Are you a new team competing in the Student Champs this season, or just wanting some advice on how to start the tournament with a bang?
We spoke to players and staff involved in the Student Champs for their advice on how to best prepare for the upcoming season.
Greg Naika-Taylor – Coventry Crosshairs Team Manager and Esports Lecturer:
“When starting out for the beginning of the new champs season you need 2 things:
“Firstly the games. Your college technicians are your best friends! Speak to them weeks in advance of your first game and make sure that your PC’s can play the games you want and that the college network can facilitate online play; the last thing you want is to show up on match day and not be able to login. The BEF provides an excellent guide on networking on a game by game basis that will help your technicians with most networking solutions, so make sure you provide this to them.
“Secondly you need your teams. Arrange open trials and put out messages on your team/college social media accounts, your schools/colleges website and notice boards and generate interest from your school or college to advertise this. This will help you get the best player your school/college has to offer.”
Adam Davis – Esports Teacher and Valorant and League of Legends Lead at Thomas Rotherham College:
“We had a great experience in the champs 21-22, the students loved the banter and opportunity to meet other students, especially in pregame lobbies where it was very sporting and welcome in all the games we competed in. We also had the opportunity to be on the BEF champs stream too, which was a great experience for our students to play on an online stage with spectators.
“We’re incredibly excited to be expanding our offering of opportunities to our students in the champs this year to include more titles and if I had to recommend anything to new and upcoming teams it would be to make sure your lead is active on discord to get you some scrims! and remember keep in contact with players you compete against (you might bump into some players at your university of choice in the coming years!) and most of all remember to have fun with it!”
Ian Russell – Mathematics Teacher at Wycliffe College:
“We run our esports as a club, not as the BTEC like many FE Colleges. This means that the most important task in September is getting students signed up and invested in their own plans for the season. There’s no point in me planning practice timings and VOD reviews if the students who turn up this year haven’t got the time or the willingness – so we ask, “What do you, as a team, want to do to learn and improve?”.
“We also make sure that we are open to newcomers of all ability ranges – not everything that we do is about winning weekly matches right now. We had a club running last year with Year 8s learning about esports, right the way up to our Division 1 LoL team. Finally, I’m keen to make sure that everyone taking part in the club knows the difference between esports and ‘gaming’ – we teach about communication, teamwork, strategy etc. and whilst ‘just playing Fortnite’ is a great activity, that’s not what we’re here for!”
James Marriott – Director of Esports and Computer Science and Creative Media Teacher at Wilmington Academy:
“When starting out a champs season it’s vital you understand that game day is a super busy few hours. Technical issues, teams joining at times set, players online etc. Often it’s not a smooth process. So get your games confirmed early using the Discord or the Champs Website. Reach out to the admin if there is no response as they are great at chasing. Last one is to empower your lead students to take key roles alongside playing. Setting up lobbies, comms with opposition, Twitch streaming, Monitoring chat. This takes pressure away from you with other commitments educationally. To summarise, it’s an awesome game day experience but really requires some admin early to make the games run smoothly.”
Ollie Baxter – Teacher at Andover College:
“For Champs preparation, I recommend that students take the time to understand how to add value to their team with communication – practice being efficient with calls and get excited when something goes right in the team! Toxic environments or silent players can take a lot of momentum out of a team.”
Filip ‘Miki’ Krause – Coventry Crosshairs Valorant Team Captain:
“Before starting out in the student champs I would definitely ask myself the question ‘will I have fun doing this and can I balance it with my other responsibilities?’
“Winning is fun and nothing feels better than performing well in a tournament, but it’s all pointless if you don’t have fun playing, have fun competing with your friends and have fun interacting with other like minded people all over the country.”
Rui ‘King’ Borges Mendes – Coventry Crosshairs Overwatch Team Captain:
“The key to success is building good relationships with each other. Playing together outside of scrims, making memes and memories together and ultimately keep a level head between the lot of you. A calm team thinks faster than a panicked one.”
Jacob ‘Flixykoi’ Sullivan – Coventry Crosshairs Rocket League Team Captain:
“I personally think the 3 biggest keys to being successful are – bonds with players, confidence / a hunger to win and enjoyment. I love to build my team with a ridiculous amount of motivation because the goal is to demolish every team that comes in our way, no stopping.
“A team’s performance is dictated on their passion and motivation for the game, keeping nerves low and keeping morals high. By doing this you give eachother constant waves of confidence and it’s noticeable in gameplay. Your bond with each player serves a massive purpose in this and if you aren’t keeping level headed and laughing out mistakes in game, then it will affect the team as a whole.
“Make a friendship with the team so close it feels like family. the third and final is enjoyment, the positive attitude you bring to games even if they are intense, you have had a bad day? Look forward to playing with your team in a competitive game, don’t bring your bad day with you. The whole point of gaming is to have fun, if you are not, then tell someone, or leave, simple. playing is super enjoyable and even if you lose, always respect close and intense games, you lose but it could always be worse.”
Roger ‘Gjallarhorn’ Quilliam – Weston Waveriders Overwatch Team Captain:
As a team captain who has won the BESC myself, I would say that the most important thing to consider when starting out in this tournament, is to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, both inside and outside of the game, and to acknowledge that everyone is different. This will help you to not feel frustrated with players of a lower skill level, and teach you not to be afraid of players of a higher skill level. This is crucial so that the team atmosphere is one of improvement, and to maintain high levels of motivation.”
Hannah ‘Polytrich’ Gill – QMSamurai Overwatch Player:
“I would say that the most important thing to keep in mind is not to focus on how many games you win or lose or even how much you’re going up or down in scrim SR. Maintain a good attitude and focus on how to improve on yourself as a player, then even if you don’t make it to finals you’ll still be able to say that you gave it your all and can come back next year knowing exactly what you can do to be better.
“As someone who was knocked out in Div 2 semis last year and won Div 1 finals this year, a huge stepping stone for me was working out what I was comfortable with and being vocal with what I think the main issues are, so my advice is to sit back, relax, get to know your teammates and be open with what you want from the team.”
Joe ‘NuttyNanza’ Baron – Former QMSamurai Overwatch Team Captain:
“I think the most important thing to consider when starting out the Champs season is to make sure that everyone on the team has the same goals and motivation to improve – if you have a great roster but one or two people that don’t want to practise as much as the others, it creates unnecessary tension. If you have a team of good friends that have similar goals and motivation to win, you will do better than a “super team” that doesn’t get on well with each other.”
Registrations are still open for teams to get involved with the Student Champs, and these will close on Wednesday 21st September.
For more information around this season of the Student Champs, you can check out this article to learn more about the changes being implemented.
Alternatively, you can contact Alice Leaman ([email protected]) or Jasmine Hong ([email protected]) with any questions.