BY AKBAR AMIN
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) eSports Arena recently opened its doors near the UCI Student Center, with the grand opening sponsored by the company iBUYPOWER in late september. The UCI eSports Arena is one of UCI’s ways to enhance their newly developed eSports scholarship program, taking competitive gaming to the collegiate level.
The grand opening not only held a tour of the 3,500 square feet arena, but also featured sponsor and partner booths, as well as professional gamers.
Even an hour before the event started, hundreds of people were gathered around the doors to the arena. The opening ceremony included speakers such as UCI Vice Chancellor, Thomas Parham, and UCI alumni Jesse Wang, who is the current eSports coordinator.
As soon as the doors opened, there was a huge rush of people entering the relatively small arena. Already, students and community members were stationed at the 80 high-end, customized gaming PC’s. “It was very fun to play games with my friends,” said Robyn Pollisco (Sr.). “We even got the chance to see a professional gaming team!”
Outside the arena, around 40 computers and TV’s were set up on round tables for a tournament of the popular Nintendo game, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Also, free items were being distributed such as video game cards, t-shirts, and specific video game accessories.
The booths were also a spectacle to see, ranging from computer-based company booths, such as NVIDIA and Acer to competitive gaming team booths, such as Counter Logic Gaming.
The event overall was a huge turnout for gamers who intend to see eSports grow. “It was an event where I got to see eSports evolving and being brought to a whole different level. People always underestimated and looked down on people who played eSports and now the perspective’s of the people is changing,” said Ryan Jung (Jr.). “As an eSports player myself, I always dreamt of something like this happening, where people who do play eSports have a chance to have a future.”