Xset IGL Rory “Dephh” Jackson has an entire life built in North America. Now he is looking to build upon his career in VALORANT.
While XSET will not be in attendance at VCT Masters Berlin, XSET stand as one of the contenders to win the VCT NA Last Chance Qualifier. Primarily a team of rookies, the NA VALORANT team is looking to improve upon their fourth place finish and qualify for the VCT Champions in October. With just one last chance to qualify for a big event in 2021, XSET are on the brink of a breakthrough. And for XSET IGL Rory "Dephh" Jackson, the goal to compete at a higher level with XSET is driven by the ability to return to live events. In this interview we speak to XSET Dephh to talk about life in North America, XSET’s development as a team and the regions overall strength.
I want to actually start by asking you about when you first came to America with Complexity, what was that experience like?
XSET dephh: It's a bit of a pipedream story, to be honest, I originally, I was playing in Europe, whilst I was at university, kind of just poking NCS not really thinking about being pro actually, it kind of just happened. I received a DM on Twitter, of my ex manager and coach warden. I told my parents that I may be flying to America soon and they assumed the worst. They thought I was going to get my kidney stolen knowing my parents. Since that decision, I have never really looked back.
I obviously miss home, and my family and friends there and I feel a bit disconnected from them. That being said, I've built a life and friend group here now. I also have a wife in the States now, so America is my home. It’s been tough with Covid though because I haven't been able to go home as much as I'd like to. The last couple of years, I've been going home twice a year so it's been a struggle. America is an amazing country and it's given me so much in life. I'm very grateful to be here.
"I told my parents that I may be flying to America soon and they assumed the worst. They thought I was going to get my kidney stolen knowing my parents. Since that decision, I have never really looked back."
How often would you go home before COVID? Would it be four times a year?
XSET dephh: I always had it in my contract where I would have flights where I could go home and see my family. It's obviously pretty overwhelming for a guy to come here alone, but now I've built this support system in both countries. I see myself as a Brit at heart. And then I also have a green card. So I'm semi-American, right now.
Did you always live in in Texas when you lived in the States? Or did you bounce around the United States?
XSET dephh: Definitely bounced around. I think I've moved seven times in six years. When I first came to the States, I lived in Houston originally. Then I moved to Aurora, Denver, then downtown Denver, then Dallas, Texas, then Austin, Texas and now Louisiana. So I've moved six times in the last five years, which is pretty intense. But I've enjoyed seeing different states and different people. There is something about the vastness of America has really struck me.
How did you meet your wife originally? It seems like she impacts a lot of your decision to stay in America?
XSET dephh: Yeah, this. She lived in Dallas, Texas and I met her through a dating app, oddly. Ever since then, we actually got married during COVID. We applied for a green card together and still have to plan the wedding just because of the travel restrictions recently. That is an exciting benchmark for the future.
My wife is going to LSU for a course. We decided to pick a university that she enjoyed that was still Central. I still get nice ping because of this and I really appreciate her support in this. She has followed me around in my career. The older I get, I need to realize that she has a life to live and things to do. So that's why we moved to Louisiana.
It seems like she really is your prime motivation for staying in the States now.
XSET dephh: Absolutely, I think if I had an opportunity to finish my career in Europe and she was not in the picture, I would have left NA. Honestly though, I love America and it is my new home for now. Not sure about the future, but for now I don't see myself leaving.
Also, I truly feel NA VALORANT is much more competitive. I feel as if I am playing in the best region now which makes staying here a no brainer. For me, that's the most enjoyable thing. All teams in one region and every single team is really strong. That is one of the best environments to be in.
It almost feels as if this is the first esport where North America is the top region now.
XSET dephh: Yeah, North America is totally dominant. If you're not playing Na you're not getting the proper experience as a player. These teams we are scrimming are really strong teams constantly. They go to events with NA teams and they just struggle. There is not much depth in skill in Europe right now. Yeah, I'm not sure if it's the mindset. I'm not sure if it's if the CS players haven't moved over yet. Totally unsure of the reasons behind it. Right now, it feels like na is just so dominant in VALORANT.
So what do you think of Europe having more seeds even with Sentinels winning Reykjavik?
XSET dephh: I think the next event is going to be won by a North American team again. That will extend the North American representative count to 4. I actually think that after Reykjavik, they should have made some re-evaluations to the VALORANT Champions team seeding. NA are the strongest region and as a result, we should have the most seeds. And I think they should have happened already because the other regions haven't proved themselves. And EU I'm not sure why that even happened. I think they expected Europe to be stronger, but it ended up backfiring.
NA is insane at this game. Every team we play has a different footprint for the game and play differently. The prep that you need in NA is really intense, but it makes competition and viewership much more exciting. You can obviously see that and how viewership is continuing to grow.
I want to talk about XSET as a whole. I feel like it's been cool to see the progression of this team from the first What do you call it the first like your first tournament with them to where you guys are at now were you guys got second to qualify here. And then you're in this position where you talk for
XSET dephh: I think there's been an XSET playoff curse they call it and even the to the event. Some of my teammates have said it before. I think it boils down to experience. 100 Thieves brought years and years of experience on that team playing big games in playoff scenarios. The more events we play, the more we will be able to replicate our success in qualifying events.
We are slowly getting better and at the right time with this Last Chance Qualifier coming up. People still think we have this honeymoon period but the honeymoon period is gone like no one's talking about that anymore. We just want to qualify for VCT Champions. That's the only focus we have right now.
"It is very difficult to go to an event just because the skill in NA is really high and the amount of seeds we get is really low. Right now, I feel as if we are just on the cusp of being able to qualify for these LANS."
Do you have any closing remarks?
XSET Dephh: Yeah, I just want to go to an event after being inside for all of this time. With XSET, all of our matches have been online, but it would be amazing for myself and my teammates to get experience at LAN. It is very difficult to go to an event just because the skill in NA is really high and the amount of seeds we get is really low. Right now, I feel as if we are just on the cusp of being able to qualify for these LANS.
We are just barely on the outside. I imagine every NA players goal is to make it to LAN. One of the most exciting parts of being a professional player is being able to see different cities and compete in different countries. Those LAN events make the hours grinding at home worth it.