Yellowjackets smash their way to Colton’s first ever eSports victory

Colton’s eSports crew faces off against teams from Hollywood and Torrance in “Super Smash Brothers” matches as part of 8-week season


Annaleigha Garcia

Benjamin Velarde celebrates raises his controller as the first CHS student to win an eSports event.

Colton, CA—The thin line between gamer geeks and jocks became much thinner last night as Colton High School’s Gaming Club played its first ever eSports matches against Hollywood’s Bernstein High and Torrance’s South High.

These matches, played on the PlayVS platform, are part of an 8-week eSports season in which Colton will play against teams from a pool of 152 participating schools across southern California. The game: Nintendo’s popular “Super Smash Brothers,” which puts players in head-to-head sparring battles in which they can choose between 79 playable characters.

Colton High’s first eSports team. From left: Benjamin Velarde, Noah Limon, Samuel Duran, Lucas Duran. (J. Dollins)

The matches yesterday represented weeks 2 and 3 of the young season. According to head coach Alexandra Buskirk, Colton received a bye in week one, and due to technical issues week two was pushed back. For week 2, Colton was matched against the Bernstein High Dragons; for week 3 they faced off against the South High Spartans.

“This means a lot to me,” said eSports athlete, senior Benjamin Velarde. “We’ve been trying to do stuff like this ever since our club started in our freshman year. It’s a goal for the club that’s been met which I’m really proud of.”

Velarde was joined by senior Noah Limon and freshman Lucas Duran for the first match against Bernstein High. Each athlete took turns fighting an opponent head-to-head in a best two-of-three set, with the first team winning two sets being declared winner of the match.

In set one, Velarde, playing as his main character Mac from “Punch-Out” was matched up against a player who chose a different avatar in each of their games, playing as first Donkey Kong, then the character Pyra/Mythra from “Xenoblade Chronicles 2,” and finally as King K Rool from “Donkey Kong Country.” 

Velarde, after losing his first game to Donkey Kong, figured out his opponent’s attack pattern and swept the next two games to win the set, 2-1.

His victory came when he found himself on the ropes, facing 110% damage on his final life while his opponent still had two lives remaining. “I adapted,” Velarde said. “I ended up clutching in that last round.”

Noah Limon’s battles were not so dramatic. A wild card, he elected to play as randomized characters in each game. The game first selected the character Roy from the “Fire Emblem” series, then Hero from “Dragon Quest.” The random characters didn’t change the outcome as he annihilated his opponent in straight games, only losing one life total, and giving Colton its first ever eSports victory.

“It was luck of the draw,” Limon said. “I got a really good pick from my first character, which just so happened to be my main in the game.”

After giving Bernstein their loss, Colton geared up to play the South High Spartans. In this match, Velarde moved to the bench to make room for senior Samuel Duran. Duran joined Limon and his brother, Lucas, to play against the Spartans.

Limon kicked the match off by making quick work of his opponent, who played as Kirby. Limon used the same randomizing strategy, which resulted in a most unusual first game character, a Wii Fit Trainer, whose powers included throwing soccer balls at the cute pink blob Kirby. In the second game, Limon fought as Captain Falcon from “F-Zero Racing,” which was more in his comfort zone.

In set two, Lucas Duran struggled against his opponent. Playing as Jigglypuff in the first game, Duran first faced off against Hero, who stomped on the Pokemon character early and often. In the second game, Duran sized up, playing as Donkey Kong, and made a much better fight against Captain Falcon. The back-and-forth matchup went to the player from South High, but Duran got the experience he needs for next week.

Samuel Duran stepped in for the deciding third set and drew perhaps the toughest opponent of the match. The two players were evenly matched, with Duran playing as Dark Pit from “Kid Icarus” and his challenger playing as first Ness from “EarthBound,” then as Hero. 

However, Duran won both games. In the first, Ness made a critical late game error that resulted in what amounted to a video game version of suicide. Then in the second game, Duran delivered a series of late game combos to put Hero down permanently.

Colton is now 2-0 in the PlayVS league. They will play again next week, with the match generated based upon power rankings after these first few weeks of action.