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.”


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

Back in Person, Back in Action: UCI’s Overwatch 2021-2022 Roster


by | Oct 2, 2021, 2:42PM PDT

Today, UCI Esports is proud to announce our collegiate scholarship team to the public. After an arduous deliberation process, our varsity team this year is composed of 11 members, some old, some new, to play for us in Activision Blizzard’s official collegiate circuit.

Formally unveiling the roster for this year, the UCI Esports Overwatch team is composed of:

Tank: Arthur “Mashiro” Tang, Phillip “PG1” Rodriguez, and Sean “Románi” Cook.

DPS: Jonathan “Light” Chao, Eugene “Dash” Tai, Juanwei “Fade” Hu, and Michael “Excal” Kim

Support: Mitsutoshi “Supreme” Sato, Tianyi “Helljudge” Chen, Victoria “Saffrona” Winn, and Bruno “KapGod” Moebest.

Overwatch games start October 1st, as UCI Esports begins the Overwatch Collegiate Homecoming 2021 preseason.

“This year’s team is one of mixed experiences, perspectives, and diversities. Some players have played professionally, others have come from high school scouting grounds, some are pick-ups straight from the competitive ladder. But every player has been ranked amongst the top 500 in North America, every player here has had some sort of overachiever, leader, or exemplar. Our team this year has been the best it has ever been, and we’re really excited to show the world how deep their potential goes. We want to make our community proud, so please follow us on our journeys, watch, and root for us as we compete.” – Ronald Ly, Player Support Coordinator

Goodbye and Good Luck: Cheers to Our New Graduates


by | Jun 18, 2021, 12:00PM PDT

At UCI Esports, we are most proud of our students who enter our university curious, motivated, and ready for their new chapter. In our short time together, we are honored to provide mentorship and watch them learn and grow before they are sent out into the world.

While we are not able to cheer them on in person as they cross the commencement stage, we offer this tribute to the incredible Anteaters who have generously shared their special gifts with us.

Please join us in congratulating our graduating seniors as they level up and prepare for their next adventure!

Arena Staff

Yonael Taye

I have met few people as charismatic as Yonael, who has always been one of the most supportive and encouraging members of our stellar team of arena staff! I remain impressed and inspired by his involvement and passion in his various campus communities, from hip-hop dance to gaming. I know with confidence that no matter where he’s headed, he’ll leave a trail of friendships and positive energy.

Kathy Chiang

Marcus Wong

It’s been a pleasure to get to know Marcus through his involvement in our arena, the VR club, and the fighting game community. I admire his knack for coming up with creative solutions and working with technology, helping him stand out while making all of our lives a bit easier. I look forward to witnessing more of his innovations and the mark he will leave on his various communities as he moves on to his next adventure!

Kathy Chiang

Tony Wu

Who doesn’t love Tony? Even when he could be considered a newcomer to our staff team, he was always looking for ways to help and improve the experience of our visitors and other team members. As more staff joined our ranks, Tony was constantly recognized as a terrific role model, demonstrating a certain leadership style that resonated well with everyone in the Esports family. I’ll never forget the dedication and care with which he works, and I’m sure he will be successful wherever he lands.

Kathy Chiang

Casters

Spencer Kammerman

Spencer was one of the most energetic casters the program has ever had the pleasure of working with. His knowledge of the professional and collegiate League of Legends scene gave everyone of his casts a professional look and feel. On top of that, his memes and jokes made every viewer omegalul in chat. The value he brought to each stream will not be forgotten and I hope to see Spencer casting in the big leagues one day if he so chooses.

Damian Rosiak

Michelle Tran

Michelle consistently brought great analysis about the meta in overwatch to our streams. Her friendship with the other casters brought a friendly tone to each stream that all spectators took note of. It’s safe to say that she had a huge impact on our stream team over the years and we wish her all the best of luck in her future endeavors.

Damian Rosiak

Interns

Nick Gasparyan — Digital Marketing

Few have given as much to the program as Nick has. Since the beginning, Nick has helped shape the foundation for the program’s media presence and branding. Fulfilling a myriad of roles, Nick took his vision for the program and led us with his endless well of passion and ambition. Always willing to go above and beyond, we’re so grateful to Nick and his years of dedication. The growth he’s shown here is only the beginning of his adventure, and I eagerly await news of his next accomplishments.

Hillary Phan

Vivian (Vi) Lam — Social Media

It’s difficult to name someone more driven than Vi. With her wealth of experience and go-getter attitude, Vi helped us keep afloat on our social media during our fully remote school year. She’s a natural at staying organized and professional, and it’s been a pleasure watching her grow from arena staff member to accomplished intern. She’s always hungry for improvement, be it in her work or the many creative hobbies she’s got in her back pocket. We appreciate all she’s done for us and will always be cheering her on.

Hillary Phan

Allison Le — Team Manager

Allison appeared right as we needed a new team manager in October 2018 and quickly blew us away with her leadership and drive. She quickly became an indispensable part of the team, streamlining workflows and solving problems before they arose. Allison is a consistent source of good cheer in the arena, breaking out into song or cracking a joke. It’s been an honor to work alongside her and watch her develop into the unstoppable force she is today. I’m so proud of her and will miss her dearly, but can’t wait to watch her take the world by storm.

Hillary Phan

Anny Tran — Graphic Design

Anny joined us a year ago, dazzling us with her graphic design style and expertise. During a time where we relied on our graphics department more than ever, Anny rose to the challenge and produced flawless designs, supporting us as we adjusted to operating completely online. Our crispy graphics and media are thanks in large part to Anny and her consistently professional quality work. She’s a joy to have around, and we’ll miss having her on our graphics team. Wherever she lands next will be lucky to have her – congrats!

Hillary Phan

Yigu Yu and William Poon — Partnerships

Yigu and William came to us in the spring of 2020, looking to help our program and get additional esports experience. As we shut down for COVID, they did an incredible amount of work analyzing arena use, building out our sponsor relation strategy, and building out additional products for the program. They brought energy, initiative, professionalism, and warm personalities to the role. They will leave a lasting legacy and we could not be more thankful for their time with us.

Mark Deppe

Scholarship Players

Youngbin Chung — League of Legends

Youngbin’s graduation is incredibly meaningful to our program. Arriving at UCI in the fall of 2016, he was one of our original recruits. He grew from a talented athlete to an incredible student, leader, and mentor. It has been such a pleasure to watch him grow competitively, academically, and personally over the past five years. He has taught me an incredible amount and I am eternally thankful for his contributions and friendship.

Mark Deppe

Daniel Mishkanian — Overwatch

We’re going to miss Dani! In many ways, he was the heart and soul of our Overwatch team. He led by example, grinding out solo queue, and keeping up with Overwatch, even when it wasn’t fun. His energy and humor motivated his teammates and coaches and we’re very sad to see him go. He was the foundation of a wonderful team culture and we are so thankful for his contributions. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Mark Deppe

Evan Phu — League of Legends

Evan joined our JV team in 2016 during his first year and quickly made a name for himself in the top lane. In his sophomore year, he stepped into a starting role for the varsity team and quickly became a star. His growth – from inexperienced rookie to a dominant force – is a major reason why we won the 2018 LoL championship. Aside from competing, Evan was a stellar student with a great sense of humor. We’re going to miss seeing him on campus and in the arena.

Mark Deppe

Sean Uehara — League of Legends

Sean was an awesome member of the League team and a great contributor to our program overall. Not only was he a dominant mid Rumble, he was an excellent student and helped tutor teammates and other UCI students. After hearing about a time-intensive data challenge, he wrote up a script to automate the process and saved many hours of staff time. Despite all his talents, he remained friendly and humble. He’s got a great future in front of him.

Mark Deppe