This Article was written by Chloe Seymour
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin ‘Kevaman’ Lalor. He is the ADC for the UCD Leviathans, the team that will be representing Ireland in the University Esports Masters Tournament (UEM). He and his team will be pitted against other big college teams from across Europe and the winner will go on to represent the continent in Hong Kong. I started by asking Kevin about his experiences playing collegiate esports.
“I began playing competitively at fifteen years old, I spent a lot of my time playing with people who were already in college; I’ve made great friends through collegiate since I started playing. When I first started in UCD I was really excited to join a team, it was really surprising to find out there wasn’t one so I got a team going” he said.
When I asked how he felt representing Ireland in UEM, Kevaman replied that he was “super excited” about it. He mentioned how he had been very invested in the tournament for years, before he even started college, saying “I’ve known about it for a long time and it wasn’t just something I discovered in college. I was a lot more interested and involved than most people would be.” He feels very passionate about winning and thinks both himself and his team have the skills to get far in this section of the competition, continuing with their success from the Irish qualifiers. “We were pretty much favourites going into the competition initially so we really did feel we could win.”
Following this, we talked about how he felt towards the other teams in the tournament. I asked whether he was nervous about facing any teams and whether he had a preference for who he’d like to play against. “We were looking at the teams’ ranks and op.ggs. It was scary looking at the stats, lots are very high ranked. There’s a lot of teams in the tournament that have been playing together for a while, I think the Portuguese team and some others have a pretty set roster for the past few years and have had good practice with coaches and such, we would prefer to avoid them.” Though not all is lost, Kevaman did say that they’re feeling pretty confident in themselves, they hope to do as well as they did in the qualifiers and definitely think they can go far! “We are focusing more on the teams that look like they do well as a unit and a team, the individual players that excel in the tournament aren’t as big of a concern for us.”
Kevaman expressed how happy he felt to have got this far in the competition, he says his team’s over the moon as well and they’ll make the most of this opportunity; “I feel a little nervous for one of my teammates Hanash, he’s never played in a tournament before, he doesn’t have experience playing in a LAN and on a stage.” Kevaman reassured me that despite this, Hanash is a skilled player and the rest of the team has a lot of experience in these sorts of competitions; “Myself and the guys have been playing in a lot of tournaments and we feel pretty settled. Hopefully, nerves won’t be a thing.”
Kevaman, when asked whether the Irish scene posed any challenge for him, said while he feels “BM” admitting it, they only had one loss in the Irish qualifiers to Maynooth and so he didn’t feel like there was too much of a challenge for them in that first round.
The advice he would give to players looking to get involved in the collegiate esports scene is to just jump in. “It’s really difficult to find players who are willing to get involved with the collegiate scene. Even though you can’t pick your own roster, collegiate feels very professional and it does a lot of good to be matched with people who want to improve and win as much as you do. You aren’t just messing around on a team with your friends, it feels serious and because of that you do take it more serious.” He went on to say that the most improvement he ever experienced was through collegiate when he was playing against better teams with players like ‘Blaise’ from Phelan Gaming. “Collegiate is a more equal level for players. I think because you get to play against these pros when they’re not in their ‘pro’ teams like Phelan (Gaming), it’s an even playing field for you to test your skills against theirs. It’s really good for improving individually.”
We finished up the interview by talking about Kevaman’s plans for the future, where he wants to go with his gaming and what he’s planning. “I’d love to play professionally but it’s a tough task.”; He felt that becoming a professional is not something he’s thinking too much about at the moment but it’s definitely an area of interest for him. He said he’ll keep playing in collegiate and in the other Irish tournaments and hopes that along the way he might get recognised by a big team.
Writer and Interviewer
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