Iyengaran ‘IyeN’ Raju is a part of EXO Clan and recently won Valorant First Strike Oceania with his team. I had the opportunity to interview him recently and he shared his experiences as an esports player and how he plans on moving forward from his Valorant First Strike win. He was formerly a part of God Squad and played CS:GO with his current teammates pl1xx, dizzyLife, and Crunchy. The four players joined EXO Clan with Bob ‘Bob’ Tran and they put on a dominant performance at First Strike Oceania with 0 matches dropped throughout the event.
Conversation with IyeN
Congratulations on Your Win at Valorant First Strike Oceania. What Lies Ahead in The Future for EXO Clan?
IyeN: Thank you. First Strike meant a lot to us, many hours of hard work and preparation were invested into winning the tournament and I'm very glad we won the tournament without dropping a single map in the whole competition.
Our current plan is to move to North America to compete in the Champions Tour. As you know Riot has announced OCE will be a part of North America and that's all the information we have. Hopefully, if everything works out and goes well, we will be living and competing in North America in 2021.
Why did you transition from CS:GO to Valorant and How Would You Compare Them As Esports?
IyeN: I stopped competing in CS:GO because I was a full-time university student and going into the hardest years of my degree. So, I took a step back, I also did not enjoy the game as I used to when I first started playing it. When Valorant was announced it caught my attention and it looked pretty cool, so I tried it out in beta and I was having so much fun playing it. And since my university degree is almost over, I thought I’d give competitive Valorant a try.
CSGO and Valorant have very similar mechanics throughout the game except for the individual agents and their unique abilities. I think this makes Valorant very fun for both players and spectators as there can be so many different scenarios that can occur.
Will EXO Clan Compete In The Upcoming Valorant Champions Tour? What Are Your Goals in NA?
IyeN: Right now, our goal is to move over to North America to prove ourselves that we can compete with NA's Best and see how we perform there. And the long-term goal would be to become the best team in the world like anyone else would.
What are your most memorable moments as a gamer?
IyeN: My most memorable moment would be qualifying for my first international CS event with AVANT (Rog Masters). We were an extremely young team and huge underdogs and when we qualified, we couldn't believe it and were just so happy.
What advice do you have for aspiring esports athletes?
IyeN: If you really enjoy the game you're playing and you have the skills and talent within the game, you have to put in the work in order to succeed like anything else you do. Just keep up the grind and the results will show.
What do you think of the esports scene in Australia and Oceania compared to some of the bigger regions like North America and Europe? What could get the region more exposure?
IyeN: I think there is a huge talent pool in Oceania and all we ask for is a fair opportunity like every other region. I think more Australians need to stream and push out content and more tournament organisers need to be hosting more tournaments if possible, to gain as much exposure as possible.