UC Buzzes about ESports


Jim Lambert

Newly Renovated ESports Room

Kameron Harris, Staff Writer

There is a new program in town everyone is buzzing about! This program happens to be here at our own Union Catholic High School, thanks to Mr. LaBelle.

ESports is a new genre of gaming that is taking over people’s leisure time right now, especially since COVID-19 has made so many changes to how we spend our free time. The total market value of the ESports industry exceeded $1 billion just alone in 2021. 

Here at UC, the brand new 27’-inch monitors in room 229 have officially grasped everyone’s attention. At first, some people questioned the need for a program like this, believing it to be just an unnecessary hobby with no opportunities. But they were wrong! 

ESports has a connection to multiple careers, such as jobs in management, media, promotion, and training. Marketing professionals work for events or video game brands in the ESports industry. Pro ESports players are considered professional athletes, a multibillion-dollar industry. However, even with a list of successes, marketers are not yet fully confident in investing in this industry. 

Nonetheless, when it comes to success, UC has its own ESports superstar. We cannot talk about ESports without bringing up Zach Patrone ’23! If you do not already know, Zach Patrone ’23 attends Union Catholic and is one of the top professional young gamers in the world. It is safe to say his excellence sparked a demand for this program, as many of our students love playing video games. 

ESports was something Patrone ’23 picked up in April 2020, playing Valorant. Patrone ’23 said that, at first, it was just something to do with his friends for fun, but then he realized that he liked the competitive aspect of the game the best. Patrone ’23 started competing, and since 2020, he has made history as part of one of the top-ranked teams in the world. Patrone ’23 recently shared his accomplishments with John Mooney from TAPInto, stating that “My biggest achievement so far is the performance me and my team had in the Champions Tour Challengers 1 Tournament, in which we beat the best team in the world at the time, Sentinels, in one of the earlier rounds and secured second place, winning $10,000.” 

Meanwhile, who is responsible for establishing the ESports program at UC? Mr. LaBelle is the mastermind behind this new initiative, and he opened it to any students at Union Catholic that would like to pursue this activity. UCProphet.org was able to catch up with Mr. Labelle and get some exclusive insight on the new buzz. 

  1.  What exactly is the E-Sports program? Mr. LaBelle: The ESports program is a competitive, interscholastic video game competition with the same three seasons as your traditional sports.
  2.  Who is participating in the program? (How many people, etc.) Mr. LaBelle: It is still to be known, but as to who will compete, it depends on which games they compete in, as the participation and group size varies by each game. But anyone who is not already committed to a sport for that season you are welcome to try out!
  3.  What renovations have been made at UC to accommodate the new program? Mr. LaBelle: We’ve currently acquired 15 gaming PCs, painted one of the classrooms, and installed new electrical. We plan to acquire gaming chairs and new lighting for the room and mount a large-screen TV to one of the walls for games played on the Nintendo Switch.
  4. Where did we get the idea for this program? Mr. LaBelle: ESports has been around for a while, but only in the past few years has it gained ground, especially here in NJ. I would say that it’s a natural by-product of moderating the Versus Club, our video game club.
  5.  Is there anything else you think would be essential to include? Mr. LaBelle: Yes. While our eSports program is new and still getting established, we plan on starting it as a club and transitioning it to a Varsity Sport afterward.