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Even though the APAC Last Chance Qualifier was online, Bhavin “HellrangeR“ Kotwani felt the excitement from the tournament coursing through his body while he flew across India. He and the rest of his Global Esports squad were on their way to Chennai to play in their first match of one of the last VALORANT Champions Tour events of the year.
“It almost felt as if we were coming to a LAN,” HellrangeR said. “The vibes felt the same.”
Despite few expecting them to match up with the other teams at the tournament, Global Esports opened their first match against DWG KIA by taking a 6-2 lead on Haven. The Indian team’s flexible play style kept them one step ahead of their South Korean opponents.
“We need to be adaptable to any situation. That has been our main focus,” HellrangeR, who serves as team captain, said. “We were prepared for DAMWON’s very structured approach to the game.”
Global Esports defied expectations
While they had been caught off guard, DWG KIA were far from done. Some crucial team fights went in the Korean team’s favor, eventually tying up the map 6-6. But HellrangeR and former Cloud9 Blue player Josh “shinobi” Abastado had prepared their team for anything, so they weren’t worried just yet.
“We made a rule that, regardless of us being up or down, we would just focus on the next round,” HellrangeR said. “It didn’t matter that we were up early. Even when they tied it up it didn’t matter. We were confident on our defensive side.”
Global esports had hired shinobi, who was wide awake watching the match in his Los Angeles, California apartment at 3 a.m. PT, to help them with their LCQ run. He couldn’t understand a word that they were saying in-game, but was feeling increasingly nervous as DWG KIA closed the gap on the scoreboard.
“It’s nerve wracking watching the game,” shinobi said. “They aren’t speaking in English when they’re playing official matches, so it’s hard. They’re speaking Hindi. It’s easier to pick up on certain things, like lapses in comms if I’m working with a North American team. I have to look without a lot out of context here.”
Global Esports then ran the table on DWG KIA, going up 12-8. Two members of DWG KIA tried to push to C Site where Ganesh “SkRossi” Gangadhar was lying in wait. He finished the fight with a stunned, no scope kill, earning the Indian organization their first international VALORANT victory.
“Maybe no one expected us to take a map against DAMWON, let alone beat them. We knew we could,” HellrangeR said. “We honestly didn’t care about general perspective of other people, but we had the belief we could go all the way.”
The group of five players got up from their chairs in the conference room in Chennai, India in excitement, although their work had only just begun. After all, Global Esports made a major investment with the Last Chance Qualifier, hiring Shinobi, flying all the players and their PCs out from Mumbai to Chennai in order to reduce the impact of ping and renting hotel rooms and a conference room. It was essentially a mobile boot camp for the tournament.
“We wanted to change the outlook that people have of VALORANT in India, but this tournament was also about our international aspirations,” HellrangeR said. “It was about winning the event, not just going through the motions. We did everything in our power to reduce our ping.”
On an island in India
Global Esports are one of the premiere esports organizations in India. They’ve fielded teams in Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite and other games. Their VALORANT squad, like the game itself, is relatively new. The HellrangeR-led team is grappling with issues that are common when Indian teams try to compete on the international stage.
“Every time they request for us to play on Mumbai servers or they have really high ping, it doesn’t really work out for us,” Paper Rex Coach Alex “alecks” Salle said. “It’s tough for us to play, so I usually just cancel. I usually just turn them down as a region itself.”
The APAC Last Chance Qualifier didn’t go as the team had hoped, as it was their first chance to compete internationally. They fell to Paper Rex before getting knocked out by F4Q. The tournament was online, so ping was still an issue. Global Esports tried to reduce the impact it had by traveling to Thailand, but COVID-19 travel issues would require them to quarantine until game day.
The VALORANT scene in India is robust. There are so many tournaments that Global Esports had to skip a few while they prepared for the APAC LCQ. All these tournaments feature the same teams, putting Global Esports in a silo. The only way to get out is to put in an investment toward international competition.
“That’s why we don’t play all the events, firstly,” HellrangeR said. “We want more events that give us international opportunities.”
HellrangeR and the rest of the team plan to take a couple of weeks off now that the APAC LCQ has ended. After that, they’ll go back to competing locally and preparing for next year. They made an impact with their upset over DWG KIA, but that win was just a starting point.
“We wanted to prove that our region, while not the best, can do really well if given the opportunity,” HellrangeR said.