In our previous interview with Matt, we discussed his experience as a manager, thoughts on collegiate esports, and tips for college students looking to work in esports.
This time around, we discussed his plans after graduation, how to balance school and esports, and important skills to have when pursuing a career in esports.
Matt is the current General Manager for the Overwatch League’s Florida Mayhem.
Plans after graduation
I’m going to continue working for Florida Mayhem. We have lots of stuff planned for the off-season. There is a lot of work to do and changes to be made. We want to make sure that our performance this season doesn’t replicate. That really starts with cultivating our academy team and taking a hard look at the structure of our team. That’s mainly what I’ll be doing after graduation. Since I’m with Florida Mayhem my plans are more straightforward.
Tips for balancing school and esports
Developing time management skills and waking up very early are some of the tips I’d give. For me, the only time I really have enough time to do anything is very early in the morning. I wake up at around seven and get some work done for the first couple hours of my day, and then I have school and work. It’s very important to get a good combination of work experience and education. You need the skills you’ve learned from both to get a career after graduation.
Lessons learned from when you started working in esports to now
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you never stop growing. There’s always something more you can do that you didn’t notice at first. When I first started I really delved into my strengths, and I’ve always thought that I’ve been a very good manager. With each and every team that I worked for, I learned that there’s so much more that I could do. After working in esports for around three to four years, I’ve recently been focusing on things that I’m really bad at or what used to be weaknesses. I’m trying to improve in those areas because the influence that that has on your overall success is very important. I think it’s important for you to work on what you’re really good at in the beginning, and then start to work on your weaknesses after you’ve reached a good level for what you do.
An important skill to have and what to expect working in esports
You have to be able to monitor yourself and be very self-aware. You’re going to have to make sacrifices. Nowadays you’ll have to volunteer to get your initial experience. You’ll have to get past that, and then start applying for jobs. One of the most important skills that I personally look for when I interview is the ability to be self-aware. For example, when I ask a potential candidate what their weaknesses are, I’m looking for them to recognize exactly what they’re bad at and what they know they could improve on.
Congratulations to Matt on his graduation from UCI and best wishes for his future in esports!
Follow Matt on Twitter and Florida Mayhem. Cover photo by Alexander Bond. Arena and team entrance photos by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
The UCI Esports League of Legends team ended their 2021 collegiate season early with a 4-2 record in the regular season, unable to qualify for the Western Conference Playoffs.
This year’s Western Conference consisted of 49 collegiate teams, with the top two teams qualifying for the national championship.
UCI Esports fell to 5th seed Cal State Fullerton during week 3 of the six-week regular season and to 1st seed University of British Columbia during week 6. This marks UCI Esports’ first time not qualifying for the Western Conference playoffs since 2016.
The League of Legends roster underwent a significant overhaul this year, bidding farewell to graduating players Avi Behar and Jeffrey Du and welcoming four new rookies.
“We’re going through a building year right now,” stated David “Hermes” Tu, head coach of League of Legends. “There are big shoes left to fill considering the legacy we have here at UCI. But I’m confident that with our rookies gaining more experience, we can reclaim the throne as leaders in the Western Conference.”
UCI’s League of Legends team will continue to develop its new talent for the remainder of the 2021 academic year. After the season, they recently competed in the Upsurge Premier League against rival collegiate teams Maryville University and the University of Texas, Dallas.
Overwatch Collegiate Championship
On April 10th and 11th of this year, the UCI Esports Overwatch team ended their 2021 competitive season, finishing strong in the top 4, making it to the semifinals.
The Overwatch Collegiate Championship is Activision Blizzard’s official tournament circuit designed and purposed for college teams to compete against each other through a multi-layered tournament spanning the academic year.
In 2021, the tournament had a whopping 304 teams, 2500+ players, and 227 unique schools across the United States and Canada duking it out for their slice of the $48,000 scholarship prize and recognition as the best in North America.
Our team practiced, studied, and competed fiercely from start to end, leaving national swiss with an impressive score of 9-1 and seeding 6th nationally.
During the playoffs, UCI Esports bested 27th seed GMU, 11th seed Boise State, and 3rd seed Bellevue University on their way to the top, meeting 2nd seed Maryville University in the semifinals. Maryville would proceed to play in the finals against Northwood University and win, cementing themselves as the champions of this year.
Concerning the team, their performance, and the season as a whole, this is what UCI Esports’ coaches had to say.
I am so privileged to have been able to work alongside such hardworking and tenacious student-athletes. Our players this year truly gave it their best, their hearts were truly in the game and with each other, and that’s all we ask for. With a sample of victory, our team was so close to the precipice, and they’re hungry to give it another go next year with renewed confidence and the solid foundation we’ve built this year.
Ronald “Renanthera” Ly
I’m incredibly proud of our players for the resilience they’ve shown throughout the season. Like any other team this year, life has thrown a lot at us, and we’ve persevered to be able to deal with it and still push towards being a top collegiate team. I’m thankful for all of their hard work and especially the environment they all help to create. I look forward to every practice and match knowing we’re all in it together and propping each other up to succeed as a team.
Michael “The” Kuhns
UCI Esports closed out the season as the #1 school on the West Coast and 3rd-4th across all of North America.
Regarding the program’s competitive year as a whole, we asked our director for a few words.
I am very proud of the program and our work during this very strange year. All of our coaches have worked tirelessly this year to cultivate a community and a culture focused on caring for one another, playing for their teams, and making those connections palpable despite the global pandemic. Our League of Legends team has gone through a tough rebuilding year, and we’ve crafted a strong foundation for the next. Our Overwatch team ended the best in the west, but I know our players and staff aren’t going to be satisfied with just that either. We’re already planning and plotting for what comes next, and it’s beautiful to see the teams already hard at work preparing for success next year.
Esports can still be considered a young and fledgling global industry. At UCI, we understand the necessity of building cross-cultural tools to address problems of inclusion, communication, and cultural diversity.
On January 27, 2021, UCI International Center, UCI Esports, and Gen.G Global Academy partnered up to run their first International Gamer’s Language Workshop. We welcomed 57 registrants in addition to dozens of Gen.G students watching together from their classrooms overseas.
This workshop welcomed students and players from across the globe to share perspectives from their experiences both online and offline in relation to esports. Participants learned Korean, Mandarin, and English terminology from games like League of Legends and Overwatch, engaged with professional coaches and student athletes in a Q&A panel, and learned from each other at this unique international networking opportunity.
Attendees worked together to create a “gamer’s dictionary” — defining, translating, and quizzing each other on various words and phrases to bridge a cultural gap together during this 2-hour event.
By the end of the night, it was evident from coaches, students, and panelists that diversity is key to both education and competitive performance. May it be through language, skills, or new perspectives, the International Gamer’s Language Workshop showed us that we all have more to gain by working together than apart.
This is Renanthera, Head Coach for UCI Esports’ Overwatch team, and today I am here to personally announce our competitive roster for the 2020-2021 collegiate season.
Last year, UCI Esports was one of two collegiate teams to make Open Division playoffs for the first time ever. We were semi-finalists (or top 4) in Tespa’s Championship Series. And we did all that with a roster primarily composed of rookies.
This year, we could not be more excited to work with our team composed of some hungry tenacious veterans and new frighteningly talented fresh faces. You may recognize a few of our players from the competitive ladder, maybe from some streams, but we want you all to keep an eye on them as they fight for UCI and that end-of-season trophy.
So let’s meet the players!
First up, Stadium, PG1, and Ago are our reliable and experienced tanks who will be leading us on the battlefield. Our tanks last year were arguably our brightest spot, and we’ve clinched so many important games and series off the back of 4-man shatters, a crucial Matrix eat, or a perfectly executed Sigma Flux.
With Stadium and Ago returning, we keep that mechanical playmaking and clutch-factor while PG1 will be compounding on this strength and lending us even greater depth. No matter what the meta may be—may it call for a genius hamster piloting a war-machine or an astrophysicist gone mad—we will always have the direction we seek with these three players.
Next up, Fade and Danichee make up our inseparable DPS duo, both in and out of game. They became fast friends last year, and with their joined hero pool coverage, excellent synergy, individual aim, and game sense, they won us over again this year. Sometimes, coaches just want to see that our opponents will die over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. These two do that really well, may it be with a bullet (or several), an arrow, a rocket, or even an icicle.
And lastly, our supports: Helljudge, Saffrona, and KapGod. A lot of teams will settle for supports that heal and execute the bare minimum. They make a few calls, and they stay alive. Well, every explorer has a compass; every team has a backbone. But every conqueror carries a weapon, and every champion has an ace up their sleeve. Most supports will make sure we don’t get lost and that we keep getting back up—but ours also make sure that our enemies don’t.
Our student athletes are amongst the best in the world, and we want to showcase their skills, abilities, and hard work this season. Here at UCI, we are so blessed and privileged to be able to work with such an abundance of talented, motivated, and skilled players each and every year. We take pride in being the first public university to create an official esports program. We have continued to defend our title as the premier esports program on the West Coast and remain the team to beat. You cannot have a conversation about the best esports collegiate programs or teams without us.
Despite a world that has changed drastically over the past year, UCI Esports is equipped, we are prepared, and we will always remain the team to believe in.
Years from now when people ask “where were you in 2020?” I will respond, “online, and I hated every second of it.”
2020 was a year filled with strife and changes, as many of the country’s issues were placed under the microscope of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were made privy to the fragility of our healthcare system, made to grapple with the mistreatment of our workers, and we saw just how little our government was ready to deal with the unseen threat of a virus. As buildings and campuses became unsafe for congregations, schools and businesses quickly transitioned from physical interaction to remote operations, trading desks for couches, and cubicles for bedrooms. As an academic I soon saw myself writing grants, hosting calls, and meeting with colleagues all through the screen of my computer. Just like that my and many other lives became mediated through digital platforms.
But then came May and the US caught fire as major cities around America erupted in protest after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of George Perry Floyd Jr. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him on camera. The act was such a clear show of police misconduct and brutality that not only did protest emerge in Minneapolis but in cities like Los Angeles and New York. People across America took to the streets to protest what was a vile and malicious act of policing and unfortunately (and ironically) were subsequently met with the very force they went out there to speak against. Agitations flared, peaceful protest turned into physical confrontation, and long-ignored anger and sorrow became the fuel for the flames which burned signs, buildings, and coincidentally an NYPD van.
Yet, still, for many, the most heated moments of the protest were not experienced in person but rather were witnessed second hand through their television or through social media online. As the protest raged on, Twitter threads became battlegrounds, YouTube videos spun narratives, and the internet yet again became the hotbed for information and dialogue around the events many were experiencing. With #BlackLivesMatter trending yet again in response to the death of ANOTHER Black person at the hands of the police, the online blurred yet again with the physical. So much so, that social media became the key place where I, a Black man, kept up with the news, contacted friends and family who were near protest areas, and was made to relive the trauma of watching Floyd lose his life again and again as it was shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter both as both a form of awareness and as jokes from those craven enough to mock a man posthumously. And, while I donated to BLM initiatives, honked my horn in-vehicle protest, and showed up physically where I could, I—like so many—experienced the brunt of this protest online.
So, it should not come as a surprise when I say that it was not in person or even on Twitter where I got into my harshest debates, but instead, it was within video games like Overwatch and League of Legends where I found the most abuse. In fact, it was gaming spaces like these that became the hardest to occupy during the time of the protest. In an attempt to find some semblance of peace while the world burned, I decided to turn on Overwatch (a hero first-person shooter from the company Blizzard) to try to take the edge off. After some time, I was eventually placed with 11 other players and dropped into a starting zone to wait. However, instead of the typical banter of roles and positions, I was met with a “hello my fellow African Americans, let’s go burn and loot some stores because BLACK LIVES MATTER!” from one of my teammates. Reminded that video games seldom work as escapism for black people, I contemplated whether to let the comment go or to make a scene. I chose the latter.
I responded with “do you think that’s funny?” which prompted him to say “of course! Because they should not be out there at all, because ALL LIVES MATTER!” and quickly an argument ensued. Shouting in a way I am not all too proud of, I went back and forth with the player, I shouted the names of those killed—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin—only to have him respond with conspiracies like the FBI started BLM and comments like “slavery didn’t matter.” It didn’t take long for our remaining teammates to mute us with one going as far as to exclaim, “I don’t play this for politics.” In hindsight I think I would have been better off ignoring the troll—I must admit I was perturbed, livid in fact. Livid that a player used the game as his platform for racism and livid at the apathy of the other players viewing the deaths of Black men and women as simple politics. While the game’s very company (Blizzard) was tweeting in support of Black Lives, its players continued to disparage them. With each engagement I grew colder and angrier, each bout of racism striking deeper than the last until eventually, I arrived at simply telling people to shut the… well you can finish the rest.
Unfortunately, what I experienced is nothing new, as scholars such as Kishonna Gray, Andre Brock, Anna Everett, Samantha Blackmon, TreaAndrea Russworm, and many others have written extensively on the experiences of Black players similar to my own. However, as more and more games become spaces for online interaction, I and many others are yet again forced to acknowledge that games and the many who play them are not always aware of the struggles non-white gamers may go through. But, in writing this piece and sharing my experience I do not want this to come off as an accusation of gamers and gaming practices (there are other avenues for such), but instead as an opportunity to engage with perspectives that have been ignored or overlooked.
As many of us face yet another crisis in our communities, where Black life is threatened for simply existing (under the blanket of COVID no less), it is important to remember that games, as peripheral as they may seem, work as powerful sites of cultural creation and expression. I could not escape my pain through games because the same rhetoric, behavior, and trauma that took place in the physical informed and shaped the virtual. That is why this piece is less of an accusation and simply a call to action.
In a time where Black players face constant racial abuse both inside and outside of games, I propose that gamers engage with the history of this country and the writings of Black scholars, activists, and people. In wanting to see a healthier gaming community, I have curated a list of books, short readings, and articles to read in hopes that gamers and the gaming community at large will pick up the call and accept this challenge. While by no means extensive, the list provided will offer introductory reading to familiarize oneself with Black history in the US and the Black experience in areas such as school, healthcare, and most apropos, online spaces. While seemingly unrelated, there is much to be gained by engaging with past and current writers, and only when we have an informed gaming population can we hope to see change.
If you would like to join in on discussing any of the readings from Akil Fletcher’s list, you are welcome to the UCI Esports Discord server‘s #book-club channel.
Since 2018, UCI Esports has been offering bootcamps to help students hone in on their gaming skills. Typically an overnight program held in Irvine, California (the freshman experience of dorms and dining halls included), we have been able to provide a truly unique week of gaming, training, friendship, and competition.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have needed to switch up the way we offer our programs. As no strangers to the online realm, we remain committed to providing the customized, hands-on coaching that students are used to getting at UCI.
Read on for an in-depth overview of what you can expect should you attend one of our new virtual camps this year.
League of Legends
Our League of Legends Summer Bootcamps will focus on providing campers of any skill level with a chance to train like they do at the top levels of competitive League of Legends. Within one week, we will train you in teams alongside other campers, covering the most critical factors for team and individual success while improve your fundamental knowledge of the game. The rigorous scrimmage-focused curriculum will help you develop across a wide range of essential skills including communication, leadership, analysis, and critical thinking.
Daily schedules will consist of presentations, game seminars, drafting practice, scrimmages, and VoD review (with plenty of breaks)!
While the majority of our coaching will be done in a group setting, instructors will also be available throughout the camp as resources to provide individualized advice as well.
Game concepts covered will include but are not limited to draft theory, champion pools and scouting, laning, macro play and map movements, mechanics, and efficient communication.
Instruction will be led by UCI Esports’ League of Legends Head Coach, David ‘Hermes’ Tu, who has coached numerous LCS teams including Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, and Immortals. Supporting staff will include Assistant Coach and multi-season Challenger, Geoff ‘CentralTime’ Wang; camp counselors from our very own League of Legends teams; and professional guest speakers from the esports industry.
At the Overwatch Bootcamps, coaches will work closely with campers to bolster their abilities. No matter your rank or experience, our staff is here to build up your skills to hit your goals and take those next steps!
Lessons topics will include but are not limited to:
Compositions and playstyle frameworks to build on players’ understandings on how to play to win conditions and dismantle enemy setups
Hero Pool coverage and expansion of players’ personal repertoires, so you will always be equipped and comfortable on some hero, no matter the situation
Pre-fight analysis and game flow models so players always have the direction they need to have to work towards victory
Hands-on personalized instruction
And guest speaker appearances from esports industry professionals sharing their stories on how they’ve navigated their careers.
The goal of these lessons are to allow players to critically think on the go and further their practical knowledge. Campers will be exposed to questions and different perspectives on the game, broaden their horizons in and out of game, and meet other passionate players and teammates with the same competitive drive and goals!
Our professional coaches have spent years traversing the path to pro, both as players and educators. Ronald “Renanthera” Ly is the Head Coach of the UCI Esports Overwatch team and has worked with Overwatch League organizations such as the Boston Uprising and Florida Mayhem, as well as coached for Team Canada. Assistant Coach Michael “The” Kuhns was previously a professional player for CLG and has coached in Contenders for much of his tenure. Together with their trained camp counselors composed of experienced Top 500 players, campers are sure to be in good hands.
If you haven’t applied yet, registrations will close end of day June 14!
During the week, the Starcraft II intramural league completed its Swiss phase, with Magic: The Gathering Arena and Rainbow Six Siege only a week behind.
Other leagues have already advanced to their playoff stages, with League of Legends and FIFA Xbox advancing steadily towards their respective grand finals.
Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.
Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)
Now that four weeks of competition in the Swiss portion of the Starcraft II intramurals have come and gone, the league is gearing up to move to its single-elimination playoffs.
The playoffs will pit participants against one another depending on their performance in the Swiss stage, with higher-scoring players matched with their lower-scoring counterparts.
WattoizCool vs. Saixiori
Battletag vs. FrozenFlame
Antis vs. Veritas
TKD vs. Hyper2K
Zonda vs. LilAznxDude
FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)
acadena1 vs. tylerag
ruihuaz1 vs. gerardph
cbatista vs. bayrakca
ddeorlow vs. sadjads
ajayns vs. swkaplan
desaidn vs. robledo
FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)
After four weeks of tough competition, only one match remains in the FIFA Xbox intramural series. Next week, shumayun and sylee10, the last players standing, will compete for the championship title in the grand finals.
suselton vs. jhunter3
shumayun vs. suselton
Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)
The Overwatch intramurals continued their season with rounds between Wholesome Gamerz, Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.
The round-robin phase of the Overwatch intramurals ends May 26th.
Team Oatmeal vs. Wholesome Gamerz
Team of Rivia vs. Tomo No Kai
Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)
Melgar vs. Be Falco
C. BooCherry vs. Selena
Torressa vs. RNishi
Wordster vs. Damian
League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)
The League of Legends intramural has advanced into its single-elimination playoff stage, where the top eight players from the qualifiers stage will compete for the championship title over the next three weeks.
CK1 T1 vs. NLR
FMP vs. Super Sleep Squad
Eternal Atake vs. COVID-20
YDC vs. Crackrity Crew
CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)
The CS:GO intramural league continued into its third week last Thursday. Matches are continuing in earnest across Groups A and B, as teams compete for a spot in the upcoming playoffs.
Flash Me Long vs. Mark squad
RushB UCI vs. For the Homies
Sesh Hollow vs. CSGAMERS
Team WLTDO vs. xXCloud6_9Xx
ConslePeasnts vs. Team AWPful
Eco Warriors vs. UCI Taekwondo
Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)
As the Swiss phase of the Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural league enters its fifth and final week, players’ scores are beginning to reflect their seeds in the upcoming playoffs.
The highest-scoring players following next week’s competition will be seeded lowest in the playoffs, while the lowest scorers will be assigned higher seeds.
Kaboom vs. MRDewitt
Mr. Granadas vs. Scrubby
Neems vs. Maxattack
.dk vs. Bittersweet
jdawg899 vs. M3RL1N
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM)
One round remains in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league.