UCI Esports to offer scholarships for top ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ players


by | Aug 7, 2019, 1:00PM PDT

Pilot team made possible by $50,000 gift from media publisher, video game enthusiast


Irvine, Calif., Aug. 7, 2019 — The University of California, Irvine esports program will host a pilot scholarship team for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” during the 2019-20 academic year – thanks to a $50,000 gift from the owners of Street Media, which publishes Irvine Weekly and LA Weekly, led by CEO (and gamer) Brian Calle.

Players will be jointly selected by UCI Esports and the TAG Smash Ultimate Club at UCI, and the funds will be used to offer $6,000 scholarships to the top six as well as for administrative purposes. All current UCI students are eligible to try out for the new crew in October at the UCI Esports Arena. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is a fighting game for up to eight people in which characters from Nintendo and third-party franchises try to knock each other off playing stages.

“The ‘Smash’ community at UCI is one of the biggest and most passionate gaming clubs on campus,” said Mark Deppe, director of UCI Esports. “We are fortunate to be able to offer scholarships to ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Overwatch’ players. When a donor emerged with a desire to support one of his favorite games, we knew this was something we had to pursue to create more opportunities for the ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ student gaming community.”

While there is no coach for the team, UCI Esports will provide staff to coordinate practice times, travel, social media, equipment needs and competitions. Players are expected to practice 10 to 15 hours per week, maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA and follow the code of conduct to compete in tournaments and stay on scholarship.

“This is a huge deal for the UCI ‘Smash’ community, as we work very hard to grow the competitive scene and push it into the same spotlight that many other esports have,” said senior Justin Muscat, president of the TAG Smash Ultimate Club at UCI. “The university offering scholarships for ‘Smash’ is a major step forward and validates the work we’ve done.”

UCI is home to an esports arena with 72 custom PCs and computer monitors, headphones and gaming chairs, as well as a studio that broadcasts matches to hundreds of thousands of viewers. Opened in September 2016, it functions as a high-end recreational facility that’s also open to the public. In addition, the esports program has coaching and administrative staff, a team psychologist and an exercise physiologist.

“UCI Esports is the leader in gaming education and the yardstick by which other programs are measured,” Calle said. “We are thrilled to be able to support the development of top talent for the sport. As an avid gamer and ‘Smash’ player, it’s inspiring to see the dedication and commitment these students give to the game and to see them recognized as collegiate athletes.”

This month, UCI’s current “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” club team will compete for the national title at Shine 2019 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The crew won the Southern California qualifier and then the Western Regional to earn a spot in the college championship, hosted by the Collegiate Starleague. Players will battle winners of the other three regionals for the CSL trophy and part of the $15,000 prize.

“‘Smash’ has historically been an incredibly significant game to The Association of Gamers at UCI, with our community always brimming with passion, hosting tournament after tournament,” said senior Brandi Moy, president of TAG at UCI. “It’s extremely exciting that our students can now receive official support and pursue their competitive dreams through these scholarships.”

About UCI Esports: UCI is the first public university to create an official esports program, which is regarded as one of the best and most comprehensive in the world. With a successful computer game science major, an enthusiastic gaming community and a history of elite competition, UCI is a natural place for esports to thrive. A collaboration among student leaders, faculty, gamers and forward-thinking administrators, UCI’s esports program was announced in the spring of 2016. In September of that year, the UCI Esports Arena – powered by iBUYPOWER – opened. The pillars of UCI Esports are competition, academics and research, community, entertainment, and careers. In 2015, College Magazine ranked UCI the No. 1 school for gamers in North America. The campus’s esports program was featured in a four-part documentary on ESPN2 earlier this year.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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“The ‘Smash’ community at UCI is one of the biggest and most passionate gaming clubs on campus,” said Mark Deppe, director of UCI Esports. “When a donor emerged with a desire to support one of his favorite games, we knew this was something we had to pursue.”

Steve Zylius / UCI

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

Triumphs and Trials: Our Competitive Year in Review


by | May 7, 2021, 7:00AM PDT

College League of Legends

The UCI Esports League of Legends team ended their 2021 collegiate season early with a 4-2 record in the regular season, unable to qualify for the Western Conference Playoffs.

This year’s Western Conference consisted of 49 collegiate teams, with the top two teams qualifying for the national championship.

UCI Esports fell to 5th seed Cal State Fullerton during week 3 of the six-week regular season and to 1st seed University of British Columbia during week 6. This marks UCI Esports’ first time not qualifying for the Western Conference playoffs since 2016.

The League of Legends roster underwent a significant overhaul this year, bidding farewell to graduating players Avi Behar and Jeffrey Du and welcoming four new rookies.

“We’re going through a building year right now,” stated David “Hermes” Tu, head coach of League of Legends. “There are big shoes left to fill considering the legacy we have here at UCI. But I’m confident that with our rookies gaining more experience, we can reclaim the throne as leaders in the Western Conference.”

UCI’s League of Legends team will continue to develop its new talent for the remainder of the 2021 academic year. After the season, they recently competed in the Upsurge Premier League against rival collegiate teams Maryville University and the University of Texas, Dallas.

Overwatch Collegiate Championship

On April 10th and 11th of this year, the UCI Esports Overwatch team ended their 2021 competitive season, finishing strong in the top 4, making it to the semifinals.

The Overwatch Collegiate Championship is Activision Blizzard’s official tournament circuit designed and purposed for college teams to compete against each other through a multi-layered tournament spanning the academic year.

In 2021, the tournament had a whopping 304 teams, 2500+ players, and 227 unique schools across the United States and Canada duking it out for their slice of the $48,000 scholarship prize and recognition as the best in North America.

Our team practiced, studied, and competed fiercely from start to end, leaving national swiss with an impressive score of 9-1 and seeding 6th nationally.

During the playoffs, UCI Esports bested 27th seed GMU, 11th seed Boise State, and 3rd seed Bellevue University on their way to the top, meeting 2nd seed Maryville University in the semifinals. Maryville would proceed to play in the finals against Northwood University and win, cementing themselves as the champions of this year.

Concerning the team, their performance, and the season as a whole, this is what UCI Esports’ coaches had to say.

I am so privileged to have been able to work alongside such hardworking and tenacious student-athletes. Our players this year truly gave it their best, their hearts were truly in the game and with each other, and that’s all we ask for. With a sample of victory, our team was so close to the precipice, and they’re hungry to give it another go next year with renewed confidence and the solid foundation we’ve built this year.

Ronald “Renanthera” Ly

I’m incredibly proud of our players for the resilience they’ve shown throughout the season. Like any other team this year, life has thrown a lot at us, and we’ve persevered to be able to deal with it and still push towards being a top collegiate team. I’m thankful for all of their hard work and especially the environment they all help to create. I look forward to every practice and match knowing we’re all in it together and propping each other up to succeed as a team.

Michael “The” Kuhns

UCI Esports closed out the season as the #1 school on the West Coast and 3rd-4th across all of North America.

Final Words

Regarding the program’s competitive year as a whole, we asked our director for a few words.

I am very proud of the program and our work during this very strange year. All of our coaches have worked tirelessly this year to cultivate a community and a culture focused on caring for one another, playing for their teams, and making those connections palpable despite the global pandemic. Our League of Legends team has gone through a tough rebuilding year, and we’ve crafted a strong foundation for the next. Our Overwatch team ended the best in the west, but I know our players and staff aren’t going to be satisfied with just that either. We’re already planning and plotting for what comes next, and it’s beautiful to see the teams already hard at work preparing for success next year.

Mark Deppe

UCI Learns New Gaming Terms in Different Languages With Gen.G


by | Mar 30, 2021, 12:00PM PDT

Esports can still be considered a young and fledgling global industry. At UCI, we understand the necessity of building cross-cultural tools to address problems of inclusion, communication, and cultural diversity.

On January 27, 2021, UCI International Center, UCI Esports, and Gen.G Global Academy partnered up to run their first International Gamer’s Language Workshop. We welcomed 57 registrants in addition to dozens of Gen.G students watching together from their classrooms overseas.

This workshop welcomed students and players from across the globe to share perspectives from their experiences both online and offline in relation to esports. Participants learned Korean, Mandarin, and English terminology from games like League of Legends and Overwatch, engaged with professional coaches and student athletes in a Q&A panel, and learned from each other at this unique international networking opportunity.

Attendees worked together to create a “gamer’s dictionary” — defining, translating, and quizzing each other on various words and phrases to bridge a cultural gap together during this 2-hour event.

By the end of the night, it was evident from coaches, students, and panelists that diversity is key to both education and competitive performance. May it be through language, skills, or new perspectives, the International Gamer’s Language Workshop showed us that we all have more to gain by working together than apart.