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Van Buren esports preps for spring, adds Madden, FIFA

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Van Buren is ready to tackle the spring season for esports along with some Football and soccer.

The Pointers added Madden and FIFA teams for the spring and doubled the number of players to 60.

Last fall, the Rocket League reached the Final 8, and the League of Legends finished Top 4 in the state. Van Buren's junior varsity Rocket League was 32 among 100 teams in the Central Division.

Van Buren will have the only FIFA team in Arkansas at the start of the season.

"My players are also on the Pointer soccer team, and that may be the same elsewhere," said Wes Yandell, media technician for the school district and assisting Karla Baker. "I guess other schools aren't as accommodating as the ones here in Van Buren in sharing athletes."

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is also being added this spring, and only 12 teams are competing in Arkansas, with 54 in the region.

Players to Watch

Ryan "Butter" Ruehle, JR, Rocket League. Grand champion in 3v3, 2v2, and 1v1. He will join sophomore Andrew Mendoza and Freshman Reggie Yandell to comprise the main Rocket League team. Coach Yandell said he's likely to sign for a scholarship as some colleges have shown interest in Ruehle. Coach Yandell: "I expect us to finish in the Top 4, but it just depends on how we line up in the playoffs."

Matt Harper, JR, League of Legends. Harper captains the Coinslip League of Legends team. Yandell: "When Matt first arrived, he was one of the bottom players but has since put the time and effort into it and is one of the top players on the team. We should be back in the Top 4 again. We made some roster changes and added a player."

Jacob Lovelady, SR, Smash Brothers Ultimate. Lovelady has won some tournaments as an individual in the area and Northwest Arkansas. Yandell said he might be one of the main players in the state. Yandell: "I expect us to do well with Jacob this season. With just 12 teams in the state, we should do better than most."

Schools are allowed a single team to compete for the state title this season, while any extra squads are designated for the central region. Rocket League has five teams, but Yandell said he might go with four teams to have subs for the other teams.

Van Buren has two League of Legends teams and three Smash Brothers teams. The school will be without a Smite team this season.