Out of more than 100 high schoolers competing in the Manchester Esports annual Super Smash Brothers Tournament, Mississinewa High School Junior Michael Garcia placed 5th and received a scholarship to Manchester University.
Michael was eliminated by the winner of the tournament who had won the tournament in a previous year as well.
Mississinewa Esports coach Ryan Armes said he considers Michael to be the best player in their state division.
Garcia said he was expecting to do well in the tournament but not as well as he did.
“I’ve competed in a few small college tournaments but nothing on this scale,” Garcia said. “I was just glad I was able to go this year.”
As a prize, Garcia won a scholarship of $3,000 each year for up to four years, which Garcia said he plans to use if he decides to go to college and to participate in the Esports program.
Manchester University is known for its esports program, and the annual event is a highly competitive tournament in the esports community, Armes said. Most of the players in the top eight were from large schools, and four out of the top eight were from Carmel, Indiana.
Armes brought 10 students to the competition, all of which got to go on a tour of the college.
“It was a really great time,” Armes said.
Garcia said that although many people do not pay much attention to esports, there is an active and thriving esports community throughout the world.
“A lot of people tend to put it off as people playing video games or whatever, but there’s a lot of passion there,” Garcia said. “It’s way bigger than people think it is.”
Garcia said he is grateful for the support from his family, his mother, his friends and coach.
Garcia and the esports team also has the support of the Mississinewa Community Schools administration.
“Mr. Armes has taken gaming to a whole other professional level for our students. It is just igniting passion in our kids on how much professional opportunities and academic opportunities are out there for these young gamers that have been able to perfect that skill,” said MCS superintendent Lezlie Winter. “It’s just absolutely extraordinary.”