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  • NRG vs Cloud9 VALORANT match ends with NRG grabbing the final spot to VCT Masters Tokyo.
  • NRG in-game leader FiNESSE talks about the pressure of maintaining their spot as a top VALORANT team.
  • Why the VCT Americas League was the most stressful period of FiNESSE’s career?
  • NRG FiNESSE’s message to all of his teammates after a stressful VCT Americas League season.

Los Angeles, California — NRG in-game leader Pujan “FiNESSE” Mehta walks into a silent room to view the entire VCT Americas League stage. He takes a moment to look out at the stage before sitting in a black chair, ready to talk about everything that had happened 15 minutes before this moment.

He had just come off one of the most intense best-of-three sets in his entire VALORANT career against Cloud9 where the stakes were qualified for VCT Masters Tokyo or go home thinking about all the things that could’ve been done differently.

The silence had been a noticeable juxtaposition from the constant waves of intense quiet and loud cheers that surrounded him for nearly three hours before finally qualifying for VCT Masters Tokyo.

When asked the age-old question of how he felt after that entire experience, only one word stood out to him.

“Relief,” FiNESSE says before slouching into the chair and breathing a sigh of relief.

The Pressure to Be the Best After Strong 2022 Season


NRG during VCT 2023: LOCK//IN.

2023 has completely changed from his “sense of control” over the North American scene playing with OpTic Gaming. For FiNESSE, this stretch during the VCT Americas League was the most stressful he had ever experienced in his entire career.

“This has easily been one of the most stressful periods of my entire life,” FiNESSE said. “Our expectations have only grown from last year, so being able to meet them finally is a huge relief.”

FiNESSE shared the stresses of establishing themselves as a top team in VALORANT in 2022 with OpTic Gaming. While he truthfully shared that he felt “a sense of control” over North America all throughout last year, 2023 was a completely different story.

The IGL went into 2023 with two new players from the 2022 core in Samuel “s0m” Oh and Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks. While both were talented players, natural learning curves and adjustments were needed that made the fast-paced competitive schedule challenging to manage.

“We had to regain that chemistry with new players and had them adapt to the way I call,” FiNESSE said. “It was definitely a new challenge in itself and probably the biggest challenge we faced in VALORANT so far.”

2023 posed several challenges for FiNESSE. Apart from adapting to two new players, there were also battles of trying to maintain their form against a much stronger field of teams.

“This past week has easily been one of the most stressful weeks of my life just because everyone is so good now,” FiNESSE said. “Very few teams have massive tells that you can prepare for. You just have to be good on the day.”

What does a top VALORANT IGL do every day?

NRG FiNESSE VCT Americas League

NRG FiNESSE before their match against Cloud9 in the VCT Americas League.

Every day, FiNESSE would return home from either the Riot Games Studio or the NRG facility and quickly load up Deathmatch on his PC for five to six hours a night. The rest of his free time would be filled with VOD review before repeating the process over again each and every day.

“I haven’t been getting very much sleep,” FiNESSE said. “There are so many expectations to be excellent with this team, and as the IGL, that responsibility falls on me if we are not performing.”

Each and every day had been filled with 14-hour days packed with trying to maintain a top position in the VCT Americas League. Over time, that routine can wither away at anyone. That was a continuous challenge for FiNESSE towards the final weeks of the VCT Americas League.

“It’s very taxing on the mind,” FiNESSE said. “This has been a very grueling process for me individually because of all the expectations we set for ourselves.”

When FiNESSE and NRG began their season 1-3 in the VCT Americas League it was a demoralizing feeling. Not being able to meet those high expectations created a situation that became difficult to push past. One of the biggest hurdles was dealing with the natural issues around staying “confident” despite these setbacks.

“As an IGL, it’s difficult not to lose confidence in your calls when things aren’t working for you,” FiNESSE said. “When you begin to lose confidence in certain plays and are afraid that you will die, then you start to play trying not to lose instead of playing to win.”

“We came in with such high expectations that starting 1-3 and losing to EG in the playoffs were very difficult hurdles to maneuver around,” FiNESSE said. “There were constant roadblocks that we had to get through and I think that’s a huge testament to our team and the amount of work we put in to avoid missing Tokyo.”

Pushing Through Adversity

NRG VCT Americas League crashies, Victor, FiNESSE

NRG trio of crashies, Victor, and FiNESSE walking onto the VCT Americas League stage.

The past two months had been an emotional rollercoaster that slowly withered at FiNESSE. Yet, through all of this adversity, he has found his way back to the international stage as sights are set on VCT Masters Tokyo. One of the biggest reasons he was able to push through that adversity was the entire team at NRG where he thanked each member individually.

“Chet is doing an incredible job while only getting two to three hours of sleep a night while Allen (Ethos) provides so much support to the team as well,” FNS said. “Then, I have to thank Sam and Ardiis for going way beyond our expectations. I know adapting to a new caller and playstyle has been difficult, but I am extremely proud of you.”

Finally, FiNESSE saved longtime teammates Austin “crashies” Roberts and Victor ‘Victor” Wong for last as he explained how important they were to his own growth as a player and friend.

“I don’t ever see myself separating from those guys. I’d probably quit the game before I go away from these guys because we all have such a strong bond together, not just as friends but as players,” FiNESSE said. “It’s honestly a pleasure to play for this team.”

NRG’s quest for the VCT Masters Tokyo championship trophy will begin on June 11 against Natus Vincere at 6pm PT.