The Maine Principals’ Association has added another sport to its fall and spring activities: Esports. 

The MPA has partnered with PlayVS to bring esports to the state of Maine in the fall of 2020. Schools will play two games: League of Legends, a five-player game on Tuesdays at 4 p.m., and Rocket League, a three-player game on Thursdays at the same time, both on PC. 

MPA assistant executive director Mike Bisson said there is a cost per player of “$61-64” and each player will need a headset and a mouse. 

“I think it came from school interest and national interest,” Bisson said. “The NFHS put out nationally that they partnered with PlayVS and we had schools in Maine that had been dabbling in it and had been exploring it.”

Bisson said many schools around Maine have expressed interest in playing, with Cape Elizabeth and Waterville already having created teams this spring. 

Cape Elizabeth, Waterville and any other school that play this spring are playing in what Bisson called a “time zone league” which lets schools play non-sanctioned games with teams in the same time zone, in Maine’s case the Eastern time zone. 

To have a sanctioned season with PlayVS, Maine needs to have at least 20 teams before there can be a state tournament and championship. 

“That’s our goal is to have enough teams and a league and a state championship,” Bisson said. “We need to develop an esports committee because I certainly am not an expert so I would like to get some help set the vision as we move forward.”

If all goes well, Maine will start its preseason on Sept. 21, followed by the regular season start of Oct. 12. Playoffs would begin on Nov. 7. If schools aren’t allowed to welcome kids back into the building when the 2020-21 school year starts back up due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, PlayVS does have a “play-at-home” option. 

“Like they did this spring, they could do it from home,” Bisson said. “Not ideal, but they could do it from home. I think it’s certainly a possibility. It’s just about can you pull it off in a tough budget time. I know they want to add opportunities for kids.”

Bisson talked about how Central Maine Community College’s esports arena was a catalyst for getting a high school esports league going. After meeting with women’s basketball coach and CMCC director of admissions Andrew Morong and CMCC athletic director Dave Gonyea, Bisson was ready to move forward with esports in Maine high schools. 

“I went to CMCC and while looking for softball I ended up in their esports lab and was blown away by it,” Bisson said. “CMCC can compete with Clemson. What we found out was that we had 80 schools that had registered with PlayVS. The National Federation of State High School Associations had a conference about esports and a lot of the ADs came back and found out that some schools had 60 people wanting to do it in their school, so that got us interested.”

As for the future, Bisson mentioned that he hopes that one day they can fill the Portland Expo Center or the Cross Insurance Arena for the playoffs or state championship.

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