Interview with The Guard player Jacob "valyn" Batio
Yoann: Hello guys today I'm with Valyn, The Guard’s IGL.
Valyn: So my name is Valyn. I'm the guards IGL, we won NA Challengers and went to Iceland as a team, so we had some good accomplishments this year.
Yoann: Perfect. So when and how did you get into Esports?
Valyn: I got into Esports about two years ago, around when Valorant came out. That's when I really started grinding professional gaming. Before, I was just playing Counterstrike for fun.
I had dreams of being a pro, but I didn't think it would actually happen. But when Valorant came out, I decided to take it 100% seriously and try my best.
I just kept grinding every day, playing on free agent teams, trying to get my name out there. And eventually, I got reached out by complexity to become their IGL. And then, from there, I went to The Guard.
Yoann: What is your job as an IGL and how you can help your players?
Valyn: I take a lot of responsibility for the team. Not only do I call strats in game, but I also try to be there for them out of the game and be like a leadership figure for them. Because you're kind of the dad of the team where you need to talk to everyone. So I always try to make my players feel comfortable.
After practice, if I think someone needs to work on something, I'll tell them, during scrims I try to help my players like tell them what we can work on, what we can fix, and all that. The strategic viewpoint is kind of on me and my coaches. As much as they help me, I help them as well, so it's a good dynamic.
Yoann: That's perfect. So yeah, you joined The Guard in November last year. What did change at that time for you as a player?
Valyn: Of course. So I went from Complexity to the guard and that was my second professional team. So I was a bit nervous; I wasn't sure how I was going to transition teammates. But honestly, I would say at the beginning, and it didn't change too much. I was still kind of like the same player. I was pretty inexperienced at the time. We never really went that far in VCT. So I kind of just took this as a fresh opportunity. Like, maybe I can make a super good team out of this and win some VCT matches.
My goal at the beginning was to be on a top 12 team. But as you know, we turned out to win NA challengers. At the start, we were just a team of grinders, I knew they were all good players, so I was really excited.
Yoann: That’s cool. How do you prepare to play against teams?
Valyn: I have my little hack. So what I get is I get chocolate, dark chocolate espresso beans from Starbucks haha.
But for the most part, I let all the preparation throughout the work or throughout the week do the work. So on the day of the match, I’m zen, like I'm not really worried too much. I'm trying not to have all these emotions. I take my caffeine. I'm ready to go.
Yoann: We interviewed your LCQ qpert last week, and he told us that Sentinels was the hardest team to play against. Do you feel the same?
Valyn: Yeah, I would agree with qpert. We couldn't expect what they were going to do because they brought in Shroud and Zellsis, and we knew that they were probably going to change up all their strats and how they work up the maps and change their comps. So we had no info to actually work off of. We kind of went into it blind. So we just made sure our game plan was good going into the week, and that's how we prepared.
Yoann: Cool. Are scrims showing the real potential of a team in Valorant’s top tier?
Valyn: I wouldn't say it shows the full potential because a lot of times in scrims teams are not trying to show all of their strategies as they don't want the other team to kind of know what they're trying to do or even steal their ideas.
If you have a really good strat, you kind of just put it in your pocket, and you're like, “Okay, we're not gonna show this again until it's time for an official”. So teams are more focused on working on their mistakes and working on their weak points instead of showing their best.
But if a team is playing very well, you know that this team's looking good, but if a team isn't looking too hot, it's not always the case. Sometimes they're just trying to save stats, make a new composition on a map, or something like that.
Yoann: Okay. So, how important is it to have a great team environment inside and outside the game?
Valyn: Oh, for me, I think it's like the most important, honestly, because you need to have a team that trusts each other and loves each other because at the end of the day like you're going to be working with each other every single day for many hours and it's not always gonna be nice. Like, sometimes there's gonna be arguments. Sometimes people are going to disagree with each other. But at the end of the day, if you have a good team environment that can get over problems, you're gonna have a lot of long-term success. And you're not gonna let emotions kind of fluctuate and tear the team apart.
Um, and so when you go into a match, you feel a hundred percent confident and feel like you're ready. Uh, Yeah. Also like, the practice is just more efficient when everyone has, like, a really, when the environment is good, like when everyone's happy, everyone, you know, likes each other and is having fun, the efficiency, uh, the learning process is a lot smoother.
Yoann: What is your team’s routine if you have one, one hour before matches?
Valyn: Yeah, so we have a warmup scrim just to kind of get everyone in the zone and working as a team. But we usually take it a bit light. Like we're having fun. Just warming up, like our aim warming up our strats a little bit, nothing too serious. We try to always keep it light before the match. Just so everyone has a fresh mental going into it.
And then, about 15 minutes before the match starts, everyone just kind of does their own thing. Like some people like to listen to music, some people like to walk around a little bit, just whatever you gotta do to get in the zone. And then, once the match starts, it's full, serious, but before that, we try to keep it chill.
Yoann: Cool. So you guys bring super interesting tactics and agent compositions during LCQ, but people still think that NA game is less strategic than EMEA. What do you think?
Valyn: It's kind of hard for that debate because all regions have good strategies. It's more catered to the play style.
So, for example, NA, I think, has a lot of really good raw talents. And you want to be able to activate those players in the best way. And, like, you just want them to go out and kill, right? So you might see more simple, but like together, strategies you might see the faster gameplay and stuff like that, but you're just trying to get the most out of your players.
And oftentimes, like the EMEA, players are a lot more disciplined and very fundamental heavy. So you're gonna have fast stats. You'll have less complex ideas, but stuff that works well within your team.
Teams have different styles that work for them. You know, like PaperRex, for example, has some crazy super fast strategies. And it's like, oh my God, what are they doing? For them, it works. You just gotta find out what works for your team and build from there.
Yoann: Okay. As a team, what did you learn from your match against 100T in the LCQ Finals?
Valyn: Yeah, it was definitely a hard loss for us because obviously, we wanted to make it to champions. But even though we were feeling really good about it, we were not firing that day. I think maybe a few nerves were not the same as we did in the previous matches. But it's all a process, we got a very young team, and with every loss, we're growing.
It wasn't so much about the strategies we learned, but we learned a lot about ourselves, like going into a match, because for them, it felt like they came out swinging full confidence, and we were kind of like shaky. So we know like next time guys when we have these big matches like we got to set the tempo.
Yoann: That's super interesting. What are your short and long terms ambitions for the team?
Valyn: It's kind of hard to say right now, especially with franchising coming up in the next couple of months. I don't know where the guard stands with that. And I don't know where I stand as a player. So it's a bit iffy long term, but in the short term, we're in the off-season right now. So I just want to make sure my team is getting a good reset. Fingers crossed, hopefully long-term with the guard. Like I want to play on the international stage again. I want to show the world that we have what it takes to be the best, especially with our young roster.
Yoann: Yeah I agree. How do you feel about Pearl?
Valyn: At first, I didn't really like Pearl. I thought the map design was a bit weird. I liked the mid, but the B long was kind of weird. After playing it more and ranked and playing some scrims on it, just kind of getting used to the map. I actually really like Pearl. I think the B long area should be a little shorter. It feels like sometimes the Chamber or the Jett can just get a lot of free shots with the op with that long range.
I like the tempo of the map. Like, you can really slow it down, or you can go really fast. It just depends on what you wanna do that round. Good design.
Yoann: Which team would you like to play against in the future?
Valyn: I really want to play against Loud. They look very, very good. And I'm always a fan of playing teams that are very good because I want to see how I can stack up against that. But man Loud, all their players are insane, and their strategy is really good too. It would definitely be a tough match.
Yoann: So we saw you make an appearance on the Valorant desk for challenges as a pro player and analyst. How was it?
Valyn: It was honestly like a super weird thing for me at the beginning. I was a bit nervous going into it, I don't know how good I'm gonna be able to talk on camera, but I kind of just took it as like a learning opportunity because they offered me to do it. So I was like, oh, of course. Like I can't deny that that's an insane opportunity.
I got to meet, Goldenboy and Mimi on the desk, and those two are phenomenal they kind of like took me under their wing and showed me how it works and the little things about being on the production side. Seeing both sides is really cool.
Maybe one day I'll be a caster who knows.
Yoann: Okay yeah it would be nice! So, who are you supporting right now during Champions?
Valyn: All the way Optic, number one! I also really, really enjoy watching DRX, just their play style and the personalities on their team. They’re so fun to watch. So I'm always rooting for DRX and optic. But in general, you know, unfortunately, XSET just got out. I was also rooting for them because I'm from NA, so you got to support the NA teams.
Yoann: Is there anything else you want to say?
Valyn: Shout out to all the fans who've been supporting the guard or myself since the beginning. Very excited about what's soon, and I'll see you guys next year.
Yoann: Thank you for your time, and best of luck for the future!
Valyn: Thank you so much!
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