For a while, the only FPS (first-person-shooter) team USC had was Overwatch. With its colorful graphics and lack of overt bloodshed, Overwatch is as wholesome as FPS gets. However, after its four year tenure, Overwatch is now being joined by mega-popular powerhouses like Call of Duty and Valorant.

Though USC has these two new teams, they fall under the banner of SC Esports, an esports and gaming club on campus that’s not related to USC Trojan Esports, the university’s official varsity program. USC Trojan Esports doesn’t sponsor games like CoD and Valorant due to the gore and guns, according to staff member Andrew Obeso, but SC Esports isn’t bound to those rules, and can branch out beyond the realm of Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League.

Call of Duty

The classic American past-time finally has a place in USC’s competitive scene. Like Valorant, it lies under the SC Esports banner.

The idea to create the CoD team was suggested by many in the SC Esports Discord server, including Sophomore Game Design student Naomi “LestageVisuals” Lestage who saw a gap in the current lineup of teams representing her university.

“I’m an FPS person, and I was talking about it with other people and I heard other kids were interested in playing on a CoD team, so I was like, cool, okay… It’s so mainstream now I don’t see why not,” she said.

An interest group began in the SC Esports Discord server, and from it spawned what might be a landmark initiative between USC’s esports and USC athletics (unofficially, of course). Players Garret “Garret” Guillemette and Alex “imbad” Rodriguez came over from the baseball team to play some video games competitively, and imbad (hopefully a meme) now holds the position of team captain.

“My goals are to win at least one competition,” said imbad.

Baseball season does start up again in the spring, so they may not be able to continue their practice into next semester, and Garret said “I will play as much as possible.”

The team will be playing in three leagues, MLG’s Game Battles starting Oct 1, Call of Duty League’s collegiate bracket starting Oct 24, and potentially AVGL as well according to Lynne.

Omar “caliph” Qureshi found out about the team through the SC Esports interest group as well.

“I hope we can manage to win a tournament and the ultimate goal is to beat UCLA if that’s ever possible,” he said.

Call of Duty roster Position
Sahib "Sahiba" Boparai OBJ/Slayer
Omar "bigchiefer" Qureshi OBJ
Garret "Garret" Guillemette Support
Alex "imbad" Rodriguez Carry
Naomi "LestageVisuals" Lestage Flex

Along with Call of Duty comes the rise of USC Valorant. Coming from the same company that released the ultra-popular multiplayer online game League of Legends, the world was rearing at the idea of a new Riot game. Valorant took the world by storm upon release, and has attracted pros from the realms of CS:GO and Overwatch alike.

It comes as no surprise that a game with such an initial impact found an immediate place in the collegiate landscape.

Headed by team captains Samuel “CustomDipped” Adams and Sam “whizmas” Cho, the new team is an addition under SC Esports, and its members are ready to go.

“It’s a new game, but I’m excited for the competitive collegiate aspect of it,” said whizmas.

The creation of the new team comes about during a time when university functions are all online. While some of the founding players are upperclassmen, whose collegiate experience at USC has allowed them to be on campus in person, some members are freshman just beginning their collegiate experience.

Whizmas is optimistic when speaking about welcoming freshmen to the team. “We have some freshmen on the team too and I think it’s great that they can be part of a ‘school team’ even during the pandemic.”

When asked if the team is integrating well with each other and getting along, whizmas had this to say: “Yep, very well.”

The first scrimmage of the season occurred on September 26th against the University of the Pacific, where USC posted its first losses on Split and Ascent. After they lost in their first tournament against the University of San Francisco at the Golden Coast Invitational on October 4th.

Matches and scrimmages occur every week, according to CustomDipped, and are streamed by members of the team on their various Twitch pages.

Valorant roster
Sam "whizmas" Cho Flex Diamond
Curtis "KunaiWithChain" Lao Omen, Jett, Cypher Diamond
Samuel "CustomDipped" Adams Phoenix, Reyna Diamond
Dillan "Perryixx" Mehta Sova, Sage, Reyna Platinum 2
Kyle "Imasillyturtle" Tran Omen, Raze, Cypher Immortal 3
Tran "Bao" Ngo Brim, Sage Gold
Dylan "RodinFlash" Huey Omen Gold
Sebastian "LongSeb" Torres Entry/Second entry Diamond