ASHLAND -- On Monday afternoon, two underdogs with face-off in a virtual battle.
The Varsity Fortnite Esports teams at Ashland High School and Barberton High School will compete at 4 p.m. Monday in the Esports Ohio state finals. They were the fifth and sixth seed teams, respectively, when entering the playoffs.
While Ashland's players defeated the first seed team last week, Akron STEM High School, last week, Barberton's team overcame the second seed, Alliance High School.
"So far we've upset everyone we've played (in the playoffs)," coach Joe Moss said. "Some of it's down to luck -- you don't know where you are going to land -- but I know they can win it."
The teams compete by playing three matches of Fortnite, online video game developed by Epic Games. Whichever team has the most "kills" after three matches is the winner.
"It's amazing how they've progressed and grown together, especially with COVID," Moss said.
Last year, the school's Esports team met regularly in-person at the high school, but amid the pandemic, the team moved to an entirely visual platform.
Moss watched as the team connected despite the distance. Though remote, the team practiced regularly together.
"They have to know each other's habits, and they do. They've practiced," Moss said.
He commended the team captains, Brianna Oeken and Tyler Ogle.
Oeken, who is the only female on the team, stepped up recently, urging the team to practice. Her leadership has been pivotal to the team's success, Moss said.
Her fellow team captain, Ogle has incredible potential, he continued. Ashland students in the past have won scholarships for their participation in Esports.
"That kid is unreal at Fortnite. He's something else," Moss said.
The starting team also includes Jackson Brockway, Tony Mancha, Carl Respueto and Samuel Krupar. Reserve players include Graham Schaefer and Vito Asaro. Schaefer and Asaro filled in when others couldn't make a match.
"They are some of the best kids I've ever met," Moss said.
The team's regular fall season record is 4-2.
To watch Monday's competition, tune into Youtube.com/esports_ohio at 4 p.m. Monday.