High School esports shine at Dreamhack Anaheim with the Chel Invitational

High school esports continues to grow at a rapid pace through the efforts of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF). Through their efforts, NASEF seeks to combine esports and education into a seamless experience that will motivate students to learn through their passions.

Just recently at Dreamhack Anaheim, NASEF invited high school students that qualified through regional matches to compete for scholarships, school grants, and team prizes totaling more than $50,000 in the NHL20 tournament, Chel Invitational. The tournament is support by NHL teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers, Las Vegas Knights, and Anaheim Ducks.

One player who qualified for the tournament is Nick Vankamamidi, a high school student in Nova Scotia, Canada. Growing up, Nick played a lot of hockey starting at the age of 12, so it only made sense that a game like NHL20 would be right up his alley.

“I played for fun with my friends because I love hockey,” Nick said. “I never thought I’d be able to go across the continent for NHL20. That’s pretty amazing.” In fact, it was Nick’s first flight ever and it couldn’t have been to a better event.

The tournament turned out to be more than a great experience for Nick. He won himself a $3,500 scholarship that he can use once he finishes high school. “I’m seeing where things go right now because I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but it’s nice to have that scholarship money there,” Nick said.

In addition to his own scholarship, Nick won his school a $3,500 grant. They haven’t decided what to use the money for yet, but Nick plans on discussing the options with the principal and the librarian of his school.

His school’s librarian is actually the mother of Luke “Meluke” Laing, a PUBG pro player who recently played for Tempo Storm, and she helped Nick sign up for the tournament in the first place. She would like to use the money to develop an esports club at the school and improve the overall environment so other students can benefit. Throughout the process she has been an invaluable resource for Nick, bequeathing her own knowledge of esports to him and others.

Though young, Nick sees the benefits of esports and games like NHL20. He’s made numerous friends throughout the world from Sweden to all across North America, not to mention the new friends he met at Dreamhack Anaheim. Connections that he knows never would have been possible without gaming and esports.

But one of his biggest takeaways from the whole experience is finding out how supportive his fellow classmates were. When he returned from the tournament everyone was asking questions about how the tournament was and what went on. “Not a lot of people knew about the opportunities and how big esports really is for all games,” Nick commented.

Not every game has to be as big as Fortnite or Overwatch when it comes to competitions and prize pools. The sports games scenes may be small in comparison, but they make up an important part of the esports ecosystem. Through it, Nick has found an opportunity to use his skills to earn money for school, educate his fellow classmates, and potentially impact the next few generations of students behind him.

While Nick doesn’t quite know what he’ll be doing in the future, he’s now got a bit of extra cash to help him get there thanks to his skills and NASEF. “I’d encourage other people to join NASEF events and to get your school involved,” he said. “It’s a great experience and you never know where it will take you.”

You can check out NASEF and all they do at: https://www.esportsfed.org/

Photo Credit: Stephanie ''Vexanie'' Lindgren