Red Bull Campus Clutch – Interview with UC Davis & SJSU

Red Bull Campus Clutch – Interview with UC Davis & SJSU

Gabriel Ionica

3/23/2021, 9:10:12 AM

The Red Bull Campus Clutch, Red Bull’s attempt at bringing collegiate Valorant to a global scale, is just around the corner. We’ve partnered with Red Bull to bring you an exclusive interview with the official teams from UC Davis and San Jose State University (SJSU)!

From UC Davis, we got Christopher “vari0us” Tran, Eric “SmurfSicles” Young, Terashi “Esparanto” Lee, and founder Adrian “TheFriendlyNPC” Lam. Representing SJSU’s Valorant team is president and founder Alan “Kudo” Ignacio. These two official teams will first face off against other teams from their university and if/when they win, they will look to defeat other university teams from around the country. Until then, join us as we take a look at these teams’ backstories and how they feel going into the biggest collegiate Valorant tournament to date!

Interview with UC Davis & SJSU

RunItBack: What made you want to create a Valorant team on your campus?

UC Davis – TheFriendlyNPC: – When Valorant came out, I played the beta with my friends and we formed a team. We took part in a lot of the early tournaments but as the Fall quarter came around, a lot of collegiate tournaments started popping up. I reached out and asked if anyone wanted to form a college Valorant team and that’s how we got started.

SJSU: Originally, we had an Overwatch and CS:GO team but those teams were very interested in Valorant when it came out and the hype began building around it. After a few requests from the students, I decided to include Valorant in the esports program. I knew it would have a competitive scene judging by how Riot handles League of Legends esports. What ended up happening was that our Overwatch staff and our CS:GO players got together and formed part of the Valorant team we have today.

RunItBack: How hard was it? Did you get any pushback from the school?

UC Davis – TheFriendlyNPC: The hardest part was actually finding players that played at a high level, whether that was Immortal or Radiant. Aggie Gaming isn’t associated directly with the school, we’re just a club. In the end, we could only find enough players for a team of five so that was perfect.

SJSU: Well the decisions made within the program are made by me and my staff. When it comes to communication between us and the campus, they only see what we post on social media. They consider us a club sport like club volleyball and club soccer so they welcome us. Since we’re the only club that can fully function during the pandemic, it worked out even better for us. It also helps that Valorant is rated T.

RunItBack: This one’s for UC Davis. What made you guys wanna play Valorant at a semi-professional level?

UC Davis – vari0us: In the beginning, I played Valorant during the beta and I actually made it to Diamond 3. I continued playing the game for fun throughout the summer and when I got into Davis as a freshman, I found out about the team they had on Reddit. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to it so I just sent Adrian a message saying that I can be a sub but don’t want to commit just yet. All of a sudden, I was on the starting team because they didn’t have enough players.

RunItBack: How did you decide which players were gonna be on the team?

UC Davis – TheFriendlyNPC: The first iteration of a team was just whoever was the highest rank but then during the Winter quarter, more people reached out so we had real tryouts to let new people try and join the team. Christopher “vari0us” Tran and Chris “C16” Havens are the two players from the original roster. The other three are new.

SJSU: We held tryouts and formalized that roster around Fall. We made sure everyone had equal opportunity to make it on the roster. Our current team is a mixture of two CS:GO players and the rest are players we found during tryouts.

RunItBack: How did you practice prior to Red Bull Campus Clutch?

UC Davis – SmurfSicles: – With school and other extracurricular activities in the way, most of our practices are scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Friday towards 9:30 PM. We make use of that time either by whiteboarding strategies or VOD reviewing. For the past two or three weeks, our game schedule has been pretty busy so we haven’t had much time for full team practice. Essentially, we’re getting better with every game we play. 

UC Davis – Esparanto: Before the new queue patch, we could five-stack and get matched up against other five stacks which we counted as practice too. It helped us build team chemistry and communication.

SJSU: Our form of practicing is playing in every collegiate competition we can take part in. We are in CSL, CF1, MSI Spring Split Round 1, CEA, and Faceit. The literal off day these guys have is Monday. Every other day, they’re playing in a competition. We have backup teams too in case any of our starting players get busy with midterms or other commitments so there’s a whole system in place.

RunItBack: What makes you most excited about participating in the Red Bull Campus Clutch?

UC Davis – Esparanto: I have friends from other schools that also participate in the Red Bull Campus Clutch so it’s definitely going to be fun to compete against them. This is also the biggest collegiate tournament I’ve heard about so it’s quite known by the general community as well. It’ll be a great opportunity to get our name out there too.

SJSU: The opportunity that the Campus Clutch gives to the collegiate scene is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We firmly believe we’re the best team in North America so we know we can reach the top. The fact that there’s a global collegiate competition is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have this unique opportunity so now we just have to prove that we are the best.

RunItBack: Anything you want people to know that I didn’t ask about?

UC Davis – Esparanto: We’re quite new in comparison to other teams but we believe we can go toe to toe with the bigger teams like SJSU or UC Irvine. That’s with limited practices or practices at 9:30. Sometimes we can’t practice for a whole week because of our extracurriculars. I think people at Red Bull Campus Clutch should be worried when we come out.

SJSU: We are really hyping ourselves to be one of the best in North America. We’re only a club team, we’re not a varsity program like other universities. None of these players get scholarships, they came to San Jose State because they wanted an education, and then we offered them this opportunity. We know that the collegiate Valorant scene is just beginning but there’s something about this scene that I really love, which is why I made the full transition to it. Hopefully, with how this scene turns out, more universities start investing in their collegiate esports programs.

Huge thanks to Red Bull for setting us up with these interviews and to both universities for their time! Look out for the results of the UC Davis and SJSU qualifiers to see who gets to represent their university. To make sure you don’t miss further Campus Clutch coverage, follow us at Run it Back and join our Discord for all your latest news, extensive guides, and exclusive interviews in the world of Valorant.


Gabriel Ionica

Not-yet-famous esports writer. Started out with CS:GO but now I write about Valorant too. Check out my article backlog on Twitter!