Interview Matt Akhavan: “I’m very fond of collegiate esports, Overwatch, Tespa, and everyone involved with the collegiate scene”


by | Feb 2, 2018, 9:33PM PDT

After requesting an interview with Matt Akhavan, we met at the Blizzard Arena and discussed what the responsibilities are as a team manager, thoughts on collegiate Overwatch, and what college students can do to become involved in esports.

Greeted with an ecstatic “UCI Esports!” we quickly noticed how cold the room was. We joked, “They don’t call it the Blizzard Arena for nothing.”

Matt Akhavan is currently a manager for Misfits Gaming and UCI Esports.


Whose idea was it for the entrance today (1/31/18) ?

Today’s entrance was the Naruto run with the rasengan. We all knew that we wanted to do the Naruto run. It was one of the ideas that had been floating around over the weeks, but it was somewhat hard to do. There’s the camera man in front of you, so you can’t be running too fast. It’d look weird and they’d already be on the stage, and then the viewers would think “what are they doing?” So, we added the rasengan because we thought it would be funny and more recognizable. We really just want to be entertaining and have people enjoy our team coming on stage, and eventually when the wins start coming up, we’ll be a team that everyone loves to watch all of the time.

General thoughts on collegiate Overwatch

Collegiate Overwatch is something that I’m excited for. There are more schools that are investing into building infrastructure like professional teams. Schools are taking more interests in esports so that students have an easier pathway as competitors to showcase their talents and pursue a career. It makes it easier for parents to be more accepting of the idea that students can go to school possibly getting a scholarship for playing games and getting a degree. While esports may be a student’s plan A, the degree is also available if esports doesn’t work out or going pro doesn’t work out. So, I’m very fond of collegiate esports, Overwatch, Tespa, and everyone involved with the collegiate scene.

The Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate Championship is happening February 17th. UC Irvine, UC San Diego, University of Toronto, and UC Berkeley will be competing. Who will you be rooting for?

UCI! I think we came out really strong. We’re completely undefeated. I’ve seen the other schools play, they’re all really good. We’ve gone to UCSD a couple of times. They always have LANs and other tournaments that happen throughout the school year. They’ll be a fun team to watch. West coast best coast by the way.

We recently had LA Valiant come to our school and host an awesome viewing party. Are there any chances of Florida Mayhem doing something similar in the future?

I would love for an event like that to happen especially since I go to UCI. Although, I believe there are marketing guidelines which wouldn’t allow Florida Mayhem to have such an event because its Gladiators/Valiant territory. We are going to be doing events in Florida.  We’ll be doing viewing parties, sending cool merchandise, and making it as fun as possible for the fans in Florida. As far as doing stuff in LA, we’re a bit restricted.

LA Gladiators is hosting a college night at the Guildhall tonight and fans will get to play board and card games against the Gladiators team. Do you think that you could beat Surefour in Connect 4?

I’m actually really good at Connect 4. Ever since I was a kid I was always three or four steps ahead. If I don’t win, I at least tie. If I’m about to lose …

*Matt makes a motion of releasing the Connect 4 discs from the grid and we both laugh about it*

All of the pieces drop and it’s a draw.

What are the general responsibilities that you have as a manager for Florida Mayhem?

As a manager, I manage all of the day-to-day. This includes anything that happens at the studio and any gear that the players need I can purchase. I work with the Overwatch League operations team, the IT department, anything related to game day, practice structure, practice culture, infrastructure, and acquisitions for both players and staff. As you know, Florida Mayhem only has 6 players. I’m assisting in acquisition of players and we have a handful of people on the team working with that as well. Those are my main responsibilities as of right now.

Any advice for someone looking to become a manager?

I would say that you need a degree, which is why I’m getting a degree. Having experience is the most important aspect of becoming a manager. It’s really hard to trust somebody to manage all of the day-to-day and make sure you’re getting everything in on time such as paperwork, contracts,  and visa acquisitions. You’re doing the business as well as the day-to-day for the players. Becoming more dependable and learning how to communicate effectively is something that you learn in college just through interacting with your peers. You also learn time management and meet deadlines. Just the fact of you having a degree signifies that you put in effort through a 4-year program that’s pretty intensive for most students. I think that says a lot about your character if you finish your degree.

Any advice for someone looking to become a coach?

If you want to be a coach, the biggest thing is to create content or to get experience. I’m very weird about this and I’ll say that you should be willing to work for free, but I also don’t think that anyone should work for free. If you’re an organization, you should pay your interns. This is my opinion, but I also think that if you’re not willing to work a job for a free and donate your time for the experience, then you don’t really want it. For being a coach, you have to make content. Put your content on YouTube. Refine your skills. Someone sees your YouTube video, it hits Reddit a couple of times, and that’s when you get people interested in what you’re doing. You then have a portfolio to show people when you’re applying for a position. Overall, it’s about networking, experience, and having a portfolio to show.

As a student, what advice or tips would you give to other students or people in college who would like to get involved with esports

Try to do something locally with your school. At UCI, we have our esports program along with TAG. Other schools have clubs related to gaming and esports as well. Try to do as much as you can. You need as much experience as you can get. Work hard and network. I would say I was very fortunate for getting involved. I lived in LA and I volunteered for teams and at events. My volunteer work was approached with “Hey, you’re really good at this, let’s offer you something more full time.” Then you continue building on top of experiences like that.

Shoutouts

Shoutouts to UCI Esports! My favorite school! Thank you to all of the Florida Mayhem fans that have been sticking with us. I know that it’s been tough to watch our team falter but, we take every loss harder than you guys do and we practice so hard. Everyone wants to win, and we try to stay light-hearted and have some fun when we go on stage for the fans.


Follow Matt on Twitter.  Entrance and interview photos taken by Oshin Tudayan.

 

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