Australs are trying to take Chilean VALORANT to the global stage
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Original Reporting

It was a relatively cool day in São Paulo on Oct. 11, but the five players on Australs’ VALORANT roster were even cooler. The Chilean team had been going back in forth in both of their Last Chance Qualifier matches, but the game against Sharks Esports was closer than the beans and beef in a Feijoada. The team wasn’t worried, though.

“Even when we were down 6-9, we were chilling,” said Austral general manager Cristobal “torito” Quintana. “We were having fun because we knew we could come back.”

Australs had lost 14-12 in overtime on Split, but squeaked out a 13-11 victory on Ascent. It all came down to Icebox, and things weren’t looking good as Sharks Esports pulled out ahead. Austral closed the gap and then took Sharks round for round until the Chileans won 14-12. They always believed they would win, especially since they had so much experience playing the other teams in their region.

Australs in the South America Last Chance Qualifier

“I’m always confident,” said Benjamín “adverso” Poblete. “I trained with the same teams throughout the year so I already know them!”

Adverso and the rest of his team have felt that way since making the four hour flight from Santiago earlier in the month. Most of the team lives in Santiago, except for adverso who flew from southern Chile and Ignacio “Capi” del Rio who travelled from Buenos Aires, Argentina. They’ve been staying in a hotel in the Pinheiros district of São Paulo, eating rice and beans at the hotel restaurant and enjoying the nature-heavy sites in walks around the neighborhood.

The team, four of which have been together since January of 2021, now face off against Havan Liberty in the semifinals. If they win they’ll face either Gamelanders Blue or FURIA Esports — who have already lost to Australs in a Group A match — in the grand finals. Adverso and company will go home if they fall short.

“Brazilians are really aggressive, FURIA and SHARKS are really aggressive,” torito said. The three other teams remaining in South America Last Chance Qualifier are Brazilian. “We play more passively. We find their weaknesses throughout the maps and then punish them where we can.”

Australs LCQ
Australs is the only Chilean team left in South America’s Last Chance Qualifier | Provided by Australs

A different format from other Last Chance Qualifiers

Unlike every other region in the VALORANT Champions Tour, the South American Last Chance Qualifier includes a group stage. Other regions have a double elimination bracket, giving the team that never loses an advantage in the grand finals. The group stage does give teams a chance to move on if they lose, but no team receives an advantage in the grand final.

“We don’t like the group stage format as much, we like the style in North America. It is what it is,” torito said, before adding that they didn’t get any winner’s bracket advantage when playing KRÜ Esports at the Stage 3 Challengers Playoffs in Mexico City. “It’s like coming from loser’s bracket makes you stronger because you’re playing constantly.”

Australs plans to give Riot Games that feedback at the end of the tournament, but all the team’s focus is on their match against Havan Liberty on Oct. 16. They’ve been scrimmaging teams like KRÜ Esports on their day off from matches, preparing for tomorrow. The semifinals match will be on a new stage in a bigger venue in São Paulo.

Australs LCQ
Australs players didn’t have much time to explore the city, but they loved all the vegetation | Provided by Australs

While Australs’ ultimate goal is to win big in VALORANT, the team also wants to see Chilean esports grow within Riot Games’ shooter. According to adverso and torito, there isn’t as much support for the region in League of Legends and other esports. That’s part of the reason why the region hasn’t put out impressive results. Adverso mentioned that Infinity Esports, a Costa Rican team made up of Chilean, Argentinean, Uruguayan and Peruvian players, hadn’t won any games at Worlds 2021.

Torito, adverso and the rest of the team will start planning for next year while competing in local tournaments if they get sent home tomorrow, but they aren’t thinking about that right now.

“The boys are very confident, coach is confident,” torito said. “He knows a lot of the play styles in Brazil.”

Watch Australs’ match against Havan Liberty at 12 p.m ET on the Brazilian VALORANT Twitch channel.

Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.
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