Meet Arroz, the unsigned Valorant team that is raising eyebrows
Arroz, an unsigned Portuguese squad, has risen in prominence since its creation in May 2022, shooting up to 7th in VLR.gg’s European Valorant rankings. With a new Challengers league announced for the country, Arroz and some of its players have become a hot commodity.
The Arroz team came into The Crossfire Cup in September with high expectations, according to IGL Miguel ‘Bati’ Batista, but there were a few teams they did not want to face. Thankfully for the unsigned squad, they were seeded into Group C alongside teams they felt confident against, including KOI.
The two clashed on Haven in a best-of-one affair in which Arroz defeated the Spanish side 13-8. While Arroz was on the rise before the matchup, having placed first in Portuguese Valorant Regional Circuit Stage 1, defeating the high-profile team, whose organization has secured a spot in the VCT EMEA league, has drawn even more attention to the lineup.
“KOI have so many viewers and so many fans, and that gave us a lot of visibility to the outside world,” Arroz’s star teenager Tomás ‘tomaszy’ Machado told Dexerto in an interview.
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Arroz got its start like many other free-agent squads in esports. Paulo ‘Zino’ Figueiredo and tomaszy were looking to form a team, eventually linking up with Bati and David ‘DavidH’ Cruz. The squad was then finalized once Rui ‘VTaguT’ Ribeiro came on board and they started competing in April under the name Arroz (which means rice in Portuguese).
The squad is org-less, and many of the players are either in school or creating content on the side, but with their new-found success, they are hopeful of finding a home.
“We have offers right now,” Bati said. “I think that we just want the right organizations to pick us up because I think it’s not all about money. We have good offers in terms of money and stuff…I think it has to be a good org that gives you the support that you want to succeed and not just money.”
Bati said the team is not in a rush to sign with anyone at the moment. The Portuguese Valorant scene is also in a transitional period as the country is getting its own Challengers league, a step above the VRC, an amateur league with no connections to the wider VCT circuit, which it got in 2022.
Portuguese Valorant will look different in 2023
In 2023, Portuguese Valorant players will have their own league in which they will battle for the right to play in Challengers Ascension and compete for a spot in the EMEA-partnered league. Before this, Portuguese players had to compete in the Spanish Valorant Regional League, or other EMEA regional leagues, for a shot at tier-one competition.
The country also has few events for players to compete in, so going outside of Portugal to compete was a must, according to Bati.
“Portugal is not like the best region to compete in Valorant, we have some things like… at least we have a league. It’s not too bad. But, of course, we don’t have many events,” Bati said.
The new Portuguese Challengers will be good for the scene overall, according to Bati and tomaszy, but the players who used to play in the Spanish league might have a hard time adjusting to the new reality.
“If you come from the Spanish league… because you don’t have a spot in the Spanish league [anymore], you’re going to get a really high pay cut I guess, because you can’t compare the salaries in the Portuguese league and in the Spanish league,” the Arroz IGL said.
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But the new league does give Portuguese players a chance to shine as the Challengers league should feature more local players than the Spanish competition could due to regional restrictions.
One Arroz player, however, has already been courted to leave the region and represent Portugal at the highest level in the game.
tomaszy could be the next big thing for Portuguese Valorant
The 17-year-old player has only been competing in professional Valorant since the summer of 2022 and has become a sought-after name in the European scene and worldwide. The teenager even got an offer to play for the South American side Leviatán in 2023.
“I got an offer from a franchise [team] and I couldn’t accept it because of my age. When I got the news I was really sad but it’s fine. I need to grow up as a player and I’ll do everything to maybe next year or two years to be in tier one,” tomaszy said.
tomaszy is still in high school for the next year and is not yet old enough to join a partnered league squad. EMEA is his preferred region, but he said that he would like to compete in the Americas one day.
Bati said he would like to see a Portuguese player break out into tier one and show how talented the country is. tomaszy could be the player to do it. Right now, though, the teenager wants things to slow down as his career has gone from being an unknown player to getting scouted by top teams from across the world in a matter of months.
“Since I started playing Valorant, things are running too fast. I was not expecting to have a franchise offer… I think maybe I can slow down. I can play in Portugal, play in the Challengers [league], or maybe I’ll get the best offer of my life,” he said.
“It’s really uncertain.”
Arroz ended its Crossfire Cup run in the semifinals with a 3-1 loss to fellow Portuguese Valorant side Rebels Gaming, missing out on the chance to play Team Heretics in the final. The team has continued to climb the European rankings with a grand final win on LAN at the GameGune 2022 tournament on November 26.
In 2023, the squad hopes to have a slot in the Portuguese Challengers league and find an org to call home. But their future is still largely up in the air.
“I think that if we do stick together, because we would never know, being an org-less team means players might get poached at any time, and tomaszy was close to that. So we don’t know. In terms of the team, I think if we do stick together the goal is clearly going to win the Challengers league and get to Ascension,” Bati said.
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