How Rebel Gaming’s President Julian Lugod Built an Esports Program
This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down to speak with Rebel Gaming’s Julian “Slamtaro” Lugod, a business management major at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and president of the university’s esports organization. As a founding member of Rebel Gaming and two time Mountain West champion, Lugod has certainly made a name for himself in the collegiate esports arena and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. After winning first place in the Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup (CECC) Southwest Invitational, he and his teammates on the UNLV Overwatch A team are gearing up to compete in Atlanta Georgia this May at Gateway Arena for the grand prize.
The Formation of Rebel Gaming
Lugod’s collegiate esports titles are impressive to say the least, but his involvement in the creation of Rebel Gaming may be even more remarkable. Prior to 2021, a student club called 8-bit Esports was the home of all esports activities at UNLV. Lugod was an officer within 8-bit as well as part of the Overwatch team while he helped manage the organization. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic put stress on 8-bit as they were unable to host or participate any in-person events, ultimately leading to the organization dissolving.
As the option to be in-person became available, Rebel Gaming was formed. Lugod emphasized the importance of aligning the club with the priorities of student life organizations on campus and the need for inclusivity that helped build the values of Rebel Gaming. The process of creating and managing Rebel Gaming actually helped steer him in the direction of pursuing a business management degree with hopes of being able to make esports management his lifelong career.
His management skills and what he refers to as “quite a miracle” has propelled the UNLV Overwatch team into the spotlight with him at the helm. 8-bit participated in Mountain West, earning championship titles for League of Legends and Overwatch in 2018 and then again in Overwatch in 2020. Then continued to compete well in Overwatch Homecoming. However, they didn’t have quite the same run Rebel Gaming is seeing now.
Following the rebuild of the official Rebel Gaming discord after having been hacked, an admin for CECC reached out directly to Lugod. Naturally he was leery of the almost too good to be true communication, but thankfully the message came from exactly who they claimed to be. Soon UNLV started facing off against a myriad of schools in the CECC Southwest Region to include the University of Texas Arlington and University of North Texas. All of which led to their success in the Southwest Region and impending trip to Atlanta.
Collegiate Esports and Beyond
True to his major, Lugod had some excellent advice for students looking to get involved in collegiate esports:
“Section out your time, time management is literally the number one thing … school comes first, at the end of the day you are a student first … it is really important that you have the backup, you have the degree. As operational or as managerial as you are, keep in mind that time management is super key”.
He feels the classes he is taking through his degree helps him better manage and understand what Rebel Gaming needs to be successful. Without question, Lugod’s dedication to the organization is giving him a glimpse into his future in esports management.
Throughout our interview, Lugod was extremely transparent about the trials and tribulations leading to the well deserved success of Rebel Gaming, but I thought it was important to highlight him outside of the team as well. Like many gamers, his introduction to video games was through games like StarCraft: Brood War and Halo, back when you either played console or an immovable monster of a computer. From there, he moved into Call of Duty and League of Legends, pursuing the more competitive nature of gaming.
All the while his brother, who introduced him to gaming, helped implement time management early on by helping him balance video games with real world responsibilities, like the ever-dreaded chores around the house. It seems that time management paid off, as he was able to balance college and his time with 8-bit until the creation of Rebel Gaming. Now Lugod prefers to play Overwatch, even in his downtime. Despite the fast-paced, high intensity nature of the game, his chosen role of tank allows him to control the tempo of the game and interact with friends.
In regards to the future of gaming, Lugod is hoping to see more accessibility for esports on a local level. He feels that esports is often still seen as just a form of entertainment rather than a legitimate competition. Outside of the Las Vegas scene, he expressed concern regarding the lack of opportunities for college students in the industry. As esports is still developing, even in a professional setting, when college students enter the industry, they are often lost and unsure how to proceed. He feels there is a need for more transparency and straightforward information in regards to the functionality of esports organizations.
If you want to check out more from Lugod, you can find him on Twitch and YouTube. You can also follow Rebel Gaming’s journey on Twitch, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube under the handle UNLVRebelGaming.
Written by Samantha Barth