Rival Schools Smash in CSL Qualifiers


by | Feb 19, 2019, 11:00AM PDT

UCI players cheer on teammate Robert “PL” Martinez (sitting left.)

On February 16th, 2019, twelve collegiate teams across the Southern California region travelled to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo to compete in the Collegiate Star League (CSL) SoCal Local Qualifiers. This esports organization, which hosts collegiate tournaments for titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League, recently announced their second circuit for Super Smash Bros., switching the previous title on their roster, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate upon release. The February 16th local qualifier featured a five-on-five crew battle event for both Super Smash Bros. Melee and Ultimate. UCI Smash players formed three separate teams to enter the crew battle at Saddleback – two for Ultimate and one for Melee – where universities all over SoCal would compete to earn a spot at the divisional championships in spring.

The ‘crew battle’ is a competitive format unique to fighting games, and even then, the rules are even more fresh and exciting in Smash. Inspired by action anime such as Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho, where characters would participate in martial arts tournaments as a team, crew battles feature teams of up to five players playing in a one-on-one format. The format is such that when you defeat your opponent, you must now fight the next player on that team, and so on until you are defeated. In other words, if Player 1 from Crew A defeats Player 1 from Crew B, Player 1A must now fight Player 2B. In traditional fighting games, players face each other in games that are divided within the game rules by ‘rounds,’ but in Smash, ‘stocks’ and respawning after being knocked off the stage exist in lieu of the rounds format. Because of this, the stakes for Smash crew battles are different than that of traditional fighters: each crew gets a pool of stocks used to keep track of score, and once those stocks are taken, they’re gone for good. That is to say, if Player 1A defeats Player 1B at the beginning of a Melee crew battle, but they lose two of their stocks, Player 1A must now fight Player 2B with a two-stock deficit, while Player 2B begins the game with all four stocks. This can provide an element of depth, strategy, and sheer excitement while watching – and playing – Smash crew battles; while one crew may technically be in the lead by stocks, their current player must compete against any future opponents with a disadvantage. Furthermore, as in other fighting games with crew battle formats, there is also the innate strategy inherent in choosing which players will function as point, middle, or anchors for their team.

As previously reported, UCI’s Ultimate players have been proving themselves as forces to be reckoned with, both at on-campus weekly tournaments hosted at the UCI Esports Arena and at events held elsewhere in Orange County. After deliberating the day before the event, it was decided that the A-team for UCI would consist of the following players: Rafael “Rafi” Guadron, Jovanni Rivera, Dominic “T3Dome” Carone, Jason “Muskrat Catcher” Muscat, and new player Landon “SoulX” Stubblefield. A freshman both at UCI and on the Ultimate crew, SoulX is a skilled up-and-coming Daisy player, with notable recent placings being 9th/30 at the Valentine’s Day 2019 UCI weekly and 65th/408 at 2GGaming’s Heart of Battle regional event on February 9th, 2019.

The UCI Ultimate A-team does their best Daisy impression in honor of Landon “SoulX” Stubblefield (far left.) To his right, in order: Dominic “T3Dome” Carone, Jason “Muskrat Catcher” Muscat,” Rafael “Rafi” Guadron, Jovanni Rivera

UCI’s B-team was formed by players who had initially shown up as possible substitutes should any players from the A-team not be able to attend. However, when your author arrived at the event, initially solely intending to report on the crew battles, the substitute players realized that they had a second viable team of five. Thus, the B-team consisted of Sergio “Lt. Surge” Salas, Uyiosa “Uyi” Igbinigie, Cesar “Muffin” Martinez, Robert “PL” Martinez, and Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” Dhami. Apart from myself, every player on the B-team had respectable placements at UCI weeklies, as well as shifting spots on the UCI Smash 4 rankings prior to Ultimate’s release.

The Ultimate B-team roster, from right to left: Sergio “Lt. Surge” Salas, Uyiosa “Uyi” Igbinigie, Robert “PL” Martinez, Cesar “Muffin” Martinez, Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” “Your Author” Dhami

As previously stated, there were twelve crews total present for the tournament: UC Santa Barbara, Saddleback, CSU Northridge, CSU San Marcos, University of La Verne, CSU San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Channel Islands, and two teams from USC were waiting to challenge UCI players. The CSL crew battle tournament was held in a single-elimination format – when one team was out, they were out for good. Unfortunately, the UCI B-team lost in the first round to CSUSB’s team. The A-team, on the other hand, had equal parts luck and skill on their side. Being the second seed of the tournament, the UCI A-team was given a bye, where they awaited ULV’s Ultimate crew. After defeating ULV, they moved on to avenge the B-team by defeating CSUSB with a four-stock lead, moving on to grand finals against Cal Poly Pomona.

The first seed of the bracket, Cal Poly Pomona’s team boasted an impressive roster, with players like Ken “ShiNe” Huang and Enrique “Nano” Garcia placing well at local SoCal events, and Quinton “ImHip” Goodman being ranked 18th in the all-time Socal Smash 4 Power Rankings as Olimar. These stats did nothing to deter the A-team, however, as all five UCI players were talented in their own right. After T3Dome’s Richter fell to Samuel “Arkistor” Weinger’s Inkling, having already respectably earned three stocks for UCI, Rafi’s Bowser began putting in work. Rafi cleanly defeated Arkistor, only losing a single stock, and proceeded to take two more stocks off of Derek “Deck” Wongso’s Ken before finally being taken down himself. Muskrat Catcher then followed Rafi, finishing off Deck with his King Dedede, and took another two stocks off ShiNe’s Pokémon Trainer before he was felled. At this point, it was down to SoulX and Jovanni’s six stocks and ShiNe and ImHip’s four. The UCI A-team sent out SoulX, who promptly cleaned up ShiNe’s final stock and moved on to fight ImHip. In what will surely be considered a historic match by SoCal Ultimate players, SoulX’s smart Daisy play managed to outmaneuver ImHip’s Olimar and eliminate him, securing UCI’s win with four stocks remaining to none. The decision to add SoulX to the A-team crew after long deliberation paid off, with him taking a game off of a top-ranked SoCal player in order to guarantee UCI’s spot in the CSL divisional qualifiers.

The UCI Melee crew and alternates strike a pose, huddling around Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams (crouching center.) From left to right, Alex L., Maruf Mamun, Eric “Woosh” Chagoya, Bryant “Nixqn” Nguyen, Jake “Rig” Song, John “KoDoRin” Ko.

After Ultimate crew battles ended, the Melee crew battle bracket began. The Melee bracket was smaller, with only three schools attending the event – UCI, UC San Diego, and Saddleback. Due to the small bracket, the tournament was ran in a round robin format instead of the single elimination style used for Ultimate. In the round robin format, every team is made to play against each other once to see who can earn the most wins. UCI Melee was represented by the following players: Jake “Rig” Song, Maruf Mamun, Eric “Woosh” Chagoya, Bryant “Nixqn” Nguyen, and John “KoDoRin” Ko.

UCI and UCSD’s Melee teams absolutely dominated Saddleback’s crew in their respective battles, with UCI’s Woosh even taking a whopping fifteen stocks from Saddleback’s players by himself. Now, with one point each, the winner of UCI versus UCSD would earn their spot in the Melee CSL divisional qualifier. Towards the end of their battle, UCSD was unable to reconcile the wide lead that UCI had earned, and UCI’s Melee team was able to close it out cleanly, with three stocks to none. The UCI Melee team is already well-recognized for Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams, a UCI graduate ranked 33rd in the world on the Melee Panda Global Rankings. Their win at the CSL qualifiers is just another notable victory for an already prolific crew.

In the end, both UCI teams won the CSL SoCal local qualifiers, earning the right to represent SoCal at the divisional qualifiers, held at a to-be-determined date and location this spring. From there, the winner of the divisional qualifiers will be invited to the national CSL championships, held at Smash supermajor tournament Shine 2019 in late August. The winning teams will also be awarded travel stipends for the purpose of assisting them in traveling to the divisional qualifiers.

More information about CSL Smash can be found on their website and social media. ( CSL Twitter / CSL Smash Twitter ) VODs and livestreams for their Smash events can be found on their Twitch channel. Brackets for the CSL SoCal Local Qualifiers can be found on Challonge. ( Melee / Ultimate )

Photos appear courtesy of Aaron “Ghostzy” Mariconda. ( Twitter )

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