Comet shines as esports program leader

Daniyal Ghayasuddin

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As head coach of UTD’s official Rocket League team, accounting sophomore Daniyal Ghayasuddin has accomplished outstanding feats in the world of esports, including coaching a collegiate team and hosting several events, and continues to share his passion for the field with the community.

Ghayasuddin has been the coach for the Rocket League team for about a year now, despite never having professional experience with the game. A fan of the game since 2015, Ghayasuddin noticed UTD’s talent in Rocket League at a national level – the team made it to the national stage once in 2020 – and he was inspired to become a coach because of his love for the game.

“It just felt really awesome to just get into that space and coach the team, and figure out how we improve or how we can just kind of bounce back to where we were getting to nationals,” Ghayasuddin said.

As the head coach, Ghayasuddin said that members of the team have improved greatly in the past year, with one student, Danny “Ghost” Vu, earning an award for Most Improved Player of the Season. Ghayasuddin said that the players he coaches are at a higher playing level than he is, but his insight and teaching has still been of great value to the team, proven by his “Coach of the Season” award for the spring 2023 season. Though not at the same in-game rank as his team members, Ghayasuddin stands out in his role as a coach because of his ability to facilitate communication and look back at players’ gameplay to offer advice.

“The greatest thing is that in the collegiate esports scene, keeping that team chemistry is one of the biggest focuses for us,” Ghayasuddin said, “and I’ve noticed that if I stick to that chemistry, if I stick to kind of talking through a lot of replays, going through the gameplay in general and just allowing the players to talk rather than me kind of controlling the moment, it allows us for … a better way of guidance for the players. And I think the players respect me for that.”

Ghayasuddin said he’s pushed himself to achieve outstanding things outside of just UTD’s Rocket League team, such as creating events and providing commentary at tournaments. More recently, Ghayasuddin has joined as a player for UTD’s Omega Strikers team, which formed in October 2022. Noah Brown, a member on the team and a computer engineering junior, noted how Ghayasuddin stood out among his other peers through his enthusiasm in everything he does.

“He is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met,” Brown said. “He somehow gets everybody laughing and talking. So he is just a vibe, I guess.”

Brown also noted that as a member of Omega Strikers, Ghayasuddin has helped bring the team success. His experience as a coach for Rocket League brings a unique viewpoint and understanding to the players.

“Him being the Rocket League coach, he was able to bring a mind of a coach into our VOD review sessions to help figure out, ‘oh, what are we doing wrong? What strategies can we implement?’” Brown said.

But Ghayasuddin does more than just coach — he has played an active role in hosting and organizing events surrounding Omega Strikers, specifically a local area network, or LAN, event this coming May.

“The event is going to be held at the esports stadium [in] Arlington, which is the largest stadium in North America for esports,” Ghayasuddin said. “And it’s going to be a $5,000 prize pool with some of the best players in North America coming out. And there’s of course invitations to other players outside … Japan, Mexico … Korea was invited as well … One of the greatest things about this event is this is officially sponsored, and this is the first official LAN event by Omega Strikers, the company Odyssey Interactive. And so they kind of put their trust in me as one of the community members to hold this event.”

UTD’s Omega Strikers team will also be participating in the LAN, which has players physically seated in the same room and connected to the same network as they compete. Ghayasuddin said that he volunteered for the role as a host due to his passion for creating events. In the past, he has hosted the “Bozo Bakery” Rocket League tournament through Twitch, as well as several 1v1 tournaments. Ghayasuddin saw Omega Strikers, a newer video game, as a great opportunity to expand its competitive scene.

In June, Ghayasuddin will host another larger event, “Battle for Texas.” 10 collegiate Texas teams, including teams from major universities like UTD, UT Austin, Texas A&M and University of Houston, will be competing in the Omega Strikers LAN at Dream Hack Dallas. Ghayasuddin said Dream Hack is a large esports event, meaning that participants will be playing on stage in front of a crowd.

Ghayasuddin also enjoys his role as one of the social media leads for UTD Esports. His responsibilities include facilitating the organization’s social media presence by creating graphics and making posts on various platforms. Ghayasuddin has ventured into esports outside of UTD as well, most notably when he worked with Disney to cast live for the Rocket League high school nationals.

“I will say one of the greatest things about esports is that it’s not only a hobby that you can pursue, but it’s also a job,” Ghayasuddin said. “And so one of the things is just, I love having fun with it. You know, just working on events, working on coaching, seeing the people around me improve and succeed. That’s one thing I just really, really love.”

Photo courtesy of Daniyal Ghayasuddin

With so many achievements in the esports field as only a sophomore, Ghayasuddin had a few words of advice for students looking to step into the realm of professional gaming.

“The greatest advice that I can give is to just start working,” Ghayasuddin said. “Oone of the things that I’ve known is that if you start putting in the work and you start researching just a little bit about, ‘Hey, what do you do for an event?’… Then slowly but surely, you’ll start collecting some documents or start collecting that organization. And you just have fun with it. Before you know it, oh my goodness, this is all working out. This is all working out.”


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