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.”


First Ever Pokimane Scholarship Recipient: Nyah Beck!


by | Jul 22, 2022, 12:30PM PDT

Two years ago, UCI Esports was excited to announce the upcoming launch of the Pokimane Scholarship. A generous donation of $50,000 was given to the program by the famous gaming personality Imane “Pokimane” Anys herself to fund tuition and fees for student gamers for years to come via accrued interest. Over this summer, the program has chosen one lucky undergraduate to receive $2500 for the 2022 school year ahead, officially beginning the Pokimane Scholarship! 

The first ever recipient of this scholarship will be Nyah Beck, a founder of the Black Gxming Society as well as a Community Leader of The Association of Gamers, both being local campus organizations at UCI. Beck emphasizes the importance of gaming in her life as a conduit for making life-lasting connections and fostering community. 

“I believe the greatest thing [about gaming] has been being able to connect with others who live all over the world and have diverse backgrounds that differ from my own. Even times that the community has not been so great or positive to be around, this often serves as a learning experience, but also makes the great friendships stand out even more. Finding these peers has allowed me to grow and embrace my geekiness and be my most authentic self.”

– Nyah Beck

UCI Esports would like to extend a joyful congratulations to Beck! We are excited to see her impact on the gaming community moving forward!

Welcome Tildae!


by | Dec 9, 2021, 4:17PM PDT

A New Challenger Has Arrived

We are incredibly excited to share that Brenden “Tildae” Alvarez has come back home to UCI and will be joining UCI Esports as our new Arena Coordinator.  Brenden graduated from UCI in 2019 with a degree in Computer Science.  Tildae also played on our Overwatch team for two years, leading the squad to the Fiesta Bowl in 2018 and a berth in the National Championship match.

Since graduating, Brenden has been working as a counselor for Connected Camps and a coach for NASEF.  We are thrilled to have him back on campus and to help us engage the UCI gaming community as we return to campus.

Please join us in welcoming back home and congratulating him on his new position.

Our League of Legends: UCI Esports 2021-22 Roster


by | Nov 2, 2021, 7:37PM PDT

The UCI Esports program formally announces our League of Legends scholarship team rosters today in anticipation of the College League of Legends (CLOL) national championship, coming off the heels of the team’s victory in the RSAA Fall Warmup as the Shurima Division champions.

Your Irvine anteaters are a formidable team, composed of several challenger players, many promising new additions, and a lively spirit coming into this year reinvigorated to fight for the trophy once again, last hoisted by the team in 2018. 

Today, we proudly unveil our official varsity and junior varsity rosters for the year of 2021-22.

Varsity
Top – Erik “Berik” Kim
Jungle – Duong “Duong Pro” Tran 
Mid – Ben “Cinnamon Bread” Chang
Bot – John “Sahori” Vu 
Support – Ethan “Kim Down” Song

Junior Varsity:
Top – Dylan “Dongha” Chen
Jungle – Lan jie “TacoVaco” Tsai
Mid – Danny “Somesort” Yi
Bot – Andrew “Misterdot” Liu
Support – Dylan “dtro18” Tran

“Our return to campus comes paired with new faces and talent. And we have amazing chemistry between the players and rosters, which I think is our strongest asset in contesting the championship this year. Our players are hard-working, resilient and handle adversity together head on. We aim to represent the best that the school has to offer and hope to make the UCI community proud. ” – David “Hermes” Tu, League of Legends Head Coach

Our League of Legends teams have been playing in a handful of leagues and tournaments in practice for Riot Games’ official first-party North American collegiate circuit, and our Junior Varsity team currently competing in the NACE Starleague JV West Playoffs. Having come together less than 2 months ago, the team is growing quickly, full of promise, and eager to make UCI proud as one of the premier teams in the league, and as the pride of the west coast.

Official CLOL matches will be streamed early next year when competition kicks-off in February of 2022 and local watch parties will commence then for local community members and students to come out in support. For more information on our teams, follow our social medias to keep up with the action on and off Summoner’s Rift.

Changing of the Guard


by | Oct 19, 2021, 3:06PM PDT

Greetings from UCI Esports,

We have been incredibly fortunate to have phenomenal people walk through our doors and contribute to the creation of our program.  As we begin our sixth year, we want to thank the following folks who have left us in the past year, and acknowledge their work and legacy.

Jess Acebes: Original student staff, intern, Girls in Gaming camp co-founder, streaming class teacher, NASEF tournament ops, meat lover.

Erik Bleitz:  Strategic planning lead, leadership board administrator, marketing guru, main tank, text-based game entrepreneur.

Milo Dodson: Team psychologist, the Milo of Milo meetings, speaker, celebrity, travel buddy and roommate in China.

Samantha Anton: OCHSEL tournament coordinator, NASEF COO, admissions expert, tour guide, emcee, kombucha advocate, mortal enemy of all Scorpios.

Hillary Phan: Player Support Coordinator, Intern, Girls in Gaming camp co-founder, multi-award winning Animal Crossing island designer, bean.

Damian Rosiak: Original Arena Supervisor, intern, streaming lead, special projects coordinator, Smash Ultimate overseer, NHL tournament overlord, Breakaway world champion.

Kathy Chiang: Fastest typist on the west coast, original Arena Coordinator, TAG founder, role model, collegiate leader, mentor, friend, cat mom.

As we close our chapters with these superstars, we are making a few changes to our current team.  

Ronald Ly is transitioning from Overwatch Head Coach to Acting Assistant Director.

“To my mentors and colleagues that have taught, inspired, and encouraged me these last 3 years, know that it has been a privilege to cross paths with such inspiring teammates. Our program has been enriched and made strong by your work, and I’m excited to see what we’ll all accomplish in the future, whether it be at UCI Esports, elsewhere, or beyond.”

  • Ronald “Renanthera” Ly

Michael Kuhns has moved from Assistant Coach to Head Coach of Overwatch to replace Ronald.

“I am excited to take on this new role and to lead our Overwatch team heading into the new year.  We have the most talent we have ever had and I am excited for our future.”

  • Michael “The” Kuhns

In other positive news, UCI leadership is ramping up support for esports and we will have several full-time and part-time jobs available in the coming months. We will be looking for the next generation of hard carries for our small, but mighty, department.  

We just opened up the Arena Coordinator Position which will be filled in the coming weeks.  Additionally, we are planning to hire an Assistant Director, a Communications Manager, and two part-time assistant coaches in the next six months.  

We will miss all of our colleagues who have left and will cheer them on in their next adventures.  Please join us in thanking our departed staff and stay tuned for some of the exciting things coming soon.

Mark Deppe
Director, UCI Esports