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Dephh reflects on Dignitas' early results, as well as the current state of VALORANT

MichaelKelly

MichaelKelly

Sun 11th Oct 2020 - 7:50pm

With a storied career in the tactical shooter genre, Dephh sat down with Michael Kelly to talk about his esports career, Dignitas' early results in VALORANT, as well as how the game compares to other tactical shooters like CS:GO.

Even though VALORANT is such a young game, what does it mean to you to be part of such an experienced organization like Dignitas?

Dephh: Obviously I’ve known about Dignitas, even back when I first started gaming, so it feels almost full-circle for me coming back to a UK-owned org. Dignitas is a long-running, respected org, and I heard a lot of good things about the guys over here. And obviously, the VALORANT scene is so chaotic with changes and everything, but Dignitas really took its time picking a roster [with respect to] myself and Psalm, so we respected that a lot, actually.

With that in mind, what are some of your personal goals and things you want to accomplish in VALORANT?

Dephh: I’d say my overall goal is to win one of the large tournaments coming up in the near future. I’m sure Riot has something in the works. It’s definitely exciting because that first Riot tournament is what we’re really setting a goal towards right now. But, ever since I started playing VALORANT - especially since I met Psalm and we created a team together - it’s been quite hectic with players. We’ve had players leave and come in, and really, my short-team goal is just to practice with a five-man unit. Right now, we’ve been constantly having to start fresh with each change, so one of my short-term goals is to definitely just have a practiced five-man unit, then eventually win one of the bigger tournaments.

You’re someone with a pretty long history in tactical shooters, so how does VALORANT stack up to a game like CS:GO, in your opinion?

Dephh: CS:GO is always going to be one of the most pure FPS games for me... but I think VALORANT has a good shot at competing for some of that FPS market share. Mainly, the most positive thing coming out of VALORANT right now is the way the devs are approaching the game. They’re listening to players, talking with pros, and it seems like right now they’re doing a really good job of balancing the game at a more controlled pace. CS:GO had erratic updates at times, and the devs were a bit out of touch. But I can see VALORANT doing really well simply because of how Riot treats the game - even beyond the gameplay itself. 

To further that point, do you think VALORANT will have as much longevity as CS:GO?

Dephh: I think we can look at League of Legends, and see that Riot’s model is proven to work with a MOBA, at least. I can only put my trust in Riot that they’ll do the same sort of thing with an FPS title. The theme of the game is different from CS, too. With VALORANT, Riot can actually reach out to more mainstream sponsors because they’re not dealing with things like gore and [graphic] themes like CS does. I think that definitely gives Riot a good shot at making this game last. CS is still obviously lasting and thriving, but I would even say that VALORANT has more potential. 

You mentioned winning tournaments as a goal of yours, and last month at Pop Flash, Dignitas really came out of nowhere at that tournament. What made the team perform so well at that event?

Dephh: I think there were a few factors, really. Overall, there was no real pressure on anyone, and I’m sure [my teammates] felt that too. We all knew that coming into the tournament, we only had two days of practice with Shanks, so we understood at that point we had to trust in what we had already. In Pop Flash, we felt that we had enough practice to secure a top 4 finish, but we weren’t sure if we could finish the tournament. Sometimes you just run out of steam and obviously, with the limited amount of practice we had, we just ran out of steam. 

The community definitely agreed with the feeling that there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on you guys. Expectations were pretty low coming into that tournament. 

Dephh: I’m actually not sure why. Obviously, we were seeded 8th - and that’s expected for a new roster - but me and Psalm have now had three straight top four finishes in the Ignition Series. I understand the low expectations, but going forward, I think Dignitas deserves more credit. 

What does it feel like to consistently exceed expectations like that? Do you guys get a boost of morale or feel like you have a bit of a leg up moving forward?

Dephh: Definitely. I think winning like that results in momentum moving forward. For me, this game is so sporadic right now. The scene is kind of crazy and it feels like things are moving tournament to tournament. We take those kinds of finishes with a pinch of salt. Until we have a five-man roster that we can practice with consistently, our expectations are much lower than a team that’s been practicing together. 

On the flip side of that, is it easy to get cocky or overconfident with finishes like these?

Dephh: I’ve always tried to stay grounded. But if my teammates get like that, I let them get away with it to a certain extent. There’s players in the scene right now like Shanks who are characters that bring that kind of personality into the matches. I think it’s important to have fun because, honestly, VALORANT’s so young and it’s not really about playing strictly right now. It’s better to just enjoy yourself and play the game. Until the game really develops and the devs have things in a place where they want to be, it’s hard to really have any sort of expectations. 

It’s definitely important to let the game develop, but VALORANT in particular launched during a really unconventional time for esports. With everything going on in the world right now, things are a bit difficult for the esports scene. What will you be most excited about when competition comes back to an in-person setting?

Dephh: I think the COVID-19 pandemic is really bringing about one of the toughest times in esports history. People are really suffering in esports and everyone wants to get back to running and playing in tournaments. I don’t know the timeline - not that anyone does, obviously - but it’s going to be really good for the scene to get these teams to a LAN event. Because, really, online allows people to play a bit more confidently than they would at an event. As soon as offline tournaments start up again, we’ll see teams form rosters that they’re going to keep for a while. Right now, it’s really up in the air when everything’s online.

Just to wrap up, what is something you’re really excited about when it comes to playing VALORANT professionally?

Dephh: I’m looking forward to seeing Riot introduce one of their own tournaments. Watching League has shown me what kind of tournament Riot can run, and it seems fun to participate in something like that. For me, personally, it’s all about getting to that first major tournament. If it happens to be offline, that’s even better. But really, we’ll have to keep things online right now if that’s going to be the case. 

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