FPX ANGE1: “More CIS teams would be perfect”
After several shortcomings in the semifinals of big European VALORANT events, FunPlus Phoenix finally broke through. The team of players from across Europe and CIS dominated Team Vitality in the VCT Europe Stage Two Challengers One quarterfinals. Then against Opportunists, FPX came back from losing its pick in map one to reverse sweep the French side and reach the grand finals. FPX dismantled Guild to add a trophy to its case alongside its spot at the EMEA Challengers Final.
The team may be young overall, punctuated by their 18-year-old rising star in Pontus “Zyppan” Eek, but they’ve got a wealth of experience in veteran Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow. ANGE1 spent well over a decade playing Counter-Strike in the CIS region, most notably for HellRaisers, and is still a championship-caliber player at 31 years old.
Between their semifinals and grand finals victories, ANGE1 sat down with Hotspawn to discuss the team’s areas of improvement, their plans for Astra, how they’re preparing for Iceland, and why he feels Riot is dropping the ball with CIS VALORANT.
Hotspawn: How good does it feel to finally get past the semi-final?
ANGE1: (laughs) Sounds like our next test is the semifinal at Reykjavik, right?
Hotspawn: Well, now that the semi-finals curse is behind you and your Challengers Final spot is secured, what area do you still think needs improving?
ANGE1: A lot of things still need to be improved, to be honest. Obviously, we had experimental picks, so we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare them perfectly. Today was a lot of individual skill combined with the three days of prep that we had because the break after Masters One was very short. A lot to improve still.
Hotspawn: Do you plan on continuing to rotate Astra between players? Is this rotation based on maps or opposing agent lineups?
ANGE1: At the moment, it doesn’t have anything to do with opposing agent lineups, because like I said, we didn’t get to prepare it as much. You need a bit more time with it to really anti-pick other teams. So it basically depends on what we need for the map. If we need an entry fragger, I can play Phoenix because Astra is covering the duties that a Breach or a smoker can do, which in my opinion, enables Phoenix as an agent. When we don’t need an entry like that, I can play Astra easily.
Hotspawn: There has been a couple of dominant maps for you this tournament so far in both your series. What’s been the biggest positive difference between previous tournaments and this one?
ANGE1: We’re increasing our skills and becoming more calm. We have a young team; it’s basically me and dimasick who have lots of experience playing on a stage or deep in a tournament. So we’re getting more experience. We’re getting better and better with every match, and that’s what’s most important.
Hotspawn: This books you a spot in the Challengers Final along with teams from Turkey and CIS. You spent years as a mainstay in the CIS Counter-Strike scene. What can you expect out of teams from these regions? Has anyone already caught your eye?
ANGE1: I think Gambit is a good team, both them and forZe have been fighting for first place in all the tournaments from Riot. We’re playing a lot, and I mean a lot, of Turkish teams for practice. We preferred to practice against them and not against the European teams we would meet in tournaments. Those teams are playing a much more North American style; more aggressive, more peaks, more duels for the sake of duels. It’s good preparation for the Masters in Iceland when we finally meet NA.
Hotspawn: Is there anyone from NA you’d want to play specifically?
ANGE1: Oh, I would play FaZe, TSM, Sentinels. I really like those teams.
Hotspawn: You’ve been around CIS Counter-Strike for years. Given how well it’s doing in CS:GO right now, are you a little disappointed at the representation it currently gets in VALORANT (only one spot at the Challengers Finals)?
ANGE1: Yes, to be honest, I’m disappointed about it. CIS has a huge potential in competitive VALORANT. I know the viewers are lower, but the amount of players who want to be pro and the amount of good players coming from CIS is huge. It’s a huge mistake from Riot not to give them more chances than just one slot at the EMEA Finals. I hope it will be fixed, more CIS teams would be perfect.