UC Irvine Interview: The View from the Heroic Four

We caught up with several representatives of the University of California Irvine (UCI) to discuss life as a collegiate Heroes of the Storm competitor. Though the interview took place shortly after UCI’s elimination by eventual champions University of Texas Arlington (UTA), we found the team in relatively high spirits.

This interview has been revised and condensed for clarity.

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Let’s start by introducing yourselves!

Mar: Hi, I’m Cameron “blahty” Mar, and I play Tank for UCI. I’m a Comp Sci major.

Vu: I’m Albert, I’m also a Comp Sci major.

Mar: He has a 4.0.

Nguyen: I’m John “Mistax” Nguyen. I’m an alumni of the school, and I was captain of our first Heroes of the Dorm team—

Mar: —that lost.

Nguyen: (Laughs) Cameron was also my teammate that year, and Albert was on another team for the school that year—

Mar: —which also lost.

How did you get into competitive videogames? When did it occur to you that you could be world-class at Heroes of the Storm?

Mar: I’m competitive, I’m just not as athletic as other people. My height isn’t as high as it could be. Videogames are easier.

How do people back at school view your competition in Heroes of the Dorm?

Vu: Everybody at UCI is pretty much already playing games, so.

(Parsa ‘Frosty’ Baghai, Assassin player for UCI, joins the interview.)

Are you celebrities on campus?

Baghai: I mean, I walked around in my jersey, and a lot of people complimented it. And they were interested and asked questions and stuff.

How does it feel when people ask those questions? Do you enjoy it?

Baghai: Yeah, yeah, it feels great. It feels like people are interested in the program and they support it.  “Oh, this is a cool program the school has.” Stuff like that. 

Mar: There are a lot of gamers at UCI. The people I hang around don’t understand it, really, so I don’t really delve into it, but the people who do understand—they ask a lot of questions. “How was it? What was it like on stage?”

How did you decide who was going to be on this team? Were there tryouts?

Nguyen: When TESPA announced Heroes Training Ground, I was looking to get a lot of the old teammates back together. We had Ryan [‘protoges’ Griswold], who came to UCI for his Masters program, and Cameron and Albert, who’d played the previous year. Starting with those core three, we began tryouts in August or September last year.

Mar: It was really early.

Nguyen: We worked for three or four months before we finally locked down our roster. From there, they played in the HGC Open games and anything else that they could, to practice for Dorm.

Baghai: You didn’t even mention us. (Laughs)

Nguyen: Parsa, who had already played Heroes in the past, was a very high-ranking player, so we brought him on, had some scrims, and he totally exceeded our expectations. We ran with it, and did better and better over time.

Mar: Without him we would not be here.

So he was a key factor in your success.

Mar: The catalyst… for our destruction of every other team.

Nguyen: I think, overall, everyone grew together. They had a goal to reach, and everybody on the team exceeded that goal this year.

Mar: If we didn’t play UTA in the semifinals, we would be in the finals right now. That’s what he’s saying.

Any plans to try and make the leap to the HGC Crucible?

Mar: Playing in the Open Division is fun. Playing with these guys is fun, we just make memes all day.

Vu: You mean you make memes all day.

Nguyen: Yeah, I want to keep the players together, so we’ll probably play the remaining Open Division games, just to see how far we get.

Mar: And then we’ll get our revenge on UTA by stopping them from getting into the HGC.

Nguyen: Yeah! (Applauds)

Mar: The long con.

Are any of you graduating this year?

Nguyen: We lose Albert and Ryan. Ryan will be moving onto his PhD program at UCSD.

Mar: Where we will beat him.

(To Vu) How does it feel looking back on your time at UC Irvine?

Vu: It’s kind of disappointing I can’t play next year, but it was fun this year.

What are your plans?

Vu: Just to get a job. Still figuring that out.

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Check out UC Irvine’s Heroes of the Dorm team page here and keep an eye out for them in the HGC Open Division, where they’ll seek to place in the Top 2 and compete in the HGC Crucible!