Some CS:GO pros jumped on VALORANT to reinvent their career in esports. Here is GGRecon's analysis of what works for them and what doesn't.
Last week, Ze Pug Godz announced their roster with Cooper, MarkE, ANDROID, Infinite, and Zellsis. Ze Pug Godz is mostly made up of players from the former Swole Patrol squad. Cooper and MarkE never really left, and now just play under a different team name. Infinite and Zellsis, however, took a detour to VALORANT before finding their way back to Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Another Swole Patrol player, freakazoid, also decided to move to VALORANT, but he did not return like his former teammates.
Many pro players retired from CS:GO to pursue a career in VALORANT. The two tactical shooters are similar in many ways, but that doesn’t mean every ex-pro from CS:GO will automatically find success in Riot’s new FPS. We take a look at some notable examples and why VALORANT may or may not be a good fit for CS:GO players.
The VALORANT esports scene is young, but even in these early days, we see certain teams and players rise to the top. The PAX Arena Invitational saw Sentinels and Cloud9 in the finals. Eight out of the ten finalists at this tournament have a background in CS:GO. Sentinels also have two former Overwatch players, sinatraa and zombs, among them, and they definitely held their own against Cloud9’s full ex-CS:GO team. Still, it’s clear that players from CS:GO have a head start in competitive VALORANT.
Players like ShahZaM and Mixwell show that they have the skills to lead their squad to victory in convincing fashion. The two AWPers found their footing in VALORANT and dominate the competition seemingly without any difficulty. But what exactly makes VALORANT such a good fit for CS:GO pros?
At first sight, the mechanics of both games look identical, but they’re not. The player movement in VALORANT is slower than in CS:GO which makes it harder to peek around corners. Holding angles then becomes even more important. The overall slower movement means that skilled CS:GO players, who are used to quicker gameplay, have an easier time controlling the map.
Whereas smokes and flashes in CS:GO can take a lot of mechanical skill and knowledge of the maps to get them in exactly the right place, these utilities in VALORANT seem to be more tailored to beginners. An agent like Brimstone can put down smokes by clicking on the map, and Phoenix can flash around any corner. This makes it easier to get into the game – and not just for beginners. Smart, tactical players can use this to their advantage by focussing more on rotations than on smoke placement.
All in all, it’s a familiarity that helps out the CS:GO pros the most. Everyone can learn how to master a game like this, but while VALORANT is still in its infancy, the Counter-Strike players take the lead. The similar weapon arsenal with a well-known economy system makes them quick to adapt to a different tactical shooter.
Infinite and Zellsis from Ze Pug Godz were less lucky. Zellsis said that he was quitting CS:GO, as it looked unlikely they were going to find an organisation to represent. He took a chance with VALORANT, but it was short-lived. Both players looked to VALORANT as a chance to reinvent themselves and find a better source of income. But even with all their experience, they didn’t manage to stay with the new game. Maybe not every CS:GO pro is cut out for the agent-based shooter.
VALORANT’s agents and their abilities fundamentally change some of the core gameplay mechanics we see in CS:GO. Sova’s Recon Bolt and Owl Drone, Cypher’s Spycam, Raze’s Boom Bot, and Phoenix’s ultimate all can be used to scout and spot out players and rotations. There are ways to counter those abilities, too, but for some players, it might do more harm than good.
Some experienced players can rely on their aim to win rounds for their team. If they don’t manage to adapt to all these different abilities that VALORANT introduces, they can be rendered harmless by the other team. Operators, Riot’s equivalent of AWPs, are just as important for map control, but mainly riflers can be taken out with some well-placed abilities from the opposition.
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Even though CS:GO pros may specialise in a certain role on their team, any player can be aggressive or play a support role. In VALORANT, some agents work better than others in a particular role. This means it’s harder to switch things up in the middle of a match. davidp tries to prove everyone wrong with his aggressive Sage plays, so what agent can fill which role isn’t cut out in stone yet. Knowing what your agent is capable of is paramount to the success of your team. Finding the right agent and becoming comfortable with them is what creates the confidence needed to help the team to victory.
Ultimately, it’s too early to say how much CS:GO experience will play a role in competitive VALORANT in the long run. For now, it’s all about using that experience to get a head start in a similar – but different – game. Some players might need more time to adapt to VALORANT’s gameplay and its maps, and the time they need to get comfortable with that means they can’t profit from the early advantage they were banking on. In which case, it might be better for them to return to something they know, and more importantly, something they know they can compete in. And there’s absolutely no shame in that.
Images via ESL and Dreamhack