Grays Harbor College Esports players reach national playoffs

In the three years since competitive video-gaming came to the Harbor as a club at Grays Harbor College, Esports has become an official college program and is already in the national playoffs — virtually of course. Esports manager Ralph Hogaboom said three teams and two individuals have qualified to compete in the national playoffs for the spring 2021 season. The National Junior College Athletics Association Esports National Championship is a seeded, single-elimination bracket for all games.

The tournament began Monday, April 19 and ends Sunday.

Bode Knodel and Jonathan Lang, both varsity “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” players, qualified for playoffs this season. “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” is a two-dimension fighting game for the Nintendo Switch that is very popular in the Esports world. Knodel is a freshman, and plays with mostly Captain Falcon and Byleth when competing. Knodel finished the season 6-3, and is the 61st seed.

Players often call the primary character that they use their main character, or will say that they ‘main’ that character in the game.

Jonathan Lang is also a freshman who primarily uses, or mains, the character Samus. Lang has been training with Arturo Cardenas, who plays professionally as CE I Joker, and is one of the top five players of the character Samus worldwide. Lang finished his season 7-2, and is the 50th seed.

The Grays Harbor College Esports “Valorant” team also qualified for national playoffs this season, with a dramatic improvement from the previous season. “Valorant” is a three-dimensional, team-oriented tactical shooter by Riot Games. Since fall, they have been coached by pro player Piotr Chodola from Warsaw, Poland.

“We worked really hard this season on both defense and offense,” according to player Gavin Timmons. “We played super positively, and we’ve just been having a good time with it.”

The team finished eighth nationally, including besting local rivals Centralia College earlier in the season with an outstanding 13-6 victory.

“Fortnite” player Max Kangas-Hanes also qualified for playoffs. “Fortnite” is a 3-D, solo-oriented survival shooter by Epic Games. Kangas-Hanes is a Running Start student, and has been playing “Fortnite” competitively since last year. This season his focus was on building and close-quarters combat.

The fourth team from Grays Harbor College to qualify for national playoffs was the “Rocket League” team. “Rocket League” is like soccer, but the players drive vehicles. The team finished sixth nationally, but was eliminated from playoffs by Chicago’s DePaul University earlier this month.

All matches are available on the Grays Harbor College Twitch channel at

Hogaboom said GHC Esports has received national acclaim for high-quality broadcasts, and was hand-picked in December of 2020 to broadcast the national championships for the NJCAAE.

For more information about competitive video-gaming with Grays Harbor College Esports, contact or visit