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V1 Immi: “I don’t think Sentinels will drop a map at this tournament”

North American team Version1 have continued to surprise many at the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Stage 2 Masters Reykjavík. Despite their loss against NUTURN Gaming, they made it extremely close. Now they continue their Lower Bracket run against EMEA representatives Fnatic.

After their match, we spoke to Version1’s coach Ian “Immi” Harding on how the team is handling matches and their stand-in player, as well as a short preview of the upcoming matches.

Thank you for doing this interview with me and commiserations for the loss to NUTURN Gaming. Let’s start off nice and easy. Walk me through your series against them and what were your expectations coming into the game?

Immi: Honestly, we watched their games and we scrimmed against them while we were here, and we honestly expected to beat them 2-0. I’m not going to lie, we honestly expected a 2-0 victory and I think we just beat ourselves. We let the nerves get to us, we were hesitant to do what we wanted to do. Like we would call something but we were really hesitant to go in.

If we were just confident and we just did what we wanted to do, I think we would just go 2-0. We had match points on both maps. It’s really sad but that’s how the game went.

After you defeated NUTURN on the first map, which was Haven, did you expect them to come back so strongly in the second and third map?

Immi: We knew we were going to win Haven pretty heavily because we watched them, they don’t often play a sentinel, and we knew we were gonna get bomb sites and stuff like that. We knew we were going to beat them. We started on defense and they just couldn’t do anything against us. Then going into the next two maps we knew it was going to be closer. Obviously, Haven was our pick but we still expected to beat them. It’s just unfortunate.

You really lost to NUTURN in two overtimes. What was it like as a coach watching both overtimes? Were you extremely panicked or even shouting at the screen?

Immi: Yeah, I was extremely stressed! I haven’t gotten stressed once in this tournament but knowing we should have won that game made it even worse. It was more like listening to my team, we weren’t playing our normal game. And NUTURN of course played amazingly. But yeah, it was very stressful.

Speaking about stress, even though you guys lost today, the team seems to still be in high spirits and having fun. How are you guys dealing with the pressure coming to Iceland and with what people might be saying on social media?

Immi: I don’t think we have any pressure at all. We came in with a stand-in, we beat Team Liquid, we played NUTURN in a close series and they are now a top three team. Even if we go out of VCT Masters, even if we play Fnatic or X10 Esports tomorrow and we get knocked out, as far as I’m concerned we’ve done well to have a stand-in and still play like this. If we had our natural fifth player, who knows what happens.

As for keeping spirits high, that’s just the mentality we have as a team. We try not to get stressed about mistakes or anything like that and we just try to have fun with it. When we practice, we try not to make it like it’s an army drill where if anyone makes a mistake, I just rage at them because that’s just not helpful. Obviously, we discuss our mistakes after the game or during it and after that we just move on to the next game.

On the topic of your stand-in, Jamal “jammyz” Bangash has looked really good and he has had some really good performances so far. For you as a coach, what has the process been like integrating him into the team? How are you guys functioning so well with him?

Immi: I coached jammyz in beastcoast before this, and I knew he was the player to get because he mains Viper. Honestly, he’s just slotted straight in. It’s a little bit different because Maxim “wippie” Shepelev has more experience and would be a lot more aggressive while jammyz is a bit more passive, but we’ve spoken about it and managed to work around it. I’m trying to get jammyz to play more aggressively as the tournament goes on.

Touching on the tournament a little bit, today you had two maps go into overtime versus NUTURN and it was very close. The series is the best-of-three and I believe the only best-of-five will be in the grand finals. In your opinion, do you like the current format with best-of-threes leading up to the grand final or do you think that the tournament needs more best-of-fives?

Immi: No, I think this is definitely the best format with best-of threes and double elimination. Even a best-of-three and single elimination format is good if you can get the seedings right. This is the best format and I just think for more best-of-five games… before Riot Games can implement more best-of-fives, I think we need the new map introduced into the competitive pool.

Well for tomorrow, you face either Fnatic or X10 Esports in the Lower Bracket. What are your opinions on both teams and what are your predictions? Who do you think you’ll be facing?

Immi: We’ve scrimmed X10 since we’ve been here and those guys are pretty good. We haven’t played Fnatic and I’ve watched a little bit of them. I think we’ll be playing Fnatic from what I’ve seen. But for us, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We just need to get into the mindset that whoever we play, we play our game and we don’t stray away from that.

That’s fair. Now that NUTURN has moved on, who do you think wins between NUTURN and Sentinels?

Immi: I think Sentinels will win it. I don’t think Sentinels will drop a map at this tournament.

This is a bold statement, I think that’s the headline right there!

Immi: Well…maybe they drop Bind in the grand finals since it’s the best of five. But other than that, I don’t see them dropping a map.

I spoke to Team Liquid’s coach Connor “Sliggy” Blomfield around two days ago and I asked him if Valorant right now needs a Pick and Ban system for the agents. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Valorant needs it right now or it should wait a little bit?

Immi: I think it could work now. I’d like to see it though because I like the aspect of the game. I played League of Legends at a decently high level so I like that aspect, like looking at what people or teams will play. My team can play a lot of agents so it would work out for us, so of course I’d say yes.

But I think maybe they would have to wait for maybe another four or five agents, and then introduce maybe just a couple of bans bascially.

That’s fair enough. We’ve come to the end of the interview and I’ve got one last question for you. Usually at this point I will always ask, ‘anything else you’d like to say or shoutouts you’d like to give’, but since Sentinels and Version1 have been performing so well at this tournament, I’d like to ask you: will we see an all-NA finals? Will Version1 make the Lower Bracket run to the finals to give the NA fans hope?

Immi: I genuinely thought we were already going to do it! Like I said earlier, I thought we were going to win 2-0 against NUTURN today. Yeah, I think NA can have hope, though I think we’ve given them hope anyway. Looking forward to the future, I know it’s not this tournament but when wippie comes to a tournament with us, I honestly think we will be strong favorites to take the tournament. It will change a lot and you will see a lot of change with us.

That’s not bad-mouthing or disrespecting Jamal (jammyz) of course, Jamal’s an insane player and he’s standing-in for us on such short notice, but there’s no replacing your permanent fifth player.

Thank you Immi and best of luck to Version1!

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Image Credit: Version1