The VALORANT esports scene is relatively young, but dozens of professional players have years of experience in similar titles. Several big names from CS:GO and Overwatch have found new homes on VALORANT teams, while new players have also broken into the scene.
A combination of experience and raw talent is an important balance and finding the right players to fill each role is even more challenging. NRG, for example, recently added two new players to its VALORANT lineup. And now, the team appears to have finally found the proper balance and composition to compete with the best squads in North America.
Dot Esports recently talked to NRG in-game leader Damian “daps” Steele and head coach Chet Singh about how the team has prepared for the upcoming VALORANT Champions Tour, the latest additions to the roster, and how the team is capable of becoming the best in the region.
NRG signed Ryan “Shanks” Ngo and Gage “Infinite” Green to its VALORANT roster last month. Infinite played for several teams throughout his CS:GO career and recently brought his talents to VALORANT. Although Infinite was never a part of an iconic team or all-star roster, he still brought years of experience to the NRG lineup.
Experience was an essential part of what NRG was looking for when finding a new player for its squad. Chet said Infinite’s experience in CS was a deciding factor when NRG decided to add him to the team.
“We picked up infinite mainly because at least in CS, he was a pretty good player, and generally CS players do pretty well in this game," Chet told Dot Esports. "They just have more experience than players from other games like Fortnite or whatever. We kind of just looked for a player that was a little ahead and Infinite was that guy in CS. I even considered picking him up on my teams back then. He was just around and ready to make the switch, and it worked out.”
NRG also needed players for specific roles that Infinite and Shanks filled perfectly. Infinite will fill the sentinel role, while Shanks will serve as the team’s Jett and Operator player. This is a difference from previous iterations of the NRG team since positions were continually being adjusted and holding the team back.
“Now we have a Jett Oper, which makes things easier," Chet said. "We were changing them a lot before; we were all over the place. Sometimes we didn’t know who was going to be on Cypher. Now we have Infinite as well. Just having people dedicated to their roles has made things a lot easier, honestly. We can progress forward without going over the foundation over and over again. We can actually develop a strategy.”
Finding two new players wasn't an easy process, though. Daps said NRG tried out more players than most fans know about. The team has almost narrowed down the designated roles for each player, but they're open to experimenting with team compositions and agent selection.
The team does have a few inexperienced players, which means fundamental skills like communicating are slightly underdeveloped. But the team has worked to improve its communication and prevent it from impacting games.
“The days where we are all communicating well are the days that we play pretty well. The days that we aren’t are the days we struggle,” Daps said. “It is one of the hardest things to fix in players. It is definitely something we are working on.”
Despite this setback, daps believes the team can beat other strong squads like 100 Thieves and TSM on their good days and more practice should help the roster perform consistently.
The Open Qualifiers for the VALORANT Champions Tour have begun and teams are competing for their spot in the first stage of the NA Masters event in March. NRG have focused on their own performance to make sure they're ready for any challenge they encounter.
“I say overall for team-wide stuff we know how to play the game now," Daps said. "It’s not that difficult. Making sure our communication is good and individual teamwork is good so I don't have to micro-manage things as much. Players have to sort of rely on each other a little more, rather than being expected to be told what to do all the time. If each player on our team steps up and takes that responsibility a little more, I think we can be more consistent and do really well.”
NRG will have a chance to prove themselves in the VALORANT Champions Tour and establish their new lineup as a North American powerhouse.
Andreas Stavropoulos contributed to this report.
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