In an interview with Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen earlier today, Twinfinite has learned that Team Liquid will play the Red Bull Homeground tournament with two stand-in players after newcomers Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin and Igor “Redgar” Vlasov were denied travel visas from Russia.
“Unfortunately, they couldn’t get their visas in time to join us in the UK, and so we had to take two stand-ins… it sucks that we cannot show our full team here, but it is what it is,” Jamppi told me this morning.
Coming in their place are two accomplished players from other European Valorant esports organizations: Enzo “Enzo” Mestari (former Fnatic), and Johan “Meddo” Lundborg (former G2).
“They are two still really great players, and I still think we have a great chance of doing well here, but of course, it is not the same vibe that it would have been with our whole team,” Jamppi admits.
As confident as Jamppi is, the team hasn’t had much time to practice. In fact, they’ve had just a single day so far.
“So basically, we’ve had one day of practice with the two new guys, so we are doing pretty much freestyle for this whole tournament, but we are still confident.”
As for the roles and who will be playing what after having lost two big names, Jamppi explained that Meddo will be taking the sentinel role as a fill-in for Nats, but they’re very much approaching the tournament with a loose style that will involve “a lot of different comps.” Jamppi told me:
“We are not going to play the same way that we would if we were with our own team because we didn’t have practice. We’re instead going to just go in with a great mindset at an individual level. There are going to be a lot of different and funny comps, for sure.”
He later explained that even though he had himself been calling the shots for Liquid as an IGL in the past, he wouldn’t be resuming that role for Red Bull Homeground — even despite Redgar not being involved. Instead, Sayf, who has been helping with secondary calling in practice since joining the team, will step in as the full IGL for the tournament.
Red Bull Homeground kicks off tomorrow, Dec. 9. The tournament is being held in Manchester, UK, and features several teams partnered with Riot Games for next year’s Valorant Champions Tour league. There is a prize pool of $100,000 for the eight invited teams to fight over. Team Liquid is the defending champion.
Keep an eye out for Twinfinite’s full interview with Jamppi over the coming days. Until then, check out Valorant’s latest patch notes if you haven’t already.