Esports Mario Kart Team

Competing for just the third semester the BHS esports Blue Shell Bearcats Mario Kart team went into the Arkansas Activities Association’ esports playoffs as the number two ranked team in the state.

That ranking was acquired through a regular season in which they won seven of eight matches in a system set up without classifications.

In the playoffs the Blue Shell Bearcats ousted Dumas but fell to Conway.

For making the playoffs, the team of Aaron Rhodes, Jonathon Stewart, Elijah Taylor, Dessi Canada, and Jasmine Bowman were presented yellow Mario-style berets.

Rhodes and Stewart are seniors and Taylor, Canada, and Bowman are sophomores.

Competition for  the Mario Kart series involves four players and an alternate in a kart race against one other team. Points are scored per place position with the four member team score winning the game.

The race also offers plenty of pitfalls, both of one’s own cause, or by an opponent.

“If you run off the road a turtle on a cloud comes in and fishes you out and places you a little ways back from where you fell,” said Canada. “You can keep going you’re just a little out of shape.

“The other team gets items they can use against your team, like they can throw fireballs at your team and make you spin out.”

The attacks can come from competitors who are trailing or leading in the race, she added.

After the first race teams can then switch out an alternate for their lowest scoring member and run the second race, after which if the games have been split there is a third game to win the first match.

A second set of races then begins.

Games are conducted after school.

“We come in here about three (o'clock) and play until like five,” said Stewart.

Opponents are typically unknown until the day of the game as they are determined by computer, Canada explained.

The assignment software pitted the Bearcats against Fort Smith Northside, Conway, White Hall and others in the regular season.

Team coordinator Dakota Turner further explains that the pairing are designed to pit equal teams, meaning a 2-0 team can expect to see a 2-0 team in competition, and the winner would then see a 3-0 team on the next game day.

Competition is also like other sports in which a player performing so well on a school’s second team can be moved to the first row. That occurred with Rhodes.

“He was so improved,” Stewart complimented his teammate who he said he trains with after fourth period because, as is the case with many seniors, their graduation requirements have been met by lunch.

Canada, Bowman, and Taylor practice in any free time available, typically after school, and at home.

The sophomores plan to be in front of screens again next semester and Stewart hopes to compete at Arkansas Tech. Rhodes, a music student, said he might not be able to find the time to do so as a student at the University of Central Arkansas.

While some team members are involved in other school aspects such as band or Beta, others are immersed in esports and as with the case with traditional sports, are looking to their next season.