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"I’ve always been a storyteller at heart, and I hope to be on the creative side of the industry. Whether it's at Riot on Valorant, or elsewhere, I want to help build worlds and bring characters to life:” Cynprel (Annie)

Cynprel (Image by Sportskeeda)
Cynprel (Image by Sportskeeda)
FEATURED WRITER

Riot Games has created a world filled with deep lore, rich characters, and unique stories in Valorant. The intriguing stories have fans excited across the world.

Annie, who is better known as Cynprel, is the most well-known Valorant lore enthusiast. From forming theories to breaking down new discoveries, their content is filled to the brim with lore.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Suryadeepto Sengupta, Cynprel opened up about their journey, future goals, and of course, the Valorant lore.

The following is an excerpt of the conversation.


Cynprel, over the last few months, you have become one of the top Valorant lore enthusiasts in the world. How has that journey been for you? What are some of the obstacles you have faced?

Cynprel: Hiya everyone! My growth these past few months has definitely been, compared to my growth last year, meteoric. That being said, getting here has been far more troublesome than one would anticipate, with some of the most stressful days of my life occurring earlier this year. My first exploration into making content started during VALORANT’s closed beta. I very distinctly recall playing Split for the first time and looking back on Defender spawn and witnessing the enormous and oppressive Kingdom HQ Tower. The intrigue that paired with that moment was the spark that led me to dissect the entirety of what environmental storytelling was available to us at the time.

I condensed all of my notes into a Reddit thread, which quickly filled up the max limit, so I opted for two threads.

That was April 10th, 2020, long before anyone had uploaded any videos on the subject of Valorant Lore. I recall checking Reddit before working on the thread as well, with nothing coming up other than inquiries prior to Beta.

Little did I know, however, that as I was working on my threads, someone else had collected their own notes and posted what was technically the first lore thread. To most, this might have been a moment to feel defeated, but I felt nothing but excitement, as I now had someone to theorycraft with. I reached out and got to know Avaris a bit and simultaneously began working on creating the VALORANT Lore // Art Discord server. Shortly after finishing it, Avaris joined and guided me through my first experience in running a Discord server, which I am extremely grateful for. Unfortunately, he would eventually have to leave Valorant altogether, but he will forever be a part of the server’s history!

The largest obstacle I faced was learning to stand up for and value the work I was doing. Not too long after I had posted those Reddit threads, someone chose to plagiarize them and upload them to YouTube, verbatim. Their platform has grown significantly. Without going into detail, that moment led to a string of events that would land me in some of the most stressful and anxiety-filled situations I’ve ever experienced.

Thankfully, I’ve come to better understand how to protect and uplift my work and efforts. As of today, the server is better than ever, acting as a hub for lore enthusiasts and as a healthy place for devs to interact with said enthusiasts. My other platforms have also been growing rapidly, thanks to an amazing community and the friends I’ve made in the process.

My primary goal for the server has always been to create a safe space for the mis- and underrepresented, the marginalized, and the oppressed. as well as a space that encourages healthy discussion and interaction between players and developers.

My personal goals:

In the short-term, I would like to continue to create lore content, and as of recently, move into more video-based content. I would also like to see top streamers and esports talent get more involved! I’m more than happy to offer myself up to talk lore on someone else’s platform if it means helping the lore community grow!

Looking further into the future, I hope to be on the creative side of things, helping build worlds and bringing characters to life. Whether it’s at Riot Games or elsewhere, I’ve always been a storyteller at heart, and I want nothing more than to contribute my abilities.

That being said, I’ve also come to love community management and the facets of cultivating a positive and healthy user base. I would not hesitate to pursue a career in an ethics or diversity and inclusion department.

Recently you have also garnered some success over on twitch. Do tell a bit about the content creation process.

Cynprel: I honestly never thought people would enjoy simply listening to me ramble on about lore, but my success on Twitch has proven otherwise.

Until recently, my approach to content creation was quite simply organizing my thoughts and talking about them. I gather notes, theorycraft, and post a summary on Twitter. I would then expand on that summary on Twitch. However, some friends were quick to point out the fact that I’m essentially providing free content for YouTubers. So, as you will see in the coming weeks, I’ve begun to translate those thoughts over to YouTube.

Valorant, while primarily being a competitive esports game, has a very strong narrative focus. How important is it for a competitive game to have a strong narrative?

Cynprel: To the mechanics of esports, not at all. However, having a strong narrative and beloved characters is extremely important to any live service game. An easy comparison can be found in League of Legends. League has an incredible esports scene, but it also has a fanbase entirely dedicated to Runeterra and its inhabitants. This dedication allows them to introduce new spin-offs and new forms of media, such as Riot Forge, Arcane, comics, etc. I believe Riot wishes to replicate this with VALORANT, but as you might imagine, it will take some time. I’m happy to be a component in that!

With every new episode, Riot Games debuts a short animated Valorant cinematic. Do you think the short cinematic is a good way to develop the narrative, or does Valorant need a longer format cinematic to build upon the story?

Cynprel: Currently, the team is utilizing what they call the “Mystery Box” approach to narrative delivery. The beauty of this system is that it encourages discussion and engagement. As a massive fan of From Software, this approach is very familiar. That being said, I don’t think longer cinematics are in our future, I think it acts against this design philosophy. I would sooner expect new forms of media in the narrative delivery equation before anything near the length of a short film.

From a narrative perspective, which agent’s backstory interests you the most?

Cynprel: They all interest me greatly, each for different reasons—and after over a year of dedicating myself to them, I find it difficult to choose favorites. If I had to, I would say Omen, Viper, Astra, Cypher, Reyna, Sage, and KAY/O, in no particular order.

Valorant has had 6 maps so far, each with a unique narrative perspective linking with Kingdom Corporation. Which map do you find most interesting from a narrative perspective?

Cynprel: It seems like every new map offers more environmental storytelling than the ones before it. I hope some of the launch maps get some updates in that regard. At the moment, I have to pick Breeze, it is filled to the brim with mysteries that feed endless speculation. Looking back, however, Split’s environmental storytelling is excellent and was my starting point all that time ago.

Recently Valorant confirmed the mirror verse theory with the Duality cinematic. What was your immediate reaction upon watching the Duality cinematic for the first time?

Cynprel: The first time I saw the Duality cinematic was during a small preview event a week or so prior to its public appearance. It was a small group of creators, maybe six or so. They had clearly been given a heads up as to what they would be seeing, I had not. The casual, “okay we’re going to show you the next cinematic” made me jump. I was over the moon. I soaked in each frame with the biggest smile on my face. Seeing Phoenix interact with Earth-2 Phoenix blew my mind. An immediate blast of serotonin, and subsequently heartbreak as I realized I would have to wait patiently to talk about it. I was riding that adrenaline high all the way to the weekend where they dropped it.

We were not allowed to record anything, so I had to remember each detail from memory when I made the thread. Thankfully the moment was so special, recalling the details was a breeze.

There has been a theory of artificial Radiants, according to which, artificial Radiant experiment was done by Viper, while she was still associated with Kingdom Corporation, whose failed result is Omen, while Reyna is the successful one. What is your thought on this theory?

Cynprel: Yeah! This is one of those entry-level theories that most new enthusiasts will bring to the table. It’s a solid theory and one that fits in nicely with their characters. However, some voice lines with Sage and the Versus Player Cards suggest that the situation may have been a bit more complicated than that. Regardless, it’s a great stepping stone as you travel further down the VALORANT lore iceberg.

While initially Kingdom Corporation was positioned as the main antagonist of Valorant Protocol, with the recent development, it seems like the alternative versions of the agents from the mirror earth are the main antagonist. Where do you feel like the story is heading?

Cynprel: Actually, it was quite clear from very early on, around the end of the Beta, that Kingdom was not the antagonist. I recall having debates on the subject.

On the matter of a moral spectrum, I personally don’t think it exists in VALORANT’s current conflict as we understand it. Earth-2’s agents share the same personalities as our Earth-1 agents. We are viewing the story, at least within the context of the cinematics, through the lens of Earth-1. We don’t perfectly understand the motives of Earth-2’s VALORANT Protocol, and the assumption that they are evil may be jumping the gun. We are viewing the conflict with a bias, the same one that affects Earth-1’s VALORANT Protocol. Personally, I believe Earth-2 faces a threat far greater than what they are to Earth-1. One that leaves them with no other options.

Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?

Five years from now, I will be nearing 29 years old, and that is a terrifying thought. I imagine VALORANT will have evolved significantly, and its narrative, even more so. As I discussed above, I hope to be on the other side of the equation at some point, assisting in the creative side of things. That may not be my reality in five years, but I approach the thought with optimism, anticipating some level of creative output. Even now, I’m creating a non-canonical expansion to VALORANT’s universe. At the very least, I see myself continuing to grow as a creative, and continuing to contribute to a more inclusive gaming community; making more incredible friends along the way!

I would like to thank all of my lovely supporters and the lore community as a whole! Every moment of growth is spectacular to witness, and I’m eager to see where we will be in another year. Another massive thanks to all of my AMAZING friends, and every Rioter out there putting their heart into VALORANT and the systems around it. Most importantly, thanks to my wonderful partner Lili for celebrating every moment of joy, and offering their shoulder to lean on during the countless hardships behind me.

Edited by Nikhil Vinod
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