the partnership continues for years to come. He went on to say that the program has improved with Razer’s headsets, the BlackShark V2. Currently the Braves are ranked top 10 in League of Legends, #1 in Rocket League, #1 in Smite, and playoff bound with Overwatch and Fortnite. Giangualano is committed to making the Bosco E-sports program a powerhouse.
There is a plan in the works that Bosco E-sports will collaborate an exclusive training conference with UCLA and Evil Geniuses on the Braves campus. With the pandemic these plans have been put on hold but will soon be revisited as soon as the restrictions lift. This conference will allow the Braves to work with professionals and collegiate athletes to hear the strategies and tactics they use in their training regiments. Giangualano is committed to developing high school players the way professional clubs and colleges develop theirs.
“We’re always looking to strengthen all of our partnerships – to help E-sports programs grow, to develop talent, to build character. We’re currently working on a “Path to Pro” type of program where we would utilize all of our sponsored teams: Evil Geniuses at the pro level, UCLA E-sports at the collegiate level, and St. John Bosco at the high school level. It’s currently under construction but would include coaching, mentorships, workshops, friendly scrims, internships, sponsorships, etc where all participants will hopefully benefit from one another both inside and outside of the E-sports world” said Mahathavorn.
Despite the process sounding easy, in reality it was far from it as according to Giangualano it was “a long road to getting E-sports here at the school” and it was “difficult to get the support to get something started”.
This beginning would go back all the way to 2016 as only ten kids showed up for an information meeting on a potential launch which led to nothing.
In 2017 the freshman class had a lot of freshmen who were interested in a program and had to slowly wait out the process for the next big step which finally came in 2018 as “Bosco E-sports” became an unofficial club on campus which was only for fun.
Coach Giangualano saw the potential it had and pushed for it to become an official program alongside current senior Mauricio Contreras.
“I wanted to show people anything can be accomplished as long as you work hard for it” said Contreras.
The dream finally became a reality when in 2019 the school officially approved the program and gave the confirmation to allow five teams within the program.
Not only is each program led by a dedicated coach, but captains are chosen to play a huge role in their respective team as they become the backbone for those teams.
Talent, leadership quality, and inspiration is what goes into the thought process of electing an E-sports captain and Coach Giangualano hopes each captain leads by example and follows these three pillars on a daily basis.
The five programs of Bosco E-sports consist of: Rocket League, Smite, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Fortnite. Each one of those coaches runs their individual team and a normal Bosco E-sport week consists of: practicing three times a week, two days of rest (non consecutive), and two days of competition whether it’s a tournament or a scrimmage.
The Rocket League program consists of a varsity and a junior varsity team. The Bosco Rocket League team can be seen as the highlight of the E-sports program as the Braves sit at #1 in all of California and #1 in the Regional League. The team is led by junior captain Brandon Suiter who is a grand champion status player.
The Rocket League program has had a significant accomplishment as they are the one of the two programs from Bosco to have played against a university, but they are the only program who managed to get a win in their college showcase match.
Cal State Dominguez Hills’ Rocket League program came up short against Braves in what would be one of the biggest victories ever in the young history of Bosco E-sports.
The Smite program consists of seven players in total and is led by captain Lauren Weldon who attends Bosco’s sister school St. Josephs and is the only girl in the whole E-sports program.
“She is doing a really great job keeping the group organized and communicating our strategies, she has natural leadership qualities,” said Giangualano.
Lauren described being part of the Bosco E-sports program as a “win-win” because she finally had a good excuse to be playing video games on a daily basis while representing not only SJB, but St. Josephs as well being the only girl there.
“I don’t really see it as a big deal to me, because at the end of the day we’re all there for one common goal which is to play video games” said Weldon.
Lauren stressed to all the St. Joseph girls, if they feel E-sports is something that they might have a passion for or is something they want to try they should follow her footsteps and just “go for it”.
The League of Legends program is the second program of two to have played against a college level team. They took part in a scrimmage the week prior to the Rocket League victory in which they also faced Cal State Dominguez Hills.
The scrimmage was a best out of three series and each series came down to the last plays making every series a nail biter. Domininguez Hills narrowly escaped with the victory.
The League of Legends program is slowly bouncing back as they lost several notable seniors last year, but are on the right track as they currently hold a 6-2 record in league play.
The Overwatch program is looking solid as it’s a split of upperclassmen and lowerclass men giving a “youngbloods” and “veterans” vibe which could end up being a huge factor in their potential success. The Braves are currently waiting to snatch up a wildcard playoff spot in their inaugural Overwatch season.
Bosco’s Fortnite program is always eager to improve. They’ve had recent success in they’re scrimmages and the coaches as a whole couldn’t be more prouder than the performances of all their teams. They are confident all three teams will lock up playoff spots and head into December on a hunt for a title.
The Bosco E-sports program stays on the grind as they’re always available to watch on a weekly basis on Twitch and Youtube starting at 4:00 PM. You can find them on twitch at StJohnBoscoHSesports.
The Fortnite team streams Monday on YouTube while Smite is streaming on Twitch. The League of Legends team will be streaming on twitch on Tuesday while on Wednesday the Overwatch team takes over. Thursday gets busier as Rocket League varsity and junior varsity can be found headlining on twitch. Friday will usually be whatever scrimmage the program as a whole can muster up and will also live streamed on YouTube.
Saturday isn’t a rest day by any means as the gamers are up and ready to go in they’re households by 6:00 AM for morning practice.
Not only do the Braves work hard on their PCs, but are also very hard workers in the classroom as Coach Giangualano can’t stress time management enough. All students are required to take a time management workshop that helps players and families budget their time.
“One of the things we strive for as a program is Academic Excellence. All players are given a calendar to stay organized and budget their time for the week. The last thing we want is for E-sports to occupy all of our time. It’s very easy for that to happen. The calendar, the time management workshop and parent expectations make for a successful student. It’s when that discipline falls by the waist side do we see declines in grades like with any sport.” said Giangualano.
A future goal for Bosco E-sports is saving money in order to improve their computer lab making it an official E-sport lab dedicated just to E-sports which will finally be the first place all Bosco gamers can call home. This will allow the program to continue to take baby steps in being successful while also building for the future.
While most schools currently offer few game titles, players are found playing multiple game titles throughout the week. The Braves have cut this down and defined the players to a single game title E-Athletes. Meaning players usually only focus on one game title throughout the season. This approach dedicates the player to that particular focus and prevents chaos, burnouts, and loss of passion for a specific game.
Overall, the goal for Bosco E-sports is to “convert kids from gamers to E-sporters” as Coach Giangualano knows from experience who is a “gamer” and who is an “E-sporter”.
“Gamers are kids who want to play a game, but want to play it on their time and their time only. E-Athletes are kids who are committed to improving each and every single practice session, listen to their coaches, and always do what’s best for the team” said Giangualano.
Coach Gabe went on to say that his new E-sports club, Game Knights Youth E-sports Academy is about to open up for public tryouts this December. “It’s the best way to develop kids ages 8-18. I was approached by some parents who wanted their kids to be a part of my program but weren’t Braves. At Game Knights, we believe building the kids up at a younger age will produce a much more serious and competitive player and prevent or stop bad video game habits as we bring discipline to that chaos,” said Giangualano. You can get more information on Game Knights at gameknightsesports.com.
As for Razer, they’re aware Bosco has all the tools to become as successful as possible and will more than happily continue to support Bosco E-sports as long as they stay on the right path trending towards an upward direction.
“We’re always working on growing and supporting the E-sports ecosystem, from sponsoring gear to promising teams and individuals to initiatives that give aspiring E-sports players a taste of playing in big tournament type and even wellness programs on how to take care of yourself while grinding to become the best of the best. Stay tuned for more announcements coming your way” said Mahathavorn.
The future looks very bright indeed as Bosco E-sports are on a mission to become not only one of the best programs on campus, but one of the best programs in the state of California, and very soon one of the best programs in the nation.