Valorant

DickStacy interview: Oceania’s first Kings of Valorant

by Andrew Amos

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Ollie ‘DickStacy’ Tierney was the enigmatic face of one of Australia’s most beloved Counter-Strike rosters, Grayhound Gaming. Like many others though, he’s taken the plunge into Valorant, and has cemented himself as one of the best in the region after taking home the ORDER Oceanic Valorant Open.

DickStacy is loved in Oceania. The name turns heads regardless, but he’s got the extroverted personality to back it up. He’s bold, without being brash, and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

However, those values were arguably the keys to the Counter-Strike star’s success. After getting his competitive start in 2017 on Dark Sided, the Big Rig quickly asserted himself as one of the region’s best entry fraggers on Grayhound.

DickStacy playing at the Berlin Major CS:GO
StarLadder
DickStacy made a name for himself on Grayhound and Renegades in CS:GO.

Across his three-year stint in Valve's FPS, he won numerous regional titles, made it to big name events like IEM Sydney and DreamHack Masters, and is one of only a handful of Aussies to make it to a Major.

Now, he’s taken his talents to Valorant. Joining forces with some of Australia’s most talented Counter-Strike players on Team Launch, DickStacy managed to nab another crown for himself as Oceania’s first Ignition Series champion during the ORDER Oceanic Valorant Open.

“It definitely feels good because we definitely put a bit of hard work and a few theory sessions in the weeks coming up to [the ORDER Oceanic Valorant Open],” he told Dexerto. “Over the four week span we didn’t drop a map, so it’s a very good feeling knowing that our hard work [has paid off].”

Sova's place in the current meta

DickStacy plays a flex role on Team Launch. He plays a mixture of Breach and Sova, emulating a style of play akin to what has been developed in Europe. While the former is a more niche pick for teams right now, he took to it with the same poise he showed on his entry to Counter-Strike.

The same goes for Sova, who Tierney used in the final series against EXO Clan exquisitely to take home the title. He spoke candidly about the Russian’s power, despite it being a big shift from the roles he used to play in Counter-Strike.

“I think Sova is one of the best characters in the game. I only really play Sova when we play Ascent because you need him to get the information because the rotations are so long, so your Recon Darts have a lot of value compared to like a Duelist character.

“I like how safe he is in the way you use him, you can always get the information before and calculate the best fight to take and the best position to hold yourself in. It’s a bit different to CS:GO when I was a bit of a run-and-gunner.”

Adapting to Valorant from CSGO

The abilities in Valorant might be in stark contrast to what DickStacy was used to in CS:GO. However, the fundamentals of the game have ensured an easier transition to Riot’s title compared to others coming from Overwatch, Fortnite, and more.

“I think mindset-wise and rotation-wise, it’s very similar to CS. Obviously five-versus-five, two bomb sites ⁠— except Haven ⁠— but overall mechanically, aim-wise, it’s very similar to CS:GO, so the transition is probably the easiest out of all esports. There’s a lot of Overwatch players and Fortnite players who have come across, and I think their transition is much harder.

“Abilities wise, I think it’s pretty easy to pick up. At the start we struggled because we just wanted to take aim duels, but once we learned that the abilities were overpowered, we talked about how we get the most value out of it. It molded quite nicely into our already gifted gaming.”

While abilities could be seen as the biggest learning curve for DickStacy and the rest of Team Launch, they are confident in their own abilities to theory-craft not just what works, but what works for them. Other teams in Oceania might have followed in the steed of the early American Valorant meta, with a heavy focus on Duelists, but Launch believes their “outside-of-the-box view” of the game has given them the tools to succeed over their opposition.

“What we do in Counter-Strike is we just see what the Americans and Europeans are doing and try and mend that into our gameplay,” Tierney reflected. “I want to have an outside-of-the-box view of it and take the best of both worlds and try to experiment with it in our own regard because there’s just so many different ways to play this game.”

“The Americans are quite frag-heavy, they want to take a lot of fights, their aim is nuts, but I feel like our team has a better view of the game than the American scene.”

This is also why DickStacy has admiration for Europe’s Kings of Valorant, G2 Esports. The multi-national squad has dominated every single event they’ve entered, with a read of the game better than anyone else out there.

“G2 are pretty nuts. How they use their utility and abilities as a team, and certain defense setups that they run with Cypher ⁠— it’s just nice how they play off information and how they do certain traps to make a gamble stack. It’s a very basic example, but how they play off information is fascinating to me.”

While the game is new, Team Launch has one leg up on every other team in Australia... experience. Between the five of them, there’s over 30 years of competitive experience at the top-level. However, this experience doesn’t really factor into their gameplay in Valorant, Tierney admitted. After all, they just love the game.

“I think we are just a step-up in the way we think about the game. I don’t really think that comes from experience, but literally the way you think about the game as a team and you need to all be on the same page.

“I don’t really feel the pressure anymore, like at all. When it comes to gaming, you’ve only got a limited window to play it, and you’ve gotta love doing it, and I’m like ‘why don’t I just try and play at my best?’

“I know it sounds very cliche and it’s not really helpful, but at the start of my CS career I felt the pressure because I wanted to prove myself. Because of my achievements and just how much I love the game, I don’t really feel it anymore because I just want to perform at my best.”

Valorant Agents in the pro meta

Moving onto the the character meta, DickStacy had a few choice words for one Agent in particular. “Okay, so there’s a character called Raze in Valorant who has a rocket that one-hit kills everything and you can’t actually kill her when we actually does it because she propels backwards and you can’t even see her because the rocket is obscuring your vision ⁠— that has to go,” he laughed.

So what about Valorant's forthcoming Agent, Killjoy? While the community consensus has been overall outrage since the German Technician’s reveal, the jury is still out for Tierney. Her kit has the potential to be overpowered, but it’s all about numbers.

“I feel like we need more specific details on how her abilities are used because I feel like she’s going to be really [overpowered] or kind of useless. As an example, her turret spawns and shoots an enemy, but if Riot makes it so that once you walk a certain distance away from the turret [as Killjoy] it despawns itself, I think that is completely the way to go,” he said.

“However, if it’s like a Cypher trap, when you can just leave it there and walk to the other side of the map, and it’s still there, and you have information from it, that’ll be cooked. Obviously from the video, it looked like the damage wasn’t too high, but if that thing can one-hit kill you, that’ll be f**ked.”

Killjoy in Valorant
Riot Games
DickStacy believes Killjoy is either going to be overpowered, or useless.

Is Valorant the Counter-Strike killer?

Valorant is exploding in popularity in Oceania, with almost 400 teams signing up for the first Ignition Series event. Naturally, this does apply some tension on Counter-Strike in the region. Once upon a time, everyone packed into Qudos Bank Arena to chant “give us a major.” However, competitors are flocking away from the Valve title at an alarming rate, which is cause for concern according to DickStacy.

“[Valorant] doesn’t help CS:GO grow. A lot of tier two players have come over to Valorant because they want something new, something refreshing. I think that’s a part of Valve not having too much of an impact in our region, and also just our region not having the infrastructure to progress unless you’re number one. You’re not really getting that experience, you’re not really getting that opportunity.”

Being number one, though, is exactly what DickStacy is used to. He was at the top in Counter-Strike, and now he’s at the top in Valorant. He plans on keeping it that way too, and hopefully proving to not only Oceania, but the world, that he and Team Launch has what it takes to compete with the cream of the crop.

“Being the top dog at the moment and having these teams chase at us is awesome, because they’re obviously watching the way we play and not necessarily counter-stratting, but copying us and seeing if they can run it better than we do. It’s obviously up to us to adapt and stay a level ahead, which I think we are very capable of.”