Acend qualified for the Valorant Champions playoffs after defeating Team Envy in Group A’s winners match with a 2-0 score.
Acend secured the final seed for EMEA in the Valorant Champions playoffs. However, the team has given a strong competition to the Group A teams. The EMEA Valorant team is coached by Laurynas "Nbs" Kisielius.
Nbs was previously a PUBG player for the Ninjas in Pyjamas. Now, the Lithuanian coach guides the Valorant roster of Acend. Nbs has mentored the team since the formation and helped them grow in the international Valorant esports scene throughout the year.
Acend’s coach Nbs on teams performance and preparation for Valorant Champions
In a recent conversation with Acend’s Nbs, after the team defeated Team Envy, Pratiti Dhang of Sportskeeda Esports talked to him about the team's performance and their preparation for the tournament.
Here’s what he said.
Q: First of all, congratulations on Acend’s dominant win against Team Envy and making it to the Valorant Champions playoffs. Tell me about the game plan and goals before going into that series against them.
Nbs: It wasn’t really like an Envy’s win, but I think they played really well. Our game plan and goals before going into this were that we were focusing on ourselves. We first did research on them and thoroughly thought out which maps to play and played exactly maps that we thought we would. We knew exactly how they play the defaults, and all looked into some of the tendencies that they do, but we didn't go too far into that area.
The main focus for us was focusing on ourselves, focusing on being able to play well together, trying to play as good as we can, like in scrims. We know that in scrims and practices in online tournaments as well, when we play close to our potential, nobody can beat us. So like for now, our main focus is to be able to replicate the performance in LAN.
Q: Ascent was Team Envy’s one of the strongest maps. How did the team manage to dominate and defeat them today on that map?
Nbs: We have a pretty good idea of how they play. Plus, also, we haven't played Ascent in a while. We played it at the Red Bull Home Ground Valorant tournament, and we learned a lot, and we improved it a lot, I think, as well. So we had, like, a pretty good idea and a pretty good game plan going into it. And honestly, I would say that Envy underperformed in Ascent.
I think that maybe they were also nervous, but I do believe that they didn't play as well as they could. It's no flame intended, but I just honestly think they didn't have a good map on buying. They came back way stronger. So you could also see that during the game just going into us, and we knew we could take it. We knew it's a really good map of this, but also we are expecting them to pick it from us. So we were ready.
Q: Talking about the second map, even though the team won on Bind, we saw the team losing the momentum after the score turned 10-3, which allowed Team Envy to win continuous seven rounds. What resulted in the team losing those rounds, and how did Acend manage to come back in the end?
Nbs: They played really well on the attack. They had, like, a good game plan. And it took us a while to find an answer to that, which resulted in us losing seven in a row. We tried to answer it first with a tactical pause. Then we took another one after a few more rounds because the thing we thought wasn't working, it was really them playing well and us not adapting fast enough.
But eventually, we did find how to answer their strategy and plan. And it worked well. I'm very proud that we managed to stay in the game and stay stronger mentally because it's not easy when you are 10-3 ahead, and then you lose seven in a row. It's really rough, and I'm very proud of our players.
Q: Acend has improved a lot as a team. What are some of the major changes you have brought to the team after their performance in the
Valorant Champions Tour Stage 3 Masters Berlin?
Nbs: I think the main change for us between Berlin and now is just the Valorant LAN experience. Honestly, we're trying to play the same game as we know we can online and in practice. We know that we are capable of being one of the best teams in the world. The only thing that kind of prevented us from doing that was the LAN experience.
We have a very young team. Berlin was, I think, the first one for the majority of the guys. So you can clearly see the pressure and the nerves really got to them. But now it's easier. It's still like we're definitely not there. Hopefully, towards the end of Valorant Champions, we can show our true form, like, actually show how good we can play. But I really think that it's going to get a better match to match. So I guess you can expect a really good balance from us.
Q: According to you, what are some of the strengths of Acend that sets them apart from other Valorant teams?
Nbs: I think our main strength maybe is our adaptability. And the players that we have, our players are really good at reading the map, reading the opponents and expecting what strategies are they going to use and then, of course, taking the right decisions around information that we have. I think that's the mainstream we have. Some Valorant teams are playing a similar style, but there are many teams playing super strategically. Some teams are playing super like default and very strict.
We are trying to be very fluid. You can say that we're trying to look for openings, look for information that we have, and try to beat the teams inside the map more than before. Of course, we do our research and preparations. That goes without saying, but we really focus on fundamentals, and we really focus on in-game fast decision making and reactions.
Q: With Acend’s massive win today, all EMEA teams in Valorant Champions qualify for the playoffs. What are your thoughts on the performance of Acend and all the other EMEA teams in the Valorant Champions when compared to other regions, especially NA?
Nbs: Honestly, throughout the year, everyone was saying that on social media, the experts, everyone, you know, for the majority of the year, people were saying that Sentinels is the best Valorant team, and then it is the EMEA region on top and then below that.
I think in Berlin, it was very clearly shown that NA and EMEA, both areas are very similar. We had one Valorant team each in the grand finals. We had, I think, two teams in the semis and then three teams in the quarter—a super-even performance from both regions so far from Valorant Champions. Yes, we have four seeds going out as in EMEA teams. That's a very good accomplishment for our region, I think. But as you saw as well, it wasn't easy. All the European teams had to sweat a lot, and the matches were really close in their groups.
So I don't think the gap between Europe and NA is that high. I think the skill is really tight. Also, I want to note that the other regions are also catching up to NA and EU. And I'm very pleased to see the way Brazilian teams are performing in the Valorant Champions, the way KRU are taking really good fights and maps with other people. And I think that the whole tournament is getting much more interesting when you have the skill gap way closer from top to bottom.
Q: Talking about the Brazilian Valorant teams, recently, Vivo Keyd was stuck in a controversy against your team, Acend, due to the Cypher camera bug exploitation at Breeze in Valorant Champions. What is your opinion on that matter?
Nbs: I don't really want to comment too much about the situation, but I do want to complement Brazil as a region. I think they are showing up a lot. I believe that in previous Valorant tournaments, they were lacking a little behind the Valorant meta. They were not playing Astra as much as other regions. I mean, so did Europe as well. We were like behind NA.
But for this tournament, I think all tournaments are within the meta, and Brazilians have really insane aimers. I think, especially with Vivo Keyd, we played against their players Heat and Mwzera, or they're so insane. I do think they will, in my opinion, they will beat Envy and come out of the group stage in the second spot. But it will be rough. It will be a tough game because both Envy and Vivo Keyd are great teams. So yeah, it will be very interesting to see.
Q: How confident are you on the team to win the Valorant Champions title this year? Also, What are some of the teams do you think can be a tough competition for the team in the playoffs?
Nbs: I honestly think in the quarter-finals and like in the playoffs, when we have only eight teams left, every opponent will be very good and tough. Even the groups. It's really hard. As I said, the gap would go way closer. So there are no easy games. Everyone is fighting here, giving their all, so there will be no easy games. I'm just looking to play whoever we get. I don't mind.
We played most of the teams, if not online, in tournaments. We play them in Scrims as well. We're pretty aware of all the Valorant teams that we might face. Speaking about our chances to win, I think that if we manage to keep improving, we can win the whole thing for sure.