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Watching Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom play in VALORANT Champions Tour EMEA Last Chance Qualifiers, you’d never guess he was a rookie player. During his very first round of professional VALORANT, he picked up an ace in the pistol round against One Breath Gaming. He never took his foot off the pedal from there, cementing himself as a core part of Team Liquid’s strategy all through the tournament and helping them win the grand finals against Guild Esports with a 3-1 scoreline.
Fresh off his debut VALORANT tournament, Nivera has already become a player to watch. At 20 years old, he talks with the telltale excitement of a young player who knows they have their whole career in front of them.
“It is unbelievable,” Nivera said on Showstopper, Upcomer’s weekly VALORANT talk show, of his first VALORANT tournament with a laugh. “It’s just crazy because we had only three weeks of practice. It wasn’t as hard as it looks like because everyone else had already played with each other for a year and a half, so there was really good chemistry.”
Nivera joined Team Liquid in Sept, replacing James “Kryptix” Affleck. This also meant Nivera was joining the same team as his older brother, Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom. Both had played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professionally prior to switching to VALORANT — although while Nivera had only played it for two years, ScreaM had played it for a decade.
— VALORANT Champions Tour EMEA (@valesports_eu) October 11, 2021
While many top VALORANT players are CS:GO veterans, there are also those like Nivera, who have less competitive experience but explosive potential in spades. Nivera pointed to 17-year-old Leo “Leo” Jannesson from Guild Esports as the most difficult player he came up against during the LCQ.
“Leo was so strong,” Nivera said. “I don’t know anything about him or his past, but I felt like I was playing against a CS player. The way he aims, the way he moves… I don’t really know what he did before, but he looked like a really strong player.”
The landscape of pro VALORANT is like no other right now because of how FPS veterans and fresh-faced rookies alike can compete at the top. CS:GO greats like ScreaM may have brought their large fanbases along with them, while players like Team Liquid’s Nivera mostly flew under the radar before LCQ — but after just one tournament, that has all changed. He may not have been able to achieve true greatness in CS:GO, but his future in VALORANT is wide open.
“I’m still young,” Nivera said. “And I really want to play. I always want to play.”
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