Interview with Liberty player Gabriel "shion" Vilela
Carriço: My first question for you is, how did you get into Esports?
Shion: I have always played FPS, since I was a little boy when I was 9 years old, and when Riot Games FPS was announced I thought, “ Maybe I have a chance of going pro”.
Carriço: Why did you decide to become a professional Valorant player?
Shion: When I started playing my focus was already on becoming a professional player. I began to play with five other people that played a different game with me, we played CS:GO, and we all said “let's try to be pro and assemble a squad”.
We already had some experience, and we started to play and we had a good performance in some tournaments, getting to the semifinals and finals. After that, we got an organization, so it was a goal from the beginning.
Carriço: You play as an initiator, in your opinion what are some of the things that make a great initiator at the Tier 1 level?
Shion: First of all the timing of the abilities, because the initiator has a direct impact in the game, it’s not like the indirect impact of a Controler/smoker, obviously it still has an impact but a shock dart from Sova at the right time is going to get you a kill.
So you need to have that notion of timing, and communication because you need your teammates to also ask for a flash or any of your abilities. For example, playing with Breach is very hard because you have to hit the stun at the perfect time, the same thing with the flash.
So playing in ranked, at least here in Brazil, it’s not easy to play initiator because the communication needs to be on point, there needs to be certain chemistry. Especially with Breach because he doesn't have a drone or a lineup, he is more of an offensive/aggressive initiator, so I believe for someone to be a good initiator they need to have those qualities.
Carriço: How does your routine look like?
Shion: I wake up early, 8:00 AM we have physical training, its something different compared to the other squads, I think we are one of the few around the world that do this kind of training. After that, we have some time for ourselves.
We do a tactical session before lunch, and we talk about and structure what we are going to do in the afternoon. In the afternoon we continue the tactical session, we talk a lot about our game plans, our ideas of a game plan for a specific map, and what we would like to do on that day.
After that we scrim against other teams, where we try to implement what we talked about, and the game plan we created. After that, I try to stream to talk with the fans and play some ranked in a more laid-back and chill mood. Theoretically, it is for me to relax a little bit but it ends up stressing me a little (laughs).
Carriço: How do you prepare for your opponents?
Shion: Here in Brazil each team has its unique characteristics. I will give you an example that I think is the most visible right now. NIP they have a game style that is totally offensive, they are a team that finishes a round very quickly, and they normally run two duelists. So we study that and see how our game style matches against them. We watch their last games and see what we can do against them.
So that's more or less what we do, taking the main characteristics of our opponents, trying to understand them, and finding the best way to play against them.
Cariço: Do you watch VODS of the enemy team you are going to face or the rival initiator on your own?
Shion: Yes I do. Especially because I am the IGL, I watch the games and try to get an idea of how they play, just for myself. The coaches also help me, they look at some important points, such as their rotations, or other setups or ideas the opponents normally use, and we structure a game plan that way.
Carriço: How is it to work with this group of players and staff at Liberty?
Shion: It’s very nice to work with them, everyone is very chill/calm, we are already used to working with each other, and there is no one who is a little crazy. Everyone is nice, we already went through some problems in the past, but today everything is alright, we are able to continue our work, the chemistry in the team is really nice, we have been talking more than ever, and I believe that has helped us a lot.
Carriço: How would you describe Liberty's game style right now?
Shion: I think we are a structured team, who have some default plays, that has always been our strength, we managed to qualify for Masters Berlin that way. We have some micro plays that make the difference in close rounds. We have some defaults and setup plays so I think we have kind of a “nerd” style
We have been trying to incorporate a game style that is more adaptive, adapting to what is happening in case our plan A doesn't work, we can adapt on the fly.
Carriço: What are some of the things/intangibles each player brings that are very important to the team's long-term success?
Shion: So liazzi is our duelist. He is the player that plays without fear, he is going to call the responsibility, he has one of the best movements with Raze in Brazil, he is very explosive and brings that characteristic of playing without fear.
Krain is a more calm guy. Now that he is playing as a controller he can develop his own game. He plays more of a supportive role, and feels very comfortable playing in his calm way.
Myssen is similar to krain, he is also a calm person, both of them play at their own pace, don't talk that much, and bring a feeling of peace to the squad.
Raafa is similar to liazzi in regard that he plays without fear, if he needs to perform independently of his agent he is going to deliver. He does what needs to be done when it comes to rotations, gaining control of space on the map.
In terms of aim, everyone is really strong, so I would say that sums it up.
Carriço: Raafa is the latest addition to the roster, can you tell us a little bit about Glym leaving the team and raafa coming in to take his spot?
Shion: So we were searching for someone who could bring experience to the team, and raafa played CS:GO in the tier 1 scene for many years. So we saw his characteristics and thought, maybe we need this on our squad. We saw that he had the potential so we believed in him, we know a lot about rotations, and creating space, which are fundamentals of the game and that helped us a lot, we were missing some of those things.
We needed to have a bigger understanding, independently of skill, agent, or composition, we needed the fundamentals of FPS. So we were searching for someone with those qualities and found raafa, and he has been performing really well.
Carriço: Do you still think and feel like analysts and the general public still underestimate this Liberty squad?
Shion: I still think we are a little underestimated, but the other teams know that if they make mistakes we are going to be able to defeat them and if they are not well prepared we will also beat them.
Maybe there are still some people that underestimate us, but I believe everyone in the squad is already used to that, and everything is okay, especially because we didn't have great results in the recent past so it's natural for people to underestimate us if it was with another squad the same thing would happen.
So whenever you don't win it's normal that this happens.
Carriço: What are your opinions about Group B, your group for this stage two of VCT.
Shion: All of the teams are very strong, Vivo Keyd has two of the best players in Brazil, TBK is very well structured, MIBR added a very good player in Frz, and all of them are also very good individually.
NIP also had a roster change but the base of the team will probably stay the same, their way of thinking, and the players are also very talented individually. So I don't think there is a favorite, because you can get to the LAN and every team can win.
Carriço: Do you think the fact Stage 2 is going to be on LAN can be good or detrimental for some of the teams?
Shion: Maybe for some teams that don't have that much experience on LAN it can be detrimental, but for example NIP already had the experience of playing the last Masters on LAN, we already participated in some LAN’s as well. Vivo Keyd played Valorant Champions. TBK has very experienced players, so maybe it won't have an impact on them.
So I believe it’s going to depend on the mental preparation of each team. How is the team atmosphere, because LAN is a completely different experience, so who never played on a LAN maybe can be affected by the nerves, but after that, you get used to it.
Carriço: Can you talk a little bit about the playstyle of all the teams in your group?
Shion: NIP is a very aggressive team, very explosive, they run double duelists a lot. Vivo Keyd has a very solid tactical approach, and their individuality can make the difference, they have a lot of firepower. TBK will always have a setup play or default, a rotation that will catch you off guard, and is a very structured team. MIBR still didn't play that many games of VCT, the games they played were in the open qualifier. So I'm still not very familiar with their play style.
Carriço: After LOUD great performance do you think people finally look at Brazil as a Major region, and will not underestimate the Brazilian teams from now on?
Shion: I hope so because what LOUD did was very important for the Brazilian scene, they almost were champions, and they showed we can play against the best in the world, I hope the fans will start looking at the Brazilian scene with new eyes, and we are going to come back and once again fight for the title in the next Masters. Loud paved the way, now we just need to follow.
Carriço: What are Liberty's main goals for the remaining of 2022?
Shion: For this Split, we want to reach the playoffs, improve our game, and then obviously qualify for Masters, and for the Valorant Champions.
Carriço: And has a player, what are your goals for the remaining of the year?
Shion: I want to continue to study the game, and help my team achieve their goals.
Carriço: Is there anything else you want to say to the Liberty fans?
Shion: Thank you for the support. Please continue to support us, we will do everything in this Split and in the remaining of the year to achieve our goals, so continue to support us.