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The UNM Splatoon Team poses for a photo. Courtesy of UNM Newsroom.

Splat and splash

UNM E-sports team wins national championship

Last semester, The University of New Mexico Esports Club put together a team of seven players to compete in the Collegiate Cephalopod Association's Division 5 Championship for Splatoon 3. After two months of competing and a record of 7-1, the team won the national championship in December.

Fernando Loya Avila – gamer tag “Bean” – started the team. The experience of playing competitively, they said, was different from casual play with friends where there are no prizes and it is just for fun and leveling up.

“(For) competition, you're doing it to be recognized. You want to be the best of the best, it is not just casual,” Loya Avila said. “You have to think of strategies to have communication, which just does not happen when you're playing casually.”

The Splatoon 3 team consisted of seven players: Loya Avila, Sammy Ortega, Aaron Torres, Axel Mata, Zamari Ross, Leticia Diaz and Tony Devens.

Ortega – gamer tag “KKArter” – liked the transition from playing the game casually to playing as a team.

“There’s two different worlds inside the game itself – one where you have to fight everyone, including everyone on your team, and one where you get to work with these people,” Ortega said. “That's what I like – to get to work with people, and I don't have to feel like I'm alone in the game, so to speak.”

The change in experience was why Ortega joined the team.

“I wanted to see what's behind the screens. A big thing for me is watching people and seeing if they can get better. So, being able to see that in-person is a different experience,” Ortega said.

Loya remembers the moment of winning the competition and how exciting it was for the team.

“I started jumping. Most of us started screaming our lungs out,” Loya said. “We were just jumping around (and) having the time of our lives. We had just won our first competition.”

The team had tryouts to expand their roster for a junior varsity team on Jan. 29 and Feb. 2. Next up is a competition on Saturday, Feb. 10 to determine what division they will compete in. The next season begins in March.

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted on Twitter @esecor2003 or

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Elizabeth Secor

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted on Twitter @esecor2003 

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