Esports State Champions

Esports State Champions
Posted on 05/27/2024

GALLOWAY, N.J. - The West Essex Regional High School Esports Team notched the first State Championship in program history when its Valorant team defeated Northern Valley Demarest in the Group III State Championship on Saturday, May 18, at Stockton University.

Coached by Mike Johnson and led by senior captain and 4-year team member Serdar Okdemir, the Valorant team of Okdemir;  juniors Mark Gavanyuk, Christian Peppinghaus, and Metehan Karaaslan; and freshmen Ashvik Janaswamy and Jamie Monroe were undefeated in the regular season, earning their second conference championship in as many seasons and the top overall seed in the Group III State Tournament.

But the team had set a higher goal: ending West Essex’s title drought. The hard-fought, back-and-forth match versus Demarest saw the team lose the first game of the best-of-three set, hang on to win the second game in overtime, and build an 8-2 deficit before ending the match on an 11-2 run to clinch the title.

West Essex’s esports program was founded in Spring of 2021, and runs for all three sports seasons, offering varsity and junior varsity teams in Rocket League, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros, Overwatch 2, Street Fighter 6, and Valorant.

West Essex, like hundreds of other schools across New Jersey, competes in Garden State Esports, a non-profit, educator-run esports league that serves as the governing body of esports in the state. The Spring season consisted of weekly regular-season matches against area schools of similar size that was followed by a statewide playoff tournament of the top schools culminating in a live, in-person finals at Stockton University.

Before a crowd of over one thousand spectators, participants, college recruiters, and industry partners, the Spring Finals last Saturday crowned State Champions from Middle School through College in Valorant, Super Smash Bros, and Rocket League.