FNATIC members spoke to press members after their victory in São Paulo.
BRAZIL – FNATIC completed their undefeated run in São Paulo, Brazil, by lifting the trophy on Sunday, becoming the champions of VCT LOCK//IN following a closely-contested 3-2 victory over hometown favorites LOUD in the best-of-five grand finals (Ascent 13-8, Fracture 13-7, Split 9-13, Lotus 8-13, Icebox 14-12).
The Ginásio do Ibirapuera arena witnessed a historic grand final clash that will go down as one of the best days in VALORANT Esports history, with LOUD recovering from a 0-2 deficit to equalize the series before the EMEA side able to come out on top of a heavily contested Icebox decider, on overtime, 14-12.
Members of FNATIC spoke to the press after the match, discussed their title-winning campaign, and shared backstories on in-game leader Jake “Boaster” Howlet’s long-awaited moment two years after losing the Reykjavik grand final in 2021.
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From Hero to Zero
Reflecting on his journey, the British in-game leader shared his story: “I think, honestly, I don’t know if it was serious, but when I was 18 was when I joined my first Counter-Strike team, and I was pretty serious, I told my mom like, ‘hey mum, I’m gonna be a pro in the next year,’ and I told him the next year, and the next year, and the next year.” Despite his determination, the road to success was not an easy one for the 27-year-old. He worked part-time jobs, taking on positions as a waiter, a storeman, and a shelf-stacker at Sainsbury’s. These jobs were far from glamorous, but they allowed him to continue pursuing his passion for esports.
Recalling his decision to commit fully to esports, he explained, “Honestly, I’ll say when I was 18, that was when I was like fully serious, and I kind of gave up on musical theater and wanted to become a pro.” While he experienced moments of hope, he also encountered setbacks that kept him from reaching his ambitions. “I had glimpses of almost making it, almost making it, almost making it, but I don’t even know if I would have made it in Counter-Strike. It’s a difficult one.”
After some time away from competitive gaming, Boaster found renewed inspiration in VALORANT. He knew that he didn’t want to continue working on the things he didn’t enjoy and wanted to return to what he loved most – playing professionally. “I completely stopped competing overall, I vlogged, and I thought my pro career was over, but then VALORANT came out, I was like, ‘I really don’t want to do these sorts of jobs, I want to play,’ because I remember just watching the League of Legends pros, and I was like ‘I could do that better than them, like look at their mentality, sometimes they don’t appreciate what they’ve got,'” Boaster said.
Advice to a Past Self
If someone were to ask Boaster how he preserves such a positive attitude despite the multiple setbacks he has faced in his career, he would likely credit it to his work ethic and the company he keeps. As he reminisces about his younger self and the tough times he went through, he offers some words of advice to his past self.
“Look mate, in six years’ time, you’re gonna look massive. You’re gonna have big muscles,” He jokingly said. “Honestly, if you work hard and surround yourself with people who also work hard, then you’re on the right track. You attract your crowd. If you’re gonna be sloppy, if you’re gonna be lazy, then you’re gonna play with lazy teammates too because no teammate in the world looks at someone working hard and goes ‘Nah, I’m not going to work hard.”
He emphasizes the importance of discipline and hard work in achieving one’s goals, even if it means facing failure and setbacks along the way. He believes that having a strong work ethic not only attracts like-minded individuals but also keeps one at the top of their game. “Once you’re at the top, it’s a lot easier to stay at the top if you’re working that hard,” he explains. “It’s the grind that’s gonna be hard and just discipline. Don’t be too emotional, baby, and [have] no regrets. I always say that to the boys.”
Against Hometown Favorites
After their big win, Boaster was asked about his emotions towards LOUD, the team they defeated to become champions, in front of their home crowd. In response, he had some encouraging words for the young players on the team. “We spoke to them just before we come into the press conference, and they have a lot of young players, and I think this is an experience where admittedly they’re probably going not to be able to sleep tonight for different reasons than us.” He further added that they are talented and encouraged them to keep working hard and improving every day, not just in VALORANT, but also in how they treat others.
“They have young players, and they’re definitely talented. They’re young, like you have time, no need to rush. Just keep working, keep improving.” He emphasized the importance of enjoying the moment and being grateful for the opportunity to compete at such a high level. “We’re very lucky to be in this scenario where we can compete on stage,” Boaster continued. “Look how many people have come to watch five virgins sitting on stage playing a video game like that’s a big achievement [laughs].”
Coach Jacob “mini” Harris also had kind words for LOUD and their coach, Daniel “fRoD” Montaner. “I think Matias “Saadhak” Delipetro has done a very good job, and also Daniel “fRoD” Montaner, their coach. I’ve coached against some star-studded coaches before, but this is the first time I was a bit starstruck. fRoD is one of the greatest FPS players of all time, and I sit on a stage with him, like it’s really weird, so shout out to those two for building such a good team.”
Cover photo courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games