Esports.gg spoke with rhyme, the in-game leader of Giants Gaming, after the team’s opening round contest at VCT LOCK//IN.
The first day of VCT LOCK//IN has ended and two teams have already been sent home. One team that is fortunate enough to fight another day is Giants. The EMEA League team is captained in-game by Emir "rhyme" Muminovic, and Esports.gg was given the opportunity to speak to him after getting the first VCT LOCK//IN victory out of the way.
Giants defeated Detonation FocusMe in a quick two-map series that never saw them put in a losing situation. We asked rhyme about the current state of competitive VALORANT, how the team prepared for the tournament, his expectations regarding the rest of the bracket, and more.
Giants IGL rhyme touches on the victory against Detonation, the current meta, and preparation coming into VCT LOCK//IN
Mothman: "Giants started the series with a huge win on Haven. You performed well as Astra. We've seen her in and out of the meta, and right now there appears to be big meta shift in progress. Do you think the team adapts well to the meta or do you just do your own thing?"
Rhyme: "I think we came pretty early with the new meta. Sure, I'm playing Astra. There's other people playing Omen. I think it depends on the team. Some will benefit more from Omen and some will benefit more from Astra. Same goes for Sova and Fade. Sova has been picked more now than Fade, but you also have teams who have big impact by their Fade. So, I think the meta is still evolving. Some people play super slow, which makes Astra super strong, while other people play a little bit more aggressive, which benefits Omen."
Mothman: "We saw a similar outcome on map two, Icebox. Giants just ran through Detonation. Do you feel as though everything went according to plan or were you perhaps surprised that you took such a onesided victory?"
Rhyme: "No, I'm not surprised at all. We expected to beat them 2-0. Of course, you have to take every map one at a time. Once you finish one up you have to start again. Then you have to finish another map and so on. At the end of the day, you're not a winner before you win the last map. I think that for us it was just good preparation. We were ready to play against this kind of play style and it shows, as we had a good result.
"In VALORANT, there's a funny thing where even if you're much better than your opponent, you will still lose a couple of rounds just because of the fact that they can snowball off the Ultimates. I will say that even Icebox, which was 13-7 I believe, wasn't that close. The score shows that they will win some rounds and it's completely fine. We had the whole game under control, in my opinion."
Mothman: "Well, we're seeing a lot of talk about new teams not having much time to practice together before LOCK//IN. You were able to get an official tournament under your belt with the G-Loot event. So, would you say Giants has had ample preparation coming into Brazil?"
Rhyme: "The G-Loot event, we played it like after one week of playing with each other. It was right at the start of the team. We were still in the process of signing contracts, so we didn't really have time to prepare for that event. I mean, we came into it with such a small playbook and we used that first three to four weeks just to get used to each other. To get our ideas out, our fundamentals in, and find our identity."
Mothman: "You mentioned in the post-game interview on stream that the past doesn't matter and now, in the partnered VCT era, is the time where careers really start. You've spent a lengthy amount of time competing in VALORANT, thus far, starting at the very beginning with Ninjas in Pyjamas. Then you moved to NA with Gen.G and now with Giants. Can you give more of your thoughts on the state of VALORANT esports now compared to when you were on those other teams?"
Rhyme: "I mean, looking back at NIP for example, it's now one-and-a-half to two years ago. Its interesting to look back at because the game has developed a lot. Back then, the game was much more about the basics. It was much simpler. It didn't have as many Agents. There wasn't really that much of a difference in comps. I remember in EU you had like 10 top teams and eight of the teams played the same comps.
"Now, I think people have got more of an identity. The game has developed into a state where everyone is free to do a lot of unique stuff and build their own game. In Gen.G, when I went to America, the time between then and now was kind of when the meta started evolving into what it is. From when I went to America, I don't think there are a lot of teams that have the same lineups anymore.
"There's a few players that still play together on the same teams as that time, but there's been a lot of big changes. I think that the time when I went to NA was just a transition period for the game itself, but also for me."
Mothman: "This current Giants roster is filled with some heavy hitters. How easy do you find it to IGL with players of that caliber?"
Rhyme: "Super easy. The players that I play with make my job easier. If you have experienced players like nukkye and hoody, they will help you achieve what you have to achieve. They are the experienced player that will make sure less experienced players follow the plan. They also help me develop. For example, our coach is doing a great job developing me into what I have to be as an IGL.
"And honestly, it's also natural to me. I think that a lot of people from inside the scene will say that this is a natural choice for me. It's like they saw this coming, that I would become an IGL. So, having experienced players is just super good for me."
Mothman: "You brought up having the coach on your side to help you and mold you into the IGL you want to be, but I want to touch on Milan. He was just recently brought on at the start of the year and he's a world champion analyst from his time with Acend. What has he brought to the table for you and for Giants?"
Rhyme: "Milan is working more with pipsoN, our main coach. We're great friends, he's hanging out with us, etcetera, etcetera. Milan's role is to prepare together with pipsoN and then I am the third kind of person coming into that discussion. They work a lot together. And then we have like me and pipsoN and Milan working in a crisscross, you know. Pip with me, Milan with Pip, and Pip to me and Milan. We just go in a circle together. Milan has the freedom to do whatever he wants. We're having a good time together and its like he's the second coach."
Mothman: "Lastly, back to your former organization in Gen.G. If the pieces fall into place, a couple of matches from now could you see face their brand new Pacific League roster. Do you plan to pay any mind to how the bracket might play out or are you more of 'one step at a time' kind of person?"
Rhyme: "I think it's very important to take things one step at a time. You can't set the bar too high, but once you evolve and you move on in the bracket, I think that's when you start to get some goa. Playing against Gen.G will be fun. My old coach, Elmapuddy, I think he's a great coach, a great guy, and I would love to play them. I haven't played against any Pacific teams other than DFM and it'll be cool to play them. But I still believe that LOUD will give me a better game. If we win against NRG, of course."