Since September 2013, Olivier “On3Up” Ma (EPITA class of 2015) has been president of Cycom, the eSport associationthat brings together EPITA and Epitech students wanting to try out video game competitions. He speaks to us about the structure’s current and future projects at a time when electronic sport competitions seem to be increasing in popularity.
Founded in 1998, Cycom is one of EPITA’s leading associations with some eighty members and many events under its belt. It is the perfect platform to attract video game players such as Oliver Ma. “I was already involved in eSport as a player of Counter-Strike then of StarCraft, two games which, through not having the same universe or game play, were the cornerstones of the activity at the time”, explains the student. While tournaments continue to offer these games today, many have already gone onto develop more inclusive games such as League of Legends (LoL) and Call of Duty. “There are some traditional competitions that we try to put on every year, such as the Halo or Super Smash Bros Melee games“, says Olivier.
“The problem is that these gaming communities have gradually been losing momentum over the years. We therefore have to look at new games but our main role is above all to promote electronic sports rather than a specific game. We organise internal events to let students compete against each other, and sometimes we set up competitions open to external gamers, as was the case for Call of Duty for which we organised with SkyLAN in 2013 the largest French event for its console version.” That said, Cycom is now aiming to diversify its activities. In addition to the organisation of competitions, the association wishes to host “teams entirely made up of students from EPITA, Epitech and other schools in the IONIS Group” to take part in various competitions and in particular in the “ACENSI University League“ in which only students from engineering and management schools compete. In other words, the association has no intention of winding up its activity at a time when electronic sport is seen as a real phenomenon.
eSports seem to be receiving growing interest. Do you agree with this statement?
Olivier Ma: Definitely. Since the launch of League of Legends, it’s all gone quite crazy! When you see a high-profile company such as Auchan deciding to create a sort of structure to host a team, you can honestly say that the somewhat negative image of eSport is actually undergoing change.
How would you explain this development?
There are still different types of player, but what has changed is visibility. The upsurge in streaming through platforms such as Twitch, which was recently bought out by Amazon for $1 billion, has placed the spotlight on this previously somewhat “underground” world. Companies now want to lend their image, while the opposite was true several years ago.
What is going on with eSport in France?
In France, we can count ourselves quite lucky, in particular thanks to the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC), the eSport equivalent of the world cup, which was founded by a French person. As a result, the ESWC final takes place in the country each year, during Paris Games Week. It is really a major event in eSport culture. When you go there, you see that it definitely has more impact than streaming, even though this is constantly being improved. Cycom generally buys seats wholesale and redistributes them to members of the association who would like to go.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into eSport?
Right now there are huge numbers of tutorials available on the Web for most games. You can look at them for techniques but, on the whole, you improve by playing. The main thing is to analyse why you lose. To do so, you should watch replays of your matches, to be able to remedy what doesn’t work. That said, you shouldn’t play too much either, or you may get stuck on a certain level. You have to know when to give it a rest if you want to succeed!