See You Next Mission! Farewell to UCI Esports’ Graduating Players


by , Gianeen Almaria | Jun 13, 2019, 11:00AM PDT

As 2019’s spring quarter comes to a close, graduating UCI students are packing their bags and venturing off to parts unknown. Whether it’s finding work in their field of study, heading off to grad school, or taking a break at home to plan their next move, senior Anteater undergrads are dotting the final period on one chapter of their lives and flipping over to the next clean page.

The players on UCI Esports League of Legends and Overwatch teams are no exception. After making semi-finals in the League of Legends College Championships, and placing top 16 in the National League of the Tespa Overwatch Collegiate Championships, the players at UCI Esports are putting an action-packed, nail-biting season behind them. A handful of our players are also finishing their studies and completing their bachelor’s degrees at UCI. We are extremely proud of our collegiate players and their performances, whether it be on the Rift, on the control point, or in the classroom.

We want to thank the following players for their time with our program and congratulate them on an excellent season of gameplay and their stellar academic performance at UCI:

From the League of Legends team:
Lyubomir “BloodWater” Spasov (support; Business Economics major)
Parsa “Frostalicious” Baghai (bot sub; Computer Science major)

From the Overwatch team:
Brendan “tildae” Alvarez (flex tank, Computer Science major)
Isaac “IzakBirdie” Jimenez (main support, Education major)
Patrick “Pat” Phan (flex support, Business Economics major)
Sebastian “Selectt” Vasquez (flex support, Art major)

Between the rush of sorting everything out for the spring 2019 quarter (including my own graduation!) and the busy lifestyles of the players, I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to interview a few of them before they finally leave the team. I interviewed BloodWater, tildae, and IzakBirdie and asked them questions about their experiences at school, both in and out of UCI Esports.

ND: What has been the best part of being a college student on an esports team?

tildae:  I don’t know if I can say there’s any best part, cause they’re all pretty equally good — okay, I just said there’s no best part, but I was just about to say the part I liked the most! I think the part I do like the most, though, is meeting people with similar interests, because back home I didn’t know anybody that liked esports at all, or even knew about it, so now I come here and there’s a whole freakin’ program of like, people who wanna talk about esports and play in esports, and that’s awesome. So I think that’s my favorite part. I’ve found a lot of people with similar interests I never expected to find.

IzakBirdie: I feel like the uniqueness, like how it’s something I get to say, something my family gets to share. I get to go out in the field, the special education field, or like, I’m also an RA (Resident Advisor) so whenever I get to share that, they’re like, “Wow, I’ve never heard of that, I never thought that existed.” “How can I get involved?” Something like that. Even high schoolers are like, “Woah, what is that,” and I have to say “Hold up, don’t throw your education away!” So that’s what I really enjoy about it, that it’s something I can talk about […] The UCI Esports program a very well-known name to it, with a positive atmosphere that rubs off the right way. Not just in the collegiate community, but in the gaming community as a whole, and also outside that. All the people involved with research, all the people who want to sponsor us, it’s a really cool image that I get to represent.

BloodWater: For me, what has made my experience at UCI Esports so memorable is honestly the community. The people I’m surrounded by. The UCI Esports Arena, for me, this is gonna sound a little cliche, honestly, but it’s become like a second home. After I’m done with classes I come here, spend the rest of my time here, hang out with my friends here, my teammates, you know. So honestly it’s just a place, a community that I feel really comfortable in, and I’m really grateful to be a part of it.

Isaac “Izakbirdie” Jimenez, prompted to display anguish by our photographer.

ND: In general, what has been your favorite moment in your collegiate career?

T: Hmm. There’s a lot of moments. I think I would say going to Arizona for the Tespa championship last year, that was really fun. Like, nobody thinks “I wanna go to Arizona,” right? But that was the first time I’ve traveled out of state, and it was really fun, all the stuff they had us do. Like, I felt like a ‘pro gamer,’ even though we’re just collegiate. The way they treated us, the events they had us do with some other charities, the media exposure was fun… Even though we didn’t win overall, the experience was very positive, and so I had a lot of fun with that.

IB: I make friends here and there, so I have some friends in other schools […] through my experience as peaking as a top player, that helped me become well-known for my personality and my behavior. Not only amongst my team but to the Overwatch community as well, to some extent. Like, when I go into games, they say, “Oh, I know you’re on a collegiate team.” They recognize who you are. Even though we didn’t make it to finals, they recognize, “I know who Izakbirdie is, because of the rank, level of play, and the positivity.” What I do a lot is defuse toxicity, or high intense situations, and I feel like not only was that shown a lot in the team, but also in the community. I really liked working with my team and being like how the coaches pushed me into being in the management role, and that spilled over into outside of the game. And that’s what I enjoy most about, kind of keeping track of management, like tracking ultimates for instance in the game, and then keeping track of each other outside the game, making friends and talking to each other. It was something I really enjoyed. And then also peaking Top 500 [on the Overwatch ranked ladder.] Like, as soon as we lost, I did not want my Overwatch career to peak, so I played rank for really long the same day we lost, and I reached my overall peak of all time, with Orisa, a hero that’s not really well-known.

BW: So the first one that comes to mind is winning Nationals last year. That was the highlight for the competitive aspect of the UCI Esports program in general, and for the League of Legends team. We were the first team in the program to secure a national title, and that’s just big. And this year we’re gonna be defending that title… [Author’s note: this interview was conducted before League Collegiate Championship finals.]

ND: What are you going to take away from your college experience?

T: So the things I learned, were, apply yourself and put yourself out there, cause I was kind of a shut-in… Kind of. I was social, but I always preferred to stay home and play games all day, but then I put myself out to the Blizzard club team, and then I put myself out to this program, and that has been like, the biggest change in my life. […] What else did I learn…? I learned that sleep is really important! I don’t know what it was, but I had really poor sleeping habits the first three years, and then this year, I was like, “alright, no matter what, I’m getting eight hours of sleep.” And that has been amazing. I feel good every day now. That’s probably also because of the exercise, which I like, but eight hours of sleep, guaranteed, no matter how much I wanna stay up and play games, I just get that eight hours, and it’s so nice. I feel so much better.

IB: Something I always take away from the program is that I’m representative of the program. That moment where I played in the program is something I will leave behind for others. I came onto the team wanting to leave an impact not only on a gaming level, but on the people. And that’s what I’m going to take away, that next year things will improve because of my feedback, my skill, my everything. Because I wanna give back to other people, that’s why I’m an RA too, and it ties into stuff like that. That’s what my goals in the future are in relation to esports and everything.

BW: Being a part of this program for three years, I came in lacking a lot of skills, especially a lot of social skills. […] So some of the things that I’ve been able to gain from my college experience and the experience as a collegiate player, is just like, being able to manage my time better, being more open minded to a lot of things I wouldn’t normally do, being a more adeptly social creature overall. […] Looking at myself now, I can see that I’ve grown so much in so many ways. If I didn’t choose to go to this university, I’m not so sure a lot of those things would’ve happened, because my other option was going to Cal Poly (Pomona) and I’m not sure that I would’ve found the same community there that I had here. They do have a League of Legends team, but it’s just a club, and I probably would’ve been part of the club, but I wouldn’t have been exposed to so many of the different things that I’ve had here.

Brenden “tildae” Alvarez at the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship.

ND: Are there any highlights from a particular game or set that you’re proud of?

T: Not really. Cause like, to be honest like, the highlights have never been a big part of me. I think uh, in terms of how I play, I don’t think I’m bursty and have a lot of highlights. I’m more like consistent, but obviously if there’s a line I’m staying at it and not going above and beyond. I think that’s an accurate assessment of my gameplay. Uh, I will say though, there was a game where I Pulse Bombed myself a few times… like, one game it happened two or three times, and all of them managed to be caught on stream… So there was one time that someone was near the wall, and I Pulse Bombed them and it hit the wall, so I immediately Recalled, cause that’s usually the safe thing, but I ended up right there. So I Pulse Bombed myself! And another time, the map was Oasis, someone was on the stairs and I Pulse Bombed, I stuck them, but they ran right into me and somehow they didn’t die and I died. And the cameraman, I don’t know if they knew me, but they immediately turned to my body, and just zoomed in on it! That’s been like a meme, that’s been following me this whole time, so obviously it’s slightly embarrassing, but it’s also really funny that everyone, including people in the collegiate community that aren’t from UCI, always meme me about it.

IB: We got broadcasted a lot on our very first year of Overwatch, and I used to just love messing around and trolling. Not in a negative way, but I remember we were playing against Berkeley, and I didn’t know the camera was on me, and I made a very unique play where I blocked someone and they couldn’t get out, and I teabagged them, because before you could crouch really fast. Not like for BM [bad manners] right? But just a funny thing! Especially for my team, in those high intensity situations, I like being the comic relief. Even in our final match, one of my teammates got hooked, and when you get hooked that’s a big thing. Like, you’re basically dead, and you have to reset, and the whole team has to back up, but like, he got hooked and he didn’t die, and I was like, “Damn, that person’s so bad! You’re so good!” Really hyping them up.

BW: So, one of my favorite moments that happened in my own gameplay, would be, something that happened in the semi finals in Nationals last year. In one of our games, the enemy team was picking really unorthodox picks, stuff we weren’t used to playing against or seeing. And the first game caught us off guard- we actually lost the first game, but it was a best of three. The second game, we were able to match their pace and picks. It kind of felt like solo queuing, but in that game, I was able to just move in an interesting way, in a way that I haven’t moved my character in a long time since I was a pro pro player, playing fifteen hours a day. So, to me that was really inspirational, that I could play like that again, that well. I was caught by three people, and it was just me, and I was juking all of their abilities and skillshots, and then my team just comes in clutch after ten seconds to save me. It was the perfect bait, I didn’t die either. Oh my God, it was so magnificent! I felt so good after that. It was a good moment for me, because it reminds me that I can still be really good at this game if I put in the time for it. So that’s a really good reminder to have.

Lyubomir “BloodWater” Spasov shares a moment with Peter outside the UCI Esports Arena.

ND: What are your plans for the future, either in your chosen field, esports, or both?

T: Obviously CS can work in game dev, but I don’t wanna do regular coding, I guess. I wanna code games, not apps and stuff. Just because I like the mechanics of games, one of my favorite parts of games, and honestly gaming is the one passion I’ve always had. I’ve never not had it, so I can’t imagine — I don’t like doing stuff I don’t wanna do, I’m very direct about it, so if I’m like “I don’t wanna do this,” then I’m gonna stand my ground and not gonna do it. So, I already know if I try doing a job that I don’t wanna do, I’m not gonna enjoy myself and it’s gonna suck. So I wanna make sure that I do something that I wanna do, which is either esports or video games.

IB: […] UCI does a lot of stuff with high school, right? And the program that puts on the collegiate Overwatch, Tespa, I’m really gearing towards trying to work with them. I have an interview with them soon so I’m hoping that all goes well, but I really wanna push myself, because I enjoy esports and gaming, and as a teacher I feel like there’s an opportunity to do that, like start a club and help my students. But I feel like now I have options, because as an Education major I want to be a teacher because I want to help out and give back, but I also started to lean into, “Now there’s a way I can help out through gaming.”

BW: I am a business economics major, but that’s not where my passion lies at the moment. I think I’m a lot more suited for hands-on things, that involve me handling equipment and things like that. I am considering going into IT, and then transitioning from the IT world into some kind of block-based programming. HVAC controllers and stuff like that, onsite stuff. […] Overall I’m pretty open to doing a lot of different things because I’ve gained so much insider knowledge of the esports industry over the past several years. I have so much experience as a player, as well as support staff and event planning, and I wouldn’t be opposed to transitioning to a role within the esports industry.

Photos courtesy of Riley Okumura and Blizzard Entertainment/Tespa.

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 5


by | May 17, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

This week, the Starcraft II, CS:GO, and Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural leagues began their playoff stages.

Meanwhile, the League of Legends and FIFA leagues, whose playoffs began last week, are advancing quickly through their own playoffs.

Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

The Starcraft II intramural has moved into its single-elimination playoff stage, with pairings for this week shown in the bracket below.

The initial bracket for the single-elimination stage of the Starcraft II intramural. Both rounds 1 and 2 were played this week.

Both Rounds 1 and 2 were played consecutively.

Round 1

LilAznxDude vs. Saixiori (3-0) forfeit
FrozenFlame vs. Hyper2K (3-0)
Purity vs. Zonda(3-0) forfeit
Battletag vs. WattoizCool(3-0)

Round 2

Antis vs. LilAznxDude (3-0) forfeit
Veritas vs. FrozenFlame(3-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

The winners’ bracket will resume on May 25th once finalists are determined.

Losers’ Bracket

rjecheve vs. cbatistaTBD
ksgeorge vs. ddeorlowTBD
ajayns vs. itulinTBD
desaidn vs. hshahdad TBD

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

This week, shumayun and sylee10, the last players standing after four weeks of competition in the FIFA Xbox intramural league, competed for the championship title in the grand finals.

Congratulations to sylee10 on their victory in the grand finals!

sylee10 vs. shumayun1-0

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 of Rivia vs. Team Oatmeal(2-0)
KCM vs. Tomo No Kai(2-0)
Wholesome GamerzBYE

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

RNishi vs. SCRABBLENATOR(345-127)
Damian vs. MelGar(306-285)
Wordster vs. Selena(437-218)
Be Falco BYE

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

Round 2 of the League of Legends intramural playoff has concluded, leaving only two teams–YDC and FMP–standing for the grand finals next Wednesday.

YDC vs. Eternal Atake
2-1
FMP vs. CK1 T1
2-0

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The CS:GO intramural league started its playoffs last Thursday. Matches are continuing in earnest between participant teams.

Results for this week are pending.

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

The Swiss phase of the Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural league has officially ended. propelling the league into its playoff phase.

BitterSweet vs. MRDewitt(2-0)
Scrubby vs. MaxAttack(2-1)
Syn_Invictus vs. Cocanupples (2-0)
Neems vs. Ulleseit(2-1)
Quantuman vs. lolo(2-0)
dawg899 vs. MrGranadas(2-0)
Kaboom vs. M3RL1N (2-0)
.dkBYE

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

The last round in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league has concluded. Playoffs begin next week.

ENYO vs. BF (1-0)
Ant Killers vs. Free Agents (1-0)
For the Homies vs. stonks (1-0)
WhiteGive vs. Tomo no Kai (1-0)

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 4


by | May 10, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

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.

In Progress

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(2-0) forfeit
Battletag vs. FrozenFlame(2-1)
Antis vs. Veritas(2-1)
TKD vs. Hyper2K(2-1)
Zonda vs. LilAznxDude(2-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

acadena1 vs. tylerag(W-L)
ruihuaz1 vs. gerardph(W-L)

Losers’ Bracket

cbatista vs. bayrakca(W-L)
ddeorlow vs. sadjads(W-L)
ajayns vs. swkaplan(W-L)
desaidn vs. robledo(W-L)

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.

Losers’ Semi-Final

suselton vs. jhunter3(W-L)

Losers’ Final

shumayun vs. suselton(W-L)

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(2-0)
Team of Rivia vs. Tomo No Kai(2-0)
KCMBYE

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Melgar vs. Be Falco(196-236)
C. BooCherry vs. Selena(236-287)
Torressa vs. RNishi(214-380)
Wordster vs. Damian(436-195)

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
2-0
FMP vs. Super Sleep Squad
2-1
Eternal Atake vs. COVID-202-0
YDC vs. Crackrity Crew
2-0

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.

GROUP A

Flash Me Long vs. Mark squad(W-L)
RushB UCI vs. For the Homies(W-L)
Sesh Hollow vs. CSGAMERS(W-L)

GROUP B

Team WLTDO vs. xXCloud6_9Xx (W-L)
ConslePeasnts vs. Team AWPful(W-L)
Eco Warriors vs. UCI Taekwondo(W-L)

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(2-0)
Mr. Granadas vs. Scrubby(2-0)
Quantuman vs.Cocanupples (2-0)
Ulleseit vs.lolo(2-1)
Neems vs. Maxattack (2-0)
 .dk vs. Bittersweet (2-0)
jdawg899 vs. M3RL1N (2-0)
Syn_Invictus BYE

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

One round remains in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league.

WhiteGive vs. BF (1-0)
Ant Killers vs. Tomo no Kai (1-0)
ENYO vs. stonks (1-0)
For the Homies vs. Free Agents (1-0)

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 3


by | May 3, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

Week 3 of intramurals has come and gone, and with it five days of intense competition. 

During the week, League of Legends wrapped up its placement stage, advancing ever closer to its May 13th playoffs. Both FIFA leagues are close to their playoffs as well, with the semis and grand finals for both fast approaching.

Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

At the end of their third week of competition, participants in the Starcraft II intramurals have cumulative scores of either 3, 6, 9, or 0.

Only one week of the league’s Swiss phase remains, as players close in on the two-part playoffs starting May 11th.

Zonda vs. Saixiori(2-0) forfeit
FrozenFlame vs. WattoizCool(2-0)
Veritas vs. Battletag(2-0)
Antis vs. Hyper2K(2-0)
LilAznxDude vs. TKD(2-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

With each week of competition, the brackets for the FIFA PS4 and FIFA Xbox leagues continue to narrow.

While competition in the winners’ bracket remains lively, it appears the losers’ bracket has turned into a zombie league, with every player disqualified as the result of a no-show. With any luck, players will return next week to resume their participation in the competition.

Winners’ Bracket 

ksgeorge vs. desaidn(1-0)
acadena1 vs. bbuciococo (1-0)
rjecheve vs. ajayns (1-0)
tylerag vs. ishaas1 (1-0)
gerardph vs. veaswara (1-0)
hshahdad vs. sadjads (1-0)
jtulin (DQ) vs. bayrakca (DQ) (1-0)

Losers’ Bracket

cbatista (DQ) vs. carlamg1 (DQ)(1-0)
ishaas1 (DQ) vs. swkapla (DQ)(1-0)
ajayns (DQ) vs. ifonseca (DQ)(1-0)
desaidn (DQ) vs. hsingyh (DQ)(1-0)
veaswara (DQ) vs. ddeorlow (DQ) (1-0)
bayrakca (DQ) vs. emodanes (DQ)(1-0)
sadjads (DQ) vs. unals (DQ) (1-0)

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Winners’ Bracket

sylee10 (DQ) vs. shumayun (DQ)(W-L)

Losers’ Bracket

jhunter3 (DQ) vs. innadi (DQ)(W-L)
trbhakta (DQ) vs. suselton (DQ)(W-L)

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.

Tomo no Kai vs. Wholesome Gamerz(2-0)
Team of Rivia vs. KCM(2-0)
Team OatmealBYE

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Wordster vs. Be Falco(327-292)
C. BooCherry vs. SCRABBLENATOR(260-205)
Torressa vs. MelGar(281-302)
RNishi vs. Damian(296-178)

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

Now that the league’s round robin phase has finished, the two highest-scoring teams in each group will advance to playoffs.

The advancing teams are, from Group A, COVID-20 and FMP.

From Group B: YDC and NLR.

From Group C: Crackrity Crew and CKI T1.

And, last but not least, from Group D: Eternal Atake and Super Sleep Squad.

We’ll see the teams compete next Wednesday, May 6th.

Group A COVID-20 vs. Paca S.
(1-0)
FMP vs. Purell
(1-0)
Group BYDC vs. Free Agent Team
(1-0)
TPS vs. NLR
(1-0)
Group C Crackrity Crew vs. Tomo Mao Kai
(1-0)
CKI T1 vs. Teemo No Kai
(1-0)
Group DSuper Sleep Squad vs. Aaa
(1-0)
Eternal Atake vs. Zoot Your Zot
(1-0)

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The CS:GO intramural league continued into its second week last Thursday. Teams Sesh Hollow, xXCloud6_9Xx, and New Spice UCI played particularly well this week, winning both their scheduled matches.

Some of the week’s highlights, as well as scores from both groups A and B, are shown below.

Clip taken from the match between RushB UCI and Tomo no CSGO.

GROUP A

For the Homies vs. Flash Me Long (W-L)
Sesh Hollow vs. RushB UCI (W-L)
Tomo no CSGO vs. CSGAMERS (W-L)
Ru Mark squad vs. For the Homies (W-L)
Sesh Hollow vs. Flash Me Long (W-L)
RushB UCI vs. Tomo no CSGO (W-L)

GROUP B

New Spice UCI vs. Team WLTDO (W-L)
xXCloud6_9Xx vs. ConslePeasnts (W-L)
UCI Taekwondo vs. Team AWPful (W-L)
New Spice UCI vs. ConslePeasnts (W-L)
Eco Warriors vs. Team AWPful (W-L)
xXCloud6_9Xx vs. UCI Taekwondo (W-L)

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

.dk vs. Syn_Invictus (2-0)
Scrubby vs. Kaboom(2-0)
lolo vs.Cocanupples (2-0)
Ulleseit vs. BitterSweet (2-0)
QuantuMan vs. MRDewitt (2-0)
Maxattack  vs. M3RL1N (2-1)
Neems vs. jdawg899 (2-1)
MRDewitt BYE
A clip from the match between jdawg899 and Neems.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

Two rounds remain in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league.

BF vs. For the Homies (1-0)
Tomo no Kai vs. ENYO (1-0)
WhiteGive vs. Ant Killers (1-0)
stonks vs. Free Agents (1-0)

A Day In The Life of Scholarship Overwatch Players Stadium and Saffrona


by | Apr 29, 2020, 9:00AM PDT

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. 


UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 2


by | Apr 26, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

Intramurals continued into their second week last Monday, with teams competing in earnest across 9 titles. 

Three of those titles—Scrabble, Overwatch, and CS:GO—held their first official matches this week, and competition for the championship title is now well underway.

Scores for this week’s competition, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

Open for Registration

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (4/16 at 6 PM)

With the success of Week 1’s tournament, the TOs in charge of the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate intramurals have decided to open a second tournament for Week 3.

Registration is currently open, and will end April 28th.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

With Week 2’s matches settled, players have cumulative scores of either 3, 6, or 0–having either won both of their best-of-threes, lost both of them, or won one and lost the other.

Pairings are slowly becoming more balanced as the Swiss system pits players of similar skill against one another. By the end of Week 4, seedings for the playoffs will be finalized.

This week’s matchups featured plenty of notable moments, just one of which is shown in the highlight clip below.

A clip from a match between FrozenFlame and Veritas.
Zonda vs. HYPER2K(2-0)
Veritas vs. FrozenFlame(2-1)
WattoizCool vs. Battletag(2-0)
Antis vs. TKD(2-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

After two weeks of competition, the FIFA PS4 bracket is starting to fall into place.

The losers’ bracket has been established, and with it, fierce competition to claim a spot in the grand finals this June.

For players vnadig, sealea, edgarh6, hlopezes, ddeorlow, seyedsis, and talebik, however, this week marked the end of the line.

Winners’ Bracket 

ksgeorge vs. desaidn (1-0)
acadena1 vs.bbucioco (1-0)
tylerag vs. ishaas1 (1-0)
ruihauz1 vs. cbatista (1-0)
gerardph vs. veaswara (1-0)
hshahdad vs. sadjads (1-0)
jtulin vs. bayrakca TBD
ajayns vs. rjecheve TBD

Losers’ Bracket

karlamg1 vs. vnadig (1-0)
swkaplan vs. sealea (1-0)
ifonseca vs. edgarh6 (1-0)
robledo1 vs. hlopezes (1-0)
gdeept (DQ) vs. ddeorlow (DQ) (1-0)
emodanes (DQ) vs. seyedsis (DQ) (1-0)
unals (DQ) vs. talebik (DQ) (1-0)

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Winners’ Bracket

sylee10 vs. trbhakta(W-L)
shumayun vs. jhunter3 (W-L)

Losers’ Bracket

veaswara (DQ) vs. suselton (DQ)(1-0)
innadi vs. dgarcio(1-0)

Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The Overwatch intramurals started their season off strong with rounds between Wholesome Gamerz, Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.

The rounds were the first in a five-week round robin league that will continue through late May. Playoffs begin May 26th.

Team of Rivia vs. Wholesome Gamerz(2-0)
KCM vs. Team Oatmeal(2-0)
Tomo no KaiBYE
A clip from the match between KCM and Team Oatmeal.

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

UCI’s Scrabble intramural is this season’s only staff/faculty league. Eleven players are participating in the round robin league, which runs from April 21st to May 19th.

After the round robin phase is completed, the four top-scoring players will advance to a two-week playoff ending June 2nd.  

This week’s top-performing players are Wordster and Be Falco, with scores of 398 and 333, respectively.

RNishi vs. Be Falco(293-333)
C. BooCherry vs. Torressa(171-263)
Damian vs. Selena(248-237)
SCRABBLENATOR vs. MelGar(101-139)
Wordster vs. Tara(398-148)
pg13Reader BYE

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

After wrapping up its second week of competition, the League of Legends intramural series inches one step closer to its playoffs, starting May 20th.

Only one round remains in the league’s round robin phase, leaving teams a final opportunity to push ahead of their opponents and earn a spot in playoffs.

Group A Paca S vs. Purell
(1-0)
FMP vs. COVID-20
(1-0)
Group BYDC vs. NLR
(1-0)
TPS vs. Free Agent Team 2
(1-0)
Group C Tomo Mao Kai vs. Teemo No Kai
(1-0)
CKI T1 vs. Crackrity Crew
(1-0)
Group DSuper Sleep Squad vs. Zoot Your Zot
(1-0)
Eternal Atake vs. Aaa
(1-0)

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The CS:GO intramural league is following a Round Robin format. Teams compete in two best-of-one matches each week for the regular season, with the 8 highest-scoring teams advancing to playoffs. 

Some of the week’s highlights, as well as scores from both groups A and B, are shown below.

A clip from a match between Team AWPful and xXcloud6_9xX.

GROUP A

Sesh Hollow vs. For The Homies(W-L)
Tomo no CSGO vs. For The Homies(W-L)
Mark squad vs. CSGAMERS(W-L)
RushB UCI vs. CSGAMERS(W-L)
Mark squad vs. Sesh Hollow(W-L)
Tomo no CSGO vs. Flash Me Long(W-L)
African Rhinos vs. Tomo No CSGO(Forfeit L-W)

GROUP B

ConslePeasnts vs. Team WLTDO(W-L)
UCI Taekwondo vs. New Spice UCI(W-L)
Eco Warriors vs. xXCloud6_9Xx(W-L)
UCI Taekwondo vs. Team WLTDO(W-L)
xXCloud6_9Xx vs. Team Awpful(W-L)
Eco Warriors vs. New Spice UCI(W-L)

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

Although a good number of matchups during Week 2 of the Magic: The Gathering Arena league seemed one-sided, almost half of players took a match off their opponent before being defeated.

As the Swiss phase of the league continues, and players become more evenly paired, this trend will likely continue.

MrGranadas vs Neems  (1-2)
M3RL1N vs. Scrubby (2-0)
jdawg899 vs.Cocanupples (2-0)
Maxattack  vs. Ulleseit (2-1)
QuantuMan vs. MRDewitt (2-0)
Kaboom vs. Syn_Invictus (2-0)
lolo vs. .dk (2-1)

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

Rainbow Six Siege follows a Swiss format similar to Starcraft II and Magic: The Gathering Arena. There will be a two-stage playoff.

The game is the season’s second-most popular, rivaling FIFA with a roster of 40 players split across 8 teams, whose Week 2 results are shown below.

Ant Killers vs. BF (1-0)
Tomo no Kai vs. stonks (1-0)
WhiteGive vs. For The Homies (1-0)
ENYO vs. Free Agents (1-0)

Casting Collegiate: How Anthony “The Last Mehican” Ortega Built His Shoutcasting Career


by | Apr 22, 2020, 9:00AM PDT

When Anthony Ortega signed on as a shoutcasting intern for UCI Esports at the start of 2018, he didn’t quite know what to expect. 

As a transfer student, Ortega knew little about UCI’s esports program when he first arrived on campus. In the course of his studies, however, he met Lyubomir “BloodWater” Spasov, a player at the time for UCI’s scholarship League of Legends team. The two became quick friends, and when Bloodwater mentioned UCI Esports was looking for shoutcasters, Ortega jumped at the opportunity to apply. A few weeks later, he was offered an interview, and a few days after that, notified of his new role as a shoutcaster intern. 

There was only one problem: He’d never shoutcasted before.


In the last 20 years, shoutcasting has undergone dramatic changes as technology—and so too interest in esports as a form of entertainment—has developed at a rapid pace. Far from its origins on the floors of crowded arcades, where shoutcasters called plays for spectators gathered in droves around screens no larger than a laptop, casting has become a respectable career path for those with a passion for esports—and the personality to match. 

The rise of streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch has enabled shoutcasters to reach larger audiences than ever before. Testament to the claim is 2019’s League of Legends World Championships Finals, which attracted a per-minute viewership, on average, of over 21 million. These numbers are not particularly uncommon, and seem to be growing year-to-year; In fact, League of Legends is set to overtake the Super Bowl in overall viewership as interest in the latter dwindles. 

Part of the reason viewers tune in to major gaming events in such numbers is the appeal of individual casters, who play a central role in telling the stories behind the matches they narrate. By providing an emotional connection to games through their commentary, shoutcasters bridge the divide between the average viewer and his or her favorite pro players, connecting them to high-level gameplay in an easily accessible way.

Clayton “CaptainFlowers” Reines is well-known for casting professional League of Legends, where his vibrant personality and incisive commentary have won him a sizable fanbase, numbering over 68,000 on Twitter alone. 

Shoutcasting is becoming an increasingly important part of high school and collegiate esports, too, where thousands of students compete each year in leagues running the gamut of competitive titles. Because casters of all backgrounds and experience levels fill this niche, it’s a great place to pick up new skills and gain experience under the guidance of seasoned mentors. 

In the early days of collegiate esports, however, skilled casters were in short supply. Many entrants to the industry in 2018 came from a background of radio-news or TV broadcasting, as might be expected given the fields’ significant overlap. Others, like the recently-recruited Ortega, joined having no experience at all speaking for an audience on air.

But they knew games better than most, and in the nascent collegiate scene, that was enough.


Ortega’s first cast was for the 2018 College League of Legends series, organized by Riot Games. In preparation, Ortega practiced casting in his apartment and scoured the Internet for information about the competing teams. He also sought the advice of Joushi, a fellow student, whose knowledge of shoutcasting made him a great mentor for new hires.

“Since it was my first ever cast, it was pretty rough even with the preparation I’d done in advance,” Ortega said. “But I managed to get through it in one piece.” 

In time, Ortega came to love the advance preparation that went into crafting an entertaining cast. With Joushi’s help, he honed in on the areas of his commentary he could improve, and slowly but surely became one of UCI Esports’ most experienced shoutcasters. Within the year, he had earned a management position, which he holds to this day. 

“When I officially started as Shoutcaster Manager, I oversaw a team of 7 other casters,” he said. “Because I had the most experience casting, I would help them out however I could when they found themselves struggling. We met every week to do practice casts, and it was really gratifying as their manager to see them constantly learning and improving their skills.”

Spencer Kammerman and Michelle Tran, pictured at left and center, respectively, are current shoutcasters for UCI Esports and NASEF. Under Ortega’s guidance, they cast tournaments and other events in the high school and collegiate space.

As his shoutcasting career gained speed, Ortega’s academic career flourished alongside it. He graduated UCI at the end of 2018 with a degree in Business Economics, and proceeded the next year to the University’s Master’s of Finance program. Now, as 2020’s Spring Quarter begins, he’s taking on a new role: That of professor for UCI’s first-ever shoutcasting class. 


According to Ortega, the class has been a long time coming.

“I first thought about having a shoutcasting class in 2019,” he said. “Even though I pitched the idea to the full-time staff at UCI Esports almost immediately after it came to me, it took a couple months to get the class approved by the university administration.” But a few months’ wait to make his dream a reality didn’t dampen Ortega’s spirit. “It was actually really nice to have some time to get everything in order before the class officially started,” he said. “I was able to get a few of my friends together during that time to help me write a complete shoutcasting curriculum, and make sure the content we were planning to teach was the best it could be.”

The class is, of course, a work-in-progress, but Ortega set out to make its first iteration exceptional. And why not? It stands to be the work through which students will remember him for years to come; the legacy of one of UCI’s first shoutcasters. 

Equally as important, however, is Ortega’s drive to give back to the community that allowed him to realize his passion for casting. By volunteering his time to teach others the ins and outs of his profession, he hopes to imbue his passion for shoutcasting in a new generation of students before he leaves UCI in the summer to open the next chapter of his life and career.

“It’s a bittersweet moment moving on from UCI Esports after all it’s done for me as a student, but knowing I’m making a lasting impact in the esports community with this class makes the transition easier.” 

No matter where his career takes him once he graduates, memories of the time he spent shoutcasting will always have a spot in Ortega’s heart. Particularly the memories where he’s with his friends.

“Out of all the experiences I had being a caster for UCI Esports, I remember the NASEF High School Overwatch Finals last fall as being the most fun and memorable,” he reminisced. “It was a full day of being able to do what I love with some of my best friends at UCI, so I’ll remember those events fondly when I graduate this year.”


UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 1


by | Apr 19, 2020, 12:28PM PDT

Last Sunday, registration for UCI’s spring intramural leagues, announced mid-March, came to a close.

The following week saw six of nine leagues start their first-round matches, with Starcraft II and FIFA PS4 taking the fore on Monday evening. 

With so many games to follow, it might be difficult for the casual observer to get a handle on everything going on this season. In writing this series of updates, my goal is to reduce that difficulty by making important information about intramurals more accessible. 

Below, you’ll find relevant details about the events of IM Week 1, including current standings of players in all games and basic tournament formats.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

The Starcraft II intramural league is following a four-round Swiss format. 

Seeds for playoffs, starting Week 7, will be determined from participants’ cumulative Swiss scores. So far, players have either a score of 3 or 0–earning points for each victory they claimed in their best-of-three bouts Monday evening. 

Updated scores for the first week of competition are shown in the table below.

Zonda vs. Antis(2-0)
Veritas vs. HYPER2K(2-0)
Saixiori vs. FrozenFlame(0-2)
Battletag vs. TKD(2-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

FIFA PS4 has adopted a double elimination league format, with competition extending from Week 3 to Week 10 of spring quarter. 

The FIFA intramurals are this season’s largest, boasting a total of 41 players across leagues in the game’s Xbox and PS4 editions. 

Scores for the PS4 league are shown in the table below.

vnadig vs. acadena1 (L-W)
ishaas1 vs. gdeept (W-L)
rjecheve vs. talebik (W-L)
unals vs. ajayns (L-W)
bbucioco vs. karlamg1(W-L)
tylerag vs. ddeorlow (W-L)
swkaplan vs. gerardph(L-W)
sealea vs. veaswara(L-W)
edgarh6 vs. sadjads(L-W)
ifonseca vs. hshahdad(L-W)
robledo1 vs. ruihuaz1 (L-W)
cbatista vs. hlopezes(W-L)
jtulin vs. dmercer (W-L)
hsingyh vs. bayarakca(L-W)

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

sylee10 vs. innadi (W-L)
dgarciao vs. veaswara (W-L)
sarafd vs. jhunter3(L-W)
shumayun vs. suselton(W-L)

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

The League of Legends intramural series is being played as a round robin league, with 16 participants split into groups of four for the duration of the regular season. 

The regular season consists of three rounds, played once a week on Wednesdays; playoffs will begin Week 7. 

Of note among this week’s matches was the battle between COVID-20 and Purell. Despite his best efforts—including a 99.9% win rate against germs and viruses—Purell faced defeat; only time will tell if he’ll bring it back in time to advance to the next round. 

The results of Wednesday’s matches are listed below. 

Group A FMP vs. Paca S
(1-0)
COVID-20 vs. Purell
(1-0)
Group B Free Agent Team 1 vs. YDC
(0-1)
NLR vs. Free Agent Team 2
(1-0)
Group C Teemo No Kai vs. CrackrityCrew
(1-0)
CKI T1 vs. Tomo Mao Kai
(0-1)
Group D Zoot your Zot vs. Aaa
(0-1)
Eternal Atake vs. Super Sleep Squad
(1-0)

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

This season’s Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural is organized as a Swiss league with five rounds.

Each week, players face off 1-v-1 and are awarded points for every match they win in a best-of-three bout. 

At the end of the five-round Swiss period, the four players with the highest cumulative scores advance to the playoffs, which begin Week 8 and include a semifinal and grand final stage. 

The results of this week’s matchups are shown below.

QuantuMan vs. Ulleseit (1-2)
Kaboom vs. Maxattack (0-2)
Neems vs. BitterSweet (2-0)
jdawg899 vs. lolo (2-1)
Scrubby vs. MRDeWitt (2-0)
M3RL1N vs. Syn_Invictus (2-0)
.dk vs. MrGranadas (0-2)

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

Rainbow Six Siege follows a Swiss format similar to Starcraft II and Magic: The Gathering Arena. There will be a two-stage playoff.


The game is the season’s second-most popular, rivaling FIFA with a roster of 40 players split across 8 teams, whose Week 1 results are shown below.

stonks vs. Ant Killers (0-1)
Tomo no Kai vs BF (0-1)
ENYO vs. For the Homies (0-1)
Free Agents vs WhiteGive (0-1)

Finished

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (4/16 at 6 PM)

The Super Smash Brothers Ultimate intramural is an outlier this season in terms of formatting. Instead of adopting a league format, the tournament organizers opted to host a single-day event, with all matches played in the span of an evening. 

According to reports from the head tournament organizer, Alvin, additional one-day tournaments may be in the pipeline as the quarter progresses. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but prospects look bright given the success of the first tournament. 

The bracket is illustrated below—congratulations to Nanonaitor for his incredible victory this week! 


On Hold

Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The first round of the Overwatch intramurals has been rescheduled for next Tuesday at 5 PM PDT. 

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Scrabble is the only intramural league this season with registration limited to UCI faculty and staff. Registration is ongoing until midnight tonight, and the competition begins next week. 

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The first round of the CS:GO intramurals has been rescheduled for next Thursday at 6 PM PDT.


Announcing Tools for Schools 2.0


by | Mar 9, 2020, 7:00AM PDT

Well Met!

In 2015, when I began exploring the potential for an esports program at UCI, Kurt Melcher, the godfather of college esports, from Robert Morris University, was generous enough to speak with me a few times, sharing his wisdom and answering my naive questions. At that time there were only four schools that were offering scholarships. Now, just a few years later, that number has ballooned into the hundreds. In 2017, to pay forward the kindness that Kurt had shown me, we began officially sharing some of our founding documents and data to educate others looking to join in.

Over the years, there has been tremendous interest from colleges and universities from around the world to learn from us. We now speak to several schools per week, hosting group tours, international delegations, providing individual consultations, conducting follow-up calls, and so on.

We now look to scale our efforts so we can more efficiently handle the growing interest. Therefore, I am happy to announce our new Tools for Schools 2.0 product comprised of four different ways schools can learn from our experience as they evaluate the collegiate esports opportunity.

1. Our new Tools for Schools Wiki provides answers to dozens of the most common questions we receive. It is a living document, and we will add more written and video content as time goes on. Let us know what we’re missing and what we can add to help others!

2. If you have follow-up questions after reading the wiki, we will host bi-monthly conference calls for people who need clarification or have some unique questions. These are held every other week on Thursdays at 11am Pacific Time.

Please sign up for a conference call here.
If people sign up, we will have staff available to speak with you.

3. We host the UCI Esports Conference every October which is a gathering of esports researchers, collegiate and high school program directors, and games/esports industry leaders. There will be relevant sessions as well as opportunities to learn from colleagues and build your scholastic and collegiate esports network.

4. Finally, if you really want high-level, personalized consulting from UCI, we can put together a consulting agreement where we set aside hours or days to dive deep into your program planning. This will be a premium service for those with the passion and budget.

I hope that many folks find this information helpful. As you build your esports program, it is my request that you openly share what you have learned with other colleagues and people that follow after you.

Best of luck to you!

Mark Deppe
Director, UCI Esports