What do football, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2 all have in common? They’re all recognized as varsity athletics at various American high schools. Through a newly announced partnership between Nintendo and PlayVS, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 will join the varsity athletics line-up at participating schools in Fall 2021, with the season beginning September 20, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe joining the fray for the Spring 2022 high school season.
To facilitate participation in the various leagues, Nintendo will provide a Switch, a 12-month Nintendo Switch Online membership, and a copy of either Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Splatoon 2 to three thousand selected schools, jump-starting their varsity esports teams. Nintendo is inviting interested potential coaches to register their schools for a waitlist at this link.
According to comments from Bill Trinen, Nintendo of America’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, Nintendo views the partnership with PlayVS as a key way in expanding its role in the competitive gaming scene. It thus makes sense to see Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 here, though I’m not too sure about the competitive viability of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as an esport.
Participating schools will be able to facilitate competitions with other teams across the country. The exact logistics of the league’s operation are not totally clear yet – we’re not sure how something like the team-based Splatoon 2 will work for schools that are only receiving a single Switch, for example. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Would you try your luck at varsity Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, or Splatoon 2? I’m positive I could have kicked butt on the Mario Kart team, but I wouldn’t fare as well with the other two games.