Matt Akhavan on his experience with esports and school: “You need self-awareness, and you’re going to have to make sacrifices.”


by | Jul 19, 2018, 4:41AM PDT

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.

UCI Esports Continues Supporting High School Esports with NASEF


by | Jul 5, 2018, 8:53PM PDT

The high school esports map just got a little bigger.

After a successful pilot year, the Orange County High School Esports League recently announced their plans for expansion via the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF). Moving forward, NASEF will continue to provide high schools with coaching support, career-focused workshops, club development resources and a competitive league, but this time beyond Orange County and across North America.

Additionally, NASEF will bring new high school English Language Arts curriculum with the influence of esports, debuting in select California high schools beginning Fall 2018. Courses include “English 9 and Game Design,” “English 11 and Marketing,” and “English 12 and Hospitality.” All courses will fulfill the University of California’s “b” designation for “a-g” subject requirements.

UCI Esports is excited to continue their partnership with NASEF alongside the Samueli Foundation, Orange County Department of Education, Connected Camps, Connected Learning Lab and OC STEM Initiative, as well as long time campus partners Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Science.

Registration will begin in late July, but high school students, parents, educators and community members can visit the registration page on the NASEF website for more information, or email info@esportsfed.org.

FVHS Gold Takes Home the Championship and $2500 Grant Money


by | May 1, 2018, 11:01PM PDT

The Fountain Valley High School Gold squad hoists their first place trophy after defeating La Quinta High School Gold. Photo credit: Esports Arena Orange County (http://twitter.com/ESA_OC)

The Fountain Valley Gold squad surpassed all expectations on Sunday when they stormed through the finals of the Orange County High School League. They tore through their opponents, La Quinta’s Gold squad, thanks to a combination of decisive play and a strong read on the metagame. The team knew just what they had to do to win, and their underdog status gave them just the motivation they needed to controvert their naysayers and take home the first-ever Orange County High School League championship title. Of especial note was the performance the team’s top laner, N0RMIE, and jungler, FV Ares, both of whom completely stole the show and were easy recommendations for MVP nominations thanks to their dominating performances – especially N0RMIE, who put on one of the only true hard-carry performances seen throughout the entire tournament during the match’s first game.

Esports Summer Camps 2018


by | Mar 6, 2018, 12:00PM PDT

We are happy to announce our Youth Summer Camps for 2018! Starting with the Girls’ Summer Camp last year, UCI Esports strives to create fun and educational camps for those interested in learning more about the esports industry and improving their gameplay.

This year, we are expanding our camps to include “elite bootcamps” targeting students interested in pursuing professional-level play, for a total of three camps: Girls in Gaming, Overwatch Bootcamp, and League of Legends Bootcamp.

The Girls in Gaming camp will be extremely similar to our first camp in 2017. We will be joined by guest experts to explore a range of topics from streaming, game development, the competitive scene, and much more. Additionally, the camp will focus on networking and learning from the challenges our speakers have overcome in the currently male-dominated industry.

The two bootcamps will be focused on the games we currently offer scholarships for. Each camp will feature our very own UCI Esports team and support staff in addition to guests from the pro scene. Our goal is to provide helpful resources and the knowledge needed for a competitive gamer to improve their skills and pursue future opportunities.

The Girls in Gaming camp will meet in the UCI Esports Arena from Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm. The new bootcamps are a five-day, five-night program.

We will have more information soon regarding each of our camps, including registration details (curriculum, fees, staff and guests) and applications. If you’d like to be specifically alerted when the content launches, please contact us here.

Edit 3/20/18: Our camps website is now live with more details and application forms!

Nick Theodorakis on Collegiate Esports: “You can’t expect it to instantly happen.”


by | Feb 5, 2018, 4:29AM PDT

Nick Theodorakis, more commonly known as Learntooplay of our collegiate Overwatch team,  serves as resident main tank and target caller. He had transferred from Saddleback Community College and is currently in his Junior year at UCI studying Business Economics.

We ran into Nick by chance at the UCI Esports Arena, and after sharing a few jokes and some cookies, he told us about his opinions on the current state of the game and what it’s like playing for the school.

This interview was a collaborative effort with Alexander Bond.


What do you think of the Junkrat and Mercy changes?

I think they’re really good. I think Mercy’s fine right now, she’s at a spot where you can’t just play it and go from Platinum to GM anymore. It makes the game a lot more fun, I think, with Mercy not picked every single game, especially for support players. All of the other players don’t like playing against Mercy because Resurrect’s is just an incredibly strong ability in my opinion. For Junkrat, I feel like it’s better than it was, but I feel like he still needs a little bit more of a nerf just because he can still do an insane amount of damage, especially with RIP-Tire.

How do you think the meta will develop? Do you see any other characters becoming stronger with these changes?

In my mind, I think Blizzard’s just trying to make everybody played equally, which, I don’t know if that’s realistically possible. Heroes that aren’t played now or as much, like Mei or Hanzo– I think we’re either going to see more people get nerfed to all be the same level in terms of viability, or we’re gonna see everyone else getting buffed to the levels that other heroes are currently at.

Do you think there’s any merit to playing these characters that aren’t played as often, whether professionally or casually?

These heroes that aren’t meta are usually picked in certain scenarios just because sometimes it’s not best to just have the meta picks. But it’s almost always good to not play these off-meta heroes.

From what I’ve heard from Bischu and Agilities, compositions are going go to run at least three tanks or four tanks, and we’re going to see more Moira, Ana, and Lucio. What do you think about that?

A little bit more Ana, more than she was played before. Definitely a lot of Zen, Lucio, and Moira for sure. A lot less Mercy, which is good. It’s gonna just be Zen, Lucio. Moira primarily.

Do you think Moira needs any changes with her kit in this new meta?

Yeah, I think she definitely needs– I don’t know exactly what, but her ult builds way too fast, so if they could increase the amount of damage and healing it takes to charge the ult, that’d be really good. Maybe fix something with her left click. Her right click and her orb aren’t really too bad. Maybe like less healing and damage for her orb, but her healing’s just nuts since she builds ults every single fight.

Learntooplay offering game play advice.

When the Mercy changes went live, there was a lot of community backlash, especially from players who just wanted to play casually. Do you think Blizzard needs to focus more on the professional side of play, or on the casual side, or do you think there’s a balance they can find there?

Blizzard is trying to do both right now, and that doesn’t work. It’s gonna be one way or the other, somebody’s gonna be upset, whether it’s the casuals or the top-tier players. I’d prefer if they were balancing for top-tier, although Blizzard’s a company, they gotta cater to all fans. They can’t just focus on the one percent, they have to please everybody. With the Mercy changes, I don’t think it makes the hero harder, I guess. It’s still the same Mercy, she just isn’t able to change fights as easily. It isn’t as easy to come in and win the fight for your team with Mercy’s ult. Other than that, I think the changes are fine. People are gonna complain obviously. [Laughs.]

Aside from who you play in game, when you’re playing on your own just for fun, who do you like to play?

Reinhardt’s a lot of fun in the right situation, because without a team, there’s not a whole lot I can do. If a team’s not working with me, then I can’t play the game. With the changes to Mercy’s nerf, I like Winston a lot more because I can actually kill things, and I’m still working on Orisa because that’s pretty new to me.

When Orisa came out, not a lot of people were playing her. Was it kind of the same mentality when playing with her, not really keen on playing a hodgepodge of different abilities from a bunch of different heroes?

At the beginning, Orisa wasn’t super niche. Now she’s used occasionally, just because that’s how the meta works, I guess. It used to be really dive-heavy meta, so Orisa can’t do a ton against dive, especially when you just go past her shield. With these new metas, I guess, where it’s not a whole lot of damage, or like going past a shield, she’s able to do a lot more because she has her shield every nine seconds. Hog/Orisa’s a really good combination.

What do you guys think about your personal trainer? What kind of workouts do you do?

Oh, Haylesh? Haylesh is awesome, he’s the man. I love Haylesh. We just go in, we stretch, we do all our exercises and stuff– lifting weights. Usually we’ll do warm up stretch, we’ll do some cardio, then a warm down stretch. But yeah, he’s awesome, he’s a really cool guy and I like him a lot.

Is it hard balancing everything that the esports college program demands you to do?

Not for me personally. I’m just taking 12 units. My classes are difficult, but they don’t require me to be working every single hour of the day. So I have time to still practice and do what I need to do.

Has playing in the collegiate program changed the way you feel while you’re playing on your own? Do you still enjoy the game as much?

I started to enjoy the game enjoy less not because of collegiate, but because of how the meta was. That’s pretty much it. Way back when in Season 3 or something, a year ago, I was loving the game. Then, obviously the Mercy and Junkrat changes happened around Season 4, I believe. I dunno, ever since then the game had a bad taste in my mouth, I didn’t have as much fun. I wasn’t always excited to get up and go play. It was more of “I have to do this so I better get it done,” but now I’m starting to love it the way I used to before the changes.

Learntooplay in the middle of a casual match.

Are you considering on going pro after your collegiate career? What kind of pathways are you looking into taking there?

Yes. It’s difficult because, compared to other people who aren’t working or have a lot more time, they can just play everyday. Whereas I have to go to school and I have other commitments as well. I’m not able to play as much as other people. You don’t get to choose whether you go pro. You get picked up, so I’m just trying to play my best. Hopefully I’ll get picked up at some point.

It’s difficult to go pro, especially in collegiate I think, because collegiate is looked down upon by the rest of the community. And because it’s difficult to make a name for yourself, I guess. Because I might be the same skill level as another main tank player who’s on an academy team, but he’s on the team just because he’s more well known. So that’s another hard part about going pro.

So distinguishing yourself from the rest of your team?

Yeah. Just making sure that everybody knows that, hey, I’m a good player, you should get me on your team.

You’ve been watching Overwatch League. So after watching matches there, how do you think you compare to the professionals?

It depends on the team, right? Because not all teams are the same skill. Obviously, some Korean teams are much better than other teams. If I were to compare myself to those main tank players, obviously I’m nowhere close. But if I compare to lower tiered teams, I think I’m pretty close in skill.

What advice do you have for someone trying to climb ranked?

You can’t expect it to instantly happen. You need to work at it, you need to work hard. You need to work hard with your team even though sometimes they don’t wanna work with you. You gotta do your best to keep a positive attitude because some players are just gonna bring you down. I dunno man, in order to just keep going and keep improving, you gotta keep a positive attitude and don’t one-trick heroes because that doesn’t work. [Laughs.]

What are your favorite teams and players in Overwatch League?

I like Valiant a lot. I thought [the viewing party] was awesome. I think Valiant’s probably my favorite team. I think New York’s gonna win it just because I think they have the best team. I really like Nomy, he plays for San Francisco Shock. He’s a really awesome guy, I met him in person two days ago. He was super cool, super nice dude. I also like Muma a lot, he plays for Outlaws. I’ve just met a lot of main tanks. I like GrimReality too, he plays for Valiant. Best main tank player I think is Gamsu, he plays for Boston.

Favorite game types and maps?

Either hybrid or escort. Those are just the best in my opinion. I like KOTH, but I dunno. I just really like hybrid and escort. For maps, everybody likes King’s Row. It’s the staple map of Overwatch, I guess. I like King’s Row and I like Dorado.

Favorite combos to pull off in the game?

It’s really satisfying to push people off a map with Winston, Orisa, Reinhardt’s charge. It’s really fun because you know it tilts them. [Laughs.]

Did you spend your OWL tokens yet? Which team and which characters?

I believe I bought the Gladiator skin for Orisa on one of my accounts, and then I bought Seoul Reinhardt and Seoul Winston on two other accounts. I wanna support teams.

Any shout outs?

Shout out to my team, I love you guys. Shout out to UCI Esports. They support us a lot and I really appreciate it. Shout out to Mark. Shou tout to my parents and sister for supporting me. Oh, and my girlfriend because she’s my girlfriend. [Laughs.]


Photos by Alexander Bond and Ashley Gayoso.

LA Valiant Agilities & LA Gladiators Bischu on collegiate Overwatch and the current meta


by | Feb 3, 2018, 2:38AM PDT

Thank you to Nick D’Orazio for helping us get an interview with Agilities! Thank you to LA Gladiators for hosting college night!


Agilities

What do you think of the Junkrat and Mercy changes?

I am very happy about it. The game is just going to be much more enjoyable for everyone. Even on the first day when the patch came out, I was enjoying watching and enjoying playing the game more. I feel like Junkrat may need a bigger nerf than that because he’s still very powerful. Maybe a little too powerful. His tire is crazy.

How do you think the meta will develop? Do you see any other characters becoming stronger due to these changes?

I think more supports will become stronger. I think Moira and Ana will be played more. The main comps that I’ve run into right now are quad tank because Lucio and Moira just go in with the tanks. Speed boost in and Moira heals all of the tanks at once.

Thoughts on collegiate Overwatch teams?

I think there’s a place for it. Those players that aren’t in the Overwatch League, like from that [collegiate] to the Overwatch League is a really big step. I think it’s a good idea. It gives Blizzard a lot of publicity. It gets viewers from the colleges.

Advice/ tips for players looking to go pro after collegiate?

You can’t get too down on yourself if you’re not making it. You have to put in 100% effort and play every chance you get. If you put in the practice and review your own mistakes, using Overwatch as an example, if you record your own POV and watch it later, you can see what you’re doing wrong and then you could try to fix those mistakes. That will probably help more than just playing the game. I feel that if you watch your own gameplay, it’s the easiest way to improve.

If you’re really good at the game and you have 100% confidence that you can make it, then it’s probably better to focus on the gaming side. If you’re not confident in yourself, then you need to balance it and have a backup plan. If you don’t make it in esports and drop out of college, then you’re kind of screwed. The best way to do it is to have smart practice so that when you get the chance to play, you’re getting the most out of it.

LA Gladiators is hosting a college night/ meet and greet. Fans get the opportunity to play Connect 4 against Surefour. Do you think that you could beat him in Connect 4?

I don’t know, I used to be pretty good at Connect 4. I can challenge him.

LA Valiant viewing party at UCI?

I would like join them and be at one in the future. I think it’d be cool.

Shoutouts

Thank you to the fans, thanks for supporting us and we’ll hope to do good in the future as well.

Bischu

What do you think of the Junkrat and Mercy changes?

I’m pretty happy with the changes. A lot of the times the kills kind of felt robbed. You make a sick pick and then it doesn’t even matter anymore because res is up. It kind of rewarded you for playing aggressively, being unsafe, and having bad positioning. I’m happy to see Mercy go for sure. I think Junkrat is still a little bit too strong in my opinion but I’m still happy with the changes. People might not think that it’s a big change, but Junkrat not being able to 2-shot you with “skill” isn’t really a thing anymore. It was crazy. You could miss your shots and still be relevant.

Do you think they will still be viable characters to play?

Junkrat will still be viable.

How do you think the meta will develop? Do you see any other characters becoming stronger due to these changes?

I think the meta will shift to tank meta where teams will run at least three tanks. I think that Moira and Lucio will get a lot more play time. People don’t know how much AoE healing that is. When you guys are all clumped, the tanks can’t die. It’s crazy. There’s so much healing. If people remember back when Ana came out, it was all about building ults fast. It’s similar with Moira. I think she’s going to need a bit of an ult nerf. She’s getting it way too fast. It feels like season 3 Ana where you tell your team to just take hits and build ults.

If there were a need for a significant patch change in the future, do you think that they’d implement the patch immediately or after a stage?

If something was incredibly broken, I feel like they would hotfix it. As long as it’s not game breaking, I don’t think they’d patch in the middle of a stage.

General thoughts on collegiate Overwatch teams?

I think collegiate Overwatch being there is really good. I was on a collegiate team myself back when I used to play League of Legends. It’s a little bit weird though because if you look at traditional sports, people go from college sports into the professional scene. In esports, the transition from the collegiate scene to the pro scene isn’t really there. You don’t really hear about great college players going into professional esports. I’m a little disappointed that the transition isn’t as smooth but I feel like in the future especially with the Overwatch League being so well made and produced, I feel that it’s set a good future for aspiring talent out there

UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and University of Toronto are in the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate Championship. Who are you rooting for?

I gotta root for my boys from San Diego!

[Bischu smiles and laughs]

Advice/ tips for players looking to go pro after collegiate?

It’s really up to them. I was only going to college for a year and I saw a good opportunity and took it. It’s not as scary as it seems. If anyone puts in the effort and remembers that they’re doing it for themselves, they can do it. I forget it sometimes too. I just play and then I get complacent and then I stop practicing and stop watching vods. Every day someone else is doing all of that. As long as you put in the effort anyone can do it, and don’t be too scared.

So you guys are hosting a college night and meet and greet today at the Guildhall. Do you think you could beat Surefour at Connect 4?

I don’t know. He’s pretty big brain so we’ll see. I’m pretty confident too, but Surefour is definitely the main boss here.

Any advice for climbing solo queue?

Play D.Va.

[Bischu laughs]

Shoutouts

To my family who supported me through all of this. I’m happy that they’re happy with where I am. I was stressed out and they were just as stressed out. I’m really happy with how everything turned out and they still support me. Big shoutouts to the fans. None this would’ve been possible without the fans. We would just be here (College Night at Guidhall in LA) in an empty bar.


Thank you so much to Agilities and Bischu for their time and good luck on their future matches. Follow their teams LA Valiant and LA Gladiators. Player photos taken by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment. College Night photos taken by Oshin Tudayan.

Interview UCI Melee Captain Faceroll: “There are countless ways for me to get better, and that’s really exciting to me.”


by | Feb 2, 2018, 9:45PM PDT

Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams shares his thoughts on his performance at GENESIS 5, staying motivated, and his goals for 2018.


How did you prepare for this tournament? Was there a specific practice regimen?

I looked at my projected bracket and tried to prepare myself for specific matchups. I knew I’d most likely be playing against Ryobeat, a Peach player from NJ.  He was a player I was kind of worried about so I thought a lot about the Peach matchup and practiced for it in advance.

How did you feel going into this tournament and how did it affect your performance?

I’ve always felt like I’ve been improving, ever since I started playing. So each current day I’m the best player I can be. I took my first ever rest from Melee during this Winter break (a personal record breaking low of only entering 1 tournament in 3 weeks), which meant I wasn’t as warm as I could be. But even during my break, I still watched Melee sets and thought about the game, and I feel like I was able to come back into the swing of things with a fresh mindset. A small break can be good because it can serve as a sort of mental reset; it’s enough time to break some very bad habits and forces you to think more holistically about the game because you’ve been away for a bit.

I think that helped a lot going into Genesis because when I started school this Winter quarter, I had a newer perspective and was able to implement things I had been thinking about.

What part of your performance did you think that you executed well, and that lower level players could learn from?

One thing I executed well was keeping my mentality in check. In winners bracket, I lost to PewPewU— a player I previously held a 2-0 record against— in a pretty embarrassing fashion on stream. I felt as though I had played literally the worst I had ever played. After talking about it with Druggedfox, someone I look up to a lot, I was able to consolidate my feelings and work through them. I messaged Druggedfox on Messenger pretty much directly after the loss telling him how I felt, and he said something that really stuck with me. “If you played the worst you’ve ever played just now, that only means you will play better during the rest of the tournament!”. Hearing that actually made a lot of sense to me, and I was able to channel that into positive energy and ended up having one of my better performances in my career at a tournament of that caliber.

It’s something lower level players can learn from for multiple reasons. 1. It’s important to realize that ranked players can play bad too, and that it’s okay if you personally have a rough set because everyone goes through it. And 2. That singular set doesn’t have to define you for the rest of the bracket. It’s completely up to you how you react to it, and the previous sets have actually no bearing on how the rest of your sets need to play out.

You were the highest placing solo Sheik main that attended Genesis. Why were other players who have been known for their Sheik not as successful this tournament (aside from Plup)? Is having a secondary character necessary for covering Sheik’s weaknesses in the developing meta?

Honestly, my bracket was easier than it was projected to be. I was the beneficiary of several upsets, which meant that I ended up playing lower ranked players who made upsets, instead of the higher ranked players I was originally slated to play. It’s not to say my bracket was a cakewalk, but just that it was “supposed” to be much harder. But I also think in general I’m actually a very consistent player at nationals, basically never losing to anyone ranked lower than me.

I don’t think a secondary character is necessary if you main Sheik, though that’s not the popular opinion. Most top sheik mains (Plup, Shroomed, Swedish Delight, etc.) at least play one other character regularly in tournament (usually for the Jigglypuff or Ice Climbers matchups). I don’t think that’s necessary at all, though. I think Sheik doesn’t lose any matchups super badly, meaning every matchup is more dependent on individual player skill than character differences. But I also think it’s possible that Sheik is at an advantage in every matchup. I for sure think Sheik beats Jigglypuff and Ice Climbers, which are the two ostensibly “bad” matchups for Sheik.

I think the reason why people default to playing another character for certain matchups is that it’s easier to mold that character’s playstyle around beating a certain character. Whereas if you are trying to play your main, you have to change how you normally play and that can be frustrating.

UCF/ No UCF? Controller mods? Does it matter?

I am very pro UCF. I think that it’s ridiculous certain controllers are objectively better than others, to the point where certain techniques are nigh impossible to do. This would be less of a big deal if Gamecube controllers were still being manufactured, but because Nintendo has ceased production, a controller can range up to $50, and the price jumps up way more if it’s known to have good dashback.

Admittedly, I didn’t notice much of a difference between my play during Genesis 5 (which was on vanilla Melee) and when I was playing on UCF, except for a couple of cases.

There is definitely an argument to be made that UCF makes certain things too easy, and that it’s not a big deal to get individual controller mods, but at this point the vast majority of the Melee community wants UCF.

Once players had qualified for top 8, who were you predicting to win?
I predicted Hungrybox to win simply because he has been winning most tournaments these days. Plup was who I wanted to win, but if I were a betting man, I would have bet on Hungrybox for sure.

What is the experience like at Genesis?
The Genesis experience wasn’t incredible in terms of tournament logistics. The venue layout left a lot to be desired, such that there wasn’t much room to move around in your pool area. There was also a lot of noise, which made it difficult to hear your pool captain. I also waited an hour between my Top 64 sets because they wanted everything to be put on a recording setup.

That being said, nationals are awesome for many reasons. Nowhere else do you get to be a part of such a massive event with such enormous amounts of talent. One of my favorite parts of nationals is walking around during later parts of the bracket (Round 2 pools and early Top 64) and just seeing all of the hype matches. Most of that stuff isn’t on stream, so the only way you can enjoy it is by being there in person.

What makes Genesis a tournament that brings in so many players?

Genesis is a tournament with a lot of history (first time Armada went to the states), so it has a brand that people recognize and want to be a part of. Also because it’s in California, it has access to the huge local population of players. I know several people from UCI that suffered the 6+ hour drive to Oakland, which is something that wouldn’t be possible if it were on the East Coast, for example.

What was your favorite moment at Genesis?

Plup winning was really awesome. My favorite moment was playing against llod in bracket and being able to implement stuff in the Peach matchup that I had practiced with him just earlier that day. Peach is a matchup I feel like I’ve struggled with in the past, and it was cool to see things I had worked on come to fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

Any fan interactions?

A really cool story is during the middle of day 2 of the tournament, a little kid walks up to me (must be around 12 or 13) and says he’s a really big fan of mine, and wants to play. His tag is “Lil’ Pastry” and he’s from NJ. He was just so excited to play Melee and he felt really invested in learning from me and getting better at the game. Seeing his passion made me want to get better too! He interestingly had a B0XX controller, which is an attempt to make a traditional fight stick controller for Melee. It is one of only 2 in existence, the other 1 being owned by Hax$ himself. Pastry was a very technical fox main and just seemed so happy to be there in the moment.

What keeps you motivated to continue and improve at melee? Depending on a placing at a particular tournament, how do you move forward from a difficult loss, and how do you prevent complacency from success?

I feel motivated by the fact that there is still so much room for me to grow. I can watch a set of myself, and see so many mistakes I make that seem obvious in hindsight. There are countless ways for me to get better, and that’s really exciting to me. I feel like so many players above me in rank are totally beatable, and that’s something I am motivated by.

Preventing complacency is really hard, but one thing to do is to keep a list of things that you need to work on. Even if you win a set versus someone and you feel good about it, if you have a specific notated list that needs to be completed, you still have work to do. And since it’s specific, you know exactly what you can start improving on.

Any particular goals in mind for this year?

I’d like to beat a top 30 player at a national. I am very consistent at nationals in that I very rarely lose to players worse than me, but I never really exceed expectations. I sort of always place around where I should. I’ve taken numerous sets off of top 30 players at locals and regionals, and I want to take the next step and do it at a tournament that really matters.

Favorite character to play besides sheik

Fox is probably my 2nd best character besides Sheik, but Falco I think is the most fun to play. It’s just something about his combos that are really satisfying. He has a lot of moves that just feel good to hit with, and you can swag on people in ways that I feel are universally respected.

Favorite technique/combo to pull off
This might sound funny but one of my favorite combos is hitting an opponent with ledge attack and then tech chasing them off of it. It just seems really silly and frustrating for my opponent to have happen to them.

I also am a fan of chaining multiple down-airs in the middle of my combos. It just feels relatively unique.

What do you want prospective students, who play melee, to know about UCI melee?

It’s super welcoming and there is a large group of people who play, from all skill levels. I don’t want UCI Melee to seem like a place for only tryhards and people that play endlessly every day. That is definitely not the case, and I don’t want to prevent anyone from getting into the scene because they feel intimidated. The scene is very lively, and we recently got some new additions to our club board that I feel like will do great things after I graduate.

Shoutouts

Shoutouts to all of my Irvine friends that cheered me on during my matches. It really means a lot to me that you would show your support, and I really do think it helps. Shoutouts to Druggedfox for giving me much needed emotional support and helping me be the player I know I can be. Shoutouts to TAG and the rest of my officers for running sick Melee events and constantly fostering the Melee scene to new heights. Shoutouts to you for interviewing me and UCI Esports for promoting content like this!


Follow Captain Faceroll on Twitter. Cover photo taken by Alexander Bond. Screenshots taken from VGBootcamp’s VODS and Nate Gallagher’s Youtube.