FORMATION Stories: Dani
For Dani, placing no.4 on the North American VALORANT Leaderboards is simply the cherry on top for all his time spent practicing to go pro.
His pro journey began in earnest after he made a friendly rival of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins before getting the invite to join a pro team assembled in part by the big league streamer.
Dani, 21, is a Sova main and college student studying software engineering out of Canada’s capital. From as early as nine years old, Dani mastered FPS games like Combat Arms, Alliance of Valiant Arms, and of course, CS:GO.
“I was really into esports as a kid,” he said. “My favorite team was Cloud9 with Sean Gares and all them.”
The biggest hurdle to his shot at the pros, Dani said, was the lack of good PC hardware. After a two-year break for school, and a subsequent internship, Dani was finally able to buy a desktop that could keep up with the demand of high-level play.
It was around this time that VALORANT Closed Beta launched, and, as Dani saw it, made the FPS genre more interesting with the introduction of different variables beyond flashes and smokes.
“I like the abilities because it creates new metas and you have to adapt. The people who don’t want to switch and change their playstyle around the meta—well, they need to do it to get better and that's what I like about VALORANT,” he said.
In the middle of last year, after having spent some time with an amateur VALORANT team, Dani found himself at 3 a.m. in a match against Ninja and Austin "Morgausse" Etue. The rivals frequently trash talked in chat. But the pair found themselves on the same team the next day.
Not long after the two became friends, Ninja asked Dani to join the newly formed “Time In.” The long hours of practice on and offline, as well mentorship from the larger team, is what Dani says helped him to master the fundamentals of VALORANT.
“From the start I knew they were serious, not just a ‘streamer team.’ People didn't see the work they put in outside the stream,” Dani said. “Offline they were in a server for hours practicing stuff. Especially Ninja. No one saw that.”
After Dani left Time In, he co-created “Sum 2 Prove” along with Alex “Sofa” Kolich and a hand-picked group of would-be VALORANT pros.
“Sum2prove put in a lot of work outside the server, maybe even more than Time In,” he said. “It was the hardest working team I’ve seen or been a part of.”
Now he's playing ranked and looking for a chance to grind it out with a tier 2 team.
“The thing about the pro scene is that you kind of have to get lucky because there are so many great players out there,” he said. “You just have to get an opportunity.”
If you could make any Agent, what ability would they have?
Something like what Soraka in League of Legends can do. She all-heals her team wherever they are on the map.
What about the current meta do you love?
The meta is switching right now and I have not scrimmed in a while, but it seems like it’s still Viper meta, which is slower paced. I do like the slower paced meta, even though everyone doesn’t. I think it's more strategic, you have to think more. You have to bait out utility from the enemies, make sure they don't just rush in and take the site for free.
I hate post plant meta. Everyone is using Viper mollys and Sova Shock Darts. Seems impossible sometimes.
What would you tell a player who wants to go pro?
Be a nice person in ranked. You need to have good connections. You realize with esports, a lot of it is connections. I know there are a lot of negative people in ranked and they end up cutting ties with others based on stupid stuff in ranked. So be nice and have good vibes.
How do you spend time when not playing VALORANT?
Chilling with friends or programming. I have a summer course right now. I’ve never done gaming, just software dev like object oriented, automation and stuff like that. Gaming development is something that would be cool to try in the future.
What would you like to see from VALORANT before the end of 2021?
You guys are killing it right now, you listen to feedback, there’s always updates. There are more updates in the last month than I’ve seen in [redacted] in the last five to six years. Maybe just remove Jett from the game? Remove the Judge as well.