spoke with FNATIC IGL Boaster moments after the team defeated Karmine Corp to qualify for VCT Masters Shanghai.

Jake "Boaster" Howlett is one of the most recognizable faces in all of VALORANT. And despite that fame, he and FNATIC have had a rough start to 2024 compared to 2023. That may have finally ended, with the team qualifying to Masters Shanghai through the VCT EMEA Stage 1 Playoffs.

Following the victory over Karmine Corp, sat down with Boaster. He was very open about the negativity the team faced during their tribulations, and how they're feeling now that they're back on track for success.

Boaster discusses FNATIC's win over KC and finally getting over the hump in 2024

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

"Slow starts today, but strong finishes. You got that revenge from Kickoff against KC and were definitely an attack-sideed team in this one. So, tell me how you guys flipped things to your favor once the second half of each map hit."

Boaster: "It's funny how we always keep getting behind. We actually start to come alive at when we are behind. We start showing glimmers of what could be, in terms of like performance and comms, and what we do together, and our individual capabilities.

"It is quite funny. It's like we almost like coming back. So, then they think it's like they're going to win and then we defeat them. In the worst possible way, similar to LOUD, and EG, and all those teams, which is quite funny.

"But honestly, I don't know. We just kind of, we just keep believing. We've had so many comebacks now, that once we get momentum. We are a momentum based team. So, once we get it, we got it."

"Would you maybe call it FNATIC's version of a rope-a-dope? Where Muhammad Ali would sit back against the ropes and let his opponent wear himself out by swinging on him while he guarded. Then he'd come in at the end, full on for the knockout?"

Boaster: "Well, I wouldn't say it's planned, you know? That sounds like he's got a plan there. Ours is like, 'Why are we not winning these rounds?" And then suddenly we start winning the rounds.

"So yeah, I think he is a bit of a different class to us, I'd say, if that's his plan. My plan is actually to win early and close it out early, but that one never seems to go to plan."

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

"Well, if you guys weren't able to make those adjustments then obviously the chances of not making Master Shanghai would've gone up. What would it have meant for the team, if you didn't qualify for a Masters this year after winning two international events last year?"

Boaster: "I think that's something I've been on a constant struggle with this year. If you compare our performance and our quality last year, we were qualifying for everything. We were winning and then obviously we won two trophies.

"Then this year, we came in super confident, but then we fell short in the Kickoff against KC. We started off the season with a loss and we weren't really sure what was going on.

"So, there was a lot of mental battles, a lot of stuff we had to face and triumph through together. I think it was only really these past two weeks where we were getting the most out of our scrims. And I think it was the perfect time to come alive."

"We're still not at the level that I believe we can be, but at least we're in. And in scrims, we are maintaining positivity and good vibes. Despite the losses and despite the disappointments. Despite the overwhelming pressure from outside. I don't think people talk about that too much.

"Maybe they do, but essentially, once we start losing, it's like the headlines are always, 'Is FNATIC washed? Are they done for? They need to kick this guy. This person needs to go. I can't watch them, I can't support them if they keep doing this. They've got no innovation. What is that? What are they doing?'

"It's just ongoing and ongoing, you know? So, I mean, and obviously the boys, they do read it, they see it. Even if you don't want to read it, your brain's making you read it in a weird way, and it does get to you. So, this year has just been a lot of stress. It's probably taken a couple of years off my life, not going to lie."

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

"Well, with Shanghai on our mind, they just announced the Swiss format. The playoff winners from each league get a bye to Masters playoffs. They'll get to pick their opponents coming out of the Swiss stage. Can I just get your thoughts on that?"

Boaster: "We were joking like, if we get first seed in our thing, we're going pick the hardest team to send a message. We get first seed, we get to choose who we play. We are playing against that team, KRÜ or something.

"I don't know if KRÜ are even making it, I haven't actually been watching any in the past two days. But we were joking, that's the thing. Honestly, I'm just happy to go. We're momentum based and I think it's a big thing for us to qualify for these events and feel like we're back on track.

"Even if we don't win this split, we know that our main goal is winning the big trophies. Because that's all anyone cares about. Obviously, winning the split is going be super important for points, and maybe certifies a little bit more security when it comes to qualification for Champions.

"It's quite relentless. You come back from Shanghai and you're back into it. So, we just have to maintain that, because ultimately, my goal this year was get to China. That's been achieved. Jolly good show. Then the whole team's goal is to go to Champs and win it.

"So, that's what we are going to strive for. I believe we can, it just depends whether we all believe we can. And whether on the day we do our things correctly and we work together.

"And when it comes to qualifying for Shanghai, we saw that huge round to get the team to map point on Bind. Chronicle with that clutch, and then the next round, you guys put it away. What were the comms and the reactions like when Chronicle pulled that off?

Boaster: "Honestly, man, if Chronicle lost that clutch, he's gone. Nah, I'm joking. If Chronicle lost that clutch, I was just thinking, 'Oh bloody hell.' Because I think that round we used our Gekko Ult. So, I was like, 'Oh, I lost the Gekko Ult and we didn't win off of it.'

"Then luckily, he was in the 1v3, and I was thinking, 'Alright, what do we need to do this round?' So, I was looking at our thing, and then he gets two kills. I was like, 'Maybe I don't even need to actually plan anything here. We could be on our way to a cheeky dub against the bonus eco round on the next one.'

"And yeah, he does win it. It was crazy, like some of those, that's what I mean. When you have players like that, of that individual capability, just anything can happen on any given day. And today, there were good vibes.

"I think we all felt some weird energy. Our coach, our manager, they had a good sleep. Ryan, our performance coach was feeling like we were going to win today. Even I was feeling like we were going to win today. Which is a bit different, because I remember at Kickoff against Karmine Corp.

"I was actually on my walk there with the performance coach, Ryan, and I was saying, 'I think we could lose today.' I was just thinking that there was a weird feeling inside of me. Whether we were ready or not. And yeah, on that day, we lost."

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

"You mentioned the energy and how you guys were feeling. They went wild for Chronicle after that, and for every match, there's just one guy screaming the 'Who are we?' with the rest filling in the 'FNC' after. Did you feel that energy coming from the crowd with the headsets on? And were you able to feed off of it at all, to replace the negative energy you felt from outside sources?"

Boaster: "We can, definitely. Like I said, we're a momentum team, so, I feel like maybe the crowd does play into it. Especially when we start winning. For one, they're so loud that the enemy team hears them probably. And two, it's just like in the tactical pauses, all I'm hearing is the one guy that comes every week.

"Or his replacement. He looks like he has like a body double or replacement or something. And it's like, 'You're going to do it this week, I'm working.' I don't know what he's doing, but it's just one person leading it, you know?

"So, it is quite funny that we have that little cheeky chant. I think it's from League of Legends, too. I think they do it there. But yeah, the fact that fans come out here and support us, you know, they travel from afar, some of them. It's crazy.

"I do really appreciate it, which is why, when it comes to when we're losing, it is added pressure. To maintain our spot and maintain our fan service. The more we go to these events, the more that we can.

"You want to see your team do well. But is what it is at the end of the day. The day ends and we keep going. I'm just super grateful."

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

"Last one for you then. You've mentioned how the team's been feeling. And you've shown your emotions after winning and losing. We've seen the fun this team can have. So, obviously, it has to be a big relief making Masters Shanghai. What have things been like internally, through Stage 1? Has everyone been on the same page despite having that harder road to success this year?"

Boaster: "Yeah, I think in terms of the team atmosphere, we're all very friendly with each other. We do enjoy each others company. I just think, when you're losing, there's a lot of stuff that plays into it. You're not really sure what it is at the time.

"You're like, 'Why are we losing?' Then you watch it back and it's little silly mistakes, that we don't really know how to fix them sometimes. And sometimes it's a big macro mistake, strategy-wise. So, we change it and figure that out, but it's a bit too late.

"We've already lost the game. Luckily, that's what the group stages are for. So, we qualified for playoffs, because we knew that we had made some fixes to some maps, so we were ready for it. I wouldn't say it's been necessarily negative on the team.

"I think it's just been mainly confusion, and like we lost ourselves a little bit in terms of our confidence. I think there is that, and not necessarily hunger, but we thought maybe it could have been an easier ride. It seems like everyone's made it a lot harder for us. So, we had to grow from it and reshape our thoughts."

(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
(Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

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