“I’mma stun then flash through and Martin’s gonna kill since he’s god at this game,” said freshman co-captain Sam “CustomDipped” Adams as he prepared to take on his opponents. Playing Breach, he quickly and decisively led his team to victory in their most recent match against MSU Denver. This will be USC Valorant’s seventh win of the season.

The first half of the semester marked loss after loss for USC. Initial matches saw results with high margins as the new team sought to gain its footing. After posting one low after the other, USC Valorant seemed to be crumbling under the pressure of being such a new team as well as facing off against more experienced teams in the first few weeks of team formation.

“It [...] didn’t help that our first competitors were some of the highest seeds,” said sophomore Quincy “QBall” Karns about the team’s initial losses. Said losses were posted against UC Berkeley, the University of the Pacific, and the University of San Francisco. The team also suffered lows during their presentation at the Golden Coast Invitational, where they lost to California Polytechnic University and the University of Arizona. However, USC Valorant’s luck seemed to turn when they posted their first wins during the Invitational against Loyola Marymount University. This also featured a rare 13-0 score for the Trojans (Valorant being a first-to-13 game).

From there, the team continued to win their remaining Golden Coast Invitational matches, posting a six-win streak after a loss against USC rival UCLA.

After initial losses, USC Valorant put more time into improving as a whole. “We’ve been trying out new team [compositions] and strategies and they’ve been working really well,” says CustomDipped. The two team captains, CustomDipped and junior Sam “whizmas” Cho, both seem to emphasize improvement in communication. According to sophomore Kyle “Imasillyturtle” Tran, “After matches, [whizmas] always be like 'let’s [communicate] more.”

While some players actively push toward improvement, others seem to be taking a more laid-back approach to playing the game. Immortal 3 player Imasillyturtle states that while others are grinding, he is letting himself have fun. “Playing to have fun is way more important to me than improving. But having the mindset of having fun let me improve to my peak,” he says. When other players come to him for help, Imasillyturtle gives the same advice to them as he does himself, “I just tell 'em to chill HAHA.”

No matter how they train, the team’s efforts seem to have greatly paid off, considering the most recent results, and with their progression in training, the team took the time to get to know each other better.

All Valorant matches are played online due to social distancing regulations set forth by the school, but that did not stop the team from gathering to celebrate and meet each other IRL. To celebrate their wins, USC Valorant took the time to go out for ramen.

Their next match will be on November 14, against the Colorado School of Mines.