As Bonk quickly climbs the ladder, it is time to learn how they got there
The European VALORANT space is fluctuating, and Bonk is leading the charge. Filled with familiar faces like Malkolm "bonkar" Rench and Yacine "Yacine" Laghmari from the old Ninjas in Pyjamas roster, as well as players like Aron "xajdish" Fredriksson, Leo "ziz" Jannesson and Saif "Sayf" Jibraeel, Bonk have set high expectations for themselves as they entered their next event together, and from the outset, it looks like all their hard work has been paying off. Bonk coach Salah "Salah" Barakat spoke to GGRecon about the team’s preparation going into the Mandatory.gg Cup and their position in the hierarchy of European VALORANT teams.
Author’s Note: This interview was conducted before the start of Mandatory.gg Cup.
Before we dive into results and strict gameplay topics, could you talk a little about each player’s personality and their role socially within the team? For example, who would be the first person to crack a joke? Who is the person that tends to lead the team both in-game and out of the game?
I think we have a great social environment in the team, and we have some older and younger guys, which allows us to have all aspects of a social structure. Yacine is an extremely upbeat and uplifting person. I think it shows even in his playstyle that he is an erratic and crazy guy. [He] and Bonkar as the senior players of the team are like duo leaders, Yacine is the guy who I can rely on to get the players going emotionally, hype them up and make us laugh. Bonkar is very good at forcing focus and leading. In the game, we are all professional and only want to win, but outside we get along well.
The team was recently listed as one of ESPN’s top ten teams in Europe at the moment? What does that kind of recognition mean for the team?
Honestly, we were disappointed by it. I think us and others are aware that without a doubt we are a top team. We are sure that soon not only our gameplay and scrim bucks will prove that but our results too.
Recently we’ve seen Party Parrots disband, does this concern you guys at all about the future? Is the team worried about not getting picked up at all?
To be honest, it’s not really something we focus on. We are simply focusing on being the best team in Europe. We have had offers, but we prefer to wait for the right one, our expectations from an org are high not necessarily just monetarily either, we want an org that can enable and push us to be the best.
Let’s talk about the Vitality European Open. Technically speaking you guys finished the event with a higher round differential than the team that advanced to the playoffs. In retrospect, how do you feel you performed at the event?
I think with the eye test, we were the best team there, but we were unlucky with certain aspects. While there were some mistakes, we took it largely as a learning experience as it was soon after our line ups inception, we were exposed to the things that we had to work on early in our line ups tenure and were able to fix them early. For this reason, I am happy we didn’t have a ‘honeymoon’ phase. We believe the bounce back from that event is going to be colossal.
The style we are trying to create will, in my opinion, be a cornerstone of VALORANT esports history.
- Salah "Salah" Barakat
One of the next events you’ll be attending is the Mandatory.gg Cup, could you detail some of the preparations you guys have done going into this event?
We are currently in a boot camp. We believe that this boot camp will be the catalyst for our future success, we have been able to talk about everything in person, which is vastly more beneficial, the team bonding has been great. Being able to sit in a group of 6 and talk about various things to do with our game and ethos as a team has been amazing. However, we are not preparing for this tournament or any tournament in particular. We are preparing to create an era for ourselves, be the Astralis of VALORANT. We want to be best in the near and far future, and I think that is very obvious by the way we crafted the roster and the style of game we are trying to play, we think that the current meta is a flash in the pan. The style we are trying to create will, in my opinion, be a cornerstone of VALORANT esports history.
Granted, COVID doesn’t allow for a real read on the locker room, what is the general feeling within the team at the moment? Are there any expectations going into the Mandatory.gg Cup? How confident do you all feel heading into the event?
Right now we are confident, we all feel great, to be frank. With the addition of Aron, we reinvented our foundation to be healthier and better, Mandatory will be a testing ground for this rebuild, so whatever happens, we will have a result we can build upon.
Images via Riot Games