The Overwatch League is in its first off-season, but there are still plenty of ways for fans to interact with their favorite teams. One of the more unique opportunities presented itself in the form of a sunny Saturday afternoon in Santa Ana, CA.
Like the Gilded Gala in London, the California Cup is more than just a rivalry — it’s an opportunity for fans to meet others who share their passion, and of course, the players themselves. The Los Angeles Valiant partnered with Esports Arena to host the event and also blocked off the street in front of the venue for the #BeValiant: Community Block Party.
The event also gave visibility to the collegiate Overwatch scene by featuring UC Irvine, University of San Diego, UCLA, and UC Berkeley to kickoff the event. The 2018 California Collegiate Clash was cast by Overwatch Contenders caster James “Jamerson” Lee and former SF Shock coach Harsha Bandi. Brennon “Bren” Hook and Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson provided casting for the remainder of the event.
Amateur 1v1s, 3v3s, and meet-and-greets were peppered in throughout the afternoon before the ultimate showdown of the California Cup — a multi-mode showmatch between the LA Valiant and SF Shock.
“I think this might be the biggest event that we’ve done independently as a team,” said Valiant DPS Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa in an interview with Inven Global.
UC Irvine and USD took the stage as Overwatch Contenders caster Jamerson and former SF Shock coach Harsha Bandi addressed the crowd ahead of the day. UC Irvine was able to defeat USD, and UCLA faced off against the tournament favorite in UC Berkeley. UCLA managed to pull off the upset, facing UCI in the finals. UCI defeated UCLA to become the inaugural California College Clash champions.
In the afternoon, the #BeValiant: Community Block Party took center stage. Food trucks were accompanied by a pumpkin patch, a cornhole area, and a pretty incredible painter. Nitto Tires, an official sponsor of the LA Valiant, set up a massive Junkertown themed photo op for players and fans alike to strike a pose.
The festivities were accompanied by live music courtesy of Video Game Music remix artist Glitch, and the entirety of the street was blocked off in front of Esports Arena.
"...lowering the barrier between team and fanbase through events like
the California Cup is a step in the right direction,"
Later in the day, the Valiant and Shock took the stage for a Variety Showmatch, participating first in a tandem 3v3 mode that featured two players per PC. The LA Valiant and SF Shock had a cup to fight over, and both teams were hungry to bring it home before heading to Oakland next month for a rematch.
The Valiant dispatched of the Shock 3-1, showing little difficulty in doing so with their new lineup. Kim “Izayaki” Min-Chul had an impressive performance in the Flex Support role, and the revolving door of DPS players for the Valiant had the firepower to get the job done behind exemplary Winston play from Main Tank Koo “Fate” Pan-Seung.
An Overwatch team’s longevity is contingent on a loyal fanbase, and lowering the barrier between team and fanbase through events like the California Cup is a step in the right direction. While the Valiant raised the cup at the end of the night, it won’t be long before they have to fight for it again. Catch the California Cup rematch at Esports Arena Oakland on November 10, 2018.
Nick Geracie is a freelance esports journalist in Los Angeles, CA. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Photos via the Los Angeles Valiant.