Arguably, one of the biggest stories that shook the Valorant scene during this past offseason was the retirement of Carpe from competitive Overwatch and his subsequent signing with T1 for the VCT Pacific League season. While the game has seen a flurry of past FPS professionals switch to Valorant, few carried as many past successes as Carpe has before making the literal jump.
During Carpe’s days in the Overwatch League, where he spent all five years there with Philadelphia Fusion, he became one of the greatest DPS players of all time. Despite coming up short for multiple years—he was 2nd in the 2018 finals, 4th in the 2020 finals, and 2nd in numerous other splits for the Fusion—he continued dazzling fans and teams with his individual plays as one of the chief offensive players for his teams.
Even so, one’s body and mind can only do so much for a game before eventually deciding to pursue another venture. After weeks of rumors circulating about a possible switch to Valorant, Carpe officially announced his retirement from Overwatch, closing one of the most memorable individual careers the game had seen. Simultaneously, he was named as the newest member of T1’s Valorant squad for the 2023 season, joining the likes of Son "xeta" Seon-ho, Joseph "ban" Seungmin Oh, former OW rivals-turned-teammates Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo and Byeon "Munchkin" Sang-beom, and head coach Yoon "Autumn" Eu-teum.
With his new team, Carpe enters a new chapter of his esports career and having already experienced a set of tournaments (Ludwig x Tarik Invitational and LOCK//IN 2023), he looks to achieve greater success in this new game by this year’s end.
Before the start of the VCT Pacific League, BLIX.GG interviewed Carpe about his transition to Valorant from Overwatch, how he has been meshing with the rest of the T1 VCT lineup, the team’s performance at LOCK//IN, and more.
Switching from Overwatch to Valorant
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: It’s fair to say that you surprised a large number of people when T1 announced your arrival to their VCT squad for the 2023 season. Not only that, you announced your retirement from Overwatch, where you had a 5+ year career. What made you decide to switch from Overwatch to Valorant?
Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok: When the Valorant team was going through its rebuilding, Autumn and Munchkin told me that a good opportunity might come up for me. And I joined the team after speaking with Autumn, as he spoke about how I can grow and prove myself.
BLIX: What was the thought process behind making that switch? How long were you thinking about making the switch? Was there a moment in time when you 100% decided you were changing games?
Carpe: It didn’t take a lot of time; I would have to say about a month or two.
BLIX: About joining T1 for the upcoming VCT season, how exactly did that move transpire? What were the discussions like with the team before officially signing?
Carpe: Autumn discussed a lot of the plans regarding the team and he thoroughly explained how I can grow as a player.
BLIX: When it comes to switching games, the matter of how a player adjusts themselves in their new game and how fast they can do so is taken into account. How have you found adjusting yourself to playing Valorant at this point in time?
Carpe: I know that I still lack in some areas but I felt like I was able to adjust to the game after about four to five months.
For more interviews, check out our recent interview with FaZe Clan's GC IGL Diane "di^" Tran
BLIX: Has the transition been difficult or easy for you? And why is it the case?
Carpe: Some things were hard and easy during the transition. Since Valorant is a different type of tactical FPS game, it was difficult to know the angles. But just like Overwatch, knowing and understanding the details of the ultimates, skills, and different combos was easier.
BLIX: What do you think has been your biggest takeaway so far from playing Valorant and why?
Carpe: I would have to say the momentum and the atmosphere because those are the two most important things.
Playing with T1
BLIX: In joining the T1 Valorant lineup, you were slotted into the initiator role for the Ludwig x Tarik Invitational and LOCK//IN. Why did you decide to be an initiator? Was it because the team slotted you into that position or your personal preference?
Carpe: It was one of the things that I spoke to Autumn about when joining the team; I felt the most fun when playing an initiator role; and it came down to the team’s decision as well as my preference.
BLIX: For LOCK//IN, T1 only managed to play one series, which was a 2-0 defeat to FURIA in the first round. How did you view the team’s performance in Brazil?
Carpe: I know that our results in Brazil weren’t great but I gained so much more through the feedback from that match. I believe that the experiences that we got from that match were positive even though the results weren’t the best.
BLIX: How did you approach that event compared to when you were in the OWL?
Carpe: There isn’t much of a difference compared to OWL. We prepare the right strategy after getting a grasp of the team that we are up against.
BLIX: With T1, you’re teaming up with Munchkin and Sayaplayer, both of whom were your former opponents in the Overwatch League and exemplary players in their own right. What’s it like playing with them in this game as opposed to facing them in Overwatch?
Carpe: Both players had great careers in Overwatch, started their Valorant careers earlier than me, and proved their skills. I learn a lot from them when we play, they help me out a lot and it’s just fun.
BLIX: Simultaneously, how have you been working with your other teammates in ban and xeta?
Carpe: Ban is very passionate and practices a lot. I have so much respect for him since I get to see that firsthand. Xeta has a lot of knowledge when it comes to tactical FPS which he shares and is helpful when he explains the different team strategies.
BLIX: In having Autumn as the head coach, how do you view his coaching style? What kind of ideas does he bring to the team and how do you work around that?
Carpe: Autumn’s coaching style is by far the kind of coaching style that I want as a pro gamer. Autumn has been able to grasp the direction in which he wants the team to go, which he believes is important.
If that doesn’t pan out, he moves quickly to figure out the problem and address it and update us, which allows us to focus only on the game. And even though things didn’t work out for the best in Brazil, Autumn’s coaching style has been the best for the rest of the team and me for our first win this regular season.
BLIX: What do the communications look like for the team within matches and how has that changed since it was formed during the offseason and throughout LOCK//IN?
Carpe: Coming together as a team and getting our communication in sync is hard, even in Overwatch. And this time, we kept the communication going and practiced a lot – which increased our communication levels immensely, compared to our communication levels during LOCK//IN.
Looking ahead to VCT Pacific, looking back at Overwatch
BLIX: Looking ahead, you’re set to take on the rest of the VCT Pacific League which contains strong teams like DRX, Paper Rex, and Talon Esports. Which team are you most looking forward to facing in the Pacific League?
Carpe: I am looking forward to our match against DRX.
BLIX: Additionally, which player are you looking forward to facing and why did you choose them?
Carpe: Honestly, no one.
BLIX: Looking at the other side of the coin, why did you decide to retire from Overwatch?
Carpe: It would have to be the same reason why I joined the T1 Valorant team.
BLIX: Given that you’ve been present in the OWL since its inception and are viewed as one of its greatest players, how does it feel for you to be regarded in that particular distinction?
Carpe: I feel honored and thankful to the fans that view me in that way because I have worked hard in playing Overwatch. I hope that the fans will see me the same way as I will put in the same effort into Valorant. And in order to do that, I will give it my all.
BLIX: I’d like to know what will be your fondest memory of your time in professional Overwatch?
Carpe: Every moment and every match is a fond memory for me. If I have to pick one, it would have to be the Finals during Season 1, and it was the moment when I was entering Barclays Center in New York.
BLIX: Do you have a moment throughout your time in OWL in which you felt you could’ve done something differently? Also, do you have any regrets as to how your Overwatch career transpired?
Carpe: I don’t have any regrets [about my Overwatch career]. I put in 120% and when it all ended, I felt relieved.
BLIX: Each player has their own set of goals that they want to accomplish this year besides winning. What are your specific goals for this year?
Carpe: Winning as a team and becoming the MVP!
BLIX: What should fans expect to see of your individual gameplay for this season?
Carpe: As I am getting more accustomed to the game, I am able to find my very own play style. They can look forward to some smart gameplays and aggressive plays.