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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

UC Davis’ nationally-ranked Esports team builds community

The team will continue to compete in a multitude of collegiate tournaments 


By MADISON PETERS — campus@theaggie.org


The UC Davis Esports team competes in tournaments nationwide and is continuing their success as one of the top collegiate-level esports teams in the country.

The esports club is composed of 13 teams playing across eight different titles, or video games, and was created in the summer of 2021.

Kevin Deras-Guerra, a fourth-year biological sciences major and former director of the Esports team, explained what esports entail.

“[It’s] competitive gaming between college campuses,” Deras-Guerra said. “It’s more like a collection of different competitions. Depending on the title, there are different teams that colleges will levy, and then they’ll go up against each other. These [tournaments] are usually hosted by third-party competitive bodies.”

The team plays a range of titles, including Rainbow 6 Siege (R6), Rocket League, Overwatch and many more, with the most popular titles being Valorant and League of Legends, according to Deras-Guerra.

Within the Esports club, there are three subteams: the Gold Team, Blue Team and White Team. Deras-Guerra leads the Gold Team, which he describes as the equivalent of an A team in other sports, for R6.

Darren Son, a fourth-year art major and the R6 Gold Team starter, elaborated on his experience with the team.

“My favorite part about being [on] an esports team is the feeling of everyone working towards the same goal,” Son said. “Everyone is putting their effort into it and making connections within the team. I also love meeting new people from other teams we compete against. It’s a great way to find people who have the same interests.”

UC Davis Esports has competed and placed within the top 25 teams at a variety of national tournaments. In recent years, they were announced as tournament winners of both the 2023 University of California Esports Invitational and the 2023 Skyline Gaming Inaugural Season. They also placed fifth at the Colonial Bash Charity Tournament for Pittsburgh Food Bank. 

At their peak in fall of 2023, UC Davis Esports placed 19th in the nation and according to Deras-Guerra, they are a top 20 school overall in collegiate esports.

The team is currently hosting Moogie’s Valorant Throwdown, the first Valorant tournament they have orchestrated. Anyone who wishes to see the local area network (LAN) final round of the tournament can observe it at Cruess Hall on June 1.

The team is also preparing for their next big tournament, the West Coast Clash, which will be hosted by San Jose State University, according to Deras-Guerra.

Although they receive some funding from the university, the team is largely self-funded and has paid up to $3,000 out of pocket to attend their tournaments.

Deras-Guerra detailed what it takes to be a pro gamer.

“I really think it just comes down to game time, to be honest,” Deras-Guerra said. “It really is a mental thing. You focus on what you want out of the game and if you decide that you want to dedicate the time to it and you want to do it consistently, then that’s just what it takes. I think I put in four hours daily, at minimum, and that’s what I’ve been doing for four years. I’ve seen the improvement out of it, but a lot of people obviously can’t commit that time to it […]I think that’s a big contributing factor to how people get into [competitive gaming].”

The esports team also preaches diversity and inclusion for gamers of all backgrounds. The White team hosts an annual Women in Esports Bootcamp, which, according to an article by Jeff E. Heiser, is intended to open a safe space for women and non-binary players to learn more about esports and get introduced to the gaming industry. 

The UC Davis Esports website affirms these values.

“We are a sports club dedicated to developing a safe and inclusive environment for UC Davis gamers,” the website reads. “[We] believe that everyone has a chance to be involved in esports, regardless of their background or identity. Here, we are proud to manage diverse competitive teams, host inclusivity events and establish safe spaces in esports.”

Brian Crittendon, a fifth-year communications major and the R6 Gold Team starter, expressed the overall importance of esports on campus.

“It is extremely important to have an esports scene on campus,” Crittendon said. “Esports has proven that it’s here to stay and I think that offering a real way to experience it is invaluable.”

Besides just the competitive levels, Deras-Guerra said that esports is a rapidly growing industry including jobs such as tournament administration, production media, finance and various other positions.

Son shared these sentiments and commented on the significance of campus esports in the midst of its growing industry.

“As gaming and esports [grow] bigger, it is crucial to have esports on campus,” Son said. “It is a place where people can come and connect with others in person rather than online. It builds a sense of community on campus and overall gets people together.”


Written by: Madison Peters — campus@theaggie.org



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