Esports.gg caught up with Saadhak, IGL of LOUD, prior to the 2024 season beginning with the VCT Americas Kickoff tournament.
The start of VCT Americas is rapidly approaching. There are plenty of teams that have changed, other remained the same, and players who are hungry to win. Just ask Matias "Saadhak" Delipetro of LOUD about that.
We sat down with him during the pre-season media days for VCT Americas 2024. He knows his team looks a bit different, but they're ready to grind and compete just as they always have. He's a former world champion for a reason.
Saadhak discusses changes and team focus heading into VCT Americas 2024
"We’ll start with the changes to the team. Pretty much the same as last year, but with aspas and fRoD both gone. Is there anything in particular about those two you’ll miss?"
Saadhak: "I would start with fRoD. He taught me so much of the game. The way he saw the game was quite unique and he helped me learn a lot, which is something I'm going to miss. I'm going to miss our talks.
"And for aspas, I would say I miss him for sure. He's a really cheerful guy. He's a really smiling guy. He's a, a really goofy guy in some situations, so I'm going to miss his energy. But I think he's happier. He's much better now, and I'm super happy for him."
"And then their replacements, qck and peu. Tell me how they fit into the team and what they bring that you see as an improvement over last year."
Saadhak: "The good thing with peu is, for starters, he understands the language. That's something that we struggled a little bit with fRoD in the past because my teammates, they don't really speak English that well. So, maybe to get through with an idea or to maybe have a one-on-one, it's going to be much easier.
"And he had a really good record last year because they basically won everything in Brazil. So, he has new ideas, he has new structures, new strategies that we are going to use. And qck, I would say he's a different person from what aspas was in the past. I would say he brings a lot more of flexibility.
"I would say we can kind of use him as a secret weapon in a way, because he can play basically anything. In the past for FURIA, he played Duelist. He played Sentinels, he played Controllers, he played basically everything. So we can use him as a secret weapon to switch play styles or maybe to do some other things. But I don't wanna spoil that much."
"You touched on this a bit, but if you could expand your answer. We’ve seen a lot of players jump to teams that aren’t necessarily in their region during these first years of the partnered leagues. Like pancada and Sacy to Sentinels, most recently C0M to Leviatán Was it important to bring a Brazilian player and coach to LOUD?"
Saadhak: "The most important is the cultural part. Being able to share more than just the game. Being able to have a normal conversation, being able to talk like friends. To talk like people that know each other in a more private way.
"For example, it wouldn't have the same impact as, I don't know, someone that was born in your city as someone that was born in another country. Because the people that born in the same city as yours are going to have a similar attitude, similar accent, similar experiences in a way. Right?
"So for us, that was a really huge focus for 2024. Right. We were lacking that a little bit last year. I think mostly the language barrier. And it was kind of difficult to have those one-on-one sessions."
"Well, I wouldn't consider last year a failure, right? Second place at LOCK//IN, winning VCT Americas, and third place at Champions. What has the team done in the off-season to ensure you won’t fall just short at these international LAN tournaments again?"
Saadhak: "We're trying to renew ourselves in a way, because we know what we were making bad mistakes last year. So, we are trying to improve on those for 2024, this new season. At the same time, it's kind of hard because practice in Brazil is rough in a way.
"The competitive ecosystem there is kind of failing in a way. It's kind of hard to get through practice. And we are super far from NA, right? There's a lot of things that we try on Brazil that worked, but we came he and we have to scratch everything and readjust.
"Or maybe try something new here. So, it's been a challenge for sure. We're going to keep trying, you know,. We're going to keep improving and giving it our best."
"It all starts with the VCT Americas Kickoff tournament. Completely different setup than last year. What are your thoughts on the format, and the upcoming season overall?"
Saadhak: "I think Riot actually listened to the guys complaining about having to play like a best-of-three and then flying back home. That was super sad for some of the teams. The Asian teams, for example, have to fly like a whole day, then they lost one best-of-three, and then they flew back home, which was super unfortunate.
"I would say like the format right now, for me, it seems better. It seems a lot better than before. We get to play, not more games, but we get to play at a higher level. Because the people that win right now, they're going to go to Madrid. They get to fly to Madrid, have the best experience in Madrid, try to win Masters.
"And the teams that start as losers, they can keep practicing in the same region and get ready for the second one, which is really good. So, I think overall, they're improving quite a lot, and thank God we don't have to play only one best- of-three right now."
"In the kickoff tournament, Group B places you against your former teammates I mentioned. First up against Sentinels, and a potential match against Leviatán. Then, of course, 100 Thieves rounds out the field. What’s the game plan going into such a stacked group?"
Saadhak: "I was watching some Twitter comments and people were saying it's kind of like a family reunion. Previous players from LOUD playing each other. I said this before, it's going to be really tough because the teams right now are really, really, really competitive, and really strong.
"You have Sentinels, they keep grinding and they keep practicing. They won a couple of tournaments in this off season. You have Leviatán that also won a tournament recently, but they changed a player. They changed Nozwerr for C0M.
"C0M is a world champ player, so it might be a even be an upgrade. It's going to be really hard, but we're going try to prepare the best way we possibly can. The same way we did last year and maybe even better. But as always, it's gonna be hard.
"It's going to be even harder because we don't know how everyone plays. That's something to look out for. You have an overview o how a team plays. For example, let's say Sentinels. Sentinels is super aggressive, or Sentinels is super passive. Maybe we can do this or we can do that, you know, and now we are kind of going in the dark. Like, okay, let's do our thing and let's hope for the best."
"We’ll end with a couple of questions more about just you rather than the team. This one is open-ended. In life, in the game, just in general. How are you feeling going into the 2024 VCT?"
SaadhaWell, last year I was super tired. I'm going be honest, last year was super tiring, because we have two new players. I find myself playing with super young players and that required a lot from me. Now that they have more experience, I can just relax a little bit more and focus on myself. Which is something that I'm super happy I can do.
"Overall I'm feeling super happy. Of course, I love competing. I love playing. That's why I'm able to do it for so many years. I love being here. I love having this interview. I love being able to show my craft, being able to shoot heads, which makes me happy. And of course, winning whatever I can. And if we lose, we lose, it happens. But I'm happy overall, I'm super happy."
"And lastly, I want to talk about your in-game leading. You’re always in the conversation of the top IGL’s in VCT Americas. Should we expect any major changes to how you approach VALORANT as an IGL this year?"
Saadhak: "We have some new things coming our way for sure. We have some things we actually wanted to try last year, but we didn't. We didn't manage to have enough time. So, you can expect some surprises, I would say, in the way that we're going to play and the way we're going to call, and all that fun stuff."