Like most Anteaters, UCI Esports’ scholarship players lead busy lives.
Between going to class, attending daily practice with teammates, and keeping their studies up, they have a lot to do, and one might wonder how they manage their schedules to make time for so many activities.
Luckily for us, two members of the varsity Overwatch team—Seong Su Park and Victoria Winn, better known as Stadium and Saffrona online—agreed to give us a glimpse into the daily life of an esports athlete.
Our interview began, as many do, with a simple question: What did a regular day look like for you last quarter?
Saffrona: I’m a first-year, so in Fall and Winter Quarters, I lived on campus in Mesa Court. I would normally wake up at around 8 AM and get breakfast at the dining hall (usually eggs and potatoes). Then I’d go to all of my classes (either 2 or 3 depending on the day) with a lunch break in between.
One of the clubs I participated in in my free time was the Video Game Development Club, and I helped make a couple of small games with other club members.
Aside from gaming, I really like singing. I had a lot of fun the few times we got to sing some karaoke in the dorms with my roommates and other hall members. My roommates weren’t super big on gaming, but we did play Just Dance together and one of them recently started playing League of Legends. They weren’t too familiar with Overwatch, but they thought it’s neat I play for the team.
Stadium: I live off-campus, so I only went to UCI a few times a week to attend classes during Winter Quarter. On my off days, I’d study, play Overwatch, and practice badminton, and when I went to campus, I’d spend most of the day in class.
Now that campus is shut down, I’m keeping myself busy at home by learning about investing in the stock market and playing some games I’ve had sitting in my backlog for a while. My favorites at the moment, aside from Overwatch, are probably Monster Hunter: World and Valorant.
What’s your schedule looking like now that we’ve transitioned to remote learning?
Saffrona: For some reason it feels that my schedule got busier during quarantine, even though I don’t have to walk to class anymore and a lot of my lectures are pre-recorded. Most of my time is spent trying to get all my schoolwork done, but since I’m home I also get to hang out with my little sister a lot more. We usually play Just Dance or watch anime together.
Since our coaches work remotely in the first place, our practices and reviews haven’t changed too much. We also still hang out and play games with each other outside of practice. The biggest difference now is that we can’t all get food together. I do miss the arena though and saying hi to everyone there. I’m hoping it’ll be safe to be back on campus in the fall.
Stadium: Not being able to play together with my team at the UCI Esports Arena has been a challenge—our games seem less intense when we’re playing miles and miles apart from one another. However, we’ve continued doing team bonding activities online by playing games such as Skribbl, so the distance hasn’t been that bad.
It does suck not being able to go outside and hang out with friends, but understanding that everyone is in the same boat helps me mentally. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to school so I can go back to the arena and start playing with the UCI Badminton Club again.
What types of classes are you taking, and is learning online any different for you than learning in-person was?
Saffrona: Since I’m majoring in Computer Game Science, my classes have been mainly focused on programming or game design, but I do take a humanities course as well. I don’t think the difficulty or content of the classes has changed too much now that we’ve moved online, but I really miss being there in person and actually having to walk to class. I feel like I never get enough exercise now LOL.
Stadium: I’m taking a lot of programming classes as part of my major, Computer Science, so moving classes online hasn’t been too difficult. The quarantine has also given us students more flexibility in our schedules, allowing me and my team to practice more per week.
My classes also feel easier because my professors have made our tests open-note. I think that was nice of them considering everything that’s going on right now.
Are you keeping a consistent practice schedule with your teammates?
Saffrona: Due to COVID-19, the main tournament run by Tespa was postponed, so we’re competing in some other tournaments in the meantime. Even when we don’t have tournaments, we still practice the same amount—we don’t want to get rusty and fall behind.
Stadium: We’re actually practicing more than we usually do this quarter. Although some of the intensity and magic is lost when we’re forced to play online all the time, we’ve managed to practice more than ever because all our schedules have become so flexible. Getting everyone together when we want to practice has been a lot easier because we’re all at home now.