UCI eSports

A bold new sports franchise

Seeing video games as the next frontier in college athletics, UCI launches player scholarships and a first-of-its-kind arena

The blind monk prowls the jungle, using sonar and karate kicks to stalk and pulverize his enemies. Nearby, his four teammates – endowed with magical powers and Rambo-grade weaponry – battle a platoon of exotic beasts, including a land shark that bursts out of the ground and swallows everything in its path.

Fourth-year business administration major Christopher Pinkstaff concentrates on his game during the eSports arena's grand opening.
Steve Zylius / UCI

These and other peculiar creatures run rampant in “League of Legends,” a wildly popular video game that some predict will overtake football as the superstar of college sports. Already, the game’s pro playoffs pack stadiums and draw online crowds that reportedly rival viewership for the World Series.

Reading these electronic tea leaves, UCI made headlines last fall by fielding the nation’s first school-sponsored e-sports team at a public university. The campus wooed top players with scholarships and built a trailblazing computer arena, all financed by corporate donations. Read more ...


Let the gaming begin!

UCI’s groundbreaking eSports arena opens with much fanfare

A cheering crowd of nearly 1,500 people – some in elaborate costumes – mobbed Friday night’s grand opening of the University of California, Irvine’s eSports arena, the first of its kind at a public college.

Newlyweds Ben Kempenich, an MBA alum, and Jen Jen Chen, a UCI assistant clinical professor of pediatric pulmonology, battle with each other at the opening of UCI's eSports arena. Steve Zylius / UCI

Newlyweds Ben Kempenich, an MBA alum, and Jen Jen Chen, a UCI assistant clinical professor of pediatric pulmonology, battle with each other at the opening of UCI's eSports arena.
Steve Zylius / UCI

As a phalanx of television and print news crews looked on, a snaking line of students, kids, parents and professors streamed through the space, lit up by the glow of 80 custom gaming PCs and a webcasting studio that will broadcast matches to millions of viewers.

“Holy cow, dude, this is rad!” one wide-eyed dad said as he and his two boys entered the high-tech venue, home to UCI’s elite new “League of Legends” team and also available to casual gamers for about $4 per hour. Read more ...


eSports leader UCI to host panel discussion on women in gaming

Female industry leaders and academics will take part in a panel discussion at the University of California, Irvine on women in gaming, with an emphasis on eSports and other competitions. The panelists, including prominent professional and club players and designers, will examine gaming’s cultural dynamics and how women can better be encouraged to pursue it as a career or sport. Read more ....


Taking gaming to a new level

UCI’s eSports initiative will boast collegiate team, arena, scholarships

Recent computer game science grad Kathy Chiang, who helped shape the UCI eSports initiative, shows off her rubber gaming bracelets. Tonya Becerra / UCI

Recent computer game science grad Kathy Chiang, who helped shape the UCI eSports initiative, shows off her rubber gaming bracelets.
Tonya Becerra / UCI

Kathy Chiang wears her love of gaming on her sleeve. Or wrists, actually. She often sports rubber bracelets inscribed with the logos of her favorite computer games, including League of Legends. A recent University of California, Irvine graduate, Chiang served as president of the campus’s Association of Gamers during her last year at the university. She also designed video games as part of her major, computer game science. So it should come as no surprise that Chiang is an enthusiastic supporter of UCI’s new eSports initiative, which encompasses an official League of Legends team, a state-of-the-art gaming arena and a scholarship program for team members. Read more ...


“This is not going to be just another sport.”

-- Thomas Parham, UCI vice chancellor, student affairs


UCI to launch first-of-its-kind official e-sports initiative in the fall

Specially equipped gaming, competition site to be built at Student Center

Super Smash Bros. players (from left) Griffin Williams, Benjamin Tolan and Jason Chen hone their skills at the UCI Student Center during their weekly meeting. The campus has a community of dedicated gamers. Steve Zylius / UCI

Super Smash Bros. players (from left) Griffin Williams, Benjamin Tolan and Jason Chen hone their skills at the UCI Student Center during their weekly meeting. The campus has a community of dedicated gamers. Steve Zylius / UCI

UC Irvine is launching an official e-sports initiative this fall, the first of its kind at a public research university. A state-of-the-art arena equipped with high-end gaming PCs, a stage for League of Legends competitions and a live webcasting studio will be constructed at the Student Center, and as many as 10 academic scholarships will be offered to students on the team.  Read more ...