Interview with Heracles Gaming Player Tiago "LionClaw" Moreira
Carriço: My first question is how did you get into esports?
Tiago: I entered the Esports world about ten years ago. I started to play CrossFire with a group of friends on the European server. There were two servers, the NA and K, which were the ones where the Esports scene was, and you had the European server. When I started to play on the European server almost no one played there.
But then after I realized I was really bad because the players from the K server started to come to the European server, I didn't like it and I wanted to improve a lot. I started to learn a lot about the scene at the time and that’s how I gave my first steps in the Esports world, trying to be better than the other players.
Carriço: Why did you choose to become a professional player?
Tiago: When the game got released in 2020, the beta came out, I was still playing CrossFire but the game was stagnant, I was playing the game for a long time and I didn't have that fire, so I wanted something new.
Valorant was the perfect opportunity because it had been years since CS.GO already existed, and Valorant was a new opportunity for players that were looking for one. I had the goal to try to be one of the best in the game and here I am now.
Carriço: Can you talk a little bit about your path in VALORANT before joining Heracles Gaming?
Tiago: When I started to play Valorant I had the goal of growing as a player and trying to improve, and very early I got the opportunity to represent some good and well-known organizations, which allowed me to have some sustainability and play in a semi-professional way.
Heracles Gaming emerged after the Portugues Valorant scene had fallen a little bit. But I grabbed the opportunity to play for Heracles Gaming, which kinda came out of nowhere because Ingyon decided to announce the VCE league, and we embarked on this adventure of playing the VCE.
Carriço: You play mainly as an Initiator what are some things that make a good Initiator player?
Tiago: Initiator I think it's a role where the skill-cap is a little bit high. Because it demands you to have a good understanding of how your Agent works, but in the majority of cases you need to also be in sync with the rest of your team. It’s very rare for you to have the opportunity to do a solo play, at least with the majority of the initiators. So it demands a lot of communication, a good understanding of the Agent you are playing, and above all else being in the right place at the right time.
Carriço: How do you prepare for opponents in general? What is your preparation method?
Tiago: The preparation for the opponents depends a lot on the context where I’m in. I had times in my career when I saw the tendencies of the opponents as a collective unity and individuals. How every specific player played in a determined position where I would attack more frequently. Or what were the individual tendencies of the opposing team when they were attacking the position I normally defend.
Now in the league, I don't look for individual tendencies I look more for collective tendencies. Because when you play in a league with an inferior level compared to the big leagues in Europe, you have a bigger percentage of randomness, it’s more unpredictable. So I don't focus that must on trying to understand what every player thinks.
Carriço: What does your daily routine look like?
Tiago: Right now I’m studying, and I play when I have time. Basically, most of my day is the day of a regular student, and after my College duties, I play how much time I can, and try to improve.
Carriço: What’s your routine before the games?
Tiago: When it comes to that I'm more old school. I never liked AimLab or Kovacs a lot. I prefer to play deathmatch because I feel like what I get while playing deathmatch translates better for the actual game, than playing Kovacs or anything similar. So the routine is always to play some deathmatches. If we are going to have an official we always do a warmup scrim. So we get to the game with the callouts on point, and the rotations well prepared.
Carriço: Talk to me a little bit about this project of Heracles Gaming
Tiago: Basically this started as a group of friends that wanted to play the VCE. All of us already had some experience, at least at the domestic level, we already had played some tournaments. I was able to get to higher levels than the others, but they made their path.
We decided to come together and try to qualify for the VCE league so that we could play a tournament altogether. We were able to qualify and that is where the opportunity to play for Heracles Gaming came. They wanted a team to represent them in the VCE, they talked with some teams I don't know how many, but it doesn't really matter. We were able to come to terms with them, and we are very happy with the organization. The goal is to always win, but we know that there are very competitive teams in the league and that it can be hard to win the title.
Carriço: How do you describe your playstyle right now?
Tiago: I would say that our playstyle, first of all, our idea is to always opt into a composition with Agents that bring us more structure, maybe we will lose a little bit of dynamic, but are Agents that fit our gameplan better. A game plan that will be less dependent on the individual performance and more on the collective performance.
On the defensive side, we opt a lot for a solid approach. On the attacking side, with the fact that we use Breach in the majority of our compositions, we try to control the pace of the game.
Carriço: What are some of the things/intangibles each player brings that are very important for the team?
Tiago: It’s hard to say what every player brings to the team. What I think is that we are all in sync, everyone is giving their best, and some are better at some things than others. The truth is that we were able to create an environment where things work and we are improving, and I think that’s the most important.
Carriço: How is it to work with these groups of players?
Tiago: As I said before It all started as a group of friends that wanted to play a qualifier together to have some fun. So the environment is always great. Obviously, after signing with Heracles Gaming, we have other responsibilities, we need to show good results, and give our best. But the reality is that the essence is still there, we want to have fun and enjoy it because we don't know when it’s going to be the last season where we are all going to be able to play together. So that’s basically it, enjoy, have a good time, but always work hard and respect the organization.
Carriço: How important is it to have a great team environment, do you think in order to find success a good team environment outside the game is necessary?
Tiago: I don't think you must have a good environment outside of the game. The truth is that there are teams that are successful without having a great environment outside of the game, teams that promote more the professional relationship between the players.
But I think that having a good environment outside of the game, despite not being a must-have, it’s going to give an extra motivation and help the players reach performance levels that they wouldn't achieve otherwise. So despite not thinking you must have it, it can play a very important role.
Carriço: In the last six months, more or less, we didn't have a competitive scene in Portugal, in your opinion what led to a “ death” of a competitive scene that was having good results, with Portuguese teams performing well in Europe against the some of the biggest organizations in Europe.
Tiago: The truth is that, as you said, and well, the competitive scene in Portugal died a little bit. I think everyone can see that. Good results, we had some, ehehxd had good results in the VCE, FTW was also consistent domestically, there was a team with bati that lead EGN, effectively there were some good teams.
The sudden death happens because, with the creation of the VRL, the best players, or the players that had an opportunity decided to leave, so the players that didn't have the opportunity to play a VRL were the ones that stayed. That resulted in the sudden death of the competitive scene in Portugal.
What could have happened differently to avoid that “ death” of the Portuguese competitive scene. The Portuguese organizations should have given a step forward and invested in the scene. But the reality is that it didn't exist any tournament in Portugal that was worth for the organizations to invest in. So it’s understandable.
What needs to exist now is more opportunities, and more tournaments, so that the same thing doesn't happen. Because when the VCE ends, if we don't have more tournaments and more initiatives, the same thing is going to happen again. More players will go outside, with the launch of the second division of the VRLs, and the situation is going to get worst because everyone is going to leave.
Carriço: In your opinion what are the main problems of the Portuguese competitive Valorant scene?
Tiago: I think the VCE league is a great initiative. I think it should have happened earlier in this format, and I think it fixes the problem we had last year. So last year they had the VCE, but it was a Portuguese tournament, that didn't help the Portuguese community at all. It existed but it didn't help the Portuguese players.The winners were a Russian roster signed to an organization from Azerbaijan, and in second place we had a Spanish team with two Portuguese players.
It was a tournament that existed, it was supposed to contribute to the change and the improvement of the scene, but the truth is that it only hurt the scene, and gave reason for the people to say “okay I don't want to play this game”.
Now with the VCE, a lot of problems are fixed, it’s only for Portuguese, so the Portuguese players will start to gain more experience, playing more official games, with a more consistent league system, and with a pre-defined number of games.
But it's still not enough games. The people look now and say “it's two games per week it’s okay”, but if we look to the first semester of 2022 until April we didn't have anything. So it fixes some problems, but we still didn't get out from where we were as a scene.
Carriço: What are the main goals for Heracles Gaming for the remainder of this year?
Tiago: In Portugal, we can say we are in the first part of the season because this is still the first VCE. So for the first VCE our goal is to reach the playoffs, and after that is game by game. Because it's a best-of-three, it's a little more complicated and we don't know what team we are going to face. For the Cup our goal was to qualify for Iberanime, we were one Best-of-three away to qualify for that, we finished in third place.
For the second season VCE is coming, I believe that after October maybe Rito Games will be more open and I don't know what other tournaments we are going to have. But the goal is the same, reach the playoffs, and after that is game by game.
Carriço: And for you as a player what are your main goals?
Tiago: I would really like to win one of the editions of VCE or a Cup. But I know that Arozz and RESET are going to continue to perform well above the other teams, it’s going to be hard. I think winning titles in Portugal right now for any of the teams that are on VCE apart from those two is very hard.
Because even if you manage to defeat one of the two, is very hard to beat the two in the same tournament. The finals will always be a best-of-five, it's very hard, but it’s our goal to lift some trophies.
Carriço: Is there anything else you want to say to the Heracles Gaming fans or the Portuguese scene in general?
Tiago: I want to thank all the fans, I also want to thank all the people that watch the VCE on a weekly basis, that bring those extra views for the stream which is what we really need. The scene really needs help and I’m happy to see that the numbers are superior to what they were before in 2021 in Portugal.
Thank the organization that supports us, that motivates us to continue and give our best.
Carriço: Tiago thank you a lot for agreeing to do the interview. It was a pleasure talking with you, and I wish you the best of luck in the VCE and the next Cup, I hope you guys can go far.
If you want to check the full interview you can do it here: