Beurling Academy’s eSport League:
by Helena Tsitouras
Beurling Academy introduced their new eSports league, the Thundercats, this school year. Here, students of all ages can come together to compete in various video games. From Super Smash Brothers Ultimate to Online Chess, there is something for all gamers.
ESports, or electronic sports, consists of video game competitions between individual players and teams. Schools worldwide have begun to incorporate eSports into their extracurriculars and athletics. Amandeep Mann, teacher at Beurling Academy, explained the benefits of eSports leagues in academic settings. “Gaming provides opportunities to foster skills such as teamwork and problem-solving, while creating a more equitable environment for students to compete in… size does not matter! We have members from grade 7 going head-to-head with members from grade 11,” he said. The Thundercats is open to all Beurling Academy Students, regardless of class or grade level.
The league first started in 2020 when Principal Jason Ferris approached Mann with the idea of starting an eSports league that could field teams that would one day compete against other schools’ eSports teams. Today, Mann runs the league with two staff members who volunteer their time: Daniel Philion and Melanie Burns. The Thundercats consists of 37 members of all ages and classes which include casual and competitive gamers. They meet afterschool on Fridays and compete in various video games. Additionally, the Thundercats host in-house tournaments where members participate in a bracket-style competition during the school’s lunch hour. The winner has their name written on a plaque on the championship cup that will be displayed in Beurling Academy’s trophy case. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place students each receive certificates to local restaurants to celebrate their victory. During their meetings, the door remains open to any student who wishes to join in to observe the matches or to participate themselves.
The members meet and compete in the robotics/eSports lab. What was once a woodworking space was reinvented by Mann. Roughly 75 hours were spent rethinking and repurposing through space design, and furniture concept. Today, the room is divided into two. The robotics lab functions as a classroom while the eSports room is home to the Thundercats. The eSports room includes different areas; a retro corner featuring older consoles and games, PCs for online gaming, and a circular couch in the center, facing a large tv screen for students to sit together to play and watch. The couch features a tabletop along its backside for students to sit with their lunch or enjoy an after-school snack. The room includes a repurposed projector to allow for multiple games to happen simultaneously. The various gaming consoles and PCs were collected through donations and purchased using grants.
The Thundercats were given their name through project-based-learning undertaken by Mann’s grade 7 Math class. Students surveyed the name and design options. Once “The Thundercats” was decided on, they partnered with local artist Hans Schmitter to create the logo, which was inspired by Beurling’s panther logo. The logo was then painted as a mural in the lab to represent both Robotics and eSports at Beurling Academy.
Mann hopes that eSports at Beurling Academy continues to grow. “I would like to help the Thundercats program and clubs evolve, so they continue to attract, engage, and motivate young learners interested in gaming, robotics, design, entrepreneurship.” He explains, “A long term goal is to become an inner-city hub for gaming and design where our students and other schools can compete and develop more programs with our help and collaborations with local Montreal companies such as Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive.”
Beurling Academy’s innovation has launched them to a new and exciting journey into the world of eSports. The Thundercats has created a space for students of differing ages to join together and connect over their mutual love for gaming.