The last time we visited the Red Bull Campus Clutch tournament, we talked to Oregon State University, the team that represented the Northwest region of the US at the National Finals. It has been a bit over a month since that interview and the leaderboards have shifted. OSU fell to Illinois Orange in the US Finals while San Jose State University (SJSU), the team we interviewed all the way back in March, prevailed over the rest. That means they will represent the entire United States at the Madrid LAN on July 17 and 18. To get an inside view of their exciting journey since March, we once again talked to the team’s president and founder Alan “Kudo” Ignacio.
Interview with Kudo from SJSU
RunItBack: When we last spoke, you were gearing up to represent the Northwest region in the Red Bull Campus Clutch US Finals. Now you will represent the entire country in Madrid. How was that journey been for the team?
Kudo: Well, it would be a lie to say that the journey was easy. It was heart breaking to see ourselves lose against UC Davis in the Northwest regionals. After all, it was just a best of 1 on Ascent and we just didn’t “show up” and bring out our “A game”. That put us in a situation where we had to go through the wildcard seeds to qualify. Luckily we qualified in Wildcard #4 into the national tournament.
Then, once the brackets came out, we saw that we had to go through our biggest competition, UC Irvine in the round of 8. We prepared our very hardest for that series and we won 2-0. After that, our momentum as a team never halted and we ended up qualifying for the international finals in Madrid, Spain! The journey was a roller coaster with times where I even questioned our ability to make it to the finals. But the team persevered and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved.
RunItBack: This one’s probably hard, but how does it feel to represent all of America’s colleges in the first international Valorant tournament?
Kudo: Being put into this position of representing the entire United States in an international competition is just flat-out unbelievable. In my three years of running collegiate esports teams at San Jose, I have NEVER seen a collegiate competition have an international component to it. Usually, being the best in America is the end of the road and that accomplishment alone is so significant and worth celebrating. BUT, to represent all of America in an international collegiate competition? We’re all so astonished we get to be in this position. And you can bet we all feel the weight and we’re definitely working hard to prepare and win this whole thing.
RunItBack: Now that the stakes are much higher, will there be any changes to the training regimen?
Kudo: Absolutely. Training will be so much different and you bet that with the summer, we’re going to do our best to prepare and practice more than when the semester was ongoing. The biggest change in regimen is who we’re practicing against because most collegiate teams are done for the season and therefore have no reason to scrim. So instead of playing other colleges, we are actively seeking amateur and professional teams to practice against. We also have in-person opportunities for practices! Thanks to our partnership with Guildhouse, a new gaming social club in Downtown San Jose, we have the opportunity to practice together in one space and genuinely get down the LAN experience that we will need in Madrid.
With our teams properly vaccinated, and following protective guidelines in Santa Clara County, we can have better practices and finally have them in person. Most importantly, thank you to Guildhouse for providing that opportunity to us.
RunItBack: Is there a particular country you really want to face off against more so than the others?
Kudo: So we saw the entire 24-hour knockout round stream Red Bull did to crown the 10 other participants going to Madrid. We were impressed by all the teams and we cannot wait to face them but if we were to name a particular team, then holy crap were we impressed by João “jannyXD” Costa from Portugal. I hope that we face them and can see who truly IS the better Jett, JannyXD of Project S, or Thienan “Teddy” Tran of San Jose State. It’ll definitely be a way more entertaining showdown than Logan Paul vs. Mayweather. That’s for sure.
RunItBack: How does your school feel now that you’ve proven how truly skilled your Valorant team is? In the previous interview, you did say “we are really hyping ourselves to be one of the best in North America.” I guess that came true in the end?
Kudo: It’s no longer hype, it’s now facts! But you know, after such a terrible year thanks to the pandemic, I’m glad the San Jose State community found happiness through the success of its sports teams. In the fall semester, our football team truly climbed the mountain and won the Mountain West conference title after years of sitting in last place and going through growing pains with a new head coach.
Once word got around that our Valorant team is incredibly competitive, the gaming community found something to rally for and support. They may not have watched our football team, but they can most certainly experience that same jubilation with our Valorant squad! Our gaming community is ready to support us in Madrid and they will even wake up super early to watch this competition. I can’t be more grateful to have such support! Shoutout to Spartan Gaming!
RunItBack: Anything you want people to know that I didn’t ask about?
Kudo: I want to say thank you to everyone who has been supportive of the team, the players, and the overall program. I promise you we’re going to Madrid with the goal of taking 1st place and €20,000. To all of the participants of the World Finals stage, good luck and have fun. You’re going to need it against us. With the incredible in-game leadership from Choiboi, the insane shock darts from Bear, the pure aim skills that Teddy and Thigwrb possess, and the support of one of the best Omens in NA, Nahsie, we are hyping ourselves to be the best collegiate Valorant team in the entire world.
*Questions and answers may have been altered slightly for the sake of clarity.*
Thanks to Red Bull for setting up the interviews and good luck to SJSU in Madrid! To make sure you don’t miss further Red Bull Campus Clutch coverage, follow us at Run it Back and join our Discord for all your latest news, extensive guides, and exclusive interviews in the world of Valorant.