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Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev believes that Fnatic will go far in Champions but knows there is tough competition. In an episode of Upcomer’s Showstopper, hosted by Yinsu Collins and Tyler “Fionn” Erzberger, Derke shared that he thinks Gambit Esports and Team Envy will be the strongest teams going into VALORANT Champions.

“I feel like I am a bit biased since [Gambit] are my Russian brethren … I will put Envy in S-tier. I want to scrim against [Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker] too.”

Other hot contenders, according to Derke, are Acend, Cloud9 Blue, Sentinels, Team Liquid and Vision Strikers.

“[Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong] was one of the hardest duelists to play against,” Derke mentioned when discussing X10 Esports. He shared that he thinks they could surprise people, but getting to the semifinals is going to be a feat in itself. He also said he feels similarly for many of the teams going into Champions.

As for Fnatic, Derke is proud of his team. “We qualified for Iceland, so we earned this spot. We earned those points,” Derke said.

In the Showstopper episode, Derke also stated that his team is prepared for the ramped-up difficulty that will happen at Champions. “We got all new coach analysts, we got performance staff and we have a new approach to training. It is very exciting,” Derke said. He went on to say that not going to Berlin and the EMEA Last Chance Qualifier let his team prepare for Champions, and that everyone on the team has improved so much.

The former Counter-Strike:Global Offensive player acknowledged that he must step up as Jett for his team if Fnatic are to do well at Valorant Champions. “I never felt like a worse Jett. I felt like I was doing something different,” Derke said. “I am more aware now of when to be a bit more passive or a bit more aggressive.” He also shared that he thinks everyone plays Jett differently and offers various things to a team.

Fnatic's Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev repping the Fnatic jersey | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
Fnatic’s Derke repping the Fnatic jersey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games

“I wanted to play in a Finnish team when I came to VALORANT, but there were no Finnish players,” Derke said of his entrance into the game. He then bounced around from English speaking countries to CIS. When he got to Fnatic, however, it did not hit him until he qualified for Masters 2 in Reykjavík, Iceland that he had found his new family.

“Everyone on the team seemed nice. I’ve never been on a team like this. We’ve bonded a lot together,” Derke said.

While in tryouts, Derke was told he had two maps: Sova on Haven and Jett on Icebox. Right after dropping around 30 kills on the first map, the staff told Derke they would take him. He then went onto the second map and dropped 40 kills on Jett. “I think I nailed it. The next day we got into negotiations.”

Fnatic's Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev playing on Stage at Masters 2 Reykjavik | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
Fnatic’s Derke playing on Stage at Masters 2 in Reykjavik. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games

When Derke left CS:GO, he originally wanted to take a break from competitive play. But, in the Showstopper interview, he shared that he was pulled into VALORANT when his brother asked him to play. From then on, there was no going back.

“I made CS:GO my past. I don’t want to make VALORANT my past right now,” Derke said. “I don’t want to be a coach in 10 years; I want to still be playing. I want to be in the game as long as possible.”

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