Competitors build communication, teamwork skills in statewide eSports competition

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Youth from across Illinois built communication and teamwork skills as they competed in the 2022 Tech Prairie eSports Competition as part of the Department of Innovation and Technology STEAM Expo held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Aug. 20.

eSports is a form of sports primarily facilitated through electronic systems. Interactions between players or teams are enabled through human-computer communication. eSports includes many video game genres as well as card games.

“We created this event because eSports competitions can be a career or a pathway to college,” says Keith Jacobs, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist. “Competitions like this allow youth to demonstrate their mastery of a subject that many still do not believe is particularly valuable. While many parents do not know this, several universities and high end tech companies are pouring millions into career pathways specifically designed for these youth.”

youth pose on a podium

Youth 19 and under were eligible to compete. Categories included 1v1 Smash Bros. Ultimate and Fortnite 1v1 Free For All. Teams were able to compete in the 3v3 Rocket League category.

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, first place went to Tanner Brown of Sangamon County, second place went to Kevin Gonzalez of Sangamon County, and third place went to Caspian Adams of Peoria County.

In Fortnite Free For All, first place went to Braeden Greer of Sangamon County, second place went to Micah Wehler of Ogle County, and third place went to Sam Haferkamp of Sangamon County.

In the Rocket League team competition, first place went to Chase Burke, Christian Schnerder and Benjamin Haferkamp of Sangamon County; second place went to Brandon Daugherty, Joe Brown, and Camo Daugherty of Sangamon County; and third place went to Jordan Kohl, Bryce VanRaalte, and Riley Bourquin of Jo Daviess County.

eSports provides many benefits for positive youth development.

“Studies have shown that eSports provides many of the same benefits of other sports, minus the physical exertion,” says Jacobs. “Those benefits include teamwork, communication, strategy, visual-spatial skills, and sportsmanship and this competition lets youth put those skills on display.”

This event was sponsored by NIC/Tyler Technologies, using machines provided by HP. To learn more about eSports at Illinois 4-H, please visit the Illinois 4-H eSports page.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

Source: Keith Jacobs, 4-H Youth Development Specialist,

Writer: Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,