Game on

After playing video games for a majority of his childhood, a senior made the decision to play “League of Legends” competitively.


(Photo courtesy of Harris)

Nathan Harris (Right) substitutes for another player who had a broken hand. “I was friends with two members of the team at the time so they reached out without practicing with them at all. I drove to play with them in Tulsa,” Harris said.

Jack Nitz, Writer

After years of progressing through the esports community and meeting new people, senior Nathan Harris began playing “League of Legends” competitively in an effort to improve his abilities in the game he loves.
At the age of five, Harris began playing video games with his brothers on their Nintendo GameCube. Some of the first games he played were “Lego Star Wars” and “Mario Party.”
Harris started playing “League of Legends,” a multiplayer online battle arena game in seventh grade. “League of Legends” is a team-based game, with the goal being to guard your base from the opposing team while simultaneously attacking the other team’s base. After putting a lot of time into the game and having fun, Harris said it was time to make the transition into the competitive side of the game.
“I was really enjoying [‘League of Legends’] and I had gotten pretty good so I decided I wanted to play competitively,” Harris said. “I’m a pretty competitive person so I did some local tournaments and that started everything.”
Teams consist of five players, plus one or two coaches if the team is part of an organization. While playing for a team, Harris said he usually has practices three or four times a week and they last three hours each. On top of that, Harris said he plays for an hour and a half on his own most days of the week. Harris said many people in the “League of Legends” community practice this often, creating a larger focus on winning or losing and playing more seriously.
“I’ve progressed to the point where the people I am playing against aren’t playing for fun as much as they are playing for the competitive aspect,” Harris said. “Everyone is focused on winning and losing, so we have to practice to become better and progress in the game.”
After joining a team, Harris practices with them for a while before going to play at a tournament. Tournaments usually occur at conventions and pop culture events, taking place over the course of two to three days and are played in a bracket format. Harris said he’s traveled all over the country to attend tournaments.
Harris said his favorite part about playing competitively is working hard to progress and become better at the game. Harris said he has met a lot of people playing for different teams and going to tournaments.
“Playing competitively has brought me many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I had continued to play just for fun,” Harris said. “The friendships and connections that I’ve made are the main reason that I continue to play.”
John Gligoroski, a former teammate of Harris from Garfield, NJ, has gotten to know Harris very well, playing in tournaments together in the past. While the two currently aren’t on the same team, Gligoroski said they still play together from time to time.
Gligoroski said that when he and Harris became teammates they were both fairly new to the competitive scene, so they worked together to progress and improve in the game. Gligoroski said Harris became a lot more vocal and team oriented as they played together more.
“[Harris’] goal was to just get better, so we talked over a lot of things and watched our gameplay to improve together,” Gligoroski said. “He is always open to new ideas, new strategies and new characters, which I feel like makes him good at the game.”
When beginning his competitive career, Harris said he found it difficult to manage his time. During his sophomore year, Harris struggled to balance gaming with soccer, marching band, boy scouts and school so he said he had to reevaluate his future. He decided to stop playing soccer as he realized he was better at gaming and enjoyed it more than soccer.
“During my sophomore year I was involved in a lot of different things and I became very stressed,” Harris said. “I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted in school and other areas of life, so I decided to let soccer go so I could focus more on gaming.”
Despite Harris’ time management struggles, his father, David Harris, said he trusted Harris to properly manage his time between academics and video games.
“I know there have been times that are very stressful for him, but he’s always been good at managing his obligations,” David said. “I never worried about any consequences for Nathan other than the strong demands he put on himself.”
David said that Harris seemed to be having a lot of fun at the beginning of his competitive career, playing in local tournaments. David mentioned seeing his son having fun and enjoying what he was doing gave himself a positive outlook on Harris’ passion.
“Gaming has allowed Nathan to improve as a person as he’s developed the ability to assess where he is and where his improvement opportunities are,” David said. “As a parent, I’m very happy because it has caused him to work hard and given him structure. I hope that will apply to anything else he does as well.
The time in quarantine has been very beneficial for Harris as he said he has been able to manage his time between school and video games a lot easier and is able to play twice the amount he was able to during the school year.
“Quarantine has been a nice way for me to manage school and play a lot more than I did in third quarter,” Harris said. “I’m not loving being stuck at home, but the extra balance between my hobby and school has been a silver lining.”
Harris said he wanted his video game hobby to be a part of his future. He said he looked into each college he was considering for its “League of Legends” program. The collegiate scene of “League of Legends” is very serious as the creators of the game, Riot Games, sponsor college teams.
“I want to continue playing [‘League of Legends’] in the future and I feel like playing at a college with a good program is the next step,” Harris said. “I’m going to Arizona State, which has a very good [esports’] program.