Inside one of Sweden’s first eSports schools

Chris Higgins
Inside one of Sweden’s first eSports schools

On Tuesday, August 18, the first students of Sweden's new eSports curriculum enrolled at Arlanda Gymnasiet school inMrsta.

Seven High School students became the first to join a new national curriculum track in physical education, devoting lesson time to the tactics and mastery of eSports.

It is the perfect time to begin such a step, not least because this year's chosen game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, has an upcoming Major tournament beginning today at ESL Cologne.

"No high school in Sweden has had an eSports curriculum, so this will be very exciting," said Arlanda Principal, Andreas Eriksson. "We had a lot of interest with the program, with over 70 students that applied for seven placesfor the start.The students will receive the best possibilities to pursue a career in eSports."

One of the lucky seven chosen of a rigorous selection process was 17-year-old Felix Andersson, who despite his young age is a veteran of the CS series.

"I started playing CS when 1.6 came out and had about 3000 hours in it," Felix told eSports Pro. "I later turned to Global Offensive when it first came out and I thought it was a game that really could get to you and instantly thought it would be big in the pro scene. It was a long journey that needed a lot of practice like any other things."

Felix is currently ranked at the highest level in the game's public matchmaking system, Global Elite, which would seem like a boon when applying for the course, however the process was fairly mundane – but for one small addition.

"It was mostly on how my grades looked from previous school," Felix said. "So for an example if my grade was straight A's I would have 100% chance to get in due to knowing the game and knowing the surroundings."

Additionally, former caster and Swedish eSports site RAKAKA writer Jonas "Iceman" Dahl was also involved in selection, judging the student hopefuls' playstyles and abilities.

For the most part, however, the school is no different to any other Swedish institute offering a sports education.

"When the students graduate we want them to have received the bestpossibilitiesimaginable to support themselves doing eSports, but also to have an alternative if that doesn't happen," Principal Eriksson said. "Because of that, a premise was that the applicants had to get into one of our national programs first, either a technical program, an aesthetical one, or a social science one with a focus on media. ESports is then included in 400 of 2500 grading points that the students are tought in three years of gymnasium."

Lessons centred around eSports will focus on tactics and strategy, but also values and communication both within a team and outside of one. Principal Eriksson is aware of instances of bullying within eSports, which is something the school is not prepared to accept.

"The teaching in eSports depends on the subject. For example, we have different teachers for physical training, psychology, and for gaming we have an eSport coach who will comment and plan tactics with the students."

It is this experimental lesson plan that brought Felix to the school in the first place, as he pins his hopes on entering the eSports world.

"I'm hoping the classes will help me improve how well I understand the games and how to handle diffficult situations without stressing up," he said. "I'm also hoping to improve the ways I play and improve my mindset. With these classes, we students have a high expectation on the ways of teaching."

As for what he wants out of the school, Felix is undecided where exactly in eSports' burgeoning ecosystem of employment he hopes to fit.

"I've heard from a couple of people I know that went and played professionally in League of Legends that it's kinda tough," he said. "Long practice times, watch through replays and constantly be up to date with the news that goes around them, but yes! It would be a cool thing to try out!"

But perhaps a coaching role is more suited to him, something that experiencing formal training in a subject can help people to appreciate, just as it does in physical education.

"My main goal is to get out there in the world of eSports and get to know people, and also help people out that ask for help," Felix added. "My goal is to stand out and be able to help others that want to achieve higher goals than they are at right now."

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