Ronnie ‘Talespin’ DuPree, the General Manager of Envy’s Valorant squad, says that the organization has pulled out all the stops to build a title contender.
After six months of near misses and what-ifs, the third place at the VCT NA Stage 3 Challengers Playoffs represented a genuine breakthrough moment for Envy’s Valorant section.
The team had consistently been knocking on the door of North America’s elite, having placed fourth in Masters One and in the Stage Two Challengers Finals. They also finished just outside the podium in the Stage Three Challengers 1 event.
For Envy to get out of that rut, they would need to splash the cash on a high-profile new arrival.
Jaccob ‘yay’ Whiteaker entered the summer season as one of the hottest names in North American Valorant while playing for Andbox. A former Counter-Strike player with a rather undistinguished career in Valve’s first-person shooter, yay has found his spark in the new game, earning the nickname ‘El Diablo’ — which translates as ‘The Devil’ — for his strong performances in scrims and official games.
Envy had moved quietly to sign Jimmy ‘Marved’ Nguyen on loan from FaZe. But to pull off such a coup, they had to get involved in a bidding war as several other organizations were also in the running for the Andbox star.
“We had had our eye on yay for a while, starting back to when we first had to find a replacement for kaboose,” Talespin told Dexerto. “At the time we weren’t able to make anything happen and were fully committed to playing out this tournament with Marved as the only roster change.
“Shortly after the Stage 3 open qualifiers, we were made aware of yay’s availability and we had a difficult decision to make. At this point, we had a little over a week before our next match so a decision had to be made fairly quickly in order to get any practice time at all beforehand.
“mummAy had been with us since the very start and is an amazing teammate. Only a player of yay’s caliber would make us consider a change like this. After a very tough internal discussion, everyone agreed it would be worth the risk so we contacted Andbox and got yay here as fast as we could.”
yay was officially announced on August 5, less than a week before the Challengers Playoffs. Envy made the most of that time as they went on to defeat TSM, FaZe and XSET in the tournament, while pushing Sentinels and 100 Thieves to their limit in tight affairs.
With the bronze secured, Envy earned the right to represent North America at the upcoming VCT Stage 3 Masters in Berlin, where they will test their skills against some of the world’s strongest teams.
“It definitely feels good when hard work pays off, and the team has been putting in a ton of effort,” Talespin said. We had consistently placed around top four in tournaments but had difficulty closing them out and playing up to our potential.
“Even though third place might not seem like a huge improvement, we only had four days to prepare for that event, and everyone on the team feels that we’re just getting started.”
Shortly after Envy locked in the spot in Berlin, the team’s head coach, Michael ‘Mikes’ Hockom, announced that he will not be able to attend the event due to passport issues.
And while this could impact the team’s preparations and mid-game adjustments, Talespin ruled out bringing in a new coach just for this one tournament.
“Mikes will still be helping us prepare during our bootcamp prior to Berlin and any practice sessions while we’re there,” he explained. “We don’t plan on bringing anyone else with us.
“Unfortunately, he won’t be able to join any match lobbies during the competition but he’s going to do his best to make sure we’re ready ahead of time.”
The sky is the limit
Envy are expected to have a busy end-of-the-year schedule, with the team well in the running for a place at Valorant Champions. There are a number of avenues for them to qualify for the event, from winning Masters Berlin to merely watching one of their North American rivals claim victory in Germany.
Because of this, fans might have to wait quite a bit for updates on Marved’s situation and on whether the organization will be looking to make the deal permanent.
Talespin was coy when asked about the FaZe loanee’s future, but he admitted that the early impressions of the player have been nothing but positive.
“Marved is a great player and he has been a huge asset since the day he joined the team,” Talespin said. “He’s very unselfish and has a great attitude so we’ve never had any issues integrating him into the lineup regardless of the agent we needed him to play.
“I can’t speak on the duration of the loan, but I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that he has the talent to be a permanent part of Envy.”
Over a year has passed since Envy entered Valorant, and things are starting to congeal for them. It has taken a few roster changes for Envy to get to this point — Pujan ‘FNS’ Mehta is the only remaining member of the original lineup —, but the team’s future looks bright.
The VCT NA Challengers Playoffs provided a first peek at what the new Envy squad is capable of. Now it’s all about putting in the work and ironing out the flaws within their game to enter the next stage of their development — challenging for titles.
“Envy has invested a lot into the Valorant team and making sure the players are happy,” Talespin said. “From having a facility in Dallas for the players to practice out of to making the necessary roster changes and buyouts, Envy has been willing to commit every step of the way.
“Valorant has a bright future and our goal is to be the best team in the world so we’re going to do everything we can to make that a reality. We believe every roster decision we’ve made over the last year has been a smart investment and has gotten us to the point where we can be serious contenders.
“We have a lot of faith in the current lineup and are excited to see how they perform with some more practice time under their belt.”