Building a Winning Team: Orangutan's Steady Run to VCL 2023 South Asia Playoffs
Leading his team with a determined spirit, clear plans, and a unified goal.
Orangutan Esports is off to an impressive start in the ongoing Valorant Challengers League 2023: South Asia. They have won all their group-stage matches so far and the team is well on its way to achieving a perfect 4-0 finish. This impressive feat has certainly boosted the morale of the players, who can now approach the remainder of the league matches with a sense of ease, having already secured their spot in the playoffs.
With the season approaching its fourth week of daily matches, AFK Gaming recently caught up with Indian esports veteran and senior member of Orangutan’s Valorant team, Sabyasachi “Antidote” Bose.
In the interview, he shed light on several topics ranging from the team’s preparation coming into the league to how they coped with losing a key player right before the roster debut. He also discussed the challenges of competing with an untested youngster and shared his thoughts about the next stage of the league.
Orangutan’s early rebuild and preparation for VCL 2023: South Asia
On 21st January, Orangutan signed five Valorant players to complete its roster rebuild for the 2023 season. This lineup consisted of four former Enigma Gaming players and a talented international recruit, set to begin preparations for the exclusive regional league headed their way.
Antidote explained that a key focus of the roster was to fill the void left by Karan "Excali" Mhaswadkar, who had transferred to Velocity Gaming in November 2022. The team eventually settled on azys to fill in the spot. Antidote stated that the team was looking for someone who could fit in seamlessly with the team and had a good understanding of their vision. The Filipino was an ideal choice due to his positive attitude, coachability, and demonstration of excellent gameplay during tryouts.
Having assembled its playing five, the team got down to practice for the league. Talking about the training schedule, Antidote shares that the players start their day with a bit of exercise and then get down to warming up, they follow up by playing scrims and conducting theory sessions to analyze their games in greater detail.
After training for about a month or so, Antidote reached an understanding with the players where he thought his vision had been shared properly; what he wanted to do, his game style, and what he wants from them.
In a bid to further improve its gameplay and strategy, Orangutan added an experienced coach to the team just one week before the Valorant Champions League (VCL) 2023: South Asia's scheduled start. Mathanraj “theDoctorr” Munisparan, who had previously played for Enigma Gaming for a brief three-week stint, made his return to Orangutan as the new coach.
Antidote emphasized the importance of having a coach on board. “I need help as well, there should be someone to correct me because every time I cannot be right and I need to fix my own mistakes. So that is where the coach comes in, improving the team and players individually,” he explained.
The journey begins: An early setback and a welcome boon
Having set a solid base quite early, Orangutan was welcomed to be a part of VCL 2023: South Asia as one of the direct invites. They were a part of the second group for the initial regular season alongside Reckoning Esports, Aster Army, Medal Esports, and Lethal Esports.
On paper, the team looked like the most formidable team of the lot, but an unfortunate setback resulted in a bit of worry for Orangutan. RvK, one of the key members of the side that he had developed a “severe ear infection“ due to which he a majority of the regular season.
Antidote expressed his disappointment at RvK's absence and believed that the team could have performed even better if he had been able to play, “As you know RvK is one of the core members of the team. We have been playing together since Enigma days and I think he is a good fit, playing his role perfectly. The thing is we practiced a lot, so missing him was a big factor.”
However, the situation presented LeVi with an opportunity to showcase his skills. The talented but inexperienced youngster, who was originally a substitute, had to step in at the very last minute but he made sure to play his heart out, even capturing a crisp Sheriff ace against Medal Esports.
Antidote had high praise for LeVi. He expressed that the 20-year-old had performed exceptionally well on the big stage of the regional tier-one circuit, and his quality of gameplay had earned him the nickname "Alejandro Garnacho" by Antidote, who is a huge Manchester United fan.
Attributing LeVi's success to his fate, due to the early opportunity bestowed upon him, Antidote went on to point out some negatives and positives that had caught his eye, “He is a very good prospect and I hope he keeps improving. His obvious weakness is having less experience. But his strength is that he is not the guy who just listens to senior players. Instead, he takes a lot of initiative which I like from a player and LeVi has done that pretty well.”
A quick look at Orangutan’s scoresheets and team vibe
Orangutan has enjoyed a clean sheet with three consecutive victories under its belt, winning six out of the eight maps it has played so far. According to Antidote, the team's camaraderie is one of the key reasons for their strong showing. He states that the team has a great bond and takes care of each other like friends. This positive environment has helped the players perform at their best, and they have been able to maintain a winning streak.
To ensure that the players stay fresh and connected, Antidote plans several team activities outside of the server, but he has a way of selling this without making it too obvious, “In my mind, its team building exercises but I don’t tell this to them. I just pitch a fun activity like playing cards, board games, karaoke sessions, and other such things.”
Despite their successful run, Antidote acknowledges that the team does not have a huge edge over their competitors because they are the ones burdened by the weight of expectations.
“I told the boys not to think about this group being easy because all the other teams will play with a nothing to lose attitude. So I think these kinds of setups are tough for favorites, hence all the matches that we are playing are pretty close,” he said.
Antidote emphasized the importance of having a strong support system in and outside the game, recognizing the contributions of the team manager and members of the content team in their success. He also credited theDoctorr and Felipe “skyeSG” Skye Lim (Analyst) for their valuable input and analysis, which has helped the team improve its gameplay and strategy.
If you have good people around you, inside and outside the game, it is easy to work you know. I think so far we are good, the vibe across the team is brilliant, and the support staff is doing their work perfectly. I’m a happy captain.Sabyasachi “Antidote” Bose, Captain and IGL of Orangutan
As Orangutan heads towards its final match of the regular season, the team has its eyes set on the playoffs and the potential opponents it might face. While a spot in the top six has comfortably been secured, Antidote is aware that the competition will only get tougher from here on.
However, he is looking forward to facing Gods Reign and Velocity Gaming in the playoffs. As the regular season draws to a close, the playoffs loom large, and the competition gets fiercer. Antidote and his team remain focused on their goals and determined to emerge victorious.