Playing from the hotel didn't faze X10 Crit's Patiphan at Champions
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X10 Crit’s Patiphan Chaiwong stood in front of a giant VALORANT backdrop on Monday as a Riot Games host asked him questions about his colorful hair. He had so much space after stepping away from the massive Champions stage in Berlin.

“I don’t want to do any crazy moves or a walkout,” he said as he gestured to his hair. “I just want to be special.”

He was rocking back and forth with excitement as hundreds of thousands of viewers watched him put two fingers on his bicep to show he had ice in his veins as the broadcast cut away. His first international LAN victory was one to remember.

Patiphan found himself in the same winning position one day later, except the scenery was a different. He was holding a Riot Games’ phone in a small hotel room in Berlin a few floors away from where he would go to bed that night. A Riot Games spokesperson asked him what it was like playing from the hotel.

“I can’t hear,” he said. “Can you say that again?”

X10 Crit has enjoyed their hotel accommodations at Champions

Playing from the hotel room was different for Patiphan, but it didn’t dim the the adrenaline from winning. Both X10 Crit and Envy had to isolate and play from separate rooms in Berlin after Victor “Victor” Wong tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the tournament. The change in scenery had little impact on X10 Crit’s 2-1 victory over Envy, but all players involved said playing from the hotel room was a big disappointment compared to the lights and pizazz of the stage.

“Overall it’s super cramped,” X10 Crit in-game leader Itthirit “foxz” Ngamsaard said through a translator after the match.” It was really hot, not sure from the temperature or from the game itself. Playing on stage is better in many ways.”

Teams were put into small rooms lined with gaming PCs and cylindrical lights in the center of the room. The room was extremely small, according to foxz. Coaches are put in the same room, set up near the door just off camera. No tournament officials were present for the match.

“Definitely wasn’t ideal situation because we only had 4 out of 5 players in the hotel room. It wasn’t the same as the stage,” Envy player Pujan “FNS” Mehta said after the match. “Not using it as an excuse but it’s definitely different.”

Champions
VALORANT Champions boasts an impressive stage | Photo by Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games

All teams involved are required to play from a hotel room when a player from either team tests positive for COVID-19. Team Liquid had to play both of their group stage matches from the hotel after Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom tested positive for the virus. He and the rest of his team are expected to return to the stage in the quarterfinals.

Team Envy’s entire tournament was played from a cramped hotel room. They only got to visit the stage for a tech check before the event began. They didn’t get to participate in any elaborate walkouts or Jake “Boaster” Howlett-like stunts. It left many members of team wondering what could have been.

“It’s really hard not to when you reach such a high level,” FNS said. “It definitely crosses your mind, but you just look past that when you’re playing matches. It sucks but there’s not much you can do about it.”

As Envy prepares to fly back to North America, X10 Crit looks ahead to facing off against the Russian terminators, Gambit Esports. While FNS believes X10 Crit has shown the majority of their playbook in their last three matches, Patiphan expects he and his teammates to come out on top.

“We’re super confident, they’re a good team. We used to scrim [Gambit] and our results were good,” Patiphan said. “We expect to win.”

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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