Why Gamers Should Read Black Authors


by | Sep 24, 2020, 7:30AM PDT

Years from now when people ask “where were you in 2020?” I will respond, “online, and I hated every second of it.”

2020 was a year filled with strife and changes, as many of the country’s issues were placed under the microscope of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were made privy to the fragility of our healthcare system, made to grapple with the mistreatment of our workers, and we saw just how little our government was ready to deal with the unseen threat of a virus. As buildings and campuses became unsafe for congregations, schools and businesses quickly transitioned from physical interaction to remote operations, trading desks for couches, and cubicles for bedrooms. As an academic I soon saw myself writing grants, hosting calls, and meeting with colleagues all through the screen of my computer. Just like that my and many other lives became mediated through digital platforms.

But then came May and the US caught fire as major cities around America erupted in protest after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of George Perry Floyd Jr. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him on camera. The act was such a clear show of police misconduct and brutality that not only did protest emerge in Minneapolis but in cities like Los Angeles and New York. People across America took to the streets to protest what was a vile and malicious act of policing and unfortunately (and ironically) were subsequently met with the very force they went out there to speak against. Agitations flared, peaceful protest turned into physical confrontation, and long-ignored anger and sorrow became the fuel for the flames which burned signs, buildings, and coincidentally an NYPD van.

Yet, still, for many, the most heated moments of the protest were not experienced in person but rather were witnessed second hand through their television or through social media online. As the protest raged on, Twitter threads became battlegrounds, YouTube videos spun narratives, and the internet yet again became the hotbed for information and dialogue around the events many were experiencing. With #BlackLivesMatter trending yet again in response to the death of ANOTHER Black person at the hands of the police, the online blurred yet again with the physical. So much so, that social media became the key place where I, a Black man, kept up with the news, contacted friends and family who were near protest areas, and was made to relive the trauma of watching Floyd lose his life again and again as it was shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter both as both a form of awareness and as jokes from those craven enough to mock a man posthumously. And, while I donated to BLM initiatives, honked my horn in-vehicle protest, and showed up physically where I could, I—like so many—experienced the brunt of this protest online.

So, it should not come as a surprise when I say that it was not in person or even on Twitter where I got into my harshest debates, but instead, it was within video games like Overwatch and League of Legends where I found the most abuse. In fact, it was gaming spaces like these that became the hardest to occupy during the time of the protest. In an attempt to find some semblance of peace while the world burned, I decided to turn on Overwatch (a hero first-person shooter from the company Blizzard) to try to take the edge off. After some time, I was eventually placed with 11 other players and dropped into a starting zone to wait. However, instead of the typical banter of roles and positions, I was met with a “hello my fellow African Americans, let’s go burn and loot some stores because BLACK LIVES MATTER!” from one of my teammates. Reminded that video games seldom work as escapism for black people, I contemplated whether to let the comment go or to make a scene. I chose the latter.

I responded with “do you think that’s funny?” which prompted him to say “of course! Because they should not be out there at all, because ALL LIVES MATTER!” and quickly an argument ensued. Shouting in a way I am not all too proud of, I went back and forth with the player, I shouted the names of those killed—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin—only to have him respond with conspiracies like the FBI started BLM and comments like “slavery didn’t matter.” It didn’t take long for our remaining teammates to mute us with one going as far as to exclaim, “I don’t play this for politics.” In hindsight I think I would have been better off ignoring the troll—I must admit I was perturbed, livid in fact. Livid that a player used the game as his platform for racism and livid at the apathy of the other players viewing the deaths of Black men and women as simple politics. While the game’s very company (Blizzard) was tweeting in support of Black Lives, its players continued to disparage them. With each engagement I grew colder and angrier, each bout of racism striking deeper than the last until eventually, I arrived at simply telling people to shut the… well you can finish the rest.

Unfortunately, what I experienced is nothing new, as scholars such as Kishonna Gray, Andre Brock, Anna Everett, Samantha Blackmon, TreaAndrea Russworm, and many others have written extensively on the experiences of Black players similar to my own. However, as more and more games become spaces for online interaction, I and many others are yet again forced to acknowledge that games and the many who play them are not always aware of the struggles non-white gamers may go through. But, in writing this piece and sharing my experience I do not want this to come off as an accusation of gamers and gaming practices (there are other avenues for such), but instead as an opportunity to engage with perspectives that have been ignored or overlooked.

As many of us face yet another crisis in our communities, where Black life is threatened for simply existing (under the blanket of COVID no less), it is important to remember that games, as peripheral as they may seem, work as powerful sites of cultural creation and expression. I could not escape my pain through games because the same rhetoric, behavior, and trauma that took place in the physical informed and shaped the virtual. That is why this piece is less of an accusation and simply a call to action.

In a time where Black players face constant racial abuse both inside and outside of games, I propose that gamers engage with the history of this country and the writings of Black scholars, activists, and people. In wanting to see a healthier gaming community, I have curated a list of books, short readings, and articles to read in hopes that gamers and the gaming community at large will pick up the call and accept this challenge. While by no means extensive, the list provided will offer introductory reading to familiarize oneself with Black history in the US and the Black experience in areas such as school, healthcare, and most apropos, online spaces. While seemingly unrelated, there is much to be gained by engaging with past and current writers, and only when we have an informed gaming population can we hope to see change.


Akil Fletcher grew up in New York where he received a B.A in Anthropology from the City College of New York. Currently, he is a Ph.D student in the anthropology department at the University of California Irvine, where he researches the navigation of Black video game players online. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Akil researches how Black players form and manage communities in spaces that are often hostile to Black participants.

If you would like to join in on discussing any of the readings from Akil Fletcher’s list, you are welcome to the UCI Esports Discord server‘s #book-club channel.

Introducing Our Virtual Summer Bootcamps


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

Since 2018, UCI Esports has been offering bootcamps to help students hone in on their gaming skills. Typically an overnight program held in Irvine, California (the freshman experience of dorms and dining halls included), we have been able to provide a truly unique week of gaming, training, friendship, and competition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have needed to switch up the way we offer our programs. As no strangers to the online realm, we remain committed to providing the customized, hands-on coaching that students are used to getting at UCI.

Read on for an in-depth overview of what you can expect should you attend one of our new virtual camps this year.

League of Legends

Our League of Legends Summer Bootcamps will focus on providing campers of any skill level with a chance to train like they do at the top levels of competitive League of Legends. Within one week, we will train you in teams alongside other campers, covering the most critical factors for team and individual success while improve your fundamental knowledge of the game. The rigorous scrimmage-focused curriculum will help you develop across a wide range of essential skills including communication, leadership, analysis, and critical thinking.

Daily schedules will consist of presentations, game seminars, drafting practice, scrimmages, and VoD review (with plenty of breaks)!

While the majority of our coaching will be done in a group setting, instructors will also be available throughout the camp as resources to provide individualized advice as well.

Game concepts covered will include but are not limited to draft theory, champion pools and scouting, laning, macro play and map movements, mechanics, and efficient communication.

Instruction will be led by UCI Esports’ League of Legends Head Coach, David ‘Hermes’ Tu, who has coached numerous LCS teams including Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, and Immortals. Supporting staff will include Assistant Coach and multi-season Challenger, Geoff ‘CentralTime’ Wang; camp counselors from our very own League of Legends teams; and professional guest speakers from the esports industry.

Overwatch

At the Overwatch Bootcamps, coaches will work closely with campers to bolster their abilities. No matter your rank or experience, our staff is here to build up your skills to hit your goals and take those next steps!

Lessons topics will include but are not limited to:

  • Compositions and playstyle frameworks to build on players’ understandings on how to play to win conditions and dismantle enemy setups
  • Hero Pool coverage and expansion of players’ personal repertoires, so you will always be equipped and comfortable on some hero, no matter the situation
  • Pre-fight analysis and game flow models so players always have the direction they need to have to work towards victory
  • Hands-on personalized instruction
  • And guest speaker appearances from esports industry professionals sharing their stories on how they’ve navigated their careers.

The goal of these lessons are to allow players to critically think on the go and further their practical knowledge. Campers will be exposed to questions and different perspectives on the game, broaden their horizons in and out of game, and meet other passionate players and teammates with the same competitive drive and goals!

Our professional coaches have spent years traversing the path to pro, both as players and educators. Ronald “Renanthera” Ly is the Head Coach of the UCI Esports Overwatch team and has worked with Overwatch League organizations such as the Boston Uprising and Florida Mayhem, as well as coached for Team Canada. Assistant Coach Michael “The” Kuhns was previously a professional player for CLG and has coached in Contenders for much of his tenure. Together with their trained camp counselors composed of experienced Top 500 players, campers are sure to be in good hands.

If you haven’t applied yet, registrations will close end of day June 14!

All of us at UCI Esports are looking forward to providing a crafted virtual coaching experience. We can’t wait to have you join us.

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 6


by | May 24, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

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

Meanwhile, League of Legends wrapped up its season, naming team FMP the victor after 6 weeks of competition.

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 updated bracket for the Starcraft intramurals.
Antis vs. Purity (3-0)
Veritas vs. Battletag(3-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

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


Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The Overwatch intramurals continued their season with rounds between Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.

Team of Rivia vs. Tomo No Kai (3-0)
KCM vs. Team Oatmeal (3-0)

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

SCRABBLENATOR vs. Be Falco(191-383)
MelGar vs. Wordster(304-395)
Selena vs. Damian(264-313)

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

The League of Legends intramural league has concluded, with team FMP crowned champion. Congratulations to all participating teams!


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.

Neems vs. lolo(W-L)
jdawg899 vs. Kaboom(W-L)

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

Ant Killers vs. Free Agents(W-L)
AntKillers vs. For the Homies(W-L)

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.”