Valorant’s first competitive year has come to a close, and we got to speak with Andbox’s final addition to their Valorant roster, Aaron “boi” Thao.
What was your competitive gaming experience like before Valorant?
Before Valorant, I started in the Counter-Strike scene at around the amateur and semi-professional level. That was my first taste of the first-person shooter competitive scene. Before that, I played LoL in a high school league around 2013, and in that season, we placed top 8.
What was your introduction to Valorant?
I got into Valorant when I saw a teaser for Project A. It had some of those CS: GO elements combined with the knack of LoL abilities. It reminded me a little of Overwatch, but I was super into it, especially when I heard that Riot was making an FPS title.
What were your initial thoughts on Valorant?
I thought it was going to be one of the greatest games actually. I think Valorant has a unique taste with the CS: GO elements, but it’s a lot harder than CS. There is a lot more you can do so every round can look completely different. In CS, you always have smokes, flashes, and grenades, but in Valorant, every agent has different abilities, so you can’t execute the same plays repeatedly.
What was the solidifying moment you decided that you wanted to pursue a career in Valorant?
Before I was going to pursue a career in Valorant, I was considering playing in the Mountain Dew League in CS: GO. I had to choose between moving to the MDL or playing Valorant, and I was having more fun playing Valorant at the time. It was new and fresh, I met a ton of new people, plus I was enjoying it.
What was your competitive mindset like after you joined Andbox and going into some of these big tournaments?
I was pretty shocked that I got reached out to by Andbox. They are a pretty big company, and when I got to play with them, it was a great group of guys, the coaching staff was helpful, and it’s just been an upward growth so far.
How were you feeling after not qualifying for First Strike Regional Finals, and what was your mindset like going forward?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry, I had my fair share of emotions after that game, but it’s not a big deal to me personally. Going forward, I have a grind mentality. We have long practice days, and I look forward to grinding with the team, so good things are ahead.
Do you think the abundance of Valorant tournaments helps that mindset to keep pushing forward?
Yeah, I think it’s really good for both the tier 1 and the tier 2 scene since it gives the Valorant esports scene opportunity to grow. I think those tournaments are a good stepping stone to climbing the ranks.
How do you feel about your growth as a Valorant player in 2020?
It’s been pretty steadfast coming into Valorant as a previous CS player; the game has been nothing but perfect for me. Starting off, I intended to be a duelist main, but over time I eventually found that I needed to be able to play almost every agent in the game. I met a lot of people from different titles like Apex, PUBG, Overwatch, even Fortnite, and coming into the game we are all new to Valorant. We are all learning, but I’m happy that I got to end up in a supportive role for my team.
What are your thoughts on players from Fortnite, CS: GO, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Seige coming over to Valorant and giving it a try?
I think it’s good for the entire FPS genre, not just for the casual style but also the competitive esports side. It allows us to be creative and share ideas about how to approach the game. I’ve learned so much from Overwatch players and how they view the game versus how CS players view the game.
How do you feel about the growth of your team (Andbox) in 2020?
It’s been awesome, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. When I first came in, I started playing Omen, and I just ended up being crazy with him. Having a supportive team and great coaches helps. All of my team are hardworking guys, and we were only together for two months, and we were able to take home a tournament win, so I think we are on the right path.
What has been one of the best moments of your career so far?
Playing with Andbox and winning the Renegades Invitational tournament definitely.
What are some of your goals going into 2021?
My highest priority is the Champions Tour, we want to qualify for that and to do our best. In a way, it is a proving ground for Andbox. We want to prove to everyone and ourselves that we can compete against any of the NA and International teams. I want to keep working on myself and learning to play new agents still. I want to learn all the ins and outs, and I’m just looking forward to playing in more tournaments.
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