By Kevin Fornari, published 12/1/2017
From the ashes, partnering with UT Arlington Esports, Team Blaze rises to field another champion: accounting graduate student Devan “Hawk” Subramaniam.
This Saturday, Subramaniam will compete for his share of $20,000 against top players from the Western Hemisphere in the Zotac Cup Masters: StarCraft Remastered tournament. The event is a closed tournament hosted in California, and will be streamed live on twitch.tv/zotac_cup starting 12 p.m. CST.
“Devan has been playing with us for years now, and we're all excited to see him test his might and defend UTA,” UTA Esports president Christian Gross said.
Subramaniam heard about the tournament after playing several online matches, and decided to enter into the Oct. 15 qualifiers.
He fought his way to the winners finals without dropping a series. Subramaniam faced Daniel “Nyoken” Eidson, losing the series two to one and dropping into losers finals.
He then played his old scrimmage partner Adrian “KawaiiRice” Kwong, defeating him handily 2-0, allowing Subramaniam to vindicate himself in grand finals against Nyoken.
Subramaniam had to win two series against Nyoken to take the whole qualifier. He completed two perfect sets, beating Nyoken 4 games in a row and solidifying his spot in the Zotac Cup Masters: StarCraft Remastered tournament.
Subramaniam will once again face off against KawaiiRice in the first match of the day.
He’s also seated opposite of Nyoken in the bracket and could battle him in winners finals, seal his fate in losers finals or have another grueling series against Nyoken in grands.
Subramaniam said he’s played StarCraft games for about 15 years. Learning the games’ intricacies kept him engaged, eventually leading him to pursue prized competitions.
He attended his first tournament on April 2011 in an event called the TeSPA Texas Open. He took first, bringing home $500 and a giant foam check.
Subramaniam continued entering tournaments, eventually joining Team Vile, and was later acquired by Quantic Gaming.
While practicing StarCraft II, he was either attending school or work full time. He said it became difficult to contend with professionals who played over 40 hours more a week than he did.
The game kept changing and Subramaniam said it became too slow and defensive. About a year after entering the competitive scene, he retired, as the developers strayed too far from the original StarCraft.
“I didn't enjoy playing StarCraft II enough to play it professionally,” Subramaniam said. “My one true passion when I was younger was the original StarCraft game, so I chose college instead.”
Years after Subramaniam chose to focus on his academic career, StarCraft: Remastered was released on Aug. 14, 2017.
Subramaniam got to relive his passion, placing second on the global leaderboards hours after the game’s release.
“Devan’s just naturally pretty good at most video games, like shooters and strategy games in general,” alumnus Vincent Cheng said.
Cheng said a reason Subramaniam develops so rapidly is because he breaks games down.
He said Subramaniam enjoys explaining anything he has an interest in. Sometimes, it can seem like he doesn’t need another person and is talking to himself.
“He likes consuming this knowledge and being able to regurgitate it based off his experience, and then help… the next generation, or the next person gain something out of that knowledge, because if not, then it’s squandered,” said Patrick “ShadowSmile” Smiley, alumnus and UTA Esports professional mentor.
Smiley said although Subramaniam explains things to strengthen his own knowledge, he also does so to give back.
He said many people determine their worth and success based on how much they’ve received. Subramaniam also determines his success on how much he’s given back and helped others.
Subramaniam is going to be competing for UTA Esports under Team Blaze. Team owner Smiley said he wanted to sponsor Subramaniam, allowing him to completely focus on the game.
“Devan has given me a lot in terms of esports, so it feels good to give back something to him, to not only benefit the club, but to make sure he looks good and represents well at this event,” Smiley said.
Smiley said Subramaniam chose to represent the club as another way of giving back. He said they’re excited to see how another UTA Esports member stacks up against other internationally renowned players.
“I'm very proud of Devan,” Gross said. “Seeing national success outside of the collegiate scene is the dream for many players, and he's looking like a major force to be reckoned with at this tournament.”
Subramaniam said this may be his swan song as he doubts there will be another StarCraft: Remastered tournament like this one.
“As long as I have enough time to practice, I know I can win,” Subramaniam said.