The Fall 2020 esports season is finally revving up and one of the first events comes from UCLA. They’ve joined forces with the massive esports brand, Evil Geniuses, to bring three weekends of high-level collegiate play. In the first two weekends of the invitational, the Overwatch and Valorant crowns went to the same school, UC Irvine. However, there’s still the League of Legends bracket to finish up. If UC Irvine wins that bracket they’ll sweep the entire competition and go into Fall 2020 as surefire favorites to win other big competitions.
A Stroll Through OW
The Overwatch weekend for UCI was a bit of a breeze. They made their way to grand finals without many issues and faced off against an ascendant UT-Dallas. In the early months of self-isolation, UT-Dallas gave strong showings at the Overwatch Collegiate Cup back in March. They’d gone toe to toe with the liked of the University of Utah and UNLV and proved to be one of the top programs in the US. Unfortunately, UC Irvine had something to say about the upstarts.
This final was closer than its 3-0 sweep says, but it also hides one of the great stories of UC Irvine’s team. Munkhdul “Plat1num” Baterdene. Plat1num came in as a super-sub for the last map of the grand finals. Their Phara play was absolutely staggering and combined with Alex “Fade” Hu, proved that UCI was a force to be reckoned with. But what makes Plat1num special is they are a two-way player for both Overwatch AND Valorant, meaning they’ve already walked away with TWO wins in the same Invitational. Staggering.
The Agents of Irvine
Speaking of Valorant, Irvine’s series against San Jose State was a bit more even than their Overwatch outing. But still ended up in UCI’s favor after two really even matchups. On the first map, Ascent, the two teams went back and forth. At the half, it was virtually even. However, UCI’s Nibbler, play an unorthodox Jett. Instead of using Jett’s tools for hyper-aggression and initiation, they often played back and leaned on utility and ranged weapons. It became clear that San Jose State was off-balance, and it eventually caused them the first game.
Game 2, however, San Jose got off to an amazing start. They got off to a 7-0 lead on Split. But in a show of grit and very intelligent buy rounds, UCI mounted a massive comeback. Nibbler once more played out of their mind, this time on Raze. Once more, Nibbler played his agent in a creative way, leaning on Raze’s abilities for movement rather than fighting. In a way, he played Jett like Raze and Raze like Jett. Eventually, their late runs and superior fighting got them the win in Valorant as well.