Version1 had a grueling opening day of NA Challengers Finals. They took a solid first map against Sentinels only to the lose the following two. They then went down to the wire against Andbox in some extremely close maps. Their Lower Bracket run will continue for at least a little bit longer after defeating Andbox 2:1. Once that series completed, Run It Back was given the opportunity to speak with Anthony “vanity” Malaspina regarding the matches on the day, playing Astra, and what to expect for the rest of the event.
Version1’s vanity is proud of team’s progress and believes they will keep getting better
Run It Back: You started the day off with a 1v3 against probably the best team in NA. Then you followed it up with another 3K. That clearly set your team up for success early on Ascent. Can you talk us through how those huge rounds played out?
vanity: I definitely think those rounds to start off the day led to us having a strong first map. We fell flat the rest of the way, but I do think the maps were closer than they looked. We got 1v3’d on Split like two or three times. One was on a pistol round which can flip the game by itself. An attack pistol on Split is impactful and we got 1v3’d there. Throughout the day, we played relatively well. We won a lot of rounds we should have won, but also lost a lot of rounds we should have won. I think that is something that’ll just come to us when we are acclimated to our new player. There is always going to be acclimation period. We swapped someone and have only had a few weeks of practice. Most of these people have been playing together for almost a year at this point.
Run It Back: Of course, the rest of the series after Ascent didn’t go V1’s way. Was there anything that may have gone wrong for the team or was it just Sentinels performing like Sentinels does?
vanity: The biggest thing against Sentinels was that we realized people need to take more initiative. Given I play Astra, typically I’d be one of the playmakers or the more aggressive player, but because of the agent I’m playing in this meta, I can’t do that. It is going to take more of an adjustment period. This is our first tournament with me on Astra. It has just been scrims prior to this. I think we did a good job adjusting in the second best-of-three against Andbox. More people took initiative and were more vocal. As I’ve said, I’m playing Astra. I’m pretty much playing Starcraft while playing Valorant at the same time.
Run It Back: The series against Andbox went down to the absolute wire. What was the driving factor for the victory? Was it agent selection, the maps, or maybe just things clicking at the right time?
vanity: The win against Andbox should have been a lot cleaner. Both teams were winning scrappy rounds. There were a lot of rounds where yay would singlehandedly get them back into it. He could be down 5v2 and just 3K out of nowhere. When he’s on, he was the same way in Counter-Strike, he’s just really explosive. It’s like the flip of a coin, he can just take over a round and turn the tide for his team. I think he did a really good job today. He had like a 300 ACS over the best-of-three, which is impressive.
Run It Back: Now onto Astra, she has definitely proved to be a vital part of the current meta. You were 11-0 with her on Ascent at one point against Sentinels and her utility played a big part during the team’s rotations all day. What has your experience been with her so far and how important do you feel her skill set is?
vanity: I personally enjoy playing Astra a lot. I think she is the most impactful agent in the game when played by someone that has an understanding of her. Some of the other Controller players in North America don’t fit the play style well. It requires a certain kind of player to understand how to get the most out of her kit. A lot of them in Challengers Finals are pretty capable, but the Astra skill floor and skill ceiling is really wide. You have to be proactive at all times. You have to be fast putting your stars down and looking at the map. I don’t think it is something a lot of players in North America are completely capable of. You’re sacrificing pretty much any playmaking ability. It’s out the window. The agent’s kit isn’t suited for it compared to an Omen who has one of the better kits in the game for individuals.
Run It Back: In order to make it to Iceland, Version1 needs to push through the Lower Bracket. What are your expectations for the team throughout the rest of Challengers Finals?
vanity: The end goal is to qualify for Iceland, but any wins are a valuable learning experience. I’ve been playing this game for like five months at this point. That’s a long time, but compared to the hours some others have, I’m just scratching the surface. There are a lot of things you don’t see in practice in this game compared to matches. In CS, it wasn’t really the same. I think we’ll get better over time, as we’ve been doing. We’ve been in all the open qualifiers and made it to Challengers Final through the first event. Any win itself is good, honestly. There is a lot to be proud of regardless of how the tournament ends for us.
*Questions and answers may have been edited or altered for clarity and fluidity.*
Stay tuned to Run It Back for more VCT coverage and player interviews as Challengers Finals continues!