Four Faces: Marangos leads brand new esports team

Photo+courtesy+of+Wesley+Works.

Photo courtesy of Wesley Works.

Thomas Hartill, Editor in Chief

This previously ran in our December 2021 print issue.

Just like countless other teenagers, Andreas Marangos has been playing video games for much of his young life, but unlike everyone else, he now plays them for an official Emmaus High School esports team.

Marangos’ journey with video games began about seven years ago, but his competitive video game experiences began in middle school when he started playing one of his favorite games, Overwatch.

“I would say I started taking video games really competitively probably [in] eighth grade,” Marangos said. “That’s when I really got into a game called Overwatch, which is a competitive fantasy hero shooter type game… it’s all about strategy and teamwork.”

Through the 2010s, the esports industry expanded greatly, with it now raking in over $1 billion just in 2021 according to Statista. However, for Emmaus High School, the idea of an esports team was first introduced right before the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

“Before COVID, there was an announcement about starting an e-sports group, and then COVID hit. It was like the announcement was Wednesday and then next week everything shut down,” Marangos said. “And last spring, before this summer break, they had a Zoom meeting just to kick it off, and this fall is when we actually had an in-person meeting and I got elected president.”

Math teacher and esports advisor Jason Geist feels that Marangos’ time as president has been nothing short of stellar, citing his excellent leadership skills.

 “Overall, what he has done with organizing the league [and] the Discord stuff we do to communicate, he has done a fantastic job,” Geist said.

Computer & Business Applications teacher and fellow esports advisor John Dietrick recognizes the importance of having something like an esports team at Emmaus.

“To me the wins and losses are irrelevant,” Dietrick said. “It’s good that the kids are winning and having success, but starting a new club for a group of kids that are by and large underrepresented in these types of things was the biggest motivator.”

Currently, the esports team has roughly 50 members, including both “varsity” and “JV” teams.

“Right now we have for Rocket League an A team and a B team, so we kinda view it as varsity and JV,” Marangos said.

So far this season, the Emmaus Rocket League team has been undefeated playing against schools like Jim Thorpe, Parkland, Nazareth, and Whitehall. Recently, the team played a scrimmage match for the video game League of Legends against Parkland, which did not go as well as the team may have hoped.

“Well, we did lose. We definitely learned a lot, and it was a moment to, like, reflect on how we can prepare better, and we’re planning to do another scrimmage this month,” Marangos said, “and we have high hopes that we’ll be able to win.”

And just like more traditional sports, the wins represent some of Marangos’ favorite moments during the esports season, including a moment after their first win in the digital communication platform the team uses.

“In the Discord everyone was just cheering everyone on,” Marangos said. “Like it was equatable to when a football or soccer team wins.”

Pointing out a crucial reason why it’s important to have a successful team, something which is only possible with a leader like Marangos, Dietrick commented on a recent moment when principal Dr. Kate Kieres congratulated the esports team.

“They walked by my door and they were excited. That was a really great moment for the kids, and they feel part of the school,” Dietrick said. “One of the kids made a comment, ‘now the whole school is supporting us.’”