With NA Valorant roster, G2 get flexibility and a new young star

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G2 Esports have announced a new, North America-based Valorant roster for the 2023 season, led by Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan and coached by Ian ‘Immi’ Harding. Dexerto spoke with Immi about how the team came together and his expectations for the new year.

VCT North American Challengers continues to look more and more competitive as organizations assemble rosters for the 2023 season. On December 12, G2 Esports threw their hat into the ring with the announcement of an eye-catching roster headlined by former Sentinels duo ShahZaM and Michael ‘dapr’ Gulino.

The team will be coached by ex-Version1 coach Immi, who reunites with two of his players, Erik ‘penny’ Penny and Maxim ‘wippie’ Shepelev. That team notably attended the first international Valorant LAN, VCT 2021 Stage 2 Masters Reykjavík, finishing 5th-6th.

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G2 turned to VCT Challengers after failing to secure a slot in the Americas VCT partnership league. According to a report by The Washington Post, G2’s bid for a slot was rejected at the last minute following the controversy involving then-CEO Carlos Rodríguez and Andrew Tate.

Other high-profile organizations, like Shopify Rebellion, M80, The Guard, and FaZe Clan, are also putting together ambitious Challengers rosters as they hope to secure promotion to the partnership league.

“It actually might be more interesting to watch the Challengers league than the actual franchise league,” Immi said. “But I think with the experience we have, with the talent we have, we should be top two, we should be winning Challengers Ascension, and we should be going up to the franchise league.”

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Immi said that he rejected approaches from EMEA partner teams as he wished to continue his career in North America. There was also an offer from Cloud9, but a move failed to materialize.

“Then G2 came in and I decided to take their offer because they’re my dream org,” the British coach said.

G2 Esports’ roster construction

Immi said that his philosophy around constructing his new roster was flexibility, which meant getting players that could slot into multiple roles. He also wanted to have a dedicated in-game leader, pointing to Version1’s struggles after the team lost Anthony ‘vanity’ Malaspina to Cloud9.

“We didn’t know where the agents were going to be, or what the meta was going to be, so I wanted very flexible players,” he explained. “Penny is actually not going to be playing a duelist role, which is going to be very new, but I know how good he is on every agent because his aim is insane so he’s going to be on the flex role.

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“So dapr will go back onto the Sentinel role and then everyone else is just so flexible. The philosophy is to be able to build and create whatever we want to do.”

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Not qualifying for the partnership league will be “a massive failure”, Immi says

G2 tried out a few different young players to fill their fifth spot as Immi began looking for the next young star. In the end, the team settled on ‘OXY’, who has bounced around amateur teams and filled in for some tier-two squads.

“OXY seemed like the guy that was ready, he had a lot of good comms and he had a good agent pool,” Immi said. “It made sense to go with him.”

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G2’s team has no plans to compete in any tournaments ahead of the Challengers open qualifiers on January 9. According to Immi, everyone is laser-focused on breaking into the partnership league through the promotion tournament at the end of the season.

“I don’t expect Challengers not to work out. If it doesn’t, then it’s a massive failure on my part, and I’ll take responsibility for that. I expect it to work out,” Immi said.

G2 Esports Valorant roster:

  • Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan
  • Michael ‘dapr’ Gulino
  • Erik ‘penny’ Penny
  • Maxim ‘wippie’ Shepelev
  • ‘OXY’
  • Ian ‘Immi’ Harding (coach)