University of California Irvine: UCI Esports announces fall addition of Valorant team

The University of California, Irvine will expand its 5-year-old esports program this fall by adding a Valorant team to its existing Overwatch and League of Legends teams.

Valorant is a first-person hero shooter video game developed and published by Riot Games that was originally released in June 2020. Its team-oriented approach and focus on high-quality, polished gameplay have contributed to its popularity.

“Valorant is praised for the developer’s efforts in supporting community, representation and integrity in competition,” said Mark Deppe, director of UCI Esports. “Riot Games’ actions align with the virtues and values that the UCI program works to uphold, and with the inaugural year of collegiate Valorant competition this fall, it’s an exciting opportunity to continue the growth and evolution of the esports scholarship program.”

The Valorant student club team that has been representing UCI is rated among the best in the country, winning multiple national tournaments, including the Pacific Gauntlet, the UC Esports Initiative Invitational, and Conference One’s fall 2020 and spring 2021 competitions.

“With the announcement of official competition coming in fall 2022, we are incredibly motivated to compete and represent UCI,” said junior Andrei Go, president of the club. “UCI Esports finally entering the Valorant scene feels like a dream come true.”

UCI will hire a Valorant team coach and host tryouts over the summer for current and incoming students. Scholarship players will receive $2,000 toward the cost of tuition and compete in Riot Games’ first-party circuit: the College Valorant Championship.

“Valorant is the most visible title in North America by viewership numbers and has shown that it has the interest and staying power behind a top esport,” said Ronald Ly, assistant director of UCI Esports. “Riot is using that spotlight to push diversity and inclusion initiatives in their action plans more every year as well, so we’re extremely excited to participate in a new title and new genre that aligns so closely with our values.”