Los Angeles Gladiators’ new signing Patiphan ‘Patiphan’ Chaiwong spoke to Dexerto about his decision to leave Valorant and return to Overwatch to further his esports career.
Patiphan quickly came to the realization that Valorant was only a short stop for him on his way to the Overwatch League.
The Thai phenomenon had retired from Overwatch in 2020, two years after exploding to stardom when he played for his country in the Bangkok qualifier for the Overwatch World Cup. Too young to enter the Overwatch League at the time, Patiphan decided to scratch his competitive itch in Valorant and try his hand at Riot Games’ FPS title.
To those who had watched Patiphan grow into one of Southeast Asia’s finest players in Overwatch, his rapid ascent to prominence in Valorant was anything but a surprise.
Patiphan attended two international events with X10, the VCT Stage 2 Masters and, more recently, Valorant Champions. He became an international sensation on and off the server, his elaborate walkouts in Reykjavík drawing almost as much buzz as his crazy plays in the game. It was also in that tournament that he formed a strong bond with Fnatic’s Jake ‘Boaster’ Howlett, calling it “love at first sight”.
When traveling to Berlin for Valorant Champions, Patiphan knew it was a farewell appearance for him. By then, he had already agreed to a move to the Los Angeles Gladiators, with whom he will finally realize his dream of playing in the Overwatch League.
“In Overwatch, there are more opportunities for me outside of Southeast Asia,” Patiphan explained to Dexerto. “Getting to live and play in America is something I cannot find anywhere else.
“Southeast Asia isn’t as competitive as other regions. If I were to play in a different region, I might have considered sticking to Valorant.”
Patiphan quickly became one of the best Valorant players in Asia, but his journey in the game was not all plain sailing. In July, he stepped down from X10 because of a wrist injury, returning to action several months later, just in time for Valorant Champions.
Before the international LAN, he told Dexerto that he was feeling “confident” about his level and “motivated” to perform in Berlin, and it showed. He helped X10 to a historical playoff run at the international event, playing a key role in the decider game against Envy to send the North Americans packing.
“It affected me mentally,” he said of his injury. “I went through tough moments back then, but things have changed and so has my mindset.”
Returning to Overwatch
Patiphan is the latest high-profile signing made by the Gladiators in the offseason. The Western Division franchise has also landed British support Daniel ‘FunnyAstro’ Hathaway and South Korean hitscan Lee ‘ANS’ Seon-chan, who won the 2020 championship with the San Francisco Shock.
Overwatch fans eager to watch Patiphan again will need to wait a few more months, with the next season of the Overwatch League, which will be played on an early build of Overwatch 2, scheduled to start only in April.
That’s a good thing, though, as he has a lot of catching up to do after over a year away from the game.
“I expect to struggle [initially], of course,” he said. “But I will get my rust off and be as good as I was.
“I am confident [I’ll return to my old level]. I just need time to get used to everything.”
On December 12, Patiphan posted a video on Twitter that left little doubt about his intentions. The video shows a player exiting Valorant to the desktop before the screen turns black.
In only a few days, the video has been viewed almost 280,000 times, with almost 17,000 likes – a reminder of Patiphan’s incredible popularity, which stretches far beyond Southeast Asia.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates just how naturally talented he is than his admission that his Valorant success came as a surprise to him. “I didn’t expect to be here playing at the highest level,” he said. To him, Valorant offered “a little break” until he was eligible to play in the Overwatch League.
“I’m grateful for what I accomplished in Valorant but this is not my stop,” he added. “I will always remember and be thankful for the people and friends who have supported me.”
The Overwatch scene is ready to welcome Patiphan back with open arms, thrilled at the return of a beloved son after a difficult year thick with uncertainty and volatility.
His departure will leave X10 and the Southeast Asian scene with a huge void to fill going into 2022. It will also certainly be felt by Boaster, who jokingly said on his stream that he would marry Patiphan one day.
“I wish him the best,” Patiphan said. “I will miss our moments.”