Pirates Esports logo.png

The Hannibal Esports logo, a team that is in its third season of existence and are competing in the state finals on Saturday, Nov. 20.

HANNIBAL — In just its third year of existence, the Hannibal Esports team has reached new heights and are ranked No. 3 in the state of Missouri.

Hannibal will compete in the state finals on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Columbia since the Pirates secured a spot within the top four teams in Missouri.

“I’m making sure I let people know (within the community) because we are not a large program,” said junior Benjamin Brown, who plays flex support. “We always appreciate the exposure and the people turning out and having the school pride. Who doesn’t want to hear the Esports team is going to state?”

The Pirate Esports team will be competing in the video game Overwatch, which is among five different games Hannibal plays.

The Hannibal Esports team will spend time practicing various maps of Overwatch going into the state finals.

“We operate a lot like other sports would,” said Hannibal Esports coach Corey Lovelace. “So if we had a scrimmage match last night, we would go back and watch film on that and discuss things. Some nights they might just work on technical things on their own. A lot of nights it’s getting together in a room and playing together.”

Hannibal has a six-person team playing Overwatch, with two players on damage, two players on tank patrol and two players on flex support.

Pirates junior Eli Hess is part of the broadcast team that livestreams on the Hannibal’s Twitch stream, which can be found at twitch.tv/hannibalesports.

“Right now they are training and watching film on all of the teams that they could play or they are going to play,” Hess said. “They are just doing a great job of preparing for that.”

Hannibal junior Alex Culp hit the top-500 in the North America region in Overwatch. He has been trying to rest up for the state finals.

Culp plays the damage role in Overwatch.

“I’ve just kind of been resting up because I’ve had some right shoulder pain,” Culp said. “Which is what I use to aim. Just always practicing, while also keeping my health in mind.”

Culp first joined the Hannibal Esports team as a freshman.

“Ever since I was a kid I was always watching competitive video games like Call of Duty,” Culp said. “I’ve always been really competitive about that stuff. As soon as I heard we had a Esports team, I just flocked to it.”

For Hannibal junior Gavin Underhill, it was his friends that first got him interested in Esports. He plays the damage role in Overwatch.

“In the first Esports meeting we had in middle school, I signed up and went from there,” Underhill said. “Some of the statistics might not say that, but I think I’ve improved since the beginning. Especially with the knowledge of the game and how we performed in the game.”

Hannibal junior Lucas Wellman also joined his freshman year and decided to give it a try after seeing friends join the team.

Wellman plays the tank role for Overwatch.

“I feel like slowly but surely I’m getting a little bit better with each game and each year,” Wellman said.

Over the past three years the team has bonded over playing video games.

Brown said many of the players have known each other since kindergarten.

“My favorite part of the game is being able to play with my friends and the people I’m lucky to call my teammates,” Brown said. “I’m blessed to be able to call these guys and all of the other people in our program my peers and my teammates. We’ve gone so far together it would be an insult not to call them my friends at this point.”

Other games Hannibal competes in includes League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant and Super Smash Brothers.

As for now, Hannibal has one of the few Esports teams in northeast Missouri.

“Mexico has a team, but that’s the closest one to us,” Lovelace said. “Right now, it’s a lot of bigger schools in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia. It’s something that’s picking up. I know Kirksville is adding a program.”

Culp said one of the toughest teams to play in Esports is Columbia Hickman.

“I feel like we struggle the most against Hickman because we’ve won a lot more fights against Blue Springs than Hickman,” Culp said. “Maybe we’ll be able to get better against them.”

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