The UTD Esports VALORANT team placed first in the Red Bull Campus Clutch tournament qualifiers for the Red River region on Sept. 9 and 16, going on to finish third place in the next part of the tournament on Oct. 7 in San Antonio.
Red Bull Campus Clutch is one of the biggest collegiate VALORANT competitions, with participating teams from over 30 countries across the world. UTD Esports competes with a five-man team in the Red River region, which includes over 30 Texas and Oklahoma universities. The team placed first in the September regional qualifiers but placed third out of four teams in the Oct. 7 offline tournament, losing to Texas A&M University Maroon in first and University of St Thomas Esports in second. Ethan Van, a computer engineering sophomore and team manager, said that the team prepared for the competition through weekly scrimmages and VOD reviews, as well as reviewing strategy before the second competition.
“Winning first place, just in the qualifier, it was nice because we got to qualify for a trip to San Antonio,” Van said. “And it felt nice, but obviously the team, they’re always aiming for more. It’s first place one time … let’s keep on doing it more and more to solidify how dominant we are, how good we can be as a team.”
Van said that the team initially faced challenges due to an inconsistent roster which changed both before and during the tournament, affecting the team chemistry formed during practices.
“The first qualifier, we versed TAMU, they were at the [San Antonio] qualifier too,” Van said. “And it was a really tight game, I don’t know what happened there. I felt like we could’ve beat them, but … it was like a wakeup call in a sense. I think there’s a lot to improve, a lot to learn from that one.”
Nicholas Roman, a business analytics sophomore and VALORANT team member, said that it was his first time winning first place in a tournament, making it a great experience despite not advancing to the national level.
“That was honestly super unexpected considering our half of the bracket was super hard compared to the other half … it was really exciting,” Roman said. “Honestly, I didn’t expect it, going into it. I figured we could make it to San Antonio, but I didn’t expect to win the whole thing.”
Roman said that though the teams did not perform to the best of their ability in San Antonio, their positivity made the experience fun and created a more solid team dynamic.
“We were just hanging out a lot, it was outside of the game … all the guys are super great,” Roman said. “It’s just a really wholesome, fun environment to be in, and that helps us play better together when we’re competing.”
UTD Esports head coach Drew Boehm said that the team hopes to make it to nationals one day rather than stopping at regionals, but the wins from the tournament were still exciting and new. Members of the team took the San Antonio loss as a learning experience and are already looking back at VODs to review and improve gameplay.
“We lost, but we got guys who are already wanting to watch the replays, figure out what they did wrong, figure out how they could improve,” Boehm said. “There’s nothing but positive vibes afterwards. That’s huge … it’s something I appreciate a lot about them.”
Currently, UTD VALORANT is practicing for weekly tournament matches organized by the North America division of ONE Esports. The team is still relatively new — made official in 2022 — but already a top competitor in Texas Esports. Boehm said that ramping up practices and the amount of time spent together could allow the team to climb even higher.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and how we should operate and what we need to change,” Boehm said. “Everyone wants to put in more time … No one likes to lose, but I think everyone’s going to look at it as an opportunity to grow … Ultimately, I’m proud of how the guys represented UT Dallas.”