The Farmington High School esports team celebrates their runner-up finish after losing 3-2 to Detroit Catholic Central in the state championship match April 27 at Oakland University.

The Farmington High School esports team celebrates their runner-up finish after losing 3-2 to Detroit Catholic Central in the state championship match April 27 at Oakland University.

Photo provided by Kathleen Buraconak

Trio of Farmington International Baccalaureate students kickstart esports program

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Farmington Press | Published May 31, 2024


FARMINGTON — The launch of a high school esports program always seems to have a beautiful story behind it.

Either one student or a group of friends create a space for gamers throughout the high school to call home for a couple hours during the week.

For Farmington High School, senior Rayyan Ahmed, senior Dylan Dancel and junior Tanzeel Ahsan are the main characters in the school’s story for how esports came to be.

The trio of students are part of the school’s International Baccalaureate program, a two-year program that prepares students for college and motivates them to create something impactful beyond their own community.

The program requires the students to take six IB classes, which are through a college prep curriculum, but also involves the students taking on a project that involves creativity, activity and service, or CAS. For the IB trio, esports was the main goal in mind.

“I kind of just like video games a lot and I thought I’d bring it to the school, because a lot of the time during lunch, I see people playing in groups of two at the lunch tables,” Ahmed said. “I was thinking that it would be a lot more productive for their social skills and also just creating a better environment for all those people if we gathered them into one area. We decided to create this project to make that space for them.”

The guys enlisted the help of their IB coordinator, Kathleen Buraconak, who served as the head coach for the team, and everything came to fruition from there with the hard work of the founding members.

The Michigan High School Esports League waived Farmington’s competition fee, and with 17 students and two teams competing in its first season, Farmington esports was off to the races.

The Falcons fielded a Valorant and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team, and the members of the team immediately started to show their skills.

“At the beginning, I didn’t really expect to have a large amount of experienced Smash players at our school,” Ahsan said. “Once we started the club and people started coming, I realized that we had actual talent at our school. To make it to states in our first year is huge for us, and for me personally.”

Farmington’s state finals run in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was forefronted by an undefeated regular season showing, and the state tournament was no different as they knocked off talented squads from Dearborn Divine Child, Northview and Ludington High School to set up a state championship matchup against Detroit Catholic Central, a powerhouse in esports.

The Falcons and Shamrocks went head-to-head April 27 at Oakland University, with DCC capturing the state title in a 3-2 win, but not without Farmington putting up a fight in the process.

“We gave Catholic Central a run for their money,” Buraconak said. “This wasn’t just three and done. We went as many rounds as we could. We fought tooth and nail till the very bitter end. It was really anyone’s game.”

Valorant went through its trials and tribulations as any new team would, but they fought hard and built some success they hope to expand on next season.

Dancel, who managed the Valorant squad, said he was more impressed with what his squad did away from the game.

“I think my Valorant group really helped bring different people and cultures together,” Dancel said. “We ended up meshing very well.”

While Ahmed and Dancel are set to graduate, it will be up to Ahsan to keep things going next season as Farmington looks to build on its success.

The idea may have originated for the use of a project in their IB program, but it’s become something much more than that to the high school and the other team members.

Ahsan said he has a plan in place for next year in efforts to keep the program strong.

“My goal is for the club to basically run itself,” Ahsan said. “There will be no outside inputs, and it can just keep going for however long it needs to.”


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate state finals members: Rayyan Ahmed, Jason Kazensky, Delano Marinelli and Madison Doctor. Other members of the Farmington Falcons Esports Program: Dylan Dancel, Tanzeel Ahsan, Jaylin Johnson, Kenneth Sanders, Christopher Crawford, Nick Varblow, Harold Patton, Donovan Sharpe, Emirion Sturce, Hammad Shah, Daniel Gafarov, Liam Campbell, Jack Truant, Sean Campbell and Marcus Murphy.