The Giants have been settled in Berlin for a few weeks, they are there to participate in one of the biggest electronic sports competitions in Europe: the Valorant Championship Tour. And it is that there is no e-sports competition in which the Malaga club does not try to cover.
The team has spent years consolidating its position in the electronic sports sector and currently remains the club with the most titles in the history of our country in this field. It has players in a wide variety of video games, including strategy games, such as League of Legends; of fights, like Dragon Ball Fighter Z, where they treasure one of the best players of the moment; and shooting, like Valorant.
In the latter competes Adolfo ‘Fitinho’ Gallego, born in Vigo, stands as one of the young promises of e-sports not only in Spain, but also internationally. At just 23 years old, he arrived at the Malaga club in 2020 and is currently running as his franchise player. But, this meteoric path is not available to everyone, only the best are able to force their way into the professional video game leagues. whatWhat differentiates a good player from one prepared to compete with the stars of the world? Is it a matter of talent or hard work? What is the day-to-day life of an e-sports player like? To clear up any doubts, we have contacted the man from Vigo, who together with David “Lozark” AlonsoGiants sports director has told us what it takes to break through among the best.
What are e-sports?
For those who are less placed, Valorant is a tactical shooting game that draws heavily from the mythical Counter Strike. In it, two teams, one attacking and the other defending, compete in rounds with the aim of gaining control of the ‘spike’, a bomb that will determine which side wins. The attacker will try to plant the bomb and make it explode, the defender will try to prevent it from being planted or, if they succeed, defuse it. Although, as in any other shooting title, there is also the option to eliminate the members of the enemy team. The first to win 13 rounds is the one who wins the match.
It is a leisurely game where each movement is crucial to get information and be able to take the enemy by surprise. It arose in the midst of a pandemic at the hands of Riot Games, the company that owns the most popular e-sport: League of Legends. There are official leagues for this title in all parts of the world, the most popular being Europe and North America, although the most feared regions are Asia. With this previous experience, the Chinese-based company has been able to launch a solid Valorant competition circuit in a very short time.
The final of the 2021 League of Legends video game world championship was watched by more than 70 million viewers, figures that rival the World Cup in Qatar or the NBA. Video games are the largest cultural industry at the moment, both in economic terms, since their turnover is higher than that of the cinema or the publishing sector, and in social terms, where adaptations of the medium such as The Last of Us (HBO) become phenomena. of masses.
Thus, with the medium occupying a leading place in the social imagination, it is natural that the most popular industry of the 21st century attracts the youngest. Soon, children may no longer want to be soccer players, but instead play video games professionally. Not only as content creators, but competing as e-sports players.
According to Fitinho, the Giants players’ training day begins at 1:00 p.m. with an hour of theory. In it, the coach shares with the team the objectives of the day, strategies and any changes in the approach that can improve their game. It is an hour in which you work with the players to teach them new resources, ways to counter other teams and sometimes create content for social networks.
At 2:00 p.m. the flames ‘scrims’ begin, with this term they refer to the matches that simulate official confrontations against other teams. With this, Lozark says, new strategies and ways of executing the ‘aims’ are tested, that is, the aim. Three games are played in a row that can last from 45 minutes to an hour each. Afterwards, the players have an hour of rest before returning to play another batch of ‘scrims’ that lasts until 9 at night.
Once the day is over, the routines of each player change, there are some who dedicate themselves to rest, although others continue to give their all. This is the case of Fitinho, who usually, after a half hour break, plugs directly into Twitch and continues with 3 or 4 hours of qualifying games.
This practice is relatively common and, according to Lozark, it is the best option if you want to keep practicing. “It’s more comfortable and rewarding to play at night because there are more people and more good players,” says Lozark, who believes that this is the way to find high-level games outside of official competition and ‘scrims’.
Thus, the work routine of an e-sports player can last up to 12 hours or morefrom 12:00 in the morning, when they set foot in the Berlin streets, until 00:00 at night or more, depending on the habits of each player.
Talent or hard work?
These long sessions take place once you reach a professional level, but what separates a very good player from a professional one? The best way to jump from one category to another, according to Fitinho and Lozark, is to compete, even if it is amateurish. Trying to stand up to those at the top is when you can figure out if a career in esports is feasible.
Being skillful in the game, however, does not guarantee you anything. “It’s not enough for you to be good, you have to have a good competitive attitude, a good attitude towards your teammates”, emphasizes Fitinho. Lozark agrees: “There are a lot of players, a lot of motivated children with a lot of desire, so they will pass you in a moment if you do not have the appropriate attitude”.
Talent, despite being important, is not everything. “A player who only has talent is not going to evolve, he is not going to get anywhere”, points out Lozark. The sports director has been on the esports scene for nearly a decade and has seen players go to waste by resting on their laurels and not keeping up with changes in the game. “It’s very difficult for your talent, your aim, your reflexes to make such a difference that you don’t have to study the game, learn and study what others do,” he emphasizes.
The career of an e-sports player is relatively short, once the age of 30 is over, it is difficult to return to the best level. When that border is crossed, many of the players transition to the position of coach, better known in this world plagued with anglicisms as ‘coach’. And it is that, according to Lozark, the ‘coaches’ must have a level of knowledge of the game higher than that of the players to be able to help them effectively.
In a game as tactical as Valorant, the individual capacity of each player is important, but not as important as the internal synergy between all the pieces of a team. “At the top level, if you have good synergy and they understand each other very well, I think it’s better than having five individual bugs,” says Fitinho.
And it is that, when competing at the highest level, the mechanical difference between players is not as drastic as in amateur competition. You still have to do one-on-one duels in which an individual base is essential, but that’s not all. “Without synergies, it is clear to me that it is impossible to be a world champion,” says Lozark.
In the popular imagination, elite athletes have an ego component attached to their image that can hinder teamwork and in the case of e-sports, although it is not so frequent, it is not uncommon either. Personalities when building a team are crucial. “There has to be a balance, there can’t be five people who lead, you can’t have a player who wants to play alone, there has to be a symbiosis between all the profiles”, comments Lozark.
All of them must be united thanks to the role of the coach, who will work together with the player who occupies the role of the leader within the games so that the team works with the same objective.
How to start?
When asked: “What would you say to a kid who wants to dedicate himself to being a professional?”, Fitinho has a clear answer: “From my experience, I would tell him to have another plan in mind”. The man from Vigo does not say it to discourage, but because he considers that it is unlikely that anyone who intends to dedicate themselves to e-sports will reach it.
“Being a professional esports player is not something you choose as a consequence,” says Lozark. “It doesn’t work like that,” Fitinho points out, “from the beginning I didn’t say: ‘I’m going to be a professional player’, I said ‘ugh, I really want to play and be the best’”, continues the franchise player. For them, those who become professionals do not start with the goal of being one, it is something that is achieved without trying. “No one who is here does it for money, whoever is here is purely out of passion for competition and for video games,” says Lozark.
Founded in 2008 in Malaga, Giants has been spearheading electronic sports in Spain for almost 15 years. When the international competitive video game scene was still a field, the club managed to sneak in with an entirely Spanish team in the LCS, the first professional League of Legends competition. From 2015 to the end of 2018 they managed to stay in the highest European competition of the same video game while expanding to others and consolidating their position as the Spanish team present in the big leagues.
Its headquarters are still in Malaga and it is not only used as a headquarters where the League of Legends team trains and plays in person, but also acts as a meeting place for fans. On game days, the Home of Giants opens its doors so locals who want to go to support can see it on a giant screen for free.
Currently, the Valorant Championship Tour has three teams of Spanish origin, these being Giants, Heretics and KOI, the Ibai Llanos team. The League of Legends EMEA Championship, formerly LCS, also has an important Spanish representation. But It was Giants who, from Malaga, took the first step to make electronic sports a reality in Spain.