Cloud9’s TenZ aims high as the first pro Valorant player

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The rising CS:GO star has decided to drop the game he’s played for years and is now aiming to be the best in the world when it comes to Riot’s new tactical shooter, Valorant. We find out why.
Written by Mike StubbsPublished on
Whenever a new game that has clear esports potential comes along you always get a few former pros from other titles, or players who have been close to making it to the top in other games commit to the new title very early on. They have little to lose and everything to gain by getting in at the ground floor on a new competitive game, after all.
Rarely however do you see a young player who's made big waves in another game decide to move over to a new title so early, but that's exactly what former Cloud9 Counter-Strike Global Offensive player Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo has decided to do. As recently as last October he was playing in some of the biggest CS:GO competitions in the world in Cloud9. However, after leaving the CS:GO team at the back end of the year, he's now decided to transition to Valorant, the tactical shooter from League of Legends creators Riot Games which went into beta earlier this month. In doing so, he's become Cloud9’s first-ever pro Valorant player.
At just 18 years old, TenZ is still a very young player, and could have had the chance to develop into one of the best CS:GO players in the world. Instead, he decided Valorant is the game for him. CS:GO brought him to the world of esports, but now that part of his life is well and truly over.
“I've decided to go pro [in Valorant] because when I was playing the beta, I realised I haven't had as much fun as I was having in a long time,” TenZ tells us. “Although it might be seen as risky to switch games, I feel like the future of this game is very bright. I will no longer be playing CS:GO while I am playing Valorant professionally.”
Unlike most players who commit to a new game, TenZ does have the added stability of still being a part of the Cloud9 organisation. After leaving the active CS:GO roster, TenZ stayed with C9 as a streamer, and now with his transition to Valorant has become the first member of the Cloud9 Valorant team, which is set to take shape over the coming weeks and months.
“My plan going forward is to assemble the best team that I think is possible relatively soon,” explains TenZ. “I hope to see a pro scene similar to the League of Legends structure and compete at a world-class level.”
I hope to see a pro scene similar to the League of Legends structure and compete at a world-class level
Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo
Having ambitions to compete at a world class level may seem like lofty aspirations for a game that's only just become available to the public and even the best players are still learning how to master, but the key thing here is just how similar the core mechanics of Valorant are to CS:GO. Sure, the agents and their abilities change how things work significantly, but the actual gunplay is very similar, so chances are if you can control the recoil well in CS:GO, you can do it as well in Valorant. And while the abilities Valorant has are a totally new thing for CS players to pick up, at the end of the day you win by aiming accurately and clicking on heads.
“I definitely feel like my skills in Counter Strike transfer over to Valorant quite nicely,” says TenZ on the subject of how easy it will be to make it to the top of the Valorant scene. “I would have to say that it's not extremely hard to relearn new maps and abilities.”
Without a ranking system and only limited tournament opportunities, it's quite difficult to tell how good TenZ is compared to the rest of the elite Valorant players, but there's no doubt that he is already up there. Some of the shots we've seen him hit on stream have been nothing short of jaw-dropping, and some of the line-ups he's found to use Viper’s (who, he tells us, is his favourite agent to play) abilities will surely become a key part of all the top player’s arsenal.
So with it being clear that he's already one of the best in the world, TenZ seems like the perfect person to help those of you who are struggling to master Valorant. Giving away the secrets that could end up winning him a tournament further down the line probably isn’t the best idea, but he was willing to give us some simple advice that will surely improve your game.
“The tips I would tell aspiring professional players are to watch professional matches and demos, be a good team-mate and be motivated to improve,” says TenZ. “Being able to take criticism is very important. When you put in the work to make yourself better, you'll see results. The biggest mistake I see people making is not communicating properly on what they're going to do or what they want their team-mates to do, thus leading to confusion and avoidable deaths.”
For now the Valorant scene is barely getting started, the game is still in beta after all, but as we head towards the full launch later this year there is sure to be more and more tournaments popping up and TenZ, along with the rest of the squad he plans to build with Cloud9 will be looking to compete in them. But for now it’s all about TenZ trying to improve his skills in Valorant and establishing himself as one of the undisputed best in the world, while keeping his fans entertained at the same time.
“I will be streaming Valorant as consistently as possible as well as competing in any upcoming tournaments I'm able to play in,” says Tenz.
And we'd encourage any Valorant fans to tune into his broadcasts. It’s not often that you get to watch such a highly skilled player learn how to play a new game at this kind of level, but that's exactly what TenZ is offering.