Last Tuesday, May 31, 2016, Mark Deppe was awarded the title of ANTrepreneur of the Year at UC Irvine Blackstone LaunchPad’s second annual awards ceremony.

The celebration of work in the local entrepreneurial community, held at Applied Innovation’s The Cove, featured over 25 other awards for startups and advocates of empowering students to begin their own businesses. Ending the night, Mark was awarded for his work as the acting director of the university’s eSports Program.

But there was a twist to the ceremony: winners were not allowed to an acceptance speech. Instead, all recipients had to pitch to the audience their enterprise, and all were notified of the change just minutes before hand.

The acting director, also responsible for creating Soulstice and developing traditions like Shocktoberfest, barely broke a sweat. He laid out clearly the aspirations and hopes of the eSports Program, and promoted the new gaming area, which will open in fall 2016 and take the place of the game room Zot Zone.

With UCI becoming the “first public school to initiate [a] video game [program],” Mark stated, the university could easily demonstrate its competitive excellence and transform into the “Duke University of video gaming.”