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At Champions Istanbul 2022, OpTic Gaming’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker is once again making the case for himself as the best VALORANT player in the world. Most recently, yay put up a MVP performance against Team Liquid to secure the upper bracket semifinals.
Yay posted an outstanding 69 kills in the three-map series against Liquid. Even more impressive, the 24-year-old American went 17/3 in first kills/deaths, according to VLR.gg. He was absolutely pivotal in OpTic’s win, reigniting the conversation about his potential status as VALORANT’s top dog.
“I definitely think he’s the best because he gets a lot of first picks for us and he listens to our game plan very well,” OpTic’s coach Chet “Chet” Singh said in the post-match press conference. “Without his fragging ability and his listening, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
Even with the crowd cheering against them, OpTic remained unfazed. They may have lost the first map, but they rallied on Maps 2 and 3. On the deciding map of Ascent, yay dropped 30 kills in regulation.
“It can definitely make playing against someone like that very hard because you have to be careful about not overpeeking and giving them free kills,” Liquid’s Dom “soulcas” Sulcas said. “I’d definitely say he’s up there for one of the best players in the world.”
Yay closes in on GOAT status at Champions
Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker has been making a name for himself since he swapped over to VALORANT from Counter-Strike early on. Ever since he joined OpTic from Andbox in 2021, the team has achieved a new level. They’re the best team in North America and possibly even the best team in the world.
OpTic and yay won Masters Reykjavík at the start of 2022 and are now aiming to become the first team to get a repeat win by claiming the trophy at Champions.
Despite their winning ways, OpTic and El Diablo have struggled to win over the crowd. In their match against Liquid, the Turkish fans heavily favored the European representatives over OpTic.
“I was just locked in,” yay said after the match. “I wasn’t really paying attention to the crowd. I could hear them occasionally during the tech pauses and stuff like that. For the most part, I was just in the game and I wasn’t really paying attention to it.”
While yay’s teammates — like Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen — were motivated to prove something by quieting the crowd, yay was just disheartened by the lack of support.
“Usually we don’t have a lot of fans that root for us, and it’s a little sad,” he said. “So I’m hoping that changes as time goes on and we can maybe make some new fans.”
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.