We caught up with Rivington at the Red Bull Campus Clutch Finals in Istanbul, Turkey, to asking him about collegiate esports, casting VALORANT, and more!
The Red Bull Campus Clutch World Finals brought together 34 different teams from across the globe to find out which was the best collegiate VALORANT squad in the world. A unique event, the Campus Clutch gives collegiate-level esports players a unique chance to travel internationally for a LAN event like no other.
We caught up with casting legend Rivington Bisland III during the Campus Clutch event in Istanbul, Turkey, and were able to ask him some questions about the tournament. Rivington talked about what makes Campus Clutch special, why he hopes the collegiate scene continues to develop, and about the transition from casting League of Legends to VALORANT.
On Istanbul and transitioning to casting VALORANT
How are you enjoying the event so far, how's your experience been so far here?
Rivington Bisland III: “The event has been amazing. Coming into this, Vansilli. and Iain, and everybody was just like “Red Bull events are wild, they go all out” and I think that's an amazing part because giving the players of any level of play that kind of recognition of what they've gone through in the qualifiers, the caliber of play that they're able to bring, it's nice to give back and let the players experience this. So seeing that, the players of Collegiate are being given this kind of stage to play on, and to experience this in-house now instead of watching at home is really cool.
And this is my first time in Turkey, so the culture has been amazing, the food has been amazing, and everybody is incredibly nice here, so back and forth, everything has been 110% and the venue is on fire! Like a lot of the Peru and Indonesia fans are making noise now, we're getting a lot of love. They were a little little quiet in the beginning, because people didn't know who they wanted to support fully, but now we have the teams going into the semi-finals and everybody's starting to root for their favorite so it's getting a little more electric!”
You've covered a bunch of games during your career. You kind of broke out with League of Legends, I believe I saw you on some TFT productions, now VALORANT. How difficult is it to have that transition between different games?
Rivington: “So from League to VALORANT was actually going back to my roots. TFT was difficult. Pastrytime and I dabbled with that a little bit. He was always into trading games and deck builders and things like that, and then the TFT kind of chess battler. So I wasn't always in tune with it.
VALORANT was where I went back to, because I started in 2000 with Counter-Strike 1.6.”
Oh, I didn't know that!
Rivington: “So yeah, 10 years of Counter-Strike 1.6 and then various games with WCG that they would have in the United States for people to win and go to whatever finals. But yeah, being able to go back to Valorant, back to FPS, back to my roots, was amazing after having all of this craft honed in League of Legends. I never played MOBAs, so getting into League, Phreak was there, but there wasn’t a lot to teach me what to do, how to do it. Then we kind of crafted out how to cast League.for a long time and there really wasn't too much to tell us what we were doing wrong or how we were doing wrong. That was something I only realized later.
So that was really interesting when I got to VALORANT. I'm like, whoa, I really have to take a look at my casting again, not just "was my last cast okay? because I messed up here," but "how is the dynamic changing?" League isn't VALORANT. It's a different style. It's a different flow. We're not going to rap-cast a fight as they go into the site or defuse the Spike like Captain Flowers. So it really took a lot of change in that sense. And then from play-by-play to analyst, slowing myself down, explaining things, falling less into ‘Riv Ramblings’ and ‘Riv Word Salads’ and being able to really get my thoughts out in a concise manner that wasn't for the next guy to do, because I'm the analyst now, right? I can't be like, play by play, play by play, you! No, it goes on me. So that was a really cool transition and I kind of like that now, because it reaffirmed for me that that knowledge is still there."
So a lot of the, I think you mentioned it briefly, a lot of the casters in the tournament are back for their second, third Campus Clutch. Iain, Vansilli, etc. Do you think you want to become a staple of this event as well? Are you kind of hooked on it now?
Rivington: “Absolutely. Being able to be a part of this and help grow VALORANT from a different tier, knowing that a lot of these players are geared and looking for a Tier 2, Tier 1 team already, these collegiate players are absolutely insane in a lot of respects of how they're playing and what they're bringing to the table.
As some of the players from Ireland noted, there are players that were picked up by Vitality in previous years, right? So being a part of this is something I want to continue to do if Red Bull would have me. It's amazing to be able to call the shots for the players that kind of say, ‘oh my God, you cast League of Legends and now you're calling my VALORANTS shots.’ I'm like, ‘you know what? You deserve to have these shots called because of all the work that you put in.’ So kind of fulfilling a dream there for them feels good for me. And I like it.
The reason I want to be here is that everybody is achieving their dreams. Being able to get to this stage and on the collegiate level is something that's absolutely incredible. Go back when I started and there was nothing like that. People were still looking down on video games and now we're building them up and that's the way it's got to be. I'd want to be a part of Red Bull events going forward forever because that's what they do. They build up the players they build up who comes here and honestly just put them on a pedestal.”
Rivington on the importance of collegiate esports
So as you said this is a collegiate event with younger players, some are just starting out their competitive journey. How important do you think this type of event is for the wider VALORANT ecosystem?
Rivington: “It's actually incredibly important. I said previously, there really wasn't much of a road to video gaming unless you kind of dug your nose into it and people looked down on you back in the early 2000s. And then in 2010, you would still have really great gamers, and then you're starting to get in the professional league in a few years, teams, organizations. But then there was a thought of, “they've done this, but it's taken so much time, what will they do if they don't have college behind them?” And now we can mix both of those. That's just one aspect that blows my mind.
These kids can still achieve a goal of wanting to compete, wanting to play competitive. Something that, for a lot of them, puts them in a social aspect, allows them to grow and understand people rely on them. They rely on people, this family, this team, right? And leading a team. You don't get a lot of that until you're out in the real world. So being able to do that while getting your degree, while making sure you're safe if the gaming didn't work.
"It brings tears to my eyes because I wish I could just go back, dye my hair dark again and go through it myself. Because in my case I was like “there's too much gaming going on,” I had to leave college and then I went to New York City and I started casting."
I think it is actually one of the biggest things that has ever come out of the collegiate scene and the fact that so many colleges are picking up on this, it brings tears to my eyes because I wish I could just go back, dye my hair dark again and go through it myself. Because in my case I was like “there's too much gaming going on,” I had to leave college and then I went to New York City and I started casting. But if I could have done that at college that would have been so awesome and looking at how the Tiers are being built, looking at how difficult it is to keep this kind of Tier 1 competition really interesting, it's getting overloaded so there's got to be a different way.
Being able to foster the talent from collegiate to a Tier 2 scene already in NA that's incredibly strong, and then even further but seeing that collegiate be worldwide now is incredible. So VALORANT is only going to grow. VALORANT is only going to get more support right and that's exactly what you want in a very young game because these players need the assurance, the backing, and the collegiate friends, the league and everyone to make it work. So the fact that we're starting to see collegiate is the real deal”
This is an international competition, players from six continents competing. The current VCT format kind of keeps the regions locked in place and then has a couple of international events. Would you prefer to see more small international events in VALORANT or even large international events for that matter?
Rivington: “I would. I would actually love to see kind of... This feels like a World Cup, right? Do things like that, but this more so that we're bringing everyone together to see where that skill lies and see where the meta of each region lies and that changes at the tournament. So to look at this I would love to see it go even further to a point where in some of these tournaments Tier 1s, Tier 2s, and Tier 3s are almost mixed from each region to see what the region can bring across the board into that World Cup status right?
If you maybe bring tier one and tier two players. This would show you the growth, the strength, the region, where they can come from and what a collegiate player or a tier two player could do on that world stage. Because I think that's the important part here is they don't get a chance to be on the world stage very often and they need that limelight. You know, they put the work in, it's respected, and they should be showing on the stage. So I really think that's cool.”
So USA was eliminated. They were kind of the favorites, won last year. Then Canada was knocked out yesterday after everyone was predicting they would do very well.
Who do you think looks strong now? Who are you rooting for?
Rivington: “I think Indonesia is looking incredibly strong. We have Rey, continues to just bubble people time and time again with that judge. And it creates a style for the team where they're so sure. You don't get that very often. It's like watching the team play with a yay. They're like, oh let Rey go do his thing. He'll do it, you know. I think that gives them a lot of prowess over there over like figuring out what other teams are doing.
Peru, also looking very strong. I think the last teams that are here, like you were saying with America out, it's a new champion this year altogether. I think everybody's surprised at this point, but I currently give it to Indonesia.”
The Red Bull Campus Clutch World Finals conclude today, on Nov. 24. Stick with esports.gg for more VALORANT news and info!