Interview with Ryan “RyanCentral” Horton, Valorant Analyst, Content Creator, and Coach
Yoann: Hey, hello everyone! Today I’m with RyanCentral, VCT analyst, content creator, and coach! How would you introduce yourself?
Ryan: I think you pretty much nailed it to be fair! A jack of all trades, master of none at the moment. I’m now trying to plan the off//season as efficiently as possible, it’s going to be a quiet 6 months, so I’m trying to get as much experience and opportunities as I can now, as a content creator, caster, analyst, and coach!
Yoann: Great! When and how did you get into esports?
Ryan: I mainly started with YouTube with a channel called Overwatch Central that I made with a friend called Mysca, we were very interested in Overwatch. We started making videos during the beta in 2016, the channel blew up and we became full-time content creators making news, guides… We were the first channel coming purely from Overwatch to do as well as we did.
Esports was a bit later, I met people working in esports like Ubershouts, and I met a lot of players at that time. We got to do content and interviews, fly to L.A., did some analytical breakdowns…
When Valorant came out, we wanted to make the pivot. I wanted to give it a go and do some casting, I tried to do as many events as I could, casting, being on the analyst desk. I moved on to do bigger things like the Ignition event in the US, and obviously VCT in EMEA.
Yoann: That’s cool! You are also coaching a Game Changers team, how is it going so far?
Ryan: Stage 2 was amazing for us, we came 4th, it was a team of rejects so to speak. It was the core of Geekay that didn’t make playoffs in Stage 1 so the org pulled out of GameChangers altogether. The team had experience, and when I tweeted that I was looking for a team for the end of this year, they reached out to me saying that they needed a coach. I was already talking to an LCQ team to help them with analyst work, but that fell through.
I ended up doing analyst and anti-strat work for Odd 1 Out in Game Changers. But I also helped them individually, becoming sort of an assistant coach. I wasn’t only looking at what the enemies were doing, I was trying to find stuff to improve our gameplay.
It’s a bit awkward at the moment because there are more orgs pulling out of GameChangers than there are coming in, because unless you are a top team, like G2, Acend, BBL, the chances of making Sao Paulo are pretty slim, so most orgs are waiting for 2024.
It’s been a great experience and I’d like to stay with the team and see the players stay together after the off//season. It’s definitely a team that could scare the top level of Game Changers with a bit of time and effort.
Yoann: Of course! Have you been coaching in previous games like Overwatch?
Ryan: No, never. It was the first real experience I had. I helped some teams in Valorant earlier this year, so I had a bit of experience, but nothing really full-time. It’s something I’ve become very interested in so I’m definitely wanting to chase doing it full time in 2024 if I don’t do any broadcast work.
Yoann: As an analyst, what’s your preparation routine for a broadcast?
Ryan: I like to get up early and start gathering data on the teams that are playing that day, their map picks, bans, comps, players… At that point, we already have all the assets we want to use for the broadcast. If I want to highlight a certain player in a certain round, I’ll give some clips to the production.
After all the analyst work I’ve done, I’d like to approach it differently. Previously I’d leave a lot of my prep to the last minute. In the future, I’d like to approach a broadlike like how we approach an official for the GC team. Everything is ready before the day starts and the preparation is all about reviewing your notes and remembering everything important that you wanted to mention. It was not good for my mental health to work nonstop from the morning of a broadcast to the broadcast itself and then do it again the very next day. I’d rather spend the day relaxing and getting excited to talk about the game! That’s the kind of attitude I’d like to have now.
Yoann: That’s great! What’s the atmosphere like behind the scenes in EMEA?
Ryan: For the GameChangers team, it’s very good. It’s definitely an open dynamic where people can speak their mind but we all know that we’re a team, we’re working together and any important feedback is said because we all want to improve! For the VCT EMEA broadcast, I get on very well with the majority of people, I’m very close with Mitch and Tom for example. But it’s a different environment to a team because whilst you are working with people, you’re still somewhat competing against the other analysts to get opportunities to do international events and keep your position in EMEA. It’s a weird stressful dynamic that I think mentally got the better of me a few times but the other talent and production people are amazing.
Yoann: Yeah I understand. Which team do you see winning Champions in LA?
Ryan: I’d be shocked if it wasn’t Fnatic, to be honest. There are no gaps in their plays, and we haven’t even got to look at their other maps outside of the few maps they played in Tokyo.
Boaster said it himself, it depends on how they do on the day, up against a confident team like Loud, or EG willing to get their revenge, with an American crowd as well.
Outside of that, I don’t know who could put up a challenge against Fnatic, maybe Liquid, even though they had a rough tournament in Tokyo or NRG…
I think the good thing about this event is that the meta is opened up, there’s Deadlock, which is a real question mark whether she’ll be played or not, Chamber’s starting to come back on certain teams, this is probably the best international event that we’ll have. Outside of Fnatic, any of the 15 other teams can show up, just like EDG did at Tokyo.
I’m curious to see what kind of ideas these teams will have, lots of stuff about Champions to be excited about!
Yoann: It’s going to be incredible! Let’s now get to the quick questions part, I’ll ask you ten quick questions, and you’ll have to answer as fast as possible. Ready?
Ryan: Yeah, I’m ready!
Yoann: Phantom or Vandal?
Ryan: The Vandal! But with the recent ammo change, we might also see the Phantom get picked a lot more at Champions!
Yoann: That will be interesting to see! What’s your favorite map?
Ryan: I always like a good game on Haven, but I think the best map is Split, the meta is always so open on this map!
Yoann: For sure! Who’s your favorite agent?
Ryan: Probably Cypher! It was the first agent I enjoyed playing in the closed beta. But the agent I play the most is Omen.
Yoann: Nice! What’s your favorite skin collection?
Ryan: Oni, that’s an easy one! Outside of that, I like the Prelude to Chaos, and all of the Champions skins are great!
Yoann: Who are your favorite teams in each region?
Ryan: In Pacific, it’s Team Secret, no question. I’ve been a massive fan of JessieVash since I got to cast them at Champs. For Americas, I don’t have a favorite team, probably 100Thieves or Leviatán, and I guess Loud too.
For EMEA, it’s a hard question! I’m more of a fan of the coaches than the teams!
I’m always rooting for Fnatic, Mini is fantastic, and the way they’ve approached putting together this squad with all these people helping and supporting the team is very interesting, in comparison to a team with only one coach. I’m a big fan of the coaching staff in Vitality too, and the twins Emil and Erik in Team Liquid and Navi. I also like Neil at Team Heretics.
Yoann: Can you name the seven teams that won an international event?
Ryan: Sentinels won the first one, then it was Gambit, Acend… NRG in Iceland, FPX at Copenhagen, Loud, and Fnatic at Lock//In, and Tokyo!
Yoann: Perfect! What’s your favorite moment with the Valorant crew?
Ryan: The whole birthday situation was fun! Mitch had this thing of saying it was my birthday every day. We were talking about it on the broadcast, and everybody started saying happy birthday because they knew the joke. But the American production team didn’t, so they thought it was my actual birthday! They got me a massive cake and brought it on the broadcast, I genuinely didn’t know what to do!
Yoann: Can you quote a voice line from your favorite agent?
Ryan: Cypher has this very weird one where he is talking about pictures of his enemies' children, but I think my favorite one is Brimstone’s “Molly!”, that kind of voice line.
Yoann: Or Omen’s “Scatter”! How often do you play Valorant in your free time?
Ryan: Quite a bit now, I play with a group of friends in the evening. I’d like to play more but I don’t play on my own. It can vary from playing 3 or 4 games a day to absolutely none.
It’s crazy how your job can be helping other people get better at the game and still be unable to play the game yourself! Ranked is a waste of time if you want to improve in the esports scene, stop looking at coaches’ or talents’ ranks.
Yoann: What are your hobbies or passions aside from gaming?
Ryan: Music is one of them, I got a couple of guitars behind me, I also like doing gym stuff, I used to do karate. But outside of Valorant, I like playing other games like World of Warcraft or Spyro’s Reignited Trilogy.
Yoann: Let’s now get back to the standard questions! What would you change to Valorant if you were a developer?
Ryan: I’d add a replay system, there’s just so much content that you could do, to help people get better or watch pros play.
And I would get a hold of leaks, and give content creators reasons to make news content again. Everything is getting leaked early anyway. There’s no point making content on a new feature or new agent coming out, it’s getting leaked early anyway. I hope Riot can get a hold of that.
Yoann: What are your short and long-term ambitions on the game?
Ryan: Short term is to keep on working in VALORANT, it’s been a tough year, as I’ve only been working 9 days on the broadcast. I want to have something to do for the rest of the year, even if it’s an unsigned team, have a project to work on! And then, see if I can get signed to a team, either Game Changers or in Tier 2 or even in Tier 1. If the work is still dry in 2024. I’ll probably have to look at another career completely.
For the long term, I just want to stay in this game. I like Valorant so much, it’s the best mix of all the things I like in a game. Whether that’s on a broadcast or on a team, or creating content, I want to be involved in the scene. So I’m doing whatever I can to see what could work out for me. I want to do this as long as possible!
Yoann: What would you say to someone willing to pursue a career in esports?
Ryan: Brace yourself and always try to be a positive person to work with. Make your stance clear on what’s important to you and know who your friends are, who helped you, and try to do the same for them. Be honest with yourself, if you have strong beliefs or feelings, don’t ignore them, and find the right way to express them. I used to be pretty sheepish with my opinions on stuff, I’d always just try to get on with it but now I’ve sort of realized that you’re almost disrespecting yourself and your feelings by not sharing. It’s all about cutting out the BS at the end of the day.
Also, get used to the rejection side of it, because you’re going to get that a lot in esports. You can’t control whether you get the “yes” or “no” call to do VCT for example, all you can do is do the best you can. It’s the big thing I learned this year, just focus on yourself, and look out for yourself, and your friends. Don’t let an industry like this chew you up and spit you out, turning you into somebody you start to dislike.
Yoann: Awesome, thank you! Is there anything else you would like to say?
Ryan: Please, pick up Odd1out! The players are great, and it sucks to see them struggling to be picked up by an org. Also, watch Champions! I think it has the potential to be the best international tournament we’ve ever had, it’s not one to miss!
Yoann: That’s for sure! Thank you so much for your time, I wish you the best in the future!
Ryan: Thank you!