Van Buren’s League of Legends and Rocket League teams advanced to the next week’s rounds of the winter playoffs.

The VB Pointers defeated the Lost Ark (Nettleton High School) in the first round of the League of Legends on Jan. 7 and will square off against the Southside Mavs on Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.

Van Buren’s Nishi002 (Nghia Dao) took first blood at the 8:41 mark and was up 2-0 shortly thereafter. Van Buren expanded its lead 5-1 after a double kill by C9 Slick (Ricky Macias). Van Buren won the match after destroying Nettleton’s Nexus at 20:30 with a 28-3 kill score. Osccar (Phong Dao) led the match with 15 kills and four assists. Niicky (Nicky Thongkham) had five kills with 12 assists. C9 Slick and Nishi002 both had four kills with nine and 12 assists respectively.

In the second match, Nettleton’s MightySky36 drew first blood at the 3:47 mark, but Van Buren quickly responded with two kills of their own to take the lead. Kelamir (Gavin Dunbar) recorded the first double kill of the match and Van Buren went up 5-1 at the 7:14 mark.

Nettleton pushed back and got with a couple more kills to make it 6-3. Van Buren destroyed the first turret at 11:41 and was up 10-4 and by 16:00 three other turrets were destroyed and the Pointers pushed further into Nettleton’s territory.

Van Buren won the game by winning the second match after destroying the Nettleton’s Nexus at about the 21:00 and finished with a 33-8 kill score.

Kelamir led the second match with 19 kills and five assists. C9 Slick had five kills and five assists. Both Malcom4ya (Malcom Matlock) and Niicky finished with four kills and three and seven assists respectively. Nishi002 had a match-high 12 assists with one kill.

The Rocket League squad defeated Chaosity (Rector High School) in the first round of the playoffs. Van Buren was without a player (due to a computer shutdown during the match) but pulled off the lopsided win. Van Buren’s Rocket League is comprised of Jordan Deuley, Ryan Ruehle and Joseph Calderon.

The Smite team dropped its first-round game against Heritage.

Always competitive

While Jacob Hamilton isn’t in the winter playoffs, he’s ready for the spring.

Hamilton helped Van Buren complete an additional Rocket League team during the winter as he hustled from football practices on Thursdays to make it in time for the matches.

“It was stressful, but fun,” Hamilton said of his trying to get back to the high school from Blakemore Field by 4 p.m. “I was always very competitive. There the biggest difference between this and football is that there’s competitiveness physically and mentally on the field, but it’s much more mental here.”

Hamilton can’t remember how old he was when he first picked up a controller and started to play, but he remembered it was Halo, a first-person shooter. He would steal time when his brother wasn’t playing. He had planned to join the esports team in the spring, but was talked into joining up in the fall.

“He fit right in with this group,” said Brian Dodson, who coaches the team along with Wes Yandell. ” I had him in class and knew he had football, but there was a window to get him here on Thursdays and I’m glad we did.”

“I’m always up for something competitive,” said Hamilton. “This is something I would definitely like to do at the college level, but even if I don’t, I’ll still be playing video games.”