New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Esports co-op caps off successful season


March 13, 2023

The Triple Threat’s regular season has drawn to a close, and what a season it was.

The three-school esports co-op of New Rockford-Sheyenne, Hazen and Garrison – dubbed “The Triple Threat” – ended their season with a positive record in every game they competed in.

Now, they’re looking forward to the state tournament in Grand Forks.

This year, The Triple Threat had two varsity teams competing in Valorant, and had varsity and junior varsity squads competing in Rocket League and Fortnite.

Fortnite is a third-person battle royale game, in which approximately 100 players are dropped onto a large map in teams of three, and must battle until only one team is left standing.

This year’s Fortnite varsity squad proved themselves to be among the best in the state as they finished the regular season with a 5-1 overall record.

The team is coached by Zachary Brigante of Garrison and Karl Ostermann of Hazen, and thanks to their near-perfect season, they’ve punched a ticket to the state tournament at the Alerus Center later this month.

The Triple Threat’s junior varsity squad for Fortnite finished their season with a respectable 3-3 overall record.

Playing Fortnite for The Triple Threat this season are Kadyn Abell, Hannah Dockter, Kolton O’Connor and Tristan Shrock from NR-S, as well as Brendan B., Connor A. and Rae M. from Garrison.

Meanwhile, The Triple Threat’s varsity Rocket League team is fighting for a state tournament ticket after an equally stellar season.

Rocket League is a video game that’s best described as “car-soccer.” In essence, two teams of three try to get a ball in the opposing team’s net. The catch? Each player controls a rocket-powered car, which can fly through the air and drive on walls and ceilings.

The varsity team finished their regular season with a 5-1 overall record, and had remained undefeated until their last game of the season. However, unlike Fortnite, which allows 12 teams to qualify for the state tournament, only eight Rocket League teams can qualify.

That means the Rocket League team hasn’t yet qualified for state, and as of press time were competing in tie-breaker rounds in hopes of punching their ticket.

The junior varsity squad for Rocket League finished their season with a 4-2 overall record.

Playing Rocket League for The Triple Threat this year are Jacob Louters and Wyatt Dockter from NR-S; and Parker Frei, Logan Cain, Brady West and William Wanzek from Hazen.

Meanwhile, The Triple Threat’s Valorant squad also had a great season.

Valorant is a popular first-person shooter and team-based strategy game played between two teams of five, and The Triple Threat’s first varsity team is quite good at it.

The Valorant I team started their season on a roll, remaining undefeated through their first three matchups. However, they lost a pair of games down the stretch to tough opponents, one of which was the West Fargo Packers.

Currently, the Fenworks league they currently compete in does not yet have classes/divisions for high school esports, meaning small schools are often forced to go up against much larger schools from both North Dakota and Minnesota.

The Triple Threat’s success is even more impressive considering the obvious challenge posed by competing against much larger schools. Their Valorant 1 team played against Mandan High School in one of their last regular season matchups, and The Triple Threat won easily.

However, the two losses they suffered at the end of their season brought the Valorant 1 team’s overall record to 4-2, not quite enough to qualify for the state tournament.

The Valorant 2 team finished their regular season with a 2-4 overall record.

Playing Valorant for The Triple Threat this year were Jacob Louters, Wyatt Dockter, Beau Baumbach, Ayden Gable, Kolton O’Connor, Tatyn Heskin, Chaztin Wobbema and Tristan Shrock from NR-S; and Dawson Roshau and Parker Frei from Hazen.

This year’s state tournament for esports will take place at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks from March 31 – April 1, during which each qualifying team will compete in playoff rounds prior to hitting the big stage for the championship match for each video game.

Brady Eichelberger, who teaches English at NR-S and coaches The Triple Threat’s two Valorant teams, said he’s excited that kids will once again get an opportunity to go to the state tournament.

Last year, The Triple Threat had two teams qualify for state. Eichelberger added that high school esports is a fantastic opportunity for kids to be part of a team and strengthen their communication skills.

“When I minored in coaching, esports … is not what I expected to be coaching, but it has been an amazing experience to see how the students, who are often unheard and unseen, can now stand out in something they love,” said Eichelberger. “Just like traditional sports, we promote a positive work ethic to work towards improvement and foster a collaborative environment that strengthens communication and teamwork.

“No, we are not doing wind sprints in the gym or practicing outside in rainy weather,” Eichelberger continued, “but in the three years I've coached I've seen unbelievable growth in self-accountability, communication, and desire to be a part of something beyond each individual student, and aren't those the most important elements in any team sport?”