Grand Finalist and dark horse Rise are one match away from qualifying for Champions, and Rise’s Phat “supamen” Le is loving every minute of it.

Rise supamen

After a nail-biting win against 100Thieves, during VALORANT NA Last Chance Qualifiers, RISE has continued to prove everyone wrong by reaching the Grand Finals. Controller specialist Phat “supamen” Le couldn’t help but be speechless as they prepare to take on Cloud9 Blue once again later today. We spoke to Rise Supamen about the event, his battle getting to the battlefield and how criticism from the analyst panel has fueled the team.

A Grand Finalist nobody would have expected

The air was electric.

The underdogs known as RISE shattered expectations and defeated 100 Thieves to get to the Grand Finals of Valorant NA LCQ. It seemed no one except RISE themselves and their fans expected them to come this far, and now all they have to do is defeat Cloud9 Blue once again to secure their spot in Champions.

A key element in RISE’s path to success is none other than Phat “supamen” Le. His infectious enthusiasm and grace under pressure were nothing short of incredible, all due to his gracious nature and extraordinary talent as a Controller main.

The first thing I enjoyed about supamen was his genuine personality; his politeness was shown with a lot of enthusiastic “YES MA’AMs!” that put a smile on my face every time he said it. He possessed a level of self-awareness that is rare in esports and his iron mental was something that most players would give a left leg for.

Yet it was also the adversity that he experienced earlier this year that provided him with such gratitude, especially after his experiences with Dignitas and beastcoast.

“I was first signed by Dignitas at the start of my VALORANT career, then was later benched and then dropped by them,” supamen explains minutes after the win. “And then I had a I had a short period in between where I took some time off to reflect about my career and what went wrong.”

“I actually signed with Beastcoast and they didn’t even announce me for a month and a half. They then just pulled out of VALORANT without announcing me at all.”

Supamen on the challenges of breaking into competitive VALORANT

“Later I found my way with Beastcoast who later also pulled out of VALORANT. At that moment, I was a little lost. I was like, ‘What’s happening? How come I was benched and released by this Dignitas…. by this team who I thought was going to do great things?’ And then the same thing happened to Beastcoast.”

“I actually signed with Beastcoast and they didn’t even announce me for a month and a half,” said RISE Supamen. “They then just pulled out of VALORANT without announcing me at all.”

The sudden career stalling could have been permanent if it wasn’t for an old friend reaching out to him in July. It was past and current teammate Kevin “poised” Ngo, who gave him the lifeline he needed.

“Poised hit me up with RISE three months ago,” he says. “It was like, ‘Hey, bro. We got chemistry from from Dignitas. And I really think you’ll be a great fit to our team.” And that voice in my head said, ‘I think he’s right.’ I enjoyed playing with him and [Ryan “Shanks” Ngo] when we were on Dignitas. I felt like we would do great things together. That’s the number one highlight of my career. I trusted the voice and just went for it.”

Cosmic-level Talent

And boy, did that voice pay off. Despite RISE not really being seen as contenders, they barely scraped by and was able to qualify for VALORANT NA Last Chance Qualifiers. No one expected them to get very far at all. For it was with RISE that supamen honed is talents on Astra, the cosmic Controller who would normally be seen as uninteresting. Leave it to supamen to point out that she is arguably one of the more exciting agents in the game.

The agent of choice for RISE supamen, and with good reason.

“I love Astra. You know a lot of people think she’s boring? You’re playing VALORANT and it’s like playing chess in a way; I feel like she controls the pace. She’s a Controller and Sentinel in one and I love that. When someone tries to fast rush a site and Astra’s there, it’s literally impossible to hold W into a site when Astra has her utility there. That’s the number one thing I like about her,” said RISE supamen.

Also, the fact that Astra can recall smokes makes the game a lot more interesting because when people come up with fakes, you can make them second guess where you’re going and it’s so awesome.”

“The fact that Astra can recall smokes makes the game a lot more interesting because when people come up with fakes, you can make them second guess where you’re going and it’s so awesome.”

Supamen on why he loves playing Astra

This was never more apparent than during their key match against 100 Thieves. On Haven, the final map of the series, it was like clockwork, RISE once again set the tone. And while 100 Thieves put up an excellent fight and took them to 24 maps, it wasn’t in the cards for them. Interestingly, supamen doesn’t even consider Haven a guaranteed win.

“Honestly, we always take Haven as a 50-50 chance, it’s so random. This is the only map with three freaking sites, but every time we play it, we feel good. Our vibes are always on. We know what to do when the other teams are putting pressure on us. And I feel like that’s that’s why we came out on top. It just didn’t really matter what the other team was doing. We always knew how to rotate and play accordingly.”

And they proved it. And the win left him speechless for a second. But he did not hesitate to give credit where credit was due. I pointed out that the second I saw Haven as the final map, in my head, I knew this was gonna be it. And he agreed.

“Yes, ma’am!” he shouted. “I definitely have to give my IGL props–poised. His calls were amazing and everyone else listened. We all chimed in at times. When something is not working, we improvised.”

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Yet there were some cases where it didn’t always work out. During round 12 on Breeze, supamen had released a Viper’s Pit and a Poison Cloud on point A in order to keep 100 Thieves out. While the point was secure, it seemed that supamen was trying another angle–and was immediately shot down. It was confusing to some viewers and even casters Riv and Vansilli, but he had an explanation for this.

“Honestly, that was completely my fault,” he concedes. “I thought they were faking with a Sova drone and then they would go on B. So I wanted to clear them out. But I had also had a feeling that someone was holding me close right. And my second play would have been pre-firing that angle and then fall back with the molly. I took a risk and it cost us.”

Despite the gambit not working out, it was clear that not only was this sort of play approved, but even encouraged because of the level of trust the team has in each of its members. It allowed them the freedom to take those risks without fear of reprisal, due to RISE’s very simple philosophy–teamwork.

“That is why I love my team so much. We all have trust in each other. If someone has a play, if someone is trying something, they don’t hesitate. They should make the play, right? We don’t blame each other. We win as a team and we lose as a team.”

The Miracle Run. Supamen on silencing the doubters

Let’s face facts. Casters and analysts had their doubts. Fans were hopeful yet knew the mountains RISE would have to climb. RISE and supamen knew this, but it only made them more determined to win VALORANT NA LCQ.

“You know, at the beginning of the of the whole thing–have you caught that some analysts thought that we shouldn’t be here? That we don’t deserve to be here? Our performance proved them wrong. I really think people shouldn’t take us lightly anymore. We came out of nowhere and just started dominating everyone. But we worked hard for this and people should recognize that.”

“We know what we’re capable of, and we don’t really let other’s words get to us. The analysts were saying, ‘You don’t deserve to be here, someone else should have your spot,’ you know? We used that as motivation to improve and prove them wrong and that’s exactly what we did.”

There is no bitterness in his voice; only excitement and eagerness. His history before entering VALORANT helped shape his mindset–and his teammates are grateful for it.

“My teammates love me because I’m on it all day,” he continues. “They think that I’m always so calm and clutch during stressful situations. It comes with the experience I got with Crossfire–I played that game professionally for five years. I went to multiple LANs so I know how to play under pressure and just play my game. I don’t let anything get to me.”

And if they end up winning VALORANT NA Last Chance Qualifiers?

“Oh, man. How do I even answer that? I think it’ll be one of the biggest achievements in our lives. And of course we’re gonna go to Champions and win that too. We’d be super happy and grateful for the people who have been supporting us throughout this entire journey. We’re just going to keep performing.”

RISE Supamen’s Gratitude

In the end, it was the tried and true combination of raw talent, supportive friends and fans, and a nurturing work environment that brought RISE one step away from reaching Champions in December. You can feel the positive energy coming from him and his teammates when they speak about each other’s talents, how they always support each other, and above all, never giving up and never forgetting who was always there.

“I’m super grateful,” Rise supamen finishes, the excitement still palpable in his voice. “My day ones, of course, they know who they are. They’ve been supporting me even after I was dropped by Dignitas and Beastcoast pulled out. They gave me the energy to keep going and now I’m here. And I won’t ever forget them.”

Brittany

Brittany "briggsycakes" Gonzalez

| Twitter: @Briggsycakes

Brittany Angelica Gonzalez, a.k.a "Briggsycakes" is a lifelong gamer and history addict who enjoys using her knowledge of socioeconomic issues to provide a necessary insight as to what needs to be done to make gaming a safe space for all. Having been a published writer and journalist for over seven years, she enjoys cooking, pole dancing, a nice glass of red wine, and getting involved in all sorts of good trouble to hopefully inspire other people to stand up and fight.