The UBC Esports Association (UBCEA) is one of the many student-run clubs at the University of British Columbia. However, while it’s one of many, UBCEA has made its name known in collegiate esports as one of the most successful teams to compete. Originally started in 2010 as the “UBC StarCraft Club,” it mainly focused on what its name entails, StarCraft. Two years after the club was created, the name was changed to what it is today, allowing the club to expand and offer more to the students of UBC. This change of focus would prove successful as, post-2012, the club would go on to win titles in League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike.
I was able to have a chat with the new president of UBCEA, Arnaud Dione, to see how he’s getting used to his new role and what his plans are for the organization moving forward.
Note: The interview below has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Arnaud Dione, UBCEA Icebreaker 2019. (Credit: UBCEA Facebook)
Now that you’ve settled into the position of president, has anything surprised you or exceeded expectations?
“One thing I’ve noticed was how different each game community is and how different their mentalities are. [Super Smash Bros.] has a very can-do attitude since Nintendo doesn’t contribute as much to the community compared to Riot or Blizzard. I’ve set pretty high expectations when it comes to events, and I’m happy to see the other games reaching them.”
Arnaud has been with UBCEA for around three years and has been a part of many events and tournaments hosted by the organization.
“The League of Legends [World Championship] viewing party was pretty epic. We collaborated with The Gaming Stadium (TGS) in Richmond because we couldn’t find an overnight venue at UBC. It was amazing to see the place filled up from 9pm to 8am. We even had our private school bus going straight from UBC to TGS, [Super Smash Bros.] setups, and a bunch of other tournaments going on, too. [We also hosted] Play with Heart, a charity [Super Smash Bros.] tournament where 320 people competed over two days. We raised $12,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association and ended up getting 10,000 views on Twitch since we were able to stream from VGBootCamp, the largest [Super Smash Bros.] channel on Twitch. We also announced our next major: Battle of BC 4, which will happen in June and blow everyone’s mind!”
UBCEA Staff. (Credit: UBCEA Facebook)
What does UBCEA offer for the more casual player that doesn’t want to compete?
“One thing that I insisted on this year was appealing to the more casual esports scene. All of our LAN tournaments are open to everyone, and the gaming lounge is open to all students during the weekdays, enabling everyone to enjoy video games on campus. We also don’t have any limitations on the number of teams [the club can have]. In fact for [Super Smash Bros.], we had a whopping five! I think the casual scene is more important than we think and capturing their attention is something we hope to do.”
As president of the organization, Arnaud’s role is that of change and improvement. Because of this, his role is not only to see things run smoothly but also to plan for future generations of students and club members. When asked about what he’s currently trying to change inside the organization he said:
“In the past, one key weakness I’ve noticed was the lack of consistency we had as a student club. This was mostly due to the quick four-year turnover from graduation. I’ve raised the club’s standards to a new level of professionalism, and I’m doubling down on the documentation to ensure that next year’s executive team will have a guide and won’t have to start from scratch. [...] One goal of mine is to get a permanent esports coordinator position. There’s a lot of work that’s been done by my colleagues and I, and while we have a great passion for what we do, at the end of the day it’s still unpaid and not our main priority as we have school and work. I think that if we had a dedicated UBC Esports staff member it would benefit us a lot.”
Battle of BC 3 (Credit: UBCEA Facebook)
Is there a core “goal” or “motto” of the UBC Esports Association?
“This is our elevator pitch: We're UBCEA, the place on campus for all things video games. We do everything from competitive tournaments to casual socials. We have collegiate level teams that compete against other universities and we are always looking for new players and fans to cheer them on. If you've ever wanted to try one of the games we have, come out to one of our weekly events! They're a great way to meet new friends who love what you do, practice honing your skills, or just try out a new game.”
What’s next? Are there any events we should know about in the future?
“We have a huge tournament series coming up with our rival university, Simon Fraser University. We also a gaming expo and an industry night coming up next term. Follow us on social media if you want more information or want to see what great esports events look like!”
Whether it’s making money for charity or fighting a meme war with their rival school, the UBC Esports Association has a ton going on year-round. What started out as a small StarCraft club is now looking to become one of the most professional collegiate esports associations in North America, and in doing so, they hope to create an environment for anyone to join, competitor or not.