Finding value in a familiar home with a new environment.
Since its debut in 2020, Riot Games’ VALORANT has been steadily rising and attempting to solidify its place into the upper echelon of top tier esports if it hasn’t already. Riot’s tactical first-person shooter has been a massively successful and widely popular endeavour, and its competitive scene has been churning out stunning tournaments and iconic moments even through the difficulties of online-only events. Even before its release, VALORANT esports was looked at with unabated eagerness and hype, with many believing the game to be the esports industry’s next top dog, and a certain surefire hit for the gaming market.
Everyone was clamouring for a game that would shake up the scene and provide an all-new environment to compete in. More than enough players and teams were willing to bet all into the prospect of hitting it big in esports’ hottest new opportunity. Big-name organisations like TSM, Cloud9, and FaZe Clan were on the spot immediately, and former scene defining players like Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella, or Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, all departed the games they once called home for the chance at a new story and new competition.
However, amidst all roster announcements and subsequent professional retirements from those who used to compete in other games, there were a couple of players who chose not to make the transition immediately. Plenty of people were willing to pack their bags and head straight for greener pastures, so to speak, but some had to lull out the decision for just a little longer, really give it time to bake in the oven. One of those players was Gen.G’s Kenneth "koosta" Suen, a six-year veteran of North American Counter-Strike, one of the latest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) pros to make the jump to VALORANT, and Gen.G’s trusted Sentinel specialist. Koosta sat down with GGRecon to look back on his career, and what he hopes to accomplish in his newest endeavour.
“I’ve been playing FPS games since I was 3; one of my first memories is of my brother and I 1v1ing on de_dust in Counter-Strike 1.6 and getting destroyed. In the following years, I played a few different games (Battlefield 2, Alliance of Valiant Arms, TF2, Quake 3 CPMA) and always wound up playing them in some sort of competitive manner.”
Koosta eventually began to try and balance the life of playing semi-professional CS:GO while maintaining his responsibilities as a college student at Rutgers University. Throughout his first year in school, there was an attempt to do well in classes while also playing a good amount of online and smaller LAN events with his first two teams, but ultimately it was not working out. Yet, in 2016, the grinding and time he put into CS bore fruit with a new chance at an exciting prospect.
“My first opportunity to make a career out of Counter-Strike came with Team Liquid. I had just finished the first semester of my sophomore year in college, and for the past year and a half, I was playing CS during the day and hanging out with my friends when they were done with classes at night. I also took a lot of 8 am classes in my freshman year, thinking that it would help me have a good schedule, but that was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. I might be a doctor right now if I wasn’t so naive. The decision to pursue the opportunity that I had required a lot of deliberation -- my friends and teammates were very supportive, but my parents were strongly against.”
Obviously, koosta made the decision to pro, with a bittersweet mix between getting a chance to play for one of gaming’s most high-profile teams, and probably being a better option than trying to salvage his grades by retaking a lot of classes. Nonetheless, it was an exciting time for him, as he would play at this first big LAN tournament with Liquid, Dreamhack Open Austin 2016, where the team finished 3rd, and after his albeit brief time on TL, would go on to become a mainstay player for Counter Logic Gaming from 2016-2017.
Koosta made a career from his time in North American Counter-Strike; after his time at CLG, he would go in between teams for much of 2018-2019, and after a brief stay on Cloud9 near the end of 2019, finally found his last home in his CS career with Gen.G, Here he played his final year of Counter-Strike amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and by 2021 would make the decision to transition into VALORANT, after much deliberation.
“Most of my adult life has been spent playing CS, and it has had a huge impact on my personal growth. I don’t think the attachment will ever fade, and that’s why I had a hard time switching games until it seemed like the end was nigh."
It was time for a change, time for a new environment and focus for a competitor like koosta, and Gen.G was more than happy to give him the opportunity. Their COO&CGO Arnold Hur, had this to say about what koosta brings to Gen.G VALORANT.
"Koosta is a great competitor who has proven himself within the CS:GO community, and with our team, so it wasn’t a difficult decision to bring him onto our VALORANT team. We enjoyed having him on our CS:GO team and knew what kind of potential he had in VALORANT, so it was actually a seamless transition... He, by far, performed the best out of everyone that we trialled despite his limited experience with the game. At that point, it was a no brainer; we had to take a chance and make the move to sign koosta."
This opportunity in VALORANT means to me that I still have value as a player and therefore have earned myself the privilege of another contract length’s worth of time where I can try as hard as I can to win at a video game.
- Kenneth "koosta" Suen
It's safe to say koosta's certainly making the impact the team is expecting out of him so far. A 2v1 clutch to grasp victory at the final moment is nothing short of a pinpoint example of a player proving their worth on a roster. Between his mixture of veteran experience, good mechanics, and "big-brained" approach, koosta is looking like the complete package for Gen.G, one who secured them a spot in the North American Challengers 2 bracket.
"He’s the type of guy to send walls of texts at 3am talking about how he has an idea for a post plant. He’s one of the voices that really helps evolve our approach as a team to the game, and we’re extremely excited to tap into his wealth of experience at the esports top level and help guide the development of our young team. We know there is still a lot to learn with any new game, but we’re committed to winning for our #TigerNation fans who demand championships."
While the road to a championship is still considerably far away, Gen.G have been slowly but surely, putting themselves in a position for success, as the VALORANT competitive season continues to progress, and the team continues to get better and better. But even harder opponents await them in Challenger 2, and it's up to koosta and the rest of the Gen.G to rise to the occasion and really prove this is a squad that has what it takes to be winners.
Images via ELEAGUE | DREAMHACK