HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill East's Valorant teams win state finals

Cherry Hill East’s Valorant teams win state finals

Both the Varsity Valorant and newly created Valkyrie Valorant teams won state championships in May

Special to The Sun
The Valkyrie Valorant team at the May 18 state championships at Stockton University.

Cherry Hill East’s Valorant and Valkyrie Valorant e-sport teams went undefeated this year as they won the State Finals at Stockton University on May 18 as the end to their season playing in the Garden State Esports league. This is the second year that the Valorant team took home the title of state champion.

Valorant is one of six games and six teams that students can play on through the e-sports club. Club advisor Maria Han described the game as having an attacking side and a defending side and being played in 12 rounds.

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“If it ties, it goes into overtime,” she explained. “The objective is to either defend the map against the attackers who are planting a spike or being able tos uccessfully plant the spike.”

There are also different maps and different characters that they can play. In terms of the league, each game win counts as two points, a tie is one point and a loss is zero points. The qualification for playing in the state championship is based on the number of points a team acquires.

The e-sports club has existed at East since 2020 when student Stefano Sul convinced his German teacher, Andrew Graff to be the advisor. Today, the club has grown to have teams that play different games in the fall, winter and spring seasons. To play on a team, players must try out just as in traditional sports. The games are played competitively and are under athletics.

In the fall, the club offers League of Legends, Rocket League and Super Smash Brothers. In the winter, they play Street Fighters, Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers and in the spring, they play Valorant, Super Smash Brothers and Rocket League.

Graff, along with Han, are the two coaches for the e-sports team. Although most coaches are avid gamers, Graff admitted that he is not one and that he primarily serves as an adult in the room who helps the teams figure out how to work together more, identifying the strengths of people and helping students strategize, even if they don’t inherently get along.

“Our students are actually really good with the games, so they strategize on their own in terms of in-game strategy,” Han said.

The Valorant Varsity team consists of Kevin Lin, Justin Chen, Will Zhang, Vincent Chen, Deron Chen, Curtis Lu, Kayley Phan, and Muhammed Bakyt.

The Valorant team also won state championships at the Garden State E-sports Championship.

“Playing on this e-sports team, I was able to make so many friends and we were all able to bond together,” said Sandy Nguyen, president of the club and a member of the Valkyrie Valorant team. “Through E-ports, I was able to have that aspect of making friends where you can meet in person, and also the competitiveness of playing for your school. That is something that you can’t have when you’re playing for yourself.”

This is the first year that the school has offered a Valkyrie Valorant team and the second year that the Garden State Esports has offered a Valkyrie League designed for female, female-identifying and gender-nonconforming students. This year’s Valorant Valkyrie Varsity team consisted of players Mikee Alvarez, Rinnah Segovia, Kaylie Doong, Sophia Gabriel, Sandy Nguyen, Kayley Phan, and Lillian Tan.

For Alvarez, being able to play on the Valkyrie team was something she has enjoyed a lot since the gaming community can be a bit harsher for girls. She described some of hardships she has faced because of her gender.

“I think we’ve all been in situations where because our voice is higher pitched, they associate us with femininity,” said Alvarez. ” … You’ll get yelled at just because you’re a girl playing the game. I think that has gotten better, but I think it’s been a bigger issue in years past, where just because you’re a girl playing this game, or because you play worse it’s automatically because ‘you’re a girl playing the game.’ It’s not because you’re having a bad day, it’s because you are a girl.”

Although some members were initially hesitant to join, they have found that joining the e-sports team has been a lot of fun and that it allowed them to find people who also want to play the game competitively and regularly with other people. Rather than playing by themselves with and against random strangers across the country, being on an e-sports team has allowed the players to have a consistent group to level up with.

Valkyrie Valorant team members gave a shout out to Kayley Phan, who plays on both the Valorant and Valkyrie Valorant varsity teams.

“She’s like our MVP, she knows a lot about the game and is probably the highest ranked in the game system,” said Nguyen. She shared that Phan had also made notes and provided strategies for the team to help them improve.

Both teams were recognized at the recent Cherry Hill Council meeting as well as the Cherry Hill Board of Education meeting.


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