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The tale of Team Envy’s VALORANT team has been one of consistent success but a lack of major titles. Yet, with the last, biggest tournament of the year now ahead of them, the North American team will have to break their own mold to actually take the VALORANT Champions Tour trophy home.
To achieve that victory, Envy will need to play at their best at all times, especially after their previous performance in Stage 3 Masters finals against Gambit Esports. At the start of the match, it looked as though they could possibly pull off a win. But, on Bind, after a good first half attacking, Gambit’s defense proved too strong in a 13-15 map OT loss. After then losing by 11-13 on Haven and 9-13 on Split, that first map was the closest Envy got to a map win in the finals.
“There are just going to be days that you just don’t play your best, and it just happened that, for us, it was against Gambit in the final,” said Envy’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker. “Now that we have a lot more practice and know more about them going into this next tournament, we are much more prepared.”
Each player on the team took the loss differently, but they all knew the year was far from over with Champions around the corner.
“This is just another tournament in my eyes,” yay said. “Whether it’s Iceland, Berlin or Champions, you give your max effort no matter what. That’s what we’ll do at Champs.”
Leading from the front
After their loss to Gambit Esports in the grand final at Masters Berlin, and getting so close to such a big victory, Envy’s hit shot-caller Pujan “FNS” Mehta admitted he didn’t play up to his standards. But, despite the fact that only three months have passed since that event, FNS remains positive.
“I’ve been on the team since the start of the year and we had some significant roster changes,” FNS said. “Being able to make those changes but still being able to win consistently is good to see, especially heading into Champs.”
FNS’ level of skill, mixed with expert coordination, has led him and the team to Champions. Just after Envy won Stage 1 Challengers 2 in March of 2021, teammate Victor “Victor” Wong explained how integral FNS’ leadership was to their success.
“FNS really relies on me to be able to make my own decisions and to be able to control one side of the map while he takes the other,” Victor said in a Hotspawn interview. “I would say my job is to find holes in their defense and maybe get an opening kill if I can.”
Envy on their way to Champions
Leading is made easier for FNS due to the trust he’s built with his teammates since the start of 2021.
“It’s a rewarding experience, IGLing for a talented team like this,” FNS said. “Our team knows what to do, so I don’t have to mid-round micromanage at all. That makes it a lot easier because I can lead, but also I can focus on myself and my performance more, especially with my slower style.”
Out of the teams representing North America at Champions, Team Envy qualified through their consistency, but they haven’t won tournaments like Sentinels and Cloud9. Envy’s best finish so far was at Stage 1 Challengers 2, topping NA. And, while winning Champions couldn’t compare to their previous heights, FNS said he is excited to take on the challenge of overcoming the world’s top performers.
“We haven’t played that many EU teams, which will be fun,” FNS said. “Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek will definitely be fun to play against, since he’s in our group on Acend. Gambit, Acend, Fnatic — those top EU teams will all be interesting to play against if we face them in Champs.”
Despite succeeding at Stage 3 Masters, Envy reached the finals by defeating two North American teams. To overcome international squads that play differently than their home region, adaptability will be key.
“Teams from different regions can catch you off guard with different strategies,” yay said. “In going up against other NA teams, we have a better understanding of what we’re facing, but I still think our style is adaptable. We’ll do our best to prepare and we’re aiming for a similar result.”
While yay and FNS are hoping for a similar result to their last major international outing, Envy will have to change the ending if they want to show their full potential. Being the kings of consistency is one thing, but ruling over all of VALORANT is something else entirely. Catch their opening match on Dec. 3 on the official VALORANT Twitch and YouTube Channels.
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.