CSULB eSports team set to compete in major tournaments
By Alex Ramos Editor in Chief
The Senpai Squad from Cal State Long Beach is poised to make noise this season. CSULB’s resident Overwatch squad is looking to go all the way in several local events and tournaments, including the Tespa Collegiate and Collegiate Colosseum series.
Daniel Kray, the captain, stands as the team’s main damage per second (DPS) option, maining McCree and Reaper. Up next as secondary DPS is Michael “Purple” Marandola, maining Genji and Reaper. The pair have regularly kept the ground war in favor of Team CSULB by controlling the front lines and regularly breaking up the advance of opposing teams. Kray is a crackshot with McCree and Marandola is a mobile Reaper. One little wrinkle to Marandola’s that adds to his versatility is his ability to play Mercy, a crucial option that allows staged group revives.
Offense isn’t everything though. All coordinated teams need to keep alternate front line members as well as draw opponents out of their planned formations. The team’s tank specialists are Danny “Haiki” Nguyen, maining Reinhardt and Roadhog, and Aaron Chai, maining Zarya and Roadhog. Chai is an accurate hookman that can drag enemies into less than favorable positions while Nguyen creates a strong front guard.
Backing up the team on support is Eugene “TheFallenBum” Park, maining Zenyatta and Ana, two characters with a strong offensive support capability . The team is rounded out by Demyric “RiceLover” Eliptico as the heady Lucio, the passive support and quick group heal option that can affect all players at once.
This team is well coordinated but often times aren’t able to see more detailed strategical problems. That’s where Aaron Fong comes in. Fong is the team’s coach/analyst designated with reviewing game and practice footage to update strategies for specific teams and certain maps that CSULB might play on. The delicate balance of having two DPS, two tanks and two support heroes means that Fong has to adjust the minor details in gameplans regularly in order to achieve ideal balance.
Still, even the best team setup is nothing without a game plan. That’s why the team meets up four times a week, with sessions lasting up to three hours. In that time, the team members review with Fong on all game footage and test callouts, strategies and overall team chemistry in quick games.
So far, the coordinated team practice and hero composition has been extremely effective. In Senpai Squad’s first Tespa game, against CSULA, the boys from The Beach dominated the match in a clean 2-0 sweep. The first game, set up in the new map Eichenwalde, was child’s play for CSULB. Kray, Chai and Nguyen didn’t even let CSULA capture the first objective. On the next game, set in King’s Row, the result was more or less the same. CSULA wasn’t even close to coming to the second objective after Chai hunkered the team defense down as Zarya after surviving a late CSULA. Chai’s heroics gave the team enough time to be revived by Marandola’s Mercy and ultimately have time to finish off the match.
Senpai Squad prides itself in it’s consistent training and coordinated team communication. The team wants to translate the initial success into something more, most notably a top 10 finish in the Tespa West region, the most difficult group in the whole tournament. Senpai Squad, frankly, is not afraid. They have a chip on their shoulder and are determined to show the Overwatch community, and the rest of the CSULB campus, that their game is formidable.
Be sure to check out CSULB Overwatch’s matches on Chai’s youtube (/www.youtube.com/user/Aaron24400).