University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) has been pretty busy as far as esports go. They’ve been adding players to multiple games, such as Valorant and Rocket League. They have their first professional partner. They built a Valorant, A and B team. So, UNLV has had a very busy Summer break.
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Jacob [00:00:04] Welcome back to CheckpointXP. I’m Jacob Brothers. Today I am joined by Julian Slamtaro. UNLV God. How are you doing today?
Slamtaro [00:00:12] I’m doing good. I’m excited to do this interview today. I just woke up. I’m ready to go.
Jacob [00:00:17] Yeah. And you are. What’s the official title of your position?
Slamtaro [00:00:21] I’m the general manager of the, you know, the Overwatch team but also play on the team as a main tank.
Jacob [00:00:29] Right. So, we can start there. So, maybe because we go to the same school. But it seems like, you know, UNLV has been pretty busy as far as these esports go. You guys have been adding players to multiple games. You have your first professional partner. You have a Valorant, A and B team. So, like in general, if you could just run me through what, you know, UNLV’s been up to over the summer.
Slamtaro [00:00:47] So 8-Bit Esports and, you know, all the esports, they’ve been working like a little bit more separately now cause the whole pandemic situation. So 8-Bit used to function as an event organization where you were just run tournaments and side events for the, you know, the student, the club side of it. And so essentially afterwards, since we can’t run events anymore, like in-person events anymore, we’ve been focused more on our teams and excitedly enough for Valorant since that whole collegiate side and the whole like third party tournament system has been working out for Valorant. We’ve just been diving headfirst into the Valorant scene. Some people have left previously. Some people have had a change your hands. We try and find new coaches. So we were trying to make sure that our Valorant team is successful. And we’re also going into the Rocket League scene as well.
Jacob [00:01:49] Rocket League a brand new venture for you guys?
Slamtaro [00:01:53] For Rocket League, we used to have a collegiate team. Garonne from Rocket League. He’s one of our star players. He reached out to us about the UNLV Rocket League team, but essentially of our what’s going on behind the scenes for Rocket League. For example, like Garran is making sure that we step into the professional scene. And that’s a new venture that I’m not even familiar with because I don’t play Rocket League. But from what I understand, they have like coaches and analysts helping out with the scene. So I’m just making sure that, you know, trying to get back my leadership because we’ve been working with the UNLV Overwatch team for like four years now, right now.
Jacob [00:02:37] So about the Overwatch because they’re running, the running Rhinehart. So I had a pretty good showing even over the summer. Do you think the team is prepped for another good showing or are they even better than before? Or how’s that going?
Slamtaro [00:02:48] Essentially, we’ve been adding new players. We have like a new main support because Rosaire. He moved over to Valorant.
Jacob [00:02:56] And he was, our support, right?
Slamtaro [00:02:59] Yeah, he was our support player. Unfortunately, he’s like my passion for Overwatch has died as soon as Valorant came out. But that doesn’t mean, because with the new fall semester, new incoming students from high school are coming on to, you know, UNLV. And essentially right now, since all our interest is just online, we’re all ZOOM classes, there’s nothing that much to do in terms of like like actual athletic sports coming up. Right. So everyone’s looking. Oh, why? Why not try Esports? So that’s another thing. So we have over 30 students trying out for our team this semester. And it’s pretty exciting because some are coming back. Some are new and make sure to get along with one another just for the new semester even because it’s online. And from what I heard from Mountain West was that they’re coming up with things in the woodwork and I’m trying to make sure I try not to analyze it too deeply. But for the spring semester, there probably would be a Mountain West League happening for both League and Overwatch.
Jacob [00:04:04] Okay, yeah. So what’s the pandemic going on outside of, lik e, focusing more on the teams? Like what else has been goal like how does that affect tryouts? How does that affect like the community gave you that you guys do want to do.
Slamtaro [00:04:15] Yeah. So right now we do have a practice facility for the time being. If we want everyone to practice, it’s a Blackfire innovation and that is basically down by the IKEA in Las Vegas. And we’re trying to make sure that I just keep maintain ties with the many different leaderships that’s going on with Blackfire. But of course, with the pandemic, we can’t really practice in person. We can’t make sure to trial, even if we wanted to try it in person. We also do that. But, yeah, unfortunately, the fandom, if we wanted to have like more in-person engagement, but, you know, it’s still it’s esports. It’s done online anyway. We just try to make sure that the player engagement is still there. Because, you know, I’m sitting in front of a computer during class and also seeing it on screen is like six, eight hours of the week. Yeah, it can get pretty dire. But at the same time, you know, business as usual for our teams, because even though we were given all these opportunities, like we’re working Esports club for travel, because recently we won the battle for the Midwest, which is a lan tournament that we travel out to, even though we can’t do this semester that they were like saying, hey, let’s try see if I can do next semester. Everything set up this semester.
Jacob [00:05:40] Yeah. Right. And so even though, as you said, that Esports are all online and so tryouts being online isn’t really that big of a deal. Do you think that losing that in-person aspect does affect who… Not who makes the team or doesn’t make the team, but your general perception of a player. Do you think sometimes that in-person interaction can give you a better sense of who that player is?
Slamtaro [00:06:01] Yeah. Recently, not recently as starting as an esports manager. It’s kind of just, you know, it’s kind of I kind of all of that in-person interaction I have with students and making sure that, you know, it’s not just a, you know, an online event or it’s just it’s basically a ZOOM class, but we’re playing video games. Right. And unfortunately, we’re gonna miss out on that interaction, because when we do tournaments sometimes back then and to a point now, we did in-person events at like for Battle for the Midwest, that has to be in person because we’re traveling out. But unfortunately, that won’t be the case this semester. Hopefully, we’re striving to make sure the regulations get lift up when the pandemic clears up next semester. But, yeah, solutions are pretty dire.
Jacob [00:06:58] Right. And then final question for you of your new players, who would you say are the particular rising stars? And then what are your upcoming dates where people can see the teams in action?
Slamtaro [00:07:08] So we’ll be showcasing tryouts September 11th and 12th at seven to nine p.m. PST. We have a bunch of new players. We always run lower brackets and higher brackets because we always run three teams per semester. And that’s usually just to maintain our Overwatch team and making sure the community stays thriving and players are coming in to improve. We do have a forty-one hundred Ana player that’s trying out for one of our main supports and some of the rising stars is still Kevin Durant. He’s yet. So he’s coming back. Unfortunately, he did get diagnosed with Covid. And so that’s an unfortunate case. But, you know, he’s still going strong. He’s still himself is still like…
Jacob [00:07:53] Still the number one Doomfist.
Slamtaro [00:07:55] Yes, still the number one Doomfist, actually. If you ever just look at him on ladder. Wingbat is also coming back our Genji player and I’m coming back. And then we also have Karma who’s our Lucio/Ana player. He’s also coming back as well. So pretty much the old roster is coming back. Unfortunately Rose, he’s on the Valorant team and has to dedicate time to that game. I love them. But at the same time it’s like that old roster that we had back then and then not Dunnmere he graduated already.
Jacob [00:08:25] OK, and so that event that you just listed was for Overwatch?
Slamtaro [00:08:31] So I heard that League is I’m not in charge of the League team. I know League is also doing tryouts. You can look for information through 8bitesports.com and also the discord. For specifically for UNLV Overwatch of September 11th to the 12th that Friday, Saturday. And then we’ll be hosting tryouts through Twitch and we’ll be through Twitch.tv/slamtaro
Jacob [00:08:58] Fantastic. And last but not least, where can people find you?
Slamtaro [00:09:01] So everything was SlamtaroOW you can check me up on Facebook, Twitter. I do have an Instagram that showcase all of the art that posted for like A-team roster. Oh, I also do streams on the side on Twitch.tv/slamtro.
Jacob [00:09:24] I’m very excited to watch Overwatch. As a team I’ve seen the most, but I’m excited see Valorant and Rocket League. And I think you UNLV, this is their time to shine. So thank you very much for coming on to the show.
Slamtaro [00:09:35] Thank you.