Acend, Valorant's reigning world champion, returned to VCT 2022 with a remarkable victory over OG LDN UTD. After crashing out of the Stage 1 EMEA Challengers Group Stage, Acend revamped their roster with the hopes of earning a ticket to the Masters: Copenhagen.
Valorant's global audience witnessed Acend's current roster in action for the first time in the matchup against OG LDN UTD. After a flawless 2-0 victory over OGLU, Acend comfortably sits atop Group A as they wait for their remaining matchups.
With new additions like MONSTEERR and vakk in place of Kiles and BONECOLD, viewers had little to no idea of what to expect from Acend. The 2021 Valorant Champions, however, put on a great show of skill on Icebox and Split to kickstart their VCT 2022 Stage 2 campaign.
vakk discusses his debut performance for Acend at the VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers
In a conversation with Sportskeeda Esports' Adarsh J Kumar, one of Acend's newest members, Vakaris "vakk" Bebravičius, shared his thoughts on his debut performance at the VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers.
Q: How do you feel after claiming a much-needed win on your debut VCT match for Acend?
vakk: I don't know, it was a mix of feelings. I was a bit serious in the beginning, I wasn't sure about myself. But in the first few seconds of the game, I started getting way better. When I felt the game, when I started shooting, everything got balanced and I was just playing my own game.
We basically played the way we had practiced. We didn't change much, we didn't do many fancy things, we just played a simple game. I wasn't that stressed afterwards.
It feels insane to play for Acend. Everyone has been helping me a lot. Zeek and starxo with mid-round calls, they feel like they know what they are doing; cNed is popping off and getting kills. Life is easy when you have these people around you.
Q: You entered Acend's VCT lineup just over two weeks ago. How have you been adjusting to the team so far?
vakk: We created a few rules for the team. I can't go much into detail, but I make calls and then don't talk that much in the game, although it depends on starxo and zeek as well. Basically, I give them full space and I don't control them too much. There are some basic rules that we've made up, and that helps us a lot in-game.
We fulfill each other perfectly. I try to give everyone freedom as well, so that they can deal with whatever they want. For example, cNed peeking and doing whatever he wants. I'm trying to balance some stuff, maybe bring some basic things to focus on. But it's very simple and nothing fancy yet.
Q: Coming in as a replacement for BONECOLD, you had a huge role to fill. What do you think made Acend choose you as an ideal replacement for his spot in the team for VCT 2022?
vakk: I played with zeek, cNed and NBS in nolpenki before, so we knew each other already. They know how I am as a person, and how I am as a player. I'm also the oldest guy on the team. I'm not that emotional.
I can bring everyone to one place, you know. I don't let anyone overextend their emotions, I don't let them tilt too much, and I try to balance things. I think that's one of the main reasons, because they kind of needed a more serious person in the team.
When they initially took me in, I wasn't the IGL. We started doing it one week after I joined. I was playing Chamber and a few other Agents in the beginning, but then I started focusing on being the IGL since they asked me to do it. I wasn't against it, it was new. I told them that I might struggle in the beginning and I might make mistakes.
I think I was pretty strong in the trials, individually. They needed an individually good player, a smart player, a comms person, maybe someone a bit strict as well, to bring everyone back into place and not let the people go out of their minds. That's basically what they wanted and that's why I'm here.
Q: Acend was the first team to play against Fade in a VCT matchup. Do you think this Agent-pick managed to catch you offguard? How effective was OGLU's attempt in using Fade?
vakk: Honestly, all I told my team was to focus on Fade's stuff, to not overthink what we were doing, and to just be confident. We played against Fade in scrims. So we knew the plays they were making.
We tried to maybe not rush in the beginning and think of where they were throwing their utility. For example, in the eco round, we saw where they were throwing Fade's reveal for the retake, so we got used to it and realized what they were doing with their utility.
It wasn't that hard to adapt against Fade. We knew they might play it exactly like we played before, so we just played around it, tried to counter it a bit and maybe play retakes or do any of the several variations that we can do.
But we've practiced against Fade, we know how she is, and it wasn't a surprise to us at all. Everyone was individually focusing on her and expecting stuff.
Q: What individual quality do you bring to Acend, and what is your main goal for the team in as their in-game leader (IGL) ?
vakk: I think I bring a lot of basics like keeping space, giving space, fighting for space, retaking space, playing together more, making less individual plays. It's basically all these things.
I push people to play what they want to play, although it depends on the coach and how they feel playing other Agents. But I give them a lot of freedom and I don't try to push them into their box and make them feel uncomfortable.
My main goal as the IGL is to make people comfortable, let them play their own game, and let them take the risks they need to take. Maybe it's a bit more strict. We try to find the middle ground between being strict and having freedom. Balance in the team is what makes us good and consistent.
Q: Acend will be facing FOKUS in Week 2 of the VCT EMEA Challengers. They were one of the strongest VRL teams from Stage 1. What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup?
vakk: I have no expectations for the match against Fokus. I didn't keep any expectations against OGLU either. We will go into the game and see how it goes. I don't like to overthink how it is going to be, or who is going to win.
I don't think that way. I like to keep things in the "no-expectations" phase so that it creates less pressure. We will go into the game and we will see how it is.
Q: Acend had a rough time at Stage 1 of VCT 2022, failing to make it past the Challengers Group Stage. What can fans expect from Acend in VCT 2022 Stage 2?
vakk: Like I mentioned earlier, I don't think too much about how we will perform in the tournament. We need to focus on improving a bit more as a team, building synergy and preparing for the next games. I don't want to overthink about the fans. All these things add to the pressure and it makes me a bit more stressed so I'm going away from it and living in the moment.
When it comes to officials (VCT), it will come and then we will show what we have to our fans. But before that, I really want to focus on the moment, not about the past or the future. That's basically the most important thing for me.