Eivind Sommerhaug, ’19, unlocks a computer as he and junior Hayden Boersma discuss its configurations. Sommerhaug works full-time helping director of technology Shelley Hinson with a variety of tasks. (Photo by Elise Sommerhaug)

Alumnus works full-time as technology assistant during gap year

On the afternoon of April 17, two teams were neck and neck in an Overwatch video game. 

In a king-of-the-hill match, both teams were less than 5% away from controlling the point, the objective of the game.

The control point was located in a building with entrances in the front and back. One team had already begun capturing the point — the game could be decided in mere seconds.

“Get on point, get on point!” said Tricky, captain of eLisioN eSports (eLN), as the team rushed toward the objective.

Unfortunately, the opposing team blocked the entrance right as two eLN players approached it. eLN’s chances of winning grew slimmer by the millisecond. 

However, eLN’s McCree player, SME, managed to slip through the enemy’s barricade and reach the objective, where he began fighting three players alone. In mere seconds, he swiftly defeated a player before being gunned down. 

These five seconds won the match for eLN.

Busting through the barricade, eLN’s remaining players crashed down on the enemy, driving them off the control point. After 20 seconds, eLN had won the match.

SME, now ranked first among McCree players in North America, was none other than Eivind Sommerhaug, ’19.

According to Sommerhaug, SME is an acronym for “Super Mario Eivind,” the name of his YouTube channel created in 2011.

“I just really liked Mario, and I used to watch a YouTuber called ‘SuperMarioLogan,’ so it was an imitation,” Sommerhaug said. “But because a lot of people make fun of (the name), I just go as SME so that new people I meet don’t judge me.”

In 2019, Sommerhaug was accepted to the University of Washington but took a gap year to develop himself outside of school and finish his Nuss procedure, in which metal bars were placed in Sommerhaug’s sunken chest to expand it.

“During scrimmages, he tells us what strategy we are running before matches, and he reviews our games with us and tells us what to work on after matches.”

—Max Wu

During his gap year, Sommerhaug has been busy with a variety of activities. After Sommerhaug left eLN due to a roster reset, he joined Certo Legion, another Overwatch team, in November. Like eLN, Certo Legion is part of the Open Division. 

According to Sommerhaug, there are three tiers in competitive Overwatch. Most teams play in the Open Division, the lowest tier. Anyone can form teams to join this division but must compete for the top two in regional competitions to advance to the next league. The Contender Division, the second tier, is where the competition gets fierce. Tournaments are held with varying cash prizes. Consistent top placement in these tournaments can allow teams to progress to the final tier, the Overwatch League. Teams in the Overwatch League begin to receive public recognition. These teams compete in international tournaments against some of the best teams in the world. 

However, Sommerhaug wasn’t able to fight his way through the Open league with Certo Legion. He, along with three other team members, left Certo Legion due to a dispute in mid-December. 

Sommerhaug said Monny, Certo Legion’s manager, complained that the team wasn’t communicating enough during a scrimmage.

“He wanted us to be hyperactive, I guess,” Sommerhaug said, “but I only go hyperactive in communication if the pace of the game requires it.

“It’s like playing (against) someone who is good at the game versus someone who doesn’t know how to play. Someone that’s good and keeps the pace will force me to play faster; someone who doesn’t will make me play slower.”

After leaving Certo Legion, Sommerhaug decided to focus on his job as an assistant to director of technology Shelley Hinson. 

Recently in Hinson’s office, Sommerhaug lounged in a chair as he explained to junior Hayden Boersma useful techniques for Super Smash Bros., a game in which Boersma will compete in the spring. Sommerhaug was wearing mostly casual clothes: a light blue jacket, beige khakis and his iconic fedora — the hat McCree wears in Overwatch. Behind Sommerhaug was an array of screens and a computer that he had built with students from the class of 2019. 

“I needed to make some money for college, and I had free time during my gap year,” Sommerhaug said. “I came to work for Ms. Hinson because I was comfortable with the atmosphere here.”

Sommerhaug works full-time, helping Hinson with a variety of tasks, such as substituting for classes and providing technical support.

According to Hinson, there are three levels of tech-related issues, called tickets, that differ in difficulty. Level-one tickets are the most common tech problems that are easy to solve, such as resetting a password, connecting a device to Wi-Fi or pairing a computer with a projector. Level-two tickets usually involve malfunctioning hardware — for example, a keyboard — that requires more time to fix. Level-three tickets are the most complicated issues, such as a Wi-Fi outage, that require immediate attention and technical expertise to solve. Hinson said Sommerhaug handles most level-one and -two tickets.

“I do anything (Hinson) doesn’t do,” Sommerhaug cracked.

“That’s basically what all assistants do,” Boersma quipped.

Joking aside, Sommerhaug does alleviate Hinson’s workload.

“Sometimes the tickets are simple enough to resolve, or just require some Googling,” Hinson said. “(Sommerhaug) can handle these tickets, which frees me up to do more complex tasks.”

In addition to his job, Sommerhaug mentors the eSports team and aids the new Students Who Assist with Technology (SWAT) team in solving common tech problems on campus. 

“He shows up to practice like a coach,” said junior Max Wu, captain of the high school Overwatch team. “During scrimmages, he tells us what strategy we are running before matches, and he reviews our games with us and tells us what to work on after matches.”

Occasionally, in Sommerhaug’s downtime, he performs as lead guitarist with various bands in the area. 

“It’s hard to explain why I like performing,” Sommerhaug said. “I’m just vibin’ when I play.”

Sommerhaug usually plays in local bars and restaurants. He isn’t paid but accepts donations. 

He said he plans to get ready to move to Washington at the end of the school year. Other than that, he will continue to work for Hinson, dominate in Overwatch and perform with the guitar. 

If you have a tech question, drop by Hinson’s office, and, if you’re lucky, you will be greeted by the man with his fedora. 

By Ming Zhu

Originally published in the Feb. 4 edition of the Octagon.