Q&A with new eSports Head Coach Jeff Chou

Siri Surapaneni

Ryan Zhang

Why did you decide to become the new eSports coach?

Competitive eSports has always been something I wished I had growing up and now that it’s growing to a point where it’s finally becoming recognized as a varsity sport, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help shape Carmel eSports into what I envision it to be in the future.

What is your biggest goal this year in regards to eSports?

My goal this year is to shift the players’ mentality from that of one who simply games to the mindset and discipline found in athletes that traditional sports strive for. This may include, but (is) not limited to, placing team (success) over individual success, contributing to a positive team culture, developing a habit of self-evaluation with every win or loss, setting goals, working towards those goals, being as prepared as possible for competition and teamwork/sportsmanship. I also want to create a strong foundation that allows for a sustainable program in the long run and connect with my players, coaches, techs and administration to establish the trust and synergy needed to build this program as a varsity sport from the ground up.

Do you have any history with gaming? 

It’s always been a part of my life growing up from card games to board games to video games.  In elementary school, I was a big fan of “Bomber Man,” “Street Fighter,” “Golden Eye 007” and “Chess.”.  As I got into middle school, I started playing poker, “StarCraft” and the “Final Fantasy” series.  Once I reached high school, I still played “StarCraft” at parties occasionally, but we were all about poker, “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.” In college, I began playing “League of Legends” and it became a game that I still play to this day.  I’ll occasionally branch out, but I always end up coming back to “League of Legends” as it remains a way for me to stay in touch with a lot of my college buddies who are now scattered across the country and world.

Do you have any experience with coaching?

I’ve been one of the volleyball coaches at Carmel Middle School since 2016 and also coached track since 2020.

Jeremiah Chery, Carmel eSports member and senior, prepares for a “Valorant” match. Carmel eSports members meet every Monday in Room G108. (Ryan Zhang)

What are your plans this year for eSports?

From what I was told, eSports in the past was a club that was mostly student-run and relied a lot on the talent they possessed at the time.  While talent is great, it can also come and go with each year.  Therefore, my plan is to design a sustainable program not only where tryouts and selections are fair and well managed, but also integrate a training and coaching aspect to train players to become better at all levels. In addition, I’m trying to work out a way to upgrade the equipment and infrastructure in the e-Lab so that we can create a suitable environment for our players to develop and perform their best.

What are you looking forward to most being the coach of eSports?

I’m most looking forward to working and building towards our shared vision of Carmel eSports with colleagues and players who share in that passion in making this a reality at Carmel High School, and perhaps soon, the middle schools as well.

What is the layout of eSports?

Practices and matches are held every day, Monday through Thursday, sometimes on Fridays and weekends, depending on the title. The space and equipment we have currently is limited, so the equipment in the lab is reserved for players who are competing in IHSEN matches each day. The remaining players, depending on the titles, either practice in person in the remaining lab space, in the greyhound station, or remotely from home. The titles we currently have are set by the Indiana High School eSports Network (IHSEN) and they include: “Valorant,” “League of Legends,” “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate,” “Fortnite,” “Rocket League,” “iRacing,” “Tetris” and “Chess.” Students can participate in a maximum of two events and for each event they compete in IHSEN matches one day of the week and practice on two other days of the week.