The Cavalry's Here!

By Mark Deppe

UCI eSports is excited to announce that we will be fielding a scholarship team for Overwatch®, the team-shooter from Blizzard Entertainment, beginning in the fall of 2017. Competition is one of the esports program's four pillars, along with Academics/Research, Community and Entertainment. Overwatch will be the second game for which we offer scholarships and an exciting opportunity for growth of the program.

When we consider which games to support with a scholarship team, we ask ourselves three questions:

1: Does the UCI and broader gaming world play and enjoy the game?

2: Is there an organized, competitive collegiate league in which we can compete?

3: Does the developer support competitive play (have they designed their game for esports)?

Not only does Overwatch answer those questions with a resounding yes, but there are some additional factors that make it an obvious choice for us. First of all, UCI’s club Overwatch team, run by The Association of Gamers, has been one of the top North American college teams since the game’s release. They placed first nationally in the Tespa Summer Series in 2016, went undefeated in the Tespa Collegiate Series in Fall 2016, and have won multiple local collegiate LAN tournaments.

“I've been with the UCI Overwatch team since its conception, so recognition of our achievements from the school and the eSports program means the world to me. I am so grateful for the potential for added infrastructure and hopefully UCI eSports' first national Overwatch championship.”
— Sebastian (Selectt) Vasquez, Club Overwatch Team Player

Additionally, Overwatch has been widely praised for its diverse cast of in-game heroes. Blizzard’s efforts to promote inclusivity in gaming aligns with our program’s aspirations as well as UCI’s principles of inclusive excellence.

“We are grateful that the program will be extending and recognizing the talent we have in our Overwatch community. We are excited to continue working with the UCI eSports program to provide more scholarships for our teams and qualified players.”— Jenny Song, The Association of Gamers at UCI President

Finally, Overwatch was created by Blizzard Entertainment, an Irvine-based company that has a long history of producing some of the world’s most popular games. We’re excited to deepen our relationship with our neighbors just across the 405 freeway.

As we begin to take steps to assemble our Overwatch team, we will be hiring a part-time coach to help select our roster and guide our players throughout the season. We are looking for someone with competitive experience, great coaching skills, and who embodies our values. If you think you might be a good fit for this role, please fill out this application form by July 17. We plan to hire someone by the end of July with team tryouts following shortly after.

Tryouts for the team will be open to all current and incoming UCI students with an in-game rank of Master or higher. We are looking for students who are highly skilled Overwatch players with diverse hero pools, competitive team experience, strong communications skills, a willingness to be coached, and, as with our coaching prospects, a commitment to positive, inclusive gaming. Interested students should fill out this application. We will offer tryout spots for up to 20 students who best match the above criteria. Tryouts will happen during the week of July 31 at the UCI eSports Arena.

We are excited to embark on this new journey and continue to build our program. See you in-game. GLHF!

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