First off, if you weren’t aware that there were officially sanctioned high school Esports competitions, here’s your notification. Now one of the largest overarching Esports bodies — the High School Esports League (HSEL) — is kicking off an official Fortnite competition set to launch in summer 2018.
The latest competition joins 14 others that are sponsored by HSEL, one of two dominant high school Esports organizations; the other is called PlayVS, which boasts an official partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Both groups charge a fee for players to compete, though these fees are discounted from what players would have to pay if they were signing up for the games they compete in individually. For the HSEL, the fee for members of an officially sanctioned high school team is $5 per month.
The HSEL Fortnite competition is being produced in conjunction with NRG Esports, the competitive Esports team that fronts the San Francisco Shock of the Overwatch League, among others. NRG will provide the winner of the first Summer Open Fortnite tournament a matchup with Svennoss, the top-ranked solo Fortnite player on Twitch.
It goes without saying that the explosive popularity of Fortnite means an officially sanctioned high school tournament to identify a champion of the game is a significant event. It’s also an intriguing potential scouting opportunity for NRG Esports, which may be angling for more depth or a potential professional Fortnite team to pit against the first pro Fortnite team created by Team Secret.
That Team Secret squad famously features a 13-year-old British star, so any emerging superstars in the summer open could play their way right on to a professional team.
“We’re thrilled to team up with High School Esports League for the first-ever Fortnite tournament at the high school level,” NRG Esports CEO Brett Lautenbach told The Esports Observer. “These players are the future of professional esports and any chance we have to work with them to grow the sport is a top priority.”
Precisely where Fortnite competition goes from here is an open question. For now, the very existence of an open-invitation tournament is a watershed moment worth noting, and worth following as the game simultaneously rises in popularity and opportunity.