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The start of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023 season marked a number of questions surrounding the 30 franchised teams. One of the teams many VALORANT viewers were looking most forward to watching in São Paulo was NRG, a team comprised of the former OpTic Gaming core that won VCT Masters Reykjavik 2022. This time, however, the team entered 2023 under a new name with new teammates looking to build upon the successes from last year.

In this interview, we spoke to Austin "crashies" Roberts about NRG's prep before VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo and how the team spent a month practicing the stinger for it to not matter.

Congratulations on your win against KOI, I want to ask you specifically about that lineup because KOI was viewed as one of the possible dark horse contenders from EMEA. Talk to me about what your thoughts were going into this first VCT match?

Yeah, so obviously, I mean, they have players on that team that had beaten us before. Sheydos on Gambit, starxo on Acend, trexx on Guild, koldamenta from G2, they're all familiar with us. They've beaten us before on our old roster. So we knew we couldn't underestimate them. We knew they were going to probably be our strongest opponent in our group besides LOUD and Giants who I think will get through. So we knew we definitely couldn't underestimate it. We didn't really have much prep on them, obviously, because it's a new year, no footage or anything. So we knew we just had to focus on our game and that's what we did today.

You and s0m were top performers in today's match, especially when your resurgence in the second half on icebox, and then as well as Haven. I just wanted to ask you some of your own reflections after the 2022 season. Were there certain goals that you had for yourself going to 2023?

Yeah, so I mean, obviously, last year, we were super good as a team. Individually, I think I was pretty good, but I wasn't the best that I wanted to be. So going into this year. I mean, I just focused on myself really hard. I told my teammates that, you know, I got them today. Like, I'm just super confident going into this tournament. And I think I'm just going to continue to be confident.

Could you talk about the 2022 season as a whole and what that was like for you with the condensed schedule and having no breaks?

The season itself was pretty stressful. Obviously, you know, trying to be the best team in the world that comes with pressure and stress. I think every competitor just has to learn how to handle it. When you're playing with your team that you like and you have your friends around you, the year just flies by. Like when I think about last year, it just flew by. Going into this year, you know, we want to be even better than last year. So that's the goal.

One of the things that were a big talking point was that OpTic didn't get into franchising. When you found out that the lineup may not be able to all stay together, did that weigh on your mind?

Yeah, I mean, obviously, like, there were rumors that we might not get in under OpTic. We definitely enjoyed playing with each other. If we could have, we could have stayed all together, but it just didn't work out like that. That was definitely on our minds definitely sucked that we didn't get in, but you know, it's a new year with a new team. We're just gonna do the same that we did last year.

Could you talk about how this NRG lineup was constructed? Was it the OpTic core building the team or were you built around s0m? Where did you come into this process when constructing this lineup?

Yeah so when we found out we didn't make franchising, there's a lot of talk and stuff. It was the usual roster mania talk. But we really wanted to stay together as much of us as we could. Marved retired, unfortunately. As for yay, it was unfortunate that it's hard to get buyouts and everything all on one team, so he was expensive, but Vic, Pujan, and myself had an opportunity to be together and we took it. We wanted to stay together. 

We have really good chemistry together, we know how we work, how we prep, and how to do everything because we are so familiar with each other. After that, we just looked for players that could fit into our system. Sam has such a high skill ceiling and such high potential. On NRG, we're just gonna unlock him. ardiis was just a no-brainer in all honesty. We just needed somebody that could fill yay’s role in the team and ardiis was the best option for us. That’s how our team came together.

What were some of the biggest changes implementing som into this lineup and what were some of the conversations like kind of talking about the roles for him? He has played a number of different roles for NRG.

He hasn't really played a controller role and like you said he's played so many different roles. So we just kind of had to help with the controller role. We knew how to set him up and how to help him. We just worked really hard on the server, you know, just getting him and ardiis up to speed. getting them used to our you know how we'd like to work. It was super easy. Honestly, it's such an easy kit that worked with such a high-skill ceiling. So it was so easy.


NRG s0m is the longest-tenured member of the VALORANT team.

It seems like he's someone that's just really open to adjusting and adapting to whatever the team needs. How would you say his confidence is right now because on Icebox we saw I'm just playing with a lot of confidence. I'd say in that first half, he was the main thing keeping the team in the game.

Yeah, I would have to agree. We needed someone to step up in that first series. Obviously, we started pretty slow. I was super proud of Sam to be the one to start it off. You know, we're hyping him up after every round that he had. He was going insane bringing us back into the game. Yeah, I mean, man, this kid is so confident I can't say it enough. His skill ceiling is so high. We're just gonna try to keep unlocking him this year.

I want to ask you about the meta changes right before LOCK//IN. What were some adjustments you had to make in preparation and how did you navigate that?

Yeah, obviously the chamber nerfs were what everyone was waiting for. We honestly were happy that came. That character was so broken last year, and we just abused it with yay and we did so well because of it. Going into this year, they'd nerf chamber which was you know, everyone was happy about it. You can kind of play the game, you know, regularly again.

Nerfing the stinger was kind of unfortunate because we practiced for like a month straight just using the stinger and getting really good with it. We were trying different things with it and then once we flew to Brazil, we found out it was going to receive major nerfs. We were like, “I guess a month of work and preparation just went down the drain. But it’s not too bad. I think the change was necessary as the gun was pretty broken so good on Riot honestly.

I want to move forward and ask you about any teams that impressed you in scrims as we don't have much information on some of these new teams.

We haven’t scrimmed as many franchise teams as we want to, but being here in Brazil, we scrimmed the Brazilian teams. We were scrimming Leviatán a lot. Honestly, they are really good. Like, actually really good and I think they have the potential to go all the way. They’re going to be my pick so I hope they don’t let me down.

Any final words crashies?

Thank you for all the support. Thank you NRG. Thank you for the interview. Yeah, just keep supporting us and our next game.