Valorant enthusiasts all over the world witnessed Team Liquid and Gambit Esports battle it out in a best-of-three series to kick off the Stage 1 EMEA Challengers of VCT 2022.
Two of the top four teams from Valorant Champions 2021 competed on the main stage almost two months since their previous outing. With both rosters unchanged, the audience expected a feast from the matchup.
The match concluded on a 2-0 scoreline in Gambit's favor, as Liquid failed to convert rounds on Icebox (13-9) and Breeze (13-8). Gambit currently tops Group A of the tournament's Group Stage.
In a conversation with Sportskeeda Esports' Adarsh J Kumar, Team Liquid's Nivera discussed Liquid's preparation for the tournament and the changes in the team composition, among other things.
Team Liquid Nivera comments on squad's preparation for Valorant Champions Tour 2022
Q: It's been a couple of months since we saw Team Liquid in action. How did the team prepare for the tournament?
Nivera: After the Valorant Champions tournament, we had a break for one month. After that, we played for three weeks. Some of us were traveling, so we didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But recently, it has been getting better. We're getting back to our level.
We knew that Gambit would be a really tough team to beat as they are one of the best, if not the best. We prepared really well over the last couple of weeks, but didn't have as much time as we would've wanted.
Q: It's your first time playing against Gambit Esports. After seeing their performance at the Champions last year, what do you think has improved on their side?
Nivera: They're getting better and better with each tournament. I really like their coach and staff; they work a lot in the game. Since all five of their players are young, they are really strong individually. They are disciplined as well, so they have everything they need to succeed.
I think Gambit is one of the strongest Valorant teams right now. They're on par with Acend, but can be better than them in the future, for sure.
Q: Since Valorant Champions 2021, Chamber and Neon have joined the Agent pool. We saw Jamppi pick up Chamber for the first time today. How comfortable is Team Liquid with the Agent?
Nivera: Every time Valorant adds new Agents, the meta changes. We picked up Chamber quite recently, so we're not at our best with the Agent. We need more time to practice with the new Agents.
I think we're really thankful that the format of the tournament requires us to play only one match per week. We have plenty of time to prepare, which can work in our favor.
Q: What is your take on Neon? Have Team Liquid tried to incorporate the Agent into the lineup during practice?
Nivera: We tried Neon during the initial days of release and it went really well. But, as is the situation with Chamber, we need more time with the Agent. Everything is almost new when a new Agent is released.
That's why we didn't play Neon today. We've already tried it in practice and we know how to work with Neon. So who knows, we might try it out in an actual match in the future.
Q: In your match in Breeze, ScreaM surprised everyone by picking Skye, and it was the first time we saw him on the Agent. What led to the change?
Nivera: ScreaM is a really strong Skye player. We didn't train as much as we wanted to, so he couldn't show his full potential. I think he's just as good with Skye as he is with Reyna and Jett, which is why he picked up the Agent in the first place.
ScreaM can play whatever he wants. If he wanted to play Reyna, he could've. But he wanted to play Skye because the Agent has good chemistry with Sova. Even Gambit had both Agents in their lineup. It's a really good combo, so he went ahead with playing Skye. He will prove how good he is with the Agent in some of the upcoming matches.
Q: We saw Jamppi excel on Chamber today. Much like him, you're known for weilding the Operator in Valorant and the AWP in CS: GO. Considering that, have you thought about picking up Chamber anytime soon?
Nivera: I tried Chamber out, but Jamppi is the main OPer for the team. So we decided to assign Chamber to him, with me continuing my usual role.
The problem is, I cannot play Jett because of how aggressive the Agent is. It's not really my playstyle. That's why I can't play an Agent that's suited for the Operator. Maybe we can find a solution for a double Operator setup in the future.
Q: Team Liquid concluded VCT 2021 as one of the world's best Valorant teams. What can we expect from your team at the Stage 1 EMEA Challengers?
Nivera: As I mentioned before, we lack preparation due to a variety of reasons. We're going to do our best at this tournament. We aim to eventually reach the finals, but our main focus right now is to complete the group stage and enter the playoffs.
We know every team has been practicing a lot. Each of the teams and their players are stronger than last season. We'll have to work really hard to get what we want.