A New Chapter: How Version1 Can Put Torment Back On Top [Interview]
"Winning the World Championships is definitely the highlight of my career. It’s every player's dream!"
The story behind the former world champion, Kyle "Torment" Storer is one of the greatest tales in Rocket League history. From the emergence of the Muffin Men, to DreamHack Atlanta 2017, to becoming RLCS champions in Season 6, there are few narratives that have captured the hearts of the fans more than that of the ex-Cloud9 trio.
But even Romeo and Juliet ended in a fashion that wasn’t in the script, and for Torment and Jesus "gimmick" Parra, the next chapter of their novel is just unearthing. Discussing this with myself, an enthusiastic and confident Torment dove into the love story that was C9, why the grass could be greener at his new home at Version1, and how he is moving with the times to develop a whole new dynamic of his already esteemed Rocket League skill set.
The first place I want to start is, you’re a former world champion - not many players can say that. What was it like winning Rocket League's most esteemed title, and carrying that with you season after season?
Winning the World Championships is definitely the highlight of my career. It’s every player's dream, and honestly, when we won it back then I didn’t exactly expect to. I didn’t think this would be the LAN that we’d win, especially after dropping down the lower bracket in the first round and having to make that run. It was actually the most incredible weekend of my life, and I’m super happy getting that result.
Obviously that C9 roster won the hearts of many, what was it like when you found out that you will be leaving the organisation and roster split with Squishy joining NRG? Can you shed any light on what the vibe was between the three of you, and between you and gimmick?
So back when C9 left the scene it was pretty sad, obviously, especially with Squishy being sold to NRG. We originally thought we were going into the next season with the same roster, but it didn’t end up being that way. But that’s how esports is, that’s how the business is. It was pretty sad at the time but I'm happy where we are now.
Building on the split, was it ‘sold’ as in an agreement between the two orgs, or was it something Squishy wanted?
It was a bit of both, Cloud9 and NRG had come to a deal, but I think Squishy wanted it too. He’s good friends with Garrett and Justin too, so even though it was sad, it made sense.
- Read More - Our interview with Liquid Speed, discussing the Org signing, former and current teammates, and the new RLCS format
With you and gimmick forming Rat Enterprises, I think it’s fair to say the off-season didn’t quite go as planned. What was it like trialling out many different thirds, including Alexandre "AxB" Bellemare at the community events?
We never found the third that fits super well. We had some decent scrim results with certain players, but when it came to the qualifiers it never worked. That’s why when AxB became available, to the surprise of both of us [gimmick and Torment], we knew we had to try him. Honestly, the first week of our scrims was not insanely good, but we knew the potential we had. We knew how good AxB was. He was voted top three in the MVP last season, he was on Spacestation which was one of the best teams in NA, so it was pretty much a no brainer and I now think we’re in the best spot possible.
It was rumoured that a sub-branch of the Minnesota Rokkr (WISE Ventures) was due to be entering Rocket League for some time. What is it like representing a different organisation whose RL adventure is just beginning?
It’s exciting being a part of a new organisation. C9 is great with esports and it was good fun playing for them. Cloud9 definitely cared about us, but because they have so many different teams that you definitely don't seem like the main focus, especially because they’re huge in League of Legends and CS:GO for example. At Version1, we’re definitely treated as just one of two teams - they have the ROKKR in Call of Duty - so you’re treated with a lot of care and attention. It’s fun being a part of a new organisation who are near enough brand new in Rocket League.
With that move being completed, your roster now has a rather different dynamic than what we’ve seen you involved with in in the past. At C9, Squishy had that ability to do insane solo plays with him having more of a free role. Will AxB swap in like-for-like, or do you feel that you will have to adapt your whole team's playstyle to be successful this year?
The dynamic is definitely different now, especially between me and AxB, compared to how me and Squishy were. gimmick has always played the same, he’s always just played how he wants and we’ve played around him. With me and AxB, we’re more balanced now and we play around each other pretty well, and it’s freed me up a little bit too. I get to play more offence than I have done before, and I've been grinding a lot to improve in that area. I think we’re doing better and I hope we continue to get results and improve as a team and individually.g
Touching on what you said about your role, in the past, you have mainly been quite defensive. Do you feel like with this new roster and dynamic that you have more freedom to go forward and join the attacks?
Yeah. Squishy and gimmick would take on a lot of risky plays, most of the time with them paying off. But sometimes they didn’t, especially against the good teams, which would leave me back last on my own sometimes. Now we’re definitely safer and more rotational. Both [formations] were good, especially back in our prime C9 days but I’m pretty happy in how we play now.
That’s kind of the formation trend that’s being set. Rather than having one pivot, like you used to be at C9, with two more eccentric attacking players, it’s now turned into a more rotational triangle. Do you think adapting to this fares well against the best sides in NA, rather than how it has been in the last two seasons or so for you?
I definitely agree with that. The main thing is that with a dedicated third man (pivot) you’re usually moving pretty slow and hanging back a lot. But now the way that most of the top teams play in NA is that you often get demochased from behind now. Like pretty much every side, including the top four in NA, will have a player chasing, well at least one of their players. This means we have to move around a lot more on the pitch, you’re getting a lot more involved in offence instead of just hanging back, to make this harder for demo chasers to get you and get the advantage.
- Read More - Sebadam on his return to RLCS Action four years after his last appearance in RLCS Season 1
Without telling the world your gameplan, if you had to name one strength and one weakness of the team right now, what would you say they are?
Strengths - Our defence. We’re pretty consistent in defence right now, which is funny as back at C9 we weren’t known for that. I think AxB has brought a factor to the team that makes us super consistent on defence with our rotations, and we're not getting caught out.
Weaknesses - We haven’t come across any really, as of yet. Maybe our speed against the very fast top teams, but I wouldn’t say this is too much of a weakness.
Week 1 of The Grid seemed to be a positive result for you, beating XSET and Team Envy only to narrowly miss out to AxB’s former team after three overtimes? How is AxB finding embedding into Version1?
He’s fitting in well. We’re talking a lot since he joined and we’re working well in scrims together, and we’ve been scrimming more as well to make sure that fit works well and he can embed in the team. He seems pretty comfortable with me and we’re all comfortable with him too. Hopefully whenever the next LAN is we will get the chance to meet up. We’re actually already friends with AxB before he joined as we play a lot of other games with him, and with a group of other pros, so we’re already familiar with each other too, which is extra help.
Adding to that, what are your aspirations for Version1 in the first Regional Event? And on top of that, the RLCS X as a whole?
The minimum goal for the Regionals is top eight. Hopefully higher than that. We want a top-six finish to make the international major. That’s the plan at least.
I know it’s a long time away, but do you think you can challenge to be first at the Worlds and get yourself a second World Championship?
Yeah, I think so. I think if we get a few good regionals in, and get even better as a team. I hope I can keep improving individually, and I think I have been [improving] over the last few months, so with that, hopefully, we can challenge for the top.
Which team do you feel is most likely to rival you for first place in NA? Who do you think, apart from Version1, is the best team in NA right now?
I would definitely say NRG right now. I know they had a pretty bad Grid Performance but they’ll be back at it in the regionals, and they’ll be back near the top of NA.
Who do you look forward to playing/beating the most?
We’ve played most of the teams already, but I guess I look forward to the NRG matchup. Even though we haven’t had much success against them, playing against Squishy is fun. Also Spacestation, they’ve beat us both times we’ve played them but they’re fun to play against and I’m sure AxB wants his revenge.
Do you feel the revenge factor adds a little more to each spectacle?
Yeah. There’s definitely no hard feelings, but you know, it heats things up a little bit.
Kyle 'Torment' Storer remains just one of eighteen players ever to be crowned as a Rocket League esports world champion after his Season 6 success with that Cloud9 roster that we became so familiar with. With his eyes set firmly back on getting the trophy again this year, Version1 could be the home that can push him to the pinnacle of the game we have seen him conquer before. With AxB, Version1 look like a well oiled, all-round team.
Only time will tell, but is this the winning formula that himself and gimmick have been longing for since the last time they had their hands on the trophy?
Header image via Tim Bright.