Shinobi helps Global Esports get over the international hump
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Original Reporting

Josh “shinobi” Abastado didn’t have a lot on his plate for the remainder of 2021, so he reached out to Global Esports after the Indian team tweeted that they wanted to bring on a coach to help them plan for the APAC Last Chance Qualifier. He connected with team Captain Bhavin “HellrangeR” Kotwani and went to work.

“Given the limited time, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with them,” shinobi said. “I didn’t want to change their comms. My main focus was just improving fundamentals. Getting them to understand the game. Fine tuning the stuff they already had.”

Shinobi made some small adjustments when he got on, like switching Sky for Breach and Killjoy for Cypher, but he didn’t have time to make any major changes. Global Esports thrive off flexibility, so he only added a couple new strategies they could use for key rounds. The playbook was limited, but he thought they had the potential to make waves at the LCQ with how well-coordinated the team’s set plays were.

Helping Global Esports reach international victory

There wasn’t much time between shinobi’s first practice and their berth at the LCQ, but HellrangeR noted that the American assisted them significantly.

“He helped us figure out ways to approach the map, improve our fundamentals and close out our win most of the rounds,” HellrangeR said. “He helped us refine our game.”

The former Cloud9 Blue pro didn’t have a lot of experience with the Asia Pacific region before coming on to temporarily coach Global Esports, but he was impressed with the investment the organization had made in VALORANT. The team had been together for a year, held a bootcamp in Mumbai, hired him ahead of the LCQ and then flew out with their equipment to Chennai to lower the impact of ping.

“I would say compared to a North American budget it is small,” shinobi said, “but they are putting in a lot of money.”

The 27-year-old had to completely alter his sleep schedule so that he could be awake between 11 p.m. PT and 6 a.m. PT for practice. He went to sleep at 7 p.m. PT in order to wake up at 1 a.m. PT before Global Esports’ big match against DWG KIA on Oct. 11. He liked what he saw of the team’s role usage, but noted that they have a ways to go with their situational awareness.

“Utility usage is really high, comparable to NA teams,” shinobi said. “South East Asian teams struggle in the micro decisions, playing with advantage and having reactions when certain things happen.”

Shinobi said that he wasn’t as confident with Global Esports performance on Haven in practice, so they tried to stick with a set game plan when the team played on the map in their first game. Global Esports went up early, before DWG KIA came back to even the score.

“A couple of those rounds ahead of the half, we got ahead of ourselves. We were too excited in the lead,” shinobi, who couldn’t understand his team’s in-game comms because they were speaking in Hindi, said. “Then we came back to reality.”

Global Esports finished strong on Haven before winning on Split as well, earning the teams’ first win on the global stage. This was the first time they’d played against top tier teams. And, even though they got a win, everyone on the squad is looking for more than an early-tournament victory.

“The guys are excited but I don’t think everyone is really super excited with that win,” shinobi said. “Their aspirations are to achieve more than that.”

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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