Former Counter-Strike player, Rafael “Raafa” Lima was one of the players that made that transition to Riot’s tactical shooter. He spent his early days playing with Liberty in the Brazilian league and later found success in his second team, The Union, who he still plays for to this day.
“The invitation came first in the middle of last year, but I wanted to finish the season with Liberty. We still had the Elite Cup to play and we were about to make changes in the way we approached the games. Following the end of that tournament, peu invited me again to join The Union and I thought it would be a good idea to work with people I know from the past. The team had a lot of individual qualities, so I decided to accept.”
It seems easier to work with people you have had success with in the past. Raafa had worked with coach Pedro “peu” Lopes and Fillipe “pancc” Martins before in w7m’s CS:GO roster and now in VALORANT the trio have joined forces again.
“It’s very easy to work with them, they think similar to me about the game, especially peu. When he started coaching in VALORANT, it was in my team, so we think very similarly and it’s very good when the coach and the IGL think similarly. All the players are open to listening and learning, so it’s easy to work with them.”
And, of course, we need to talk about Union’s duelist, Ilan “havoc” Eloy, a player that according to Raafa “is a kid, he turned 16 some days ago”.
“He likes the game a lot, so I think that makes him very good. He plays and enjoys the game a lot. He listens to us a lot, he's not a tantrum kid and he’s very mature in terms of listening to critics and ways to improve his game.”
The young prospect, however, is now stepping down from the active roster temporarily for personal reasons, announced the organization. The team announced Askia to fill havoc's position in an “extraordinary situation”, said VALORANT Esports BR.
The Union won the first Challengers Brazil Split but this was all part of the plan: "To be honest we were expecting yeah, we knew we could do well in the competition and win it. I said it before the tournament started, we didn’t come to get experience, we came to win it because we knew our potential and we practiced a lot for the competition."
However, their mission is yet to be completed:
"This was just the first step in our path, we need to challenge for Split 2 just like we did Split 1. The first Split win will help us, and give us confidence for the second one, we know that we are the best team nowadays, the results speak for themselves. We want to qualify for Ascension, and we want to arrive there with confidence, that’s our main goal."
The Union was brought into the conversation in a 100Thieves Youtube video where the players were discussing various topics. When the Ascension was the topic of the talk, Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk was clear:
“Everyone is like M80 is going to win Ascension, but they’re not considering that The Union can win Ascension, just wait until they meet pancc”.
“We always had good feedback about our team, we shared some ideas with 100Thieves and when they were here, (Brazil) they said they watched some of our games in VALORANT Challengers Brazil and congratulated us. It was very cool to see him saying those words so publicly, it’s great to see the recognition from players at that level.” - commented Raafa.
100Thieves know The Union from their practices in Brazil, since the team traveled to South America to compete in LOCK//IN. Raafa gave his thoughts on that chance to practice against top world teams:
“Those practices were crucial, we grew a lot. We saw the things we were doing were correct. It was a privilege to have that tournament here in Brazil, it’s even better than doing a boot camp in Europe since teams from all regions came to our region.”