High school varsity esports meets Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Mario Kart and Splatoon 2

There are probably few esports games as suitable for school audiences as Nintendo games are. Traditionally violence-free, they combine bright colours and gaming fun with a decent challenge and skill requirements at higher difficulty tiers.

As such, it’s hardly surprising to hear that three of them – fighting game hit Super Smash Bros Ultimate, racer Mario Kart 8, and paintball shooter Splatoon 2 are making their way into high school varsity athletics.

Nintendo Playvs partnership

PlayVS and Nintendo partner up

Nintendo is bringing these three games to high school varsity esports levels in the near future. The new partnership with PlayVS plans to bring their games to varsity athletics this autumn.

“What’s magical about this opportunity is that it’s a way for kids to participate, to compete against their peer levels, and to do so as part of high school athletics,” said Nintendo’s Bill Trinen.

PlayVS is an amateur esports platform that has long-standing partnerships with US high school athletic and esports associations. They already have several esports competitive tiers and brackets, and cover three age groups – youth, high school and college. For the older kids, they already offer competitions in games like Fortnite, Overwatch and League of Legends. With the new Nintendo partnership, they’ll also be able to offer even more youth-friendly titles for competitions in those age ranges.

New games, new competitions

Both Splatoon 2 and Smash Bros Ultimate will be official parts of the varsity sports program as of September 20th this year. Fans of Mario Kart will have to wait a little longer – it will be added early in 2022. All three games as well as Switch Online subscriptions will be offered to more than 3000 qualifying schools so that their kids can play.

This isn’t completely new though – in many cases, these games were already being played in amateur tournaments at local levels, however without official dev support.

PlaVS CEO Delane Parnell said:

“I was at a school not long ago, and they have a Smash program organized internally at the school. And they’re really excited at the prospect of being able to play Smash and Splatoon against other schools in their state.”

What about Nintendo’s rocky history?

Nintendo has, historically, not done too well with grassroots efforts for most of their games. The company has a somewhat bad reputation in that department. This program is part of their attempts to redeem themselves in this area – while of course, also, trying to support competitive communities, another thing they rarely do.

Compared to other esports publishers like Riot and Blizzard, Nintendo takes a very laissez-faire attitude to their games’ esports side – and now it seems they want to get more involved.

“We felt that the high school level was a great place to start. At that level you’re starting to see kids who are already spending time playing the game, their skill level is pretty high, and the interest is there in terms of the competitive side of things.”- said Trinen, adding:

“Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon are two franchises where the communities have really done a fantastic job of building up a scene and helping to establish them as competitive titles.”

We do hope its high school esports that wakes up Nintendo to the amazing esports potential their titles have.