We had the opportunity to talk to Valentin "risze" Liradelfo, the Belgian with the most international appearances in the history of Rainbow Six: Siege, about getting into Rainbow 6, his journey across teams, and becoming the player he is today.
A first impression is always important, including in games. For risze, their first experience with Rainbow Six: Siege was crucial. "A friend of mine, who used to play dead competitive games like me, saw Siege's arrival in 2015 and asked me to join him and try the game. We both played on the same team for a while and eventually won the first French LAN in 2016 (Gamers Assembly)."
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The most interesting aspect of the Gamers Assembly tournament was the number of players who would later become well-known. Vincent "Falko" Baucino, would go on to win two Pro League titles (Yunktis S2 and Penta S4). Bryan "Elemzje" Tebessi and Olivier "Renshiro" Vandroux are two other examples. In the opening battle that would last for several seasons, however, risze took the lead.
Rainbow Six: Siege awakened an old desire in Valentin's life to become a professional player: "It has always been my dream to be a professional player when I was a teenager, I thought I missed the opportunity by choosing the wrong game back then (Call of Duty 2 & 4 on PC) so when I realized Ubisoft wanted to make Siege a competitive game, I knew I would do everything to be apart of it."
In 2017, he started the season with Team Vitality, who had done well in Xobx tournaments. But when the competition on console came to a close, the team then migrated to the PC and entrusted risze and his team with flying their flag in Rainbow Six: Siege: “It was expected. We knew they would get a PC team since the announcement of the end of the console competition. We were, on paper, the best team to be picked up by them at that moment.”
Four teams in two years
During his early days at Team Vitality, risze had some good moments in national championships. However, the team struggled regionally, falling to the Challenger League in the Pro League S5. Nevertheless, they managed to qualify for the sixth season. While the team did succeed in qualifying for the Six Invitational, Ubisoft had a vacancy via community votes, which allowed Team Vitality to participate in the event.
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Despite the opportunity, the team faced tough competition in the group stage, including PENTA (champion of two of the last three Pro League competitions), Evil Geniuses (with four of the five players being champions at the last Six Invitational, Continuum), and 1UP (a team that had former PENTA player Niklas "KS" Masslerer). Ultimately, Team Vitality finished last in their group and left the organization.
After his time with Team Vitality, risze played for four different organizations between 2018 and 2020. First was Millenium, where he won DreamHack Austin, came in 3rd-4th in Pro League S7, placed 3rd in DreamHack Montrealwere and were 6Cup champions (French championship). Later in 2018, risze and two teammates moved to LeStream, where they qualified for the Six Invitational but finished last in their group. While on LeStream, risze and his team qualified for Pro League S9 in Milan, where they were eliminated in the first game, and also for Allied Vegas, where they took second place. Notably, the team even competed at DreamHack Valencia as Looking For Org, after leaving LeStream, where they managed to take 2nd place. After that, risze and his team played for Giants, where they placed 5th-8th in Raleigh, won the 6 French League, and placed 5th-8th in Pro League S10 in Japan. Finally, he joined Rogue for the 2020 Six Invitational, where they finished last in their group. Before the pandemic and a change in championship organizer, Rogue won the regional title of Pro League S11. This brought risze's journey through four different teams to a close, leading to his return to Team Vitality.
Return to Team Vitality gone wrong
risze commented on this period in which he constantly changed organizations: “I had lots of amazing moments in every single team I’ve been in, alongside terrible disappointments. It’s very difficult to rank them since I found success in all these teams listed in one way or another. They were all different experiences and allowed me to be the player and leader I am today and it would be impossible for me to put one before another.”
The return to Team Vitality, however, did not go as expected. The team placed third in the 6 French League S2, sixth in the European League S1, and ninth in the European League S2. In 2021, their poor performance in the European League continued, but they managed to win the title of the 6 French League S3. In 2022, the team was left without an organization, as Team Vitality withdrew from the competitive scene of Rainbow Six: Siege. risze reflected on this time by saying it was "quite difficult to live through." Performing as they did without any support was hard, especially because they kept playing full-time. He even emphasized the importance of Robin "Robz," manager of Wolves, in the search for a new organization: "If it wasn't for Robz, we would probably be out of EUL. Thanks to him, we found Wolves Esports."
As Wolves, the team participated in all three Six Majors of 2022. They were the only European team to accomplish such a feat, but their performance was not the best. They were stopped in the group stage at Charlotte, and placed 5th-8th in the tournaments in Berlin and Jönköping. risze comments on the team's regional superiority, but international difficulty: “I think we needed to overcome pressure in critical moments, I believe we always were on point strategically speaking but we sometimes lacked experience when it came to decision making.”
Due to their strong performance during the season, the team earned a direct spot in the Six Invitational tournament. They were placed in a group with Soniqs (NA), MNM (EU), Team Liquid (LATAM), and Cyclops (APAC). This was a very difficult group, but it was to be expected since the Six Invitational is known to feature the toughest of competition.
The team was one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament, managing to finish in the top six. They even played against the eventual champions, G2, in the Lower Bracket, but unfortunately, they were unable to maintain their impressive performance in the final stages of the competition and lost. According to risze, this match was the most difficult one of the competition: “Probably both games against G2. The first game felt like both teams were having hero moves to save crucial rounds and eventually we won it thanks to our resilience. The second game was more strategic and map-oriented, except for Oregon where they were just outgunning us hard.”
What's next for risze?
One of the most beautiful moments of the Six Invitational was risze's emotional reaction after qualifying for the main stage. Despite not having performed well in previous competitions, this was the first time he made it to the main stage of the biggest Rainbow Six: Siege competition. He shared his thoughts on what was going through his mind at that moment: "I felt a huge relief in a way. I’ve been chasing this stage for a while and finally, I could have a taste of it. It is the result of a lot of sacrifices and hard work and being on this fantastic stage is one of the best rewards a professional player can get.”
And now risze is without a home, having been benched in Wolves, but he has already shown what he is capable of and is still confident in his game: “I’m definitely not done. I can feel it, my passion is still burning as a player. You can expect me to try even harder to reach the heights I’ve always looked up to”.
The championships return on March 10 with South Korea League matches on Rainbow6's official Twitch and YouTube channels.