Valorant

ANGE1 interview: Why European Valorant is stronger than North America

by Andy Williams

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FunPlus Phoenix In-game Leader and CS:GO legend, Kirill 'ANGE1' Karasiow, has delved into why the likes of TSM and Sentinels aren’t “on the right path” compared with European Valorant.

Having competed in Counter-Strike for well over a decade, it’s safe to say ANGE1 knows a thing or two about competing at the highest level in a first-person shooter. Accustomed to the In-game Leader role for HellRaisers in CS:GO, Karasiow naturally fell into the same role when transitioning over to Valorant.

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Kickstarting his career in Future Earth with ‘PartyParrots’ saw ANGE1 and Andrey ‘Shao’ Kiprsky peak interest from the plethora of organizations looking for their slice of the Valorant pie. After going toe-to-toe with ‘FABRIKEN,’ the CIS pair teamed up with the Swedes to form an international squad under the FunPlus Phoenix banner.

In their debut Ignition Series tournament, FPX made a statement by taking down G2 Esports 2-0. Since then, ANGE1 and co. have lost all three of their encounters with the European super team. But nonetheless, the squad shows promise and are tipped to be hot on the heels of G2 in the upcoming BLAST Valorant Invitational. We spoke with ANGE1 ahead of the event, to see exactly how he plans on replicating his organization’s success in yet another Riot title.

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ANGE1 competing in CSGO StarLadder event.
StarLadder
ANGE1 has competed at the highest level in CS:GO, and he's leading his FPX lineup to the top in Valorant.

ANGE1: North American Valorant is lagging behind

Coming over from competing in Counter-Strike on the international stage lends itself well to having an eye for the meta. While it’s one thing being able to anticipate what your regional opponents might do in a given situation, it’s a completely different ball game being able to pinpoint what teams from other regions will do and counter that accordingly — especially in a new game, where teams are yet to meet on the international stage.

Well, this doesn’t seem to phase ANGE1, who reckons North America are “not on the right path” — with the exception of Sentinels, who according to FPX’s IGL still lack “team play moments.” The FPS veteran reckons European teams are more structured and utilize Agents much more efficiently by comparison. To understand this, ANGE1 drew comparison to Phoenix usage. In the recent NA Pop Flash event, the fiery Duelist was the fifth most popular Agent (even ahead of Sage). Whereas on the other side of the pond, in the EU’s LVL Clash 2 event, Phoenix was almost the least-picked Agent, with only Reyna being picked on fewer occasions.

And this is the epitome of where NA Valorant is going wrong, according to ANGE1, since Pheonix’s utility is relatively poor across the board. “He doesn’t have the best flashes, and there are molotovs better than his — he’s too much of a Duelist… I feel like NA is counting more on individual performance, whereas Europe is building everything around team play.” Of course, ANGE1 did acknowledge that his observations will only be truly tested during the first international tournament.

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Valorant Agent Phoenix.
Riot Games
Despite being a consistent pick in NA, ANGE1 believes Phoenix isn't the hottest Duelist right now.

G2 vs FPX: Building on the League of Legends rivalry

While the head-to-head record currently stands at 3-1 in favor of G2, FPX have shown drastic improvement from their first couple of Ignition Series events. With ANGE1 at the helm, he’s hell-bent on creating a consistent team. To do this, his international squad have been nailing down clear-cut comms and also building more structure into the team.

“Right now, as an In-game Leader, I’m just focusing on this part… Just building for everyone to understand what you should expect from your teammates.” And while the 30-year-old understands that this is a gradual process, he’s also confident that if his team clutches up during key moments, that they have what it takes to go all the way during the final European Ignition Series event.

On top of covering the current international landscape of Valorant esports, ANGE1 also delved into the effect of Patch 1.07 on the meta and what lured him away from Counter-Strike to pursue a career in Riot’s Future Earth.

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Catch the full 17-minute interview in the header of this article.