Meet Our Highlighted Student-Athletes

Posted by Hector Mavrakis August 10, 2020 in General Newsletter

With our Fall 2020 roster finalized, and our teams eager as ever to start competing, we want to highlight a few of the student-athletes that you will be cheering on throughout the year. We have selected one student-athlete from each of our UT Dallas Esports teams, highlighting their interest in Esports and gaming.

Garrett ‘Jukebox’ Porter

Meet Garrett, one of our six student-athletes on our Overwatch A Team. As a Senior studying ATEC (Design & Production), Garrett states he would love to work in Esports or game design after graduating from UT Dallas.

When asked what attracted him to Overwatch and what kept him playing until he reached a high level, he said this:

I’ve always enjoyed playing first-person shooter games, so starting Overwatch when it first came out was natural for me. I’ve been playing since beta and have stuck around for so long because the characters and gameplay in Overwatch are so unique, and I have yet to find another game that gives me that iconic experience. 

I started as a console player where I honestly had no idea what I was doing, and somehow through that was able to reach ranking among the top 500 player on Xbox. One of my UTD friends was going to be running an Overwatch team and asked me to join, so I moved to PC in order to continue improving and get into the competitive scene.

Garrett has always been one to love competition, stating:

The drive to compete and improve followed me into video games so when I learned that there were club teams playing for the school I was really excited. My sophomore year, UTD officially adopted Esports as part of its athletics program and I knew I had to get into it. I’ve been a part of the program since the beginning and I love having a space to come to and share what I care about with my fellow gamers. Not only do I get to represent the school through a game I really enjoy, I also get to be around great people.

Follow Garrett on Twitter

Jonathan ‘THE Jons’ Martin

Meet Jonathan, one of our student-athletes on our League of Legends team. Jonathan is a Senior studying Business Administration, with a minor in Business Analytics. 

Jonathan’s initial interest in League of Legends sparked at a young age and has grown ever since as he states:

When I was in middle school my sister’s friend told me that I should not play League of Legends. Needless to say, I did not take his advice. What I love about League of Legends is that both the micro and macro game can be equally important to determining a game.

One of his all-time favorite moments playing League of Legends at a collegiate level was winning the Southern Conference for the League of Legends Collegiate Championship.

In our match against George Mason University, we really had to use everything and we just barely came out on top. My support and I were shouting out of excitement as we ended the game, and it was just such a exhilarating moment. We were just a group of players that formed alongside the club that existed at UTD, but we beat out every other team in the Southern Conference.

Not only loving the thrill and excitement that the game brings, but also cherishing the comradery of being a part of the UTD Esports team.

I really enjoy being part of a team and working towards a common goal, so that may be what brought me to play on teams. However, my favorite part about the Esports team is the Esports team. I love that we have these different teams and staff positions for other games, Esports has created a community.

Follow Jonathan on Twitch

Gabriel ‘Kazma’ Hernandez

Meet Gabriel, one of our student-athletes on our Smash team. Gabriel is a Junior studying Computer Science, with the ultimate end goal of becoming either a freelance coder or a ethical hacker.

Gabriel began gaining interest in the Smash Bros. franchise on the Wii, as he states:

I originally played Smash in Brawl when I was younger because the back of the box had Groudon and I thought I’d play as him and while you couldn’t, I just enjoyed the game. I continue to play the game because I just really enjoy the game.

Gabriel went on to compete at tournaments, placing 7th out of 385 at Ultimatum 1, being his first major event he attended. When living in Oklahoma, he began carpooling with friends and traveling to Kansas monthly to win $400+ pot bonuses. 

During the bracket I ended up losing in winners to the best player in the state (Spyrobi, a Lucas main) in a close 2-1 set. After the set I had gone off and listened to music to help stayed focused for losers. In losers I had to play against someone I had beaten earlier that day but this time they did better because I had given them advice and I was happy to see the advice I give be useful. After that I had to play against an Olimar called ‘Very Freezer’ in losers semis where we played game 5, last stock, last hit set where at post 100% he hits me with red Pikmin up smash and it kill screens but he hits the sour hit and I live and come down and up smash him and kill him to win the set. Immediately after in Losers Finals I played a Young Link named ‘MJG’ where on game 5 I’m at like 140% and he’s at 80% and I get him offstage and edge guard him to win my second last stock last hit game 5 set in a row. Finally in Grands I get to play my run back against ‘Spyrobi’ where I 6-0 him hard. He tried 3 different characters but I shut it all down so dominantly, I was proud of myself not only for my play but also for bringing home a victory for Oklahoma.

Now, with Gabriel helping the UT Dallas Smash team compete at a national level, he states: 

I really enjoy the people on the team, everyone is very kind and easy to talk to. As for what attracted me to being on the team, I had just finished a year of college in Oklahoma and had come to the decision to change my major to Computer Science and I knew that UTD had a good program for that and then the UTD smash team became the national champions so that helped solidify that I wanted to go to UTD.

Follow Gabriel on Twitter

Danny ‘Ghost’ Vu

Meet Danny, one of our student-athletes on our most recently-added Esports team, Rocket League. Danny is a Sophomore studying Computer Science, in hopes of becoming a software developer after graduating.

Danny has always had a passion and drive to play competitive Rocket League, but playing with ex-pro ‘Joro’ last semester made him realize that he could truly play Rocket League at a high level.

My most memorable moment when playing Rocket League for UTD was when my team, who consisted of Joro, Mastuh, and I competed in a College Car Ball(CCA) double-elimination tournament, where we competed against 86 other university teams in the nation and placed 2nd overall. These matches were streamed by the CCA org and it was big for us as a team because it gave our team the opportunity to expand our Esports brand as a whole. This tournament was the first tourney UTD has reached this far in any Rocket League Tournament that was held throughout the year. Looking back at that specific tournament, we worked hard to get to that 2nd spot. At the start of the tournament, we immediately were knocked into the losers bracket in the 3rd round. Being losers bracket warriors that we were, we then won 10 straight series including the losers final and got to play the winners final. We won a series against the winners finals team, but unfortunately competing in a double-elimination tournament means that there was a bracket reset. In the end, we lost the second series and finished 2nd overall in the tournament. Overall, I was extremely grateful that I got the chance to compete with Joro and Mastuh.

Danny has been involved with our Esports team since the creation of our Rocket League team, stating: 

My favorite thing about being part of UTD’s Esports team is that there are so many people like me who are passionate about playing the Esport that they love playing. Another thing that I liked about UTD’s Esports program when I first joined in 2019 was the community and friendships that I have built with other players outside of Rocket League.

Follow Danny on Twitter

 

We are beyond excited to see what these four athletes accomplish over this next year, as UT Dallas Esports grows bigger and better than ever. As always, feel free to join our Official Discord Server to connect with our program staff, student-athletes, and community! Whoosh!