UCI Esports Wins the 2018 College League of Legends Championship!

by | Aug 13, 2018, 2:21PM PDT

This article was a collaborative effort with UCI Esports League of Legends coach, James “Dreamweaver” Bates.

From July 7th to the 10th, UCI watched its League of Legends team pack up their bags and make their way to the League of Legends Championship Series Arena in Santa Monica, where the team would participate in the North American division of the College League of Legends Championship. Recent losses for the Overwatch and Heroes of the Dorm teams just earlier this year meant that this tournament was the perfect opportunity to show that UCI Esports will still fight to call themselves the victor.

Although most expected British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University to enter the tournament, UCI Esports had defeated them in the West Conference Playoffs, earning the title of the number two seed and a ticket into the championships.

Round One: University of Ottawa

New to the collegiate scene, Ottawa started this season ranked 18th in North America, but quickly fought their way through to the seventh seed this tournament. Despite their rapid climb, however, UCI Esports put it to a swift end.

With the newest Anteater, Evan “Captain Nuke” Phu, executing powerful ganks (surprise attacks that outweigh numbers in the performer’s favor) and careful team-fight setups, it’s no shock that he took the MVP title of the first match. Even more impressive was James “Lattman” Lattman’s play during Game 2– no one would contest that a devastating Pentakill, let alone the only Pentakill the entire tournament, would make him UCI Esports’ first series MVP during the championship. UCI Esports’ performance that day was a only a small prelude to what would come the rest of the weekend. Fans both at home and at the event had plenty to look forward to.

Lattman (right), alongside hostess Ovilee May (left), as he holds a blown-up cut-out of his face brought in by the UCI crowd.

Round Two: University of Maryland

The next day, UCI Esports faced their most consistent scrimmage partner and champion of the Eastern Conference, University of Maryland.

Working late into the night, UCI Esports had busied themselves carefully studying and predicting any of the wild picks that Maryland might try throwing at them. While the first two games of this series were quickly under UCI’s belt, Game Three suddenly put a bump into the road. The first twenty minutes of the game were dictated by Maryland jungler Winston “Wezi” Zhou playing Lee Sin, barring UCI from their usual early game jungle lead and eventually taking Game Three from the Anteaters.

Youngbin “Youngbin” Jung, however, wasn’t going down without a fight. With a newfound fervor, the jungler lead UCI Esports to victory in Game Four, winning their second series of the tournament.

Final Round: Columbia College

As Riot’s marching band lead the crowd in a spectacle of roaring cheers, UCI Esports and Columbia College prepared for the final series ahead of them. Columbia, an all-star roster put together in 2017, was one of UCI’s practice partners and a favorite to win the entire event.

The Anteaters capitalized on every chance they received, banning all of Columbia mid laner Julien “Juliens” Gelinas’ best picks every game as well as Youngbin counterpicking his jungler-counterpart Zachary “BukZach” Lapham, winning a solid Game One. And although Game Two began looking in favor of Columbia, Jeffrey “Descraton” Du’s miraculous Zoe plays reunited UCI for a victorious comeback. Game Three followed suit, Descraton on Zoe once again leading the charge until UCI Esports ganked Columbia’s solo lanes and choking out a win. The series, as well as the 2018 season of College League of Legends, ended soon after, with UCI Esports alone left standing victorious.

Lyubomir “Bloodwater” Spasov poses with UCI Esports, raising the College League of Legends 2018 Championship Trophy above him.

Road to China

After what seemed like a drought, UCI Esports was finally able to bring a championship trophy back home. Friends and family alike gathered from far and wide for support, with Descraton’s parents even assembling everyone together in the lobby to sing their son happy birthday. This only ushered in the beginning of a longstanding celebration. On June 14th, UC Irvine honored the team by hosting a party on campus, and California Congresswoman Mimi Walters even sent special congressional recognition certificates to the team.

The team’s victory lap is far from over, however, as they will now represent all of North America during the International Collegiate Championship taking place August 15-18th in Xi’an, China.

The UCI Esports Twitch channel will be the sole official English broadcast for the event this upcoming week. Be sure to tune in for a local time schedule to catch our team prove that not only can they be the best in the West, but the best in the world as well!

Video Game Industry Jobs and Careers: Resourcefully Breaking into Esports or Game Development

by | Dec 3, 2018, 3:00PM PDT

A few of us have known since we were little what we want to be when we grow-up, while some of us could graduate and still not know. One thing seems sure, that the sooner you set a destination, the sooner you will arrive there (barring GPS glitches or user error). So how does one go from not knowing to knowing? Exploration and introspection are two great ways! And if the headline brought you here, you have at least narrowed it down to an industry. An ocean is smaller than a nebula, so this is quest progress!

Exploration can be preliminarily broken down into reading, conversing, observing and experiencing. What does this mean? You can read up on the different parts of the industry (and the disciplines within them); talk to informed, veteran insiders; you can ask to job shadow someone; lastly, you can make games. These paths will serve you at all levels of your journey, whether a neophyte who enjoys gaming but doesn’t know QA Testing from Product Management, or a well-informed applicant who knows their exact dream job and already has done some business networking.

But you do not have to sail this ocean on a rickety self-made raft without a compass, map, nor companion, ye brave Wind Waker. Have you stepped into the UCI Career Center at least once, or even surfed their website? If not, DO IT! DO IT NOW! (“GET IN DA CHOPPAH!”) If you do not know the best ways to do job and career research, they are there to help you. Discover your options here.

Quest tip #1: Reading job postings on company websites can be educational. Sometimes their jargon might leave you not entirely sure what you read, but you can get help clarifying. Find a good source of information to get educated on this rich and diverse industry.

On-campus, the Video Game Developers Club at UCI and The Association of Gamers (TAG at UCI) are great clubs for making friends and networking. LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook Groups are some of the top ways to find recruiters whose job is to help answer your questions. You can also use them to find organizations like the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) (with chapters in OC, LA, and more) or SoCal Game Devs. Also, (watch Extra Credits.)

Quest tip #2: Companies will sometimes hire a candidate they know (plus trust and like) with most of the required skills over a total stranger who looks like a perfect candidate on paper.

Networking can be an art form, and like all major points above, the sooner the better. Companies want to hire people who can do the work and add value. As one favorite author has put it, your goal should be to increase the pleasure and reduce the pain of your employer and colleagues. Networking lets you get to know others and to be known. So be mindful of your image and reputation.

After you have completed your first major quest milestone and figured out what you want to do and where you want to go, it becomes clear what skills or degree you would need to best reach your destination. Much better to figure that out freshman year than senior year! (But there are still options for those in the final phases of their degree program.)

While applying with degree in-hand is one option, the strongest move is to apply for internships before then -or- to make your own games (including mods, characters, levels, et al). Blizzard Entertainment has one of the most developed and robust internship programs in this young industry. Sadly, this year’s application window just closed, but start planning for next year’s or search for others. If Los Angeles is not too far away, check out opportunities with Riot Games.

Quest tip #3: Think outside the box and be proactive–do not wait for things to come to you (or for them to happen in a preconceived conventional order).

Making your own games does not mean making your own AAA video game for all major platforms–although more power to you if you do that (mad respect). Making a rudimentary card game, board game, even word game, they all count; drawing characters, writing a backstory; playing with a level editor. The merits of this may or may not be obvious, but JUST DO IT. (Remember: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams! Yesterday, you said tomorrow! So just do it! Make your dreams come true. Just do it!”)

Once you apply for jobs, you will hopefully start having job interviews. If you have had none or few, tap back into the UCI Career Center for job interview tips and preparation! After working so hard to get so close to the goal, do not go in cold and raw. But that is a whole other chapter for another time.

TL;DR: Learn the various parts of the industry and how they all fit together to decide where you want to be within it. Acquire the skills for the job you want and also find allies to guide or support your journey to your goal. The more you know and do before you apply for a job, the easier it will be to get a job.

Orange County Settles it in Smash at UCI

by | Nov 21, 2018, 3:00PM PDT

Melee players from all over Orange County entered the OC Melee Arcadian held at UCI.

On November 7th, 2018, The Association of Gamers at UC Irvine (TAG @ UCI) hosted the Orange County Melee Arcadian, a tournament for popular Nintendo platform fighter Super Smash Bros. Melee. The Emerald Bay rooms of the UCI Student Center hosted the 160-man event, a sequel to the Melee tournament that TAG @ UCI ran last fall. The tournament featured two main events, a two-on-two Doubles bracket and a Singles bracket. Since the tournament was an arcadian-style event exclusive to Orange County, any professional or ranked players were disallowed from entering the event, and players had to verify their OC residence upon registration using their smash.gg accounts. Without the competition from players ranked by the Melee It On Me (MIOM) or the Melee Panda Global Ranking (MPGR) stats, unranked amateur players had a chance to demonstrate their skill and prove that they, too, were Melee threats worthy of recognition.

The Doubles bracket, which opened the event, was a standard double-elimination bracket in which each team could only afford to lose once before their second loss would eject them from the tournament. Twelve teams of two players each competed in the bracket, and the winning team was comprised of players Adam “TurbotHot” Witkowski and Drake “Carrot” Cappi from UC Irvine. TurbotHot and Carrot, who played as Fox and Sheik respectively, defeated the double-Fox team consisting of fellow UCI students Jacob “Schmerv the Bird” F. and Eric “Woosh” Chagoya in order to win Doubles at the OC Melee Arcadian. TurbotHot/Carrot had fought Schmerv/Woosh twice in the same bracket- once in Winner’s Finals, and then once again in Grand Finals.

The event was streamed live at http://twitch.tv/ucimelee.

The main event of the OC Melee Arcadian was the Singles bracket, where players would compete against each other in a one-on-one format. The bracket was divided into two waves, with four pools of players each, and the pools bracket was conducted in a Round Robin format. All nine players in each pool would take turns playing against each other in a rotation, and the top three players with the best performances and most wins would move on from pools into the main Top 24 bracket. Much like the Doubles bracket, the Grand Finals of the Singles bracket also consisted of two players who had previously fought each other in Winner’s Finals. David “Commas” Park, a Sheik main from UC Santa Barbara, defeated CSU Fullerton’s Joshua “Pulse” Kim and his Marth three games to one. The set ended in a very close round, with Pulse ultimately losing due to an unfortunate mis-input in a high-pressure situation. In a brief interview after the tournament, Commas acknowledged that the set between him and Pulse in Grand Finals was more difficult than when they had played only moments before in Winner’s Finals, demonstrating just how quickly his opponent was able to adapt.

Friendly games were just as valuable to these players as their tournament matches.

Beyond the events of the tournament, there were also players whose attendance at the OC Melee Arcadian was simply another step in their continuing journey of improving at their game. Even though the main events were being streamed and projected in the venue, there were still many players who took the opportunity to play friendly matches with each other. By playing against people from outside of their local city or university’s Melee scene, these players were given the unique opportunity at the OC Melee Arcadian to expand upon their base of knowledge and skill.

The UCI Esports content team had the opportunity to interview Kavi Mathur and Alejandro Valdez, joint directors of the Melee subdivision of TAG @ UCI and main tournament organizers [TOs] for the OC Melee Arcadian. We asked Mathur and Valdez questions about their involvement in the Melee community, their history with TAG @ UCI and UCI Esports, and the role of esports on campus.

“I came into this school fall of 2016, and I got into competitive Melee junior year of high school,” Mathur said when recounting his first encounters with the Melee scene. “TAG has an internship program, and each subdivision, including Melee, hires interns. Griffin [Williams,] or Captain Faceroll, hired me and [Valdez] as interns and we’ve just worked our way up, learned different things such as TOing, streaming, and running tournaments in general.” Mathur’s perspective on the function of esports communities on campus was informed by both his time with TAG @UCI and his work as a UCI Esports staff member. “In terms of TAG, we’re really focused on players on campus and getting students engaged, and just creating a kind of community environment where people can meet weekly, at these different subdivisions and stuff like that. It’s really all about that student-community aspect with [TAG @ UCI.]” He went further in-depth about how UCI Esports provides resources and a level of professionalism to campus gaming communities: “With UCI Esports, [it’s about] getting esports recognized by the public eye, and that’s really important, especially because UCI Esports has access to certain resources that maybe clubs don’t. But I think both TAG and UCI Esports have an important role- TAG with the community aspect, and [UCI] Esports with the promotion, getting things more public, and making everything more professional.”

Valdez also discussed his storied history with the Smash scene, and how it led to him being a co-director of Melee for TAG @ UCI. “I remember going to my first tournament at UCI, and I saw everybody here, and […] it was all set up really nicely, and I thought, ‘wow, this is great!’ I actually ran my own club at my high school for Melee, so I had some experience with event organization, but on a really small scale, so to see things that were way bigger than that was amazing to me. I said to myself, ‘I definitely want to be a part of this.’” At the time of Valdez and Mathur’s application of internship, Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams was the president of the Melee subdivision of TAG @ UCI. When Williams graduated, the two of them stepped up to fulfill his duties. Valdez spoke on how the Melee tournaments he organized in high school were popular, but disorganized due to a lack of structure on campus. “To come [to UCI] and have a lot more structure and resources to help us out is definitely a step up.” Valdez also concurred with Mathur’s remarks about esports and its relationship with the student body. “If we didn’t have UCI Esports, if we didn’t have TAG, if we didn’t have the Melee club, people would still be playing video games. But I feel like having these organizations on campus, whether it’s really grassroots, casual, competitive, or organized, it helps people come together and find their niche at school. It’s really great that there’s a spectrum of players, and UCI Esports and TAG provides resources for gamers of all types to have fun and get what they want out of that experience.”

By far one of the most impressive aspects of the OC Melee Arcadian was that it attracted players from a community that reached far beyond the campus of UC Irvine. Players from different school and cities all entered the tournament to compete with each other, demonstrate their skill, and learn from one another. While the community of Melee players that TAG @ UCI had fostered was its own tight-knit group of students, the extensive outreach that drew in players from all over Orange County created a unique, spectacular experience.

Your article author lost every game he played in Wave 1 of pools.

A full link to the interview transcripts can be found at the author’s blog, here.