Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks and Gustavo “sacy” Rossi both shared a similar dream in joining North American VALORANT teams for the 2023 VALORANT Champions Tour season.
“I had this kind of desire, let's say, let's call it a dream to play outside Brazil since I was younger, since League of Legends,” Sacy, a former League of Legends pro and VALORANT world champion, told Nerd Street.
Ardiis recalls telling his mother about this dream when he was 5 years old
“Ever since I was a kid, I had a dream of moving to NA to move to America. Just experience the lifestyle and see what the life is,” Ardiis said.
Only ardiis is truly an “import” under Riot Games’ new structure for the 2023 VALORANT Champions Tour, which consolidates the top tier North American, Latin American and Brazilian teams into one region. He’s the only European import in the VCT Americas league, which is set to kick off April 1.
Sacy kisses the Champions trophy. Photo credit: Riot Games
Sacy, along with teammate Bryan “pANcada” Luna, are not imports, but they’re still in a unique position as the only Brazilian players who have joined one of the five North American teams in the 10-team league.
Sacy said he had a chance to join a European team after competing with Brazil’s Team Vikings during the VCT 2021 season. He felt the time wasn’t right though, and instead joined Brazilian team LOUD, who ended up winning Champions to close out the VCT 2022 season.
“After LOUD, winning Champions, I felt that I had this opportunity,” he said. “I felt like ‘OK, I'm gonna have this opportunity for me, all right, I think that's the time.”
Ardiis also tasted success last year before moving to North America. He won Masters: Copenhagen with FunPlus Phoenix.
Ardiis lifts the Masters: Copenhagen trophy. Photo credit: Riot Games
Neither player has to prove that he’s a winner, but both have raised the bar for themselves this year.
Adjusting to their new North American teams
Both players have joined two teams with high expectations entering 2023. Ardiis joined an NRG team that’s made up of a core of three players plus a coach who led OpTic Gaming to win Masters: Reykjavík and finish second at Champions last year. Sacy joined a Sentinels team that is arguably one of the most popular VALORANT teams in the world and that will definitely have the eyes of the entire Americas region with both North American and Brazilian players on the roster.
NRG showed that they’re one of the top teams in the region after a close loss to LOUD at the VCT LOCK//IN tournament in February. Sentinels have yet to show their full potential after losing their opening round LOCK//IN matchup to Fnatic who ultimately won the tournament.
Ardiis said the biggest adjustment so far for him has to do with his role, but that would be the case regardless of which team he’s on. With Chamber no longer being a strong agent, ardiis has had to branch out from his signature agent last year.
Ardiis has had to expand his agent flexibility this year. Photo credit: Riot Games
“Now you have to fit what the team needs, and people like [Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker], people like me … there's a lot of people who were good at Chamber who will now have to also have to play like four new agents,” he said. “So it's gonna be a lot harder for a lot of people. So I just have to be more flexible and I was already flexible on FPX because I've played a lot of agents there. So yeah, I'm definitely flexible but that's definitely a struggle.”
At VCT LOCK//IN, Ardiis played Sage, Jett, Killjoy, Kayo and Raze.
Coming from a Portuguese-speaking roster on LOUD, Sacy’s biggest challenge early on was communicating with his new teammates in-game.
“In the beginning was hard, especially because I didn't know the callouts for the maps,” Sacy said. “Yeah, so I was needing to study every day. So like, ‘OK, on Ascent they call this, they call this or that.’ So after I got used to it was better to give … more opinions, more ideas during the round. I got used to it pretty fast, actually.”
Sentinels coach Syyko has been impressed by the work both Sacy and pANcada have put in to improve their English and how quickly they are coming along.
Sacy and pANcada both joined Sentinels after winning Champions with LOUD. Photo credit: Riot Games
“Sacy has always been essentially fluent in English as well, but even he is starting to pick up things quicker and quicker, right? Because while he is fluent, there's always room for improvement as with any skill, right? So it's been great to see them both take to it so enthusiastically and put in so much effort to round out their English,” he said.
Another adjustment for Sacy has been getting used to the cultural difference in the way disagreements play out on Sentinels compared to his Brazilian teams. He thinks arguments are a lot more “polite” in North America.
“In Brazilian teams, we used to fight a lot, like really harsh … Here I think that people are more professional in a way and we kind of argue like [in a] polite way. And that's a good thing, but it's different,” he said. “I'm not used to it. So sometimes I don't know if this guy is like, ‘Oh, he's fighting or not?’ But then I got to use it, it was just first-month problems, right? Then I realized how to deal with them. So it's kind of been a great experience for me as a professional.”
One thing Sacy did not expect when he moved from LOUD to Sentinels was the backlash he initially received back home in Brazil.
“I think at that time, I was pretty shocked, you know? I was only focusing about like negative comments and not the positive ones,” he said. “And after some time, some therapy, I realized that it was like just a portion of people, and then I started to focus on the good things and the good comments and the feedback. And everyone was cheering for me at LOCK//IN, for me and Bryan, for us.”
Brazilian fans supported Sentinels at LOCK//IN. Photo credit: Riot Games
Sacy noticed Brazilians at LOCK//IN wearing Sentinels jerseys and realized he still had the support of his country. Now, he even notices fans from outside Brazil joining his Twitch streams because he’ll be speaking Portuguese but suddenly notice questions asked in English in his Twitch chat.
Facing off against a highly competitive Americas region
Once Sentinels were knocked out of LOCK//IN, Sacy was cheering for his old team, LOUD, who reached the LOCK//IN final, where they ultimately lost to Fnatic.
Not only was Sacy cheering for LOUD because they were his old team, but like every other Americas player, Sacy was hoping LOUD would win in order to allow another team from the region to go to Masters: Tokyo.
“I already expect them to do good, obviously knowing them. … I even expected them to win. It would be a blast because we would get another spot at Masters, right? So I was cheering for them,” he said. “I think they’re still the team to beat.”
There’s no doubt LOUD are still the team to beat in the Americas. They’re the defending VCT 2022 champions and reached the LOCK//IN final.
Coming from Europe, ardiis never got a chance to play LOUD at either Masters or Champions last year. He got his first taste of what facing the Brazilian juggernauts was like at LOCK//IN and experienced what’s likely to be the biggest rivalry in the Americas this year.
Ardiis is eager to face LOUD again. Photo credit: Riot Games
“I didn't feel like it was a rivalry before the game, but as soon as we played the game and finished the game, I was like, ‘Oh, that's gonna be something here [for] the future,’” he said. “As soon as I played them after the match and all the fans I was like, ‘OK, this is gonna be tension, this is gonna be -- I think this is gonna be a storyline here for the next year.’”
Ardiis added to the rivalry after the match during one of his streams when he implied LOUD might have gotten access to some of NRG’s scrim VODs. He didn’t comment on this, but did say he’s eager for the rematch against LOUD. He'll have to wait until May 14 when LOUD and NRG match up for the one and only time during the regular season.
Ardiis also is looking forward to playing Leviatán to face Vicente "Tacolilla" Compagnon and Francisco "kiNgg" Aravena, and Sentinels to go up against the champions Sacy and pANcada.
Sacy thinks the entire region is stacked but pointed to the same teams ardiis mentioned.
“I'll be honest, I think every team is gonna be like a challenge for us. I don't think there’s a bad team,” he said. “I think it seems to be everyone is looking forward to LOUD, Leviatán, NRG, the core teams from last year. So yeah, I think those are like the teams that everyone wants to beat to prove themselves.”
VCT Americas kicks off April 1, and Sacy and Sentinels will face off against ardiis and NRG on April 9.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games