Yay: How Andbox’s Jett Star Became VCT’s El Diablo for Team Envy
For many esports competitors, their first home is not their forever home. Like several other NA VALORANT pro players, this isn’t the first competitive game that Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker can call home, after spending over half a decade playing CS:GO for the likes of Noble and Complexity. Upon switching to VALORANT, he found a new home in Andbox, but after several sweeping roster changes and an early exit to their VCT campaign, yay decided it was time to take his talents to a new home, Team Envy.
The rising Jett star, known on the server and social media as El Diablo, joined the ranks of Envy prior to the Challengers Playoffs. Yay played a pivotal part in the group’s success there, finishing third through the lower bracket and securing a Masters Three Berlin spot. During that run, after their win against FaZe Clan and before they faced XSET, Team Envy Jett star yay sat down with Hotspawn to discuss his transfer and how he stacks up against the other prolific Jett players in North America.
Scott Robertson, Hotspawn Esports: What would you say was the biggest challenge offered by FaZe Clan today? And how did you guys overcome it?
Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, Team Envy: They were just pulling out some miracle rounds. Some of the individual players stepped up and would get kills like out of nowhere, and we wouldn’t like trade it properly or maybe the way I was facing would be like slightly off and they punished that really well.
Hotspawn: I want to ask about your switch from Andbox to Envy. Was there a moment where you kind of knew that your time with Andbox was coming to an end? When did that become apparent?
Yay: I would say shortly after the TSM loss that we had. My reasoning was that it kind of screwed us for the rest of the year in the sense that we were out of Last Chance Qualifier, and we were out of Berlin, and there was going to be nothing Riot-related for the next four to five months. At that point, I knew I had two options. I could go with a better team and have a chance to compete for my dreams; go to Berlin, compete internationally, have a spot in the LCQ, have a chance at Champions. Or I could sit there and try to rebuild the Andbox roster. And I didn’t really want to go through another rebuilding phase because it’s happened at least like three times. Like when we first initially joined as a team, then after Android left, and now we’re gonna have a third rebuilding? Your time in esports is short, so I decided to jump ship.
Hotspawn: So how did the talks with Envy start then?
Yay: The talks with Envy started after the TSM loss. They contacted the organization along with like several others because they wanted to know if I had plans for the future and I [had already] decided in my mind that I was gonna bench myself from [Andbox] and I was gonna see if I could proceed with other opportunities. When Envy reached out, it was one of the biggest offers I was considering because in my eyes, it was the offer that made the most sense to me. I really wanted to go to Envy.
Hotspawn: What’s the most noticeable difference between the two teams?
Yay: I would say the individual players themselves are kind of better at their roles, in terms of raw aim and just their general awareness. Everyone on Envy has the ability to really pop off and have really good rounds and even win games single-handedly. In the past, sometimes it felt like if I was dead or if I didn’t have a good game we would lose, unfortunately. I’m still struggling to get some of those feelings out because now my teammates can have really good rounds and really good clutches. So even if I die, it’s not like like the end of the world. That plus their general utility; they’re able to support me a little bit better. They always know the darts or flashes and how to help me get openings or be aggressive.
Hotspawn: With so many prolific Jett players in North America, what sets you apart from the others?
Yay: I would say it’s just a stylistic thing. Right? I think everyone in the scene has their own style and their approach to how they play Jett. You have Wardell who’s a really heavy OPer for example. Then you have babybay who’s more of a fearless entry. He knives, He Ops, he does a mix. Tyson [TenZ] does more of a mix of like Op-ing and Shorty-ing and dashing in. I’m really good when it comes to disrupting/getting opening kills. I feel like because people know me as a very aggressive player, it tends to kind of slow their games down quite a bit. They’re almost forced to use a lot more utility because they don’t know where I am. I could be pushing down mid, I could be pushing you on other sites and it just forces teams to take things methodically. And if you don’t take it properly or if you’re not very aware, you get punished. And I think I do that better than a lot of other Jets, I would say.
Hotspawn: What’s your impression of XSET’s PureR?
Yay: He’s not like a super aggressive Jett. In my eyes at least he’s very similar to like mummAy in the sense that he’s more of a team-based Jett where he kind of just does what the team asks. He’ll pick up an OP, he’ll lock down his positions, he’ll get his kills. He’s a solid player, like he’s not gonna make a ton of mistakes and he’s gonna get kills if you don’t do stuff properly. [Against him] it’s a matter of making sure he doesn’t get those free [kills[ and just methodically pushing him back more than anything.