When VALORANT first took the esports world by storm, players across many esports titles rushed to fill the new void of professional players. However, as the dust has settled almost a year later, the majority of VALORANT pros are native to the game itself or come from similar titles, like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch.
Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond is an exception, in more ways than one, who came to VALORANT from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Since winning four consecutive national PUBG League titles for Tempo Storm and leaving the org to try his hand at something new, he has cemented himself as one of the best professional VALORANT players through teamwork, flexibility and pure skill.
Despite that fact, the trajectory of YaBoiDre’s VALORANT career has been far from straight.
YaBoiDre joins 100 Thieves
As the competitive PUBG scene was slowly dying due to a lack of popularity in North America, YaBoiDre decided to leave Tempo Storm in July 2019 and retire from the game. Soon after, he gathered some of his fellow retired PUBG competitors and formed Highgrounds. Alongside Keane “Valliate” Alonso, Jaden “Vegas” James, Alfred “Pride” Choi and Zachary “Venerated” Roach, the team did well in early VALORANT tournaments. Their greatest achievement was taking first place at the Pittsburgh Knights Charity Invitational and the VALORANT Sunday Showdown.
The team was then scouted by 100 Thieves, who were looking to build their roster around team captain and former CS:GO pro Spencer “Hiko” Martin. YaBoiDre and most of the other Highground players were signed to meet that goal. But 100 Thieves struggled with roles and fell behind in tournaments during the early days of the game. YaBoiDre was usually playing sentinel characters (specifically Sage) during his time on 100 Thieves and was not meeting expectations.
More news to come on our VALORANT team. pic.twitter.com/FrNgsPSuce
— 100 Thieves Esports (@100T_Esports) August 14, 2020
After several underwhelming performances, 100 Thieves released the Highground players and brought in CS:GO superstar Nick “Nitr0” Cannella. YaBoiDre returned to Highground in an attempt to revive his bruised VALORANT career as his former Highground teammates slowly faded from the scene. While Venerated joined Luminosity’s early roster, Valliate also returned to Highground, and Pride gave up professional VALORANT. Eventually, all of YaBoiDre’s previous PUBG teammates retired, leaving him as the sole remaining member.
Beastcoast revives YaBoiDre’s career
After Highground disbanded, amateur competitive team Beastcoast picked up YaBoiDre. Beastcoast had seen glimpses of greatness even before picking up YaBoiDre, the most notable being their third-place finish at the Pulse Series. However, after adding YaBoiDre to the lineup, his impact in-game upped the team’s skill level considerably.
“I used to call him the Zombie Killer because he would be quiet, and all of sudden he had two to three kills and the round was opened,” Beastcoast coach Roy “Strong Legs” Ahad said. “As an entry fragger, Dre had insane first kill/first death ratios constantly, and his worst performances were some players’ averages.”
Beyond his individual skill, Brandon “bdog” Sanders praised his former teammate as a great individual who everyone on Beastcoast loved interacting with. Strong Legs added that YaBoiDre’s teamwork and work ethic demonstrated his character.
“He’s kind of the ideal teammate in regards to selflessness and work ethic,” he said. “Whatever role you needed him to play, he was ok with it as long as it made the team better and everyone was comfortable.”
farewell to @YaBoiDre! it was a pleasure to have you on the team.
wishing you the best of luck in all future endeavors🌊 pic.twitter.com/11zOzRCuXv
— beastcoast (@beastcoast) February 22, 2021
Despite how much Beastcoast valued YaBoiDre, they also respected his potential. That’s why, after the player earned the chance to trial with Luminosity Gaming for an upcoming tournament, the team didn’t stand in his way. They benched YaBoiDre, but Beastcoast general manager Colin Bashor said the benching and his departure had nothing to do with his performance.
“He came to us and asked to trial with them, and we approved it but moved him to the bench while he was doing that,” Bashor said.
YaBoiDre’s climb to top five on Luminosity
Luminosity Gaming was a mid-tier competitive team before adding Kaleb “moose” Jayne and YaBoiDre, but they came in third at the NSG X Complexity Invitational with the new iteration of their roster. Soon after, Luminosity took down the number one team in North America, Sentinels, in the finals of the NSG Winter Championship.
By then, YaBoiDre had graduated from his sentinel role on 100 Thieves playing duelists and controllers like Raze and Omen. These new agents dramatically improved YaBoiDre’s overall play style by allowing him to play more aggressively than what a sentinel allowed. Luminosity then qualified for the second closed qualifier at the VALORANT Champions Tour. They placed third overall at the event after beating top teams like Envy and, the team that first dropped YaBoiDre, 100 Thieves.
YaBoiDre already gels with his new teammates according to Luminosity’s head coach, Benjamin “Trainer” Bravo.
“It’s great to work with Dre since he doesn’t have the Counter-Strike background like the rest of us and can offer a new perspective to how he wants to play the game,” Trainer said. “He is also improving his game more, and more with his teamwork and communication.”
So far, YaBoiDre has climbed to greatness on Luminosity after 100 Thieves tossed him aside. YaBoiDre remains one of the few relevant VALORANT professionals with a PUBG background and he continues to prove himself against players from CS:GO and Overwatch.
YaBoiDre’s next chance to defy expectations with Luminosity will take place later this month now that the team has qualified for the VALORANT Champions Tour Masters event on March 12.
[Disclosure: Luminosity Gaming is a subsidiary of Enthusiast Gaming, which owns and operates Upcomer.]