The next time you feel the need to find an excuse for your poor performance in a Valorant rated game, don’t. Keep calm and take it on the chin. That’s what I’ve been telling myself over the last few weeks, anyway, since watching South African contender Valorant Garret ‘Mangolorian’ Laird win a Diamond Elo match with 170 MS.
Playing on a European server over 7,000 miles from his home in Midrand, South Africa, Mangolorian put us all to shame; we watched him in disbelief as he shot players in the head who appeared to be a foot behind his reticle, and laughed hysterically as his corpse teleported to a wall or box he had passed a few seconds earlier each time he was out.
As extraordinary as it all has been for us, however, for Mangolorian, this is the norm. South Africa doesn’t have their own Valorant servers, he explained during the game, and so his best option is to play Europe, which means he faces the daunting task of have to compete with an absurdly high ping.
Still confused and slightly disheartened that he had just weakened me despite a huge disadvantage, I had to learn more. Turns out he’s even better than he hinted at, and the unusual South African scene at Valorant is way bigger than I could have imagined.
“The highest rank I have achieved is Immortal,” he tells me on Discord. “A lot of European players are shocked that I got to this rank with such a high ping. They sometimes don’t believe it; I’m told that’s wrong, or they think I’m cheating. Some even claimed I was playing. on that ping for a benefit, which is fun for me.
It’s funny to him, no doubt, but so shocking to his victims that I can understand why they might suspect that something fishy was going on. Mangolorian had to adjust his whole playstyle to compensate for the delay caused by a server round trip that, in distance, equals New York to Tokyo… twice.
“With a high ping, you can’t maintain angles, and you can’t, for example, shake players with an OP, because by the time your player model has passed behind the wall, you’re still at it. open air, ”he said. “I have a lot of clips from my OP shots going straight through an enemy. You have to have a completely different mindset to play with high latency. I believe everyone (playing in South Africa) has adopted a much more aggressive style that involves a lot of wide swing. “
It is at this point that I am particularly intrigued because Mangolorian alludes to other South African players; to my surprise he tells me that there is a whole scene where they play not only with leaderboards on European servers, but also scrims and even semi-professional tournaments.
“Valorant’s semi-pro scene in South Africa is small as most players in South Africa are not happy playing on the high ping. Yet there are tournaments here; we still play in a league. , and there are competitions backed by companies like AOC and Mettlestate, which run decent prize pools for players to get incentive.
Mangolorian plays for Socks, one of South Africa’s most decorated Valorant teams, having placed in the top five in a competition called Rage Expo twice and currently leads the Flying Shotgun Valorant league. The organization has ambitious plans to put South Africa on the esports map, helping both to grow the size of its community and showcase the region’s undiscovered talent.
A major obstacle to all of this, however, is the lack of servers. Mangolorian insists the laid-back scene in South Africa is “much bigger” than the competitive scene, but he thinks the two would grow tremendously if Riot hurries up and takes notice.
“Most hardcore FPS players in South Africa aren’t happy playing on the high ping; However, many of them are interested in Valorant and told me that they would leave CSGO for it if the server infrastructure was there.
And there is also even more tangible proof of the size and value of the scene, as the community has come together to sign a strong petition of over 4,000 signatures to call on a dedicated South African Valorant server. .
It’s not a huge number in the grand scheme of things, of course, but if you consider that those 4000 are probably the hardcore already coming in and out of Valorant as a high ping experience, how much greater is its potential? with better servers? And how many more esports competitions are likely to result?
I would like to think that Riot already has South Africa on its radar as an opportunity to grow. After all, the publisher has recently shown support for regions like India, which have in the past been overlooked by other competitive shooters. And with South Africa already having servers for games like Rainbow Six: Siege and CS: GO, surely it sees the point in getting its own piece of the pie?
South African players such as Mangolorian can only wait and hope, but with the interest of the community stinging now, one would think Riot had better strike while the iron is hot. The crowded nature of the multiplayer FPS scene means interest is always fleeting, and with other games never too far on the horizon, it’s not too hard to imagine it fading away and being replaced by something. thing with better infrastructure.
If you’re listening, Riot, get these people a server, if only to save the blushes of European Immortal players!