School Board recognizes Nuclear Eagles esports team after winning national tournament


Esports Adviser Henry Vo and Overwatch Captain Greg Smith whisper to each other before the school board recognizes the team for their victory at Nationals. Talon Photo by Shea Southern

Abigail Smith

The Nuclear Eagles Overwatch A-team was recognized by the School Board on Monday for their win in last June’s Electronic Gaming Federation High School tournament, after closely defeating rival school Crespi Carmelite High in the final match.

The six-member team, led by esports advisers Henry Vo and Colin Kincaid, defeated schools from across the country to secure the title of EGF national champions.

“Given how they’ve performed in the fall and spring seasons, I knew they would place top – I was pretty confident they were actually going to do well,” Vo said.

The team’s victory was rooted in hundreds of hours of practice over the course of two seasons, as well as a member-organized, week long “bootcamp” including multiple days of face-to-face or “LAN” practice sessions.

“We did hours of preparing and scrimmaging – that helped a lot more than we thought it would’ve,” junior support player Barrett Slaughter said.

Esports teams who qualify for the EGF High tournament typically have the opportunity to compete together at the Walt Disney World ESPN Arena, but COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to host the competition virtually.

“We still saw it as, ‘we need to win this’ – if we can’t get to go, then we’ll win, and we’ll do it again next year,” Slaughter said.

The team will compete in the same tournament next summer, and the veteran players claim that they are confident last year’s successful run will carry over to this season.

“Especially since we have most of the same team that we did last year, I feel like we’re going to come back stronger – it’s going to be even harder to beat us,” senior support main Liam Morales said.

Since its inception roughly five years ago, the esports club has steadily grown in members each year. Now, players can choose from the widest variety of games the club has ever offered: the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, League of Legends, Rocket League and Valorant teams are some of the most popular this school year.

“We started off just with an idea,” Vo said. “And compared to now, we’ve actually got way too much to manage– and that’s not a bad thing to say.”

So far, RHS is the sole high school in the Richardson district with an esports club. Although only a small proportion of the country’s high schools offer esports programs, the team advocates for as much competition as possible – especially locally.

“We’re the one that’s been running the longest – we’re starting it here at Richardson high school, and we hope to expand to other high schools,” Vo said.

Outside of their gameplay and practice habits, much of the Nuclear Eagles’ success can be credited to the club’s solid management on behalf of its advisers, according to the team’s captain.

“We have some of the most dedicated advisers on the planet,” Overwatch captain Greg Smith said. “Vo and Kincaid sometimes slave over esports financials, just trying to get us into the leagues that we ask to play – so they are one hundred percent of the reason that all of us can even come together in the first place.”

As well as the bragging rights that come with the title of national champions, $600 in prize money was awarded to each player for their victory. Their financial plans varied from saving up for a home computer, to college savings, and more.

“Right now I plan on just spending it on food,” Slaughter said.