The first-ever winner of VCT Champions was Acend Club. In 2021, the roster, then comprising of legends like zeek, Cned, starxo, bonecold, and Kiles. After a protracted battle in the Bo5 grand finals, the team triumphed over Gambit Esports with a 3:2 victory that went down to the wire. They were the first-ever champions of the apex of competitive Valorant. A team that stood together, under a golden rain, celebrating. Surely there was more to come from them. Right?
Well, when the 2022 season started, unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. In the VCT EMEA Stage 1 qualifiers, Acend bombed out in the group stage after losses to FNATIC and BBL Esports. In the VCT EMEA Stage 2 event, the team made it to the playoffs but again, after losses to M3 Champions and Fun Plus Phoenix, were eliminated. They still managed to qualify for the EMEA Last Chance qualifier based on circuit points but after losing again to M3 Champions and G2 Esports, were out of the competitive circuit for the year.
All of this was amidst several roster changes – by the time LCQ rolled around, only starxo and Cned were left from the original playing five. Acend also failed to lock in one of the coveted ten partnership spots in the EMEA League.
However, they didn’t give up, even when Cned and Starxo left to join NaVi and KOI respectively. Instead, holding on to MONSTERR, one of the players they had signed last year, they began to rebuild. They announced that they would compete in the VRL League: East Surge and try their hand at making it to the Valorant Champions League and aim for an Ascension slot. Aside from MONSTERR, best known for his stints on Giants Gaming and Team Heretics, the organization signed ALIVE (a player who had spent time in EXCEL and Finest), musashi (of BIG Gaming fame), and finally, Br0die (from Mad Lions and TENSTAR) as their IGL.
To round off their playing five, the org picked up Kamil "baddyG" Graniczka, known for his time on Team Vitality as well as subbing in for ardiis of Fun Plus Phoenix at the VCT EMEA Stage 1 Challengers playoffs. BaddyG was part of the game that FPX won to take them to Masters Berlin, a tournament the team would eventually garner their first international trophy at.
With this rebuild, Acend has had a pretty good start in the VCL East Surge for the Eastern Europe region. In the group stage, they’re currently on top of the leaderboard in the group stage, having six wins and two losses under their belt so far. With Acend aiming to be on top of the world again, their player BaddyG agreed to sit down with BLIX.gg for an interview discussing his name’s origins, how he got into esports, his aspirations with Acend, and far more!
How BaddyG began
Kaavya K, BLIX.GG: Did you always want to go pro in esports?
Kamil "baddyG" Graniczka: In the beginning, I was supposed to be a sports player. I played football for nine years. I loved it. Yeah, I loved it. But in school, I broke a bone in my hip. So, I had to end my career. I started playing CSGO laying [sic] in bed because I couldn't walk and I had to lay in bed, I couldn't even sit. So I was chilling in my bed and playing the game. And that was when I liked the competitiveness in the esport. I was always dreaming about that, you know, to be a pro player to play on the biggest stages and everything. But it came really naturally for me to grind the game every day, like always being competitive.
I feel like I'm a competitive person. And I love competing with other people, like in terms of like sports situations, you know? So, for me, I was just doing it for fun. And it went pretty well, it just became my job. My dream job. Even though it's hard, even though I feel like being a pro player, It's mentally hard. Still, I feel like it's my dream job and I would never exchange it for anything else.
BLIX: How did you come up with your username?
BaddyG: I was with my friend on Teamspeak and we were trying to figure out a nickname for me in CSGO. We were watching some games from Happy, and my friend was like “oh, this guy is Happy, you can be like Saddy.” I was like, not saddy but Baddy. But I couldn’t use that name because someone already had the name taken so I added the first letter of my last name and came up with BaddyG. Every time someone asks me the history of my nickname, I get super happy talking about it, since Happy is now a friend of mine, we talk about playing each other. He’s currently coaching in NA and we still have some contact from time to time so that makes me pretty happy.
Joining ACEND Club and expectations for VCL East Surge
BLIX: Let's talk about you joining us ACEND, congratulations! I know that you've been on some big teams before but to be part of the team that won the first-ever VCT championship, how does that feel?
BaddyG: Well, for sure it's like great history was created at the first VCT Champs and overall, with the roster. I think the story is beautiful. One of the best stories in the Valorant history I would say. From being underdogs in the first master's they played to winning versus like a team that was really really good level: Heretics if I remember correctly.
Then winning Champs you know, it's a really good feeling to join ACEND and I hope we will do something big together and go back onto that biggest stage.
BLIX: So far you guys have been having a pretty good time in VCL East Surge. How do you feel about the league, and what are your expectations?
BaddyG: Our minimum expectation for ourselves is qualifying through the East Surge league to play in EMEA. But we’re trying to get there and keep ourselves super humble. We know there are a lot of teams here that can actually play really good Valorant. I think East Surge is like the most competitive league in EMEA. In fact, if I had to rank the leagues, I’d say East Surge and Turkey come first, followed by the French league. Polaris also has pretty good teams, but I feel bad for them since they only have one team signed by an organization. Long term, it's going to keep players from being able to focus on the game.
I think if we play properly, we’re winning East Surge. There are other pretty prominent teams around who can battle it out for second or third. We have really experienced players and a great coach; we’re super confident about both our individual and team skills.
BLIX: I was going through your career and wow, you’ve had quite a history in this game, with your time at Vitality, FPX, etc.
BaddyG: I was a part of a lot of good teams. In fact, I had an opportunity to play for FPX which was like, one of the dream teams, I’d always wanted to play in. One of my best memories in my Valorant career was playing Fnatic on Split and winning 13-0. Before the game, I was a bit afraid and was feeling a little pressure. I wanted to show who I was and what we were capable of and being able to 13-0 like that was a historic moment. As for my time with Vitality, it wasn’t the best, but it is what it is. I moved on, and now I’m trying to get back to the top again.
ACEND is probably the best org right now in VCL. It’s as close as it gets to being in a franchised org, and I’m super happy to work with the boys. I know all of them from like previous teams and playing against each other.
BLIX: What’s it like, playing with your current teammates? How is the environment?
BaddyG: We have really good vibes together! We love to joke with each other, and we see each other all the time. It’s a really loose atmosphere and we aim to keep things fun and light. It’s wonderful to work with these guys, I’ve played with or against all of them at some point, and I’m super excited to play the upcoming seasons with them.
We’re also heading to bootcamp together soon, towards the playoffs stage or the beginning of the second split. I think it’s very important for team bonding to spend all day with each other, maybe go outside together outside of scrims. It’s good for team spirit. I remember that at Team Vitality we went out together a lot after scrims and we could trust each other a little bit more as a result. There’s something about being together in person as a team, it's so much easier to build spirit and hype your team.
BLIX: So, who’s the hype guy on your team? I feel like it’s you.
BaddyG: I feel like it’s my character to be super hyped about the team and overall try and make things a bit lighter and fun overall. But I think all of our players are like that, they can pop off at unexpected moments then throw down a joke which everyone laughs at. It’s super cool to spend time with the boys.
We do get serious when it’s needed in official games and it’s not like we’re laughing all the time, but we know how to have a good time together.
BLIX: Let’s say you’re playing a best of three. If the first game doesn’t go your way, or you’ve lost really badly, how is the team atmosphere then? How do you keep your mind strong?
BaddyG: I think it’s very important to move on. Don’t go too deep into the game you just lost and focus on the next game instead. Reach the goals you have for the next map and don’t overthink the prior ones. You can’t change what happened, but you can play better.
It’s important to maintain the same level of focus and enjoyment from the game. It’s also important to have a performance coach in the team who can help you with this and not getting too stressed out.
BaddyG in Game
BLIX.GG: What drew you to the controller role in Valorant, since that’s what you mainly play?
BaddyG: What attracted me to the controller role? I think I need a bit of freedom. I like to think I have perspective what's going on all around the map. Overall, I really like to know what's going on around me, what someone needs, and how you want to approach things and control the timing. So, I think the controller role was like perfect for me because I can help with utility, I can call something, I can control the tempo of the game, I can help the in-game leader to like, make calls so I think like this role is perfect for me.
Sometimes I can go with the team and play aggressively and sometimes I can just play somewhere deep and lurk somewhere. That's something really, really good to see and pretty enjoyable to play as well.
BLIX: How do you feel about controllers after the recent patch, and about the latest controller agent, Harbor?
BaddyG: I personally think that harbor has no future in pro gameplay. You know, that's only my opinion. For me, it's hard to find a really good idea how to play him and not being easily readable or one-dimensional. I tried to understand where he can be more useful than other agents but couldn’t find anything. As for the recent update, I think it's super cool. I would say it hurts a little bit for Omen players. But in another way, I think like it's a really good change, you know, because sometimes you could like back the smoke into the wall, and I think this will create a little bit more structure around the controller players.
I feel right now the difference between Astra and Omen is super small, who you pick is going to all depend on your composition and how you want to control the tempo. If you want to play like a little bit faster, then Omen might be better option but if you want to have like really good map control and be a steady team and play the round slowly from default then maybe Astra is your choice. You know, I really like the like it being super neutral you know, you can pick whatever you want. I like the idea. I don't like when on one map you need to play a specific comp, like on Icebox. It makes the game super one-dimensional.
BLIX: How do you feel about the lineup meta?
BaddyG: I’m totally against it. Even though there are some situations it’s good, I’m more of a player who likes to be active. I like to lurk or play with the team, immerse myself in the flow of a round and catch timings. That’s what makes the game fun and I find it important to have fun while playing. There are moments when a lineup is what you need to win but if I have to choose between sitting in spawn with lineups that might not even be used, or use that time to catch rotations, maybe fake out the enemy, I would prefer the second option for sure.
When I need a lineup to win of course I’m going to do it, discipline is very important in the game. In a high-pressure situation, doing something stupid will lose more than the round. You could lose your economy, momentum, the map, or even the tournament. Every round is important.
BLIX: Moving on to maps. How do you like Lotus? What are your most and least favorite maps?
BaddyG: I’m gonna be honest with you, I haven’t played Lotus yet. I looked at how the map looks on Valorant and everything but I’m waiting for it to be released in ranked and play it there. I’ll play a couple of games, know where everything is and think about what’s the best way to play it then. I’m not overthinking it now.
As for favorite maps, I feel like every map has something different. I’m the kind of guy who enjoys difference and adjust myself to whatever map or comp it is. I’m fine with all the maps and it's gonna take me some time to tell which map I like playing the most on Acend. But I’m excited about Split coming back. I think Bind and Icebox are rather one-dimensional maps since there aren’t many variations in agent comps and it gets a bit stale seeing the same few agent compositions again and again.
BLIX: Apart from being a pro player, what else would you like to do?
BaddyG: I’m the type of the person that like loves people, loves cameras, loves talking, you know, so maybe someday I will be a host of some tournament. Or maybe be on analysis desk, who knows? It would be awesome to do it. You know? I mean, I would love to do so many things after I end my pro career and it's like, I feel like I would be good in so many things in my life.
Like player-manager, maybe an agent, or a host/analyst. I’d actually love to be on the VCT Analyst desk, but I hope I can show who I am as a player in VCT once again before that.
Feature Image: Riot/Michal Konkol