Vivo Keyd took their last international loss hard. After falling to their consistent scrim opponent from South America, KRÜ Esports, the team quickly left the stage and went straight to the greenroom. There, Gabriel “v1xen” Martins’ emotions poured out.
“I cried a lot in the green room,” v1xen said. “Vivo Keyd’s owner talked to us a bit. He said that we have another chance at Champions. But even knowing that we’d be back for Champions, I was really sad because it was a really close series.”
And the match was about as close as could be, despite back to back, 11-13 map losses. Vivo Keyd entered it after a back-and-forth match against Envy in Group B at VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 3 Masters Berlin (and a quick trouncing of ZETA DIVISION). But after a slow start, the normally rambunctious group’s energy started to dip and the close match fell away from the team.
“Due to the fact that we started out losing,” said Keyd coach Pedro “Koy” Pulig. “We just kind of blanked out in the game.”
Keyd came into Masters 3 as the top Brazilian squad and put together arguably the region’s best showing after the top VCT Masters 2 Reykjavík team, Team Vikings, also managed one win on the international stage. The question now is whether they can break through this one-win-barrier at Champions.
Ricardo “rik” Furquim, the head coach of fellow Brazilian Masters Berlin representatives Havan Liberty, said he thinks Keyd are still Brazil’s best chance at international glory for a region that had high initial expectations at international competition.
“I think that Brazil tempered its expectations,” rik said. “We know that we can do better, but right now is not the right time… if I had to put all of my coins on one team I would put them on Vivo Keyd having a great Champions.”
Preparing better than Masters Berlin
According to Koy, Keyd are coming into this tournament more prepared than they were for Stage 3 Masters thanks to better performances in scrimmages. Compared to their one win out of 10 scrims rate from before Berlin, they’ve improved to five or six wins out of 10 scrims, according to Koy.
“Of course, practice doesn’t mean everything. We’re still testing things, but it’s a lot different from Masters 3,” Koy said. “We were able to get into our game a lot more and show a really big evolution.”
This evolution is also much needed since Keyd are about to field a new player in VCT competition, Leonardo “mwzera” Serrati, on loan from First Strike: Brazil winners Gamelanders Blue. Traditionally a Duelist player, mwzera will play Initiators for Keyd, except on Split and one other map Koy wanted to keep underwraps. Despite the change in roles, Koy said he feels good about their new addition.
“[mwzera] is a really versatile player,” Koy said. “He’s already proved to us that he can basically cover any role. And he’s just really clever in the game.”
But the rest of the team has grown, too, which is something teams from Brazil desperately need, according to rik. Even with the raw talent of the region, teams at the top still struggle to play the information game and adapt to their enemy.
“Here in Brazil the players are very good at aiming, like the aim is so strong,” rik said. “[Olavo “heat” Marcelo] and mwzera are so strong with their aim, but with the basics, like how the game should be played to achieve better results, we don’t have it here in Brazil.”
That’s why these boot camps, which multiple teams held before they were due to quarantine for Champions, are so important. They give teams a shot at growth not usually possible outside of their home regions. When Keyd make an adjustment or have a new strategy, Koy said their opponents in Europe can take it apart or counter it much quicker than their peers in South America. That helps them shore up their weaknesses for when the games matter most.
Vivo Keyd waiting to show their worth at Champions
Quarantining for a major tournament has become almost a running gag for VALORANT. Teams check into their hotel and are trapped in their rooms for days with nothing much to do except consume content and post on social media.
Koy and v1xen didn’t even have a computer in their rooms for the first day, so they toiled in their beds and tried to sleep the hours away.
“It was horrible,” Koy said.
V1xen said he was itching to get back on the VALORANT grind, as the practice rooms and the computers within were visible from his room, teasing him with the potential of loading into a match.
Despite the waiting, Koy and his team don’t look much farther ahead than their first match. He said they choose to focus on the challenge ahead of them, practicing all seven maps and playing their own game no matter the opponent.
“We always think of the first step,” Koy said. “Of course, we think a lot about being champions, and we’ve talked about it. But we’re always focused on the first step and very focused on the game against Acend first. If we win, then we’ll focus on leaving our group.”
If Keyd do make a surprise run in their group, consisting of Envy, X10 CRIT and the aforementioned Acend, then that just shows they took the process one step at a time.
Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.