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In this interview, we spoke to Giant's Žygimantas "nukkye" Chmieliauskas on finding a home with Giants ahead of the VCT 2023 season, treating every opponent with respect, and why he is thankful to Giants for bringing him onto the team.

Hi, thank you so much for joining me. I just wanted to ask you, just going into this matchup against DFM. First LOCK//IN match for the Giants. What are your initial thoughts or preparation going into this matchup? Was it just focused on you playing your own game? Or was it some extensive preparation for the DFM team?

There was no extensive preparation. We just played our own game with a couple of rounds with set plans, but that's it. We had to play our own game because there's really no footage about them. In the region, there was a few matches, but, I couldn't even count them as proper evidence of how they play. So we had to play around the game with no info.

Giants looked really strong in that matchup. I want to just dip back to the G-Loot VALORANT Clash, where the team looked unstoppable until Parla Esports. After the tournament, how did that change some of the preparation going into LOCK//IN. What were some of the thoughts you had as a team after that loss?

I mean, Parla played very good. They were very good (together) for a period of time. They were a stable team and they’ve been together for quite some time, too. The first thing is everybody was playing new roles, completely new roles. So it was kind of a learning experience for us.

That's why we played in the tournament. So we can learn how to play officials(professional matches) in our new roles. It was going quite well. There was quite a few shaky moments. That's why we lost and then from then on, all we need is more time to develop as players on roles and also as a team, because we're still building our plan. To build a plan, we still need at least a month to completely finish it. So we're not really there, like not really fully. Now, we’re going to scrim for a few days, and then after NRG we scrim for a few days, we'll have enough time to finish our game plan and be ready for finals.

If you don't mind me asking, what are some of those things that you feel like the team hasn't worked out? Is it just the normal things with communication? Or is there something just in particular with this Giants team because it feels like you guys gel really well together?

I mean, it’s very small things I would say. It mainly comes down to discipline and people aren't really disciplined at this point. We're getting there, like slowly. I would say we're like at 60%. This was at least a match we showed quite good discipline. We didn’t run into things like idiots. So I think discipline and just working on small details because small details I mean, like utility, crossfires, and I mean of course communication. But we don't have that many problems with communication.

That makes sense and provides a lot of context into things. It feels like the main focus was that you know you’re good, but then to not go for some really aggressive peaks.

Not to get too cocky pretty much because I like to say is that everyone that is here, they deserve to be here in a way. Everybody can shoot so if you give them openings and you make mistakes, that's how you get an upset game and you can lose to a team like this. I'm not saying they’re bad, but overall, respect opponents. When you get too cocky, especially in VALORANT, the game is so close. The match point is 13 rounds, not 16. You can get the game closed on you very very fast.

It’s like the state of the game. If you have a bad read on the meta, anything can change. Can I ask you what your thoughts were on the changes right before LOCK//IN when they changed Chamber as well as just the whole stuff with the Stinger meta? What were your thoughts on everything changing right before LOCK//IN. How did that change preparation?

So we’ll start with the stinger. Overall, stinger, I mean, it was OP, but it wasn’t completely unstoppable. Stinger was very OP at the very start of the game before First Strike if I recall. Back then, it was really OP because you can right-click zoom and just force people across the map. In the matter regarding Chamber, I feel like Chamber made bad players become good players and good players become insane so I feel like the engine was a bit too OP in a way that was a bit ridiculous. The ult was too fast and impossible to trade with so I feel it was a very good nerf. I feel that now, the meta is more fluent in a way. There isn’t an agent that can carry like Chamber. With a small amount of money, you can literally win the round without investing too much money(on Chamber).

VCT LOCK//IN 2023 pipsoN Giants vs. DFM

Giants and DetonatioN FocusMe prior to their series at VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo.

I wanted to ask you about how this lineup was constructed. I know that you, Hoodie and pipsoN were formed with G2. Fit1nho was from the previous Giants lineup. When you were approached about possibly joining this Giants team, who were players or coaches that you already knew were going to be on the lineup. How was it formed in the offseason?

I know pipsoN’s gonna be there. I knew Hoody is going to be there. I didn't know about rhyme and Cloud. I came in as the last piece sort of. I got quite lucky. My offseason could have been very unlucky due to buyouts. I almost was jailed by G2 in a way so a lot of teams backed off from buying me out. This team, kind of for me, it was last minute. I was already pretty much done in finding a team to play in franchise. They came in so I can’t really give details on how the team was assembled because I was that completed (this lineup).

Can I ask you about how the offseason was for you then? Was it just really stressful on your end because you had a whole offseason of around five months before LOCK//IN and after G2. What was all that like for you mentally?

We didn’t have much information from G2 in a way of which region they’re gonna choose, whether it was NA or EU. We actually found out through Twitter in a way. So that was the first part. It was really stressful. We couldn’t get answers and at the same time, we couldn’t approach teams. I couldn’t reach out earlier because I didn’t know what the plan was. Really hectic and stressful. There was a point where I was thinking, if I don’t make it, it is retirement in a way because you can disappear in esports very fast if you don’t play in a one-year gap. Unless you’re an insane player, you can come back. If you’re someone that’s mediocre and disappear for a year, people forget about you and do not even consider you. I would say it was a very, very scary period regarding my career. It was stressful and I made it in the last minute so I’m always happy right now.

I wanted to now ask you about teams that really impressed in scrims. We don't really have as much information as to what some of these new lineups look like. Are there any new teams that really impressed you by their team play are just individual talents?

Now I am going through the list of all the teams we scrimmed. We haven’t scrimmed all of the franchised teams. Nobody stood out. I feel like it’s quite balanced, at least in EU. I mean, all teams are pretty stable right now. There is no insane player or insane team right now because a lot of teams in the EMEA need time to fully develop the team. I think a lot of teams will be ready for Berlin and not for here. So for now, I could say it’s pretty balanced. I haven't scrimmed all the teams in EMEA and we only scrim like four teams out of the entire list. No, actually three.

It seems like the only thing you can really do is focus on your own game and not make too many mistakes.

And people don't really book franchise teams because everybody's trying to hide as much as they can in Berlin. It's also quite difficult. You have to scrim tier two teams and occasionally there are some tier two or tier one teams that are playing in the franchise so it kind of slows down the progress.

Giants nukkye VCT LOCK//IN

Giants nukkye VCT LOCK//IN

That's a really interesting perspective, so you are scrimming a lot of EMEA Challenger teams instead?

Yeah, and also lower than the challenger league because it is a good opportunity to scrim everybody because people that are not even in teams may be very good. So yeah, I just want more people to book more people, and learn different playstyles because people in all levels play completely different. It’s also really good for us to develop as a team.

I just want to ask you, if you had any final words for your fans, for people that followed you as well the Giants organization?

I mean, shout out to fans. There's been insane support from the Giants fans support here in Brazil by Brazilian fans. Especially in ranked, we meet a lot of Brazilians that are super excited to see us on playlists. So yeah, shout out to the org that gave me a chance to compete here, and yeah. Thank you.

VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo, Group Alpha will take a day off on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2023 before making a return on Friday, Feb. 16, 2023. There, Group Alpha will transition into the round-of-16, where Americas NRG will take on EMEA's Giants Gaming at 9am PST.