Jason “Neptune” Tran is looking to take his years of experience in CS and apply it to RISE.
Rise enter the VCT Stage 3 Playoffs as the underdogs of the event. However, as their name indicates, the team is beginning to RISE up in the ranks of North American VALORANT. Going from failed qualifiers to the final slot at the VCT Stage 3 Playoffs, RISE are now looking to make another run, this time to VCT Masters 3 Berlin.
After losing to the Sentinels in the first round in a 2-1 series, Rise will look to make their miracle run in the loser bracket as Jason “Neptune” Tran looks to be a shining pillar for their team morale.
In this interview, we speak to Rise Neptune to talk about his recent series against the Sentinels, his team’s progression, and what he values most in esports now.
I wanted to start by talking about your match against Sentinels. What is it like going against a team that is established as the number one team in the world?
Rise Neptune: Our first game we were not warm at all. That is something that we will continue to work on moving forward in this tournament. It is important to play your matches feeling warmed up and to push aside any pre-match nerves. That is expected given the amount of time we have been together as a team though. Playing them, there is not much you can do other than having a mindset that is positive. These guys are the best team, but it is important to have the mentality that you can beat anyone. That mentality is something every VALORANT pro needs. We were just coming in to play our game and that is our primary focus. It is always a good experience playing them.
I imagine there were some nerves because this feels like the most important tournament for RISE since coming together.
Rise Neptune: Yeah, especially since Derrick and Supamen just came onto this team. We are forming something really good with this team. Whenever we scrim, we do not feel cohesive. That is something we really need to work on. It is important to get on that page.
Why do you guys feel you are not warmed up? Is it first game jitters?
Rise Neptune: It definitely can be attributed to first game jitters and needing some time to get on the same page. I think that is a big thing with newer teams and those with less experience. But as long as we keep a good mindset, which is all we can do, then we will be able to push through it. I have had this happen on certain teams. We start out good and then end badly so every team has their own problem that they need to solve to move forward. I believe we can do it.
I think the coolest thing for you specifically is how many teams you have been on before. Talk to me about your progression in esports.
Rise Neptune: Over time, my mindset is continuing to change and evolve. After experiencing all types of viewpoints and teammates, my values are beginning to change when it comes to esports. My goal, in the end, is definitely different. I wanted to be this star or the most popular player, but now I just enjoy competing. Something I enjoy about VALORANT is putting in the hours and meeting certain people who share those values. I am no longer focused on certain things like money and fame anymore. A lot of players will do that and they will get burnt out. They are using so much energy focusing on money and Twitter followers, but that creates more stress and burnout.
When would you say this mindset shift happened? What was the point where you realized these external things don’t matter?
Rise Neptune: Later in my CS career is when that mindset shift took place. As I played more tournaments. When I first came onto the Counter-Strike scene, I did not know much about the game. My team would do well because we knew the defaults and surface-level details of a game. As you move higher up in the ranks, there is so much more to competitive esports. It is a lot more communication. The IGL’s are more structured and have so much more experience. It is no longer pre-round calls or countering players. The best players in the world are mid rounding. Sometimes they are not even calling regular calls. They are just playing together. They know how to just talk and communicate and play together.
That is something I learned which really changed my mindset. I think that is something that happens with younger players. There is so much more to the game than just running around to find kills. It is more conditioning and defaulting. All of these little things build up. VALORANT is in its first surface level of gameplay and that is what makes it all exciting. I am just excited to continue improving in this game and that is why I just genuinely enjoy making improvements in the team.
It seems like you are carrying that mindset into RISE where you are progressing. What has this team’s growth been like?
Rise Neptune: I am actually really proud of this team’s growth so far. Overall, we are working on pushing Derrick more. He played CS before, but we are pushing him with different mentalities and theories towards the game. I think there is still time for him to improve and as a whole team to improve. I think we can reach that next level of gameplay and stick together. We just need more time to grind and continue to stay on one page.
Throughout this period, I am learning to hone in on better habits for my mindset. I am no longer overthinking about wins and losses. I even try to preach that to my team that it is all about our own progress. In turn, we can bring those things into our game. I think we will be able to improve as a team. We will take the rest of the day to reevaluate things, but the future is bright with this team.
Rise will look to make a loser’s bracket run today as the team looks towards accumulating points for the VCT NA Last Chance qualifier. Their first opponent in the loser’s bracket will be TSM, who are in a similar position to Rise.