nukkye of Giants: “I think it was mainly just work ethic that got even better and I think it will be even better at Champs”

From just missing out on qualifying for Masters Tokyo, Giants avenged their showing in the VCT EMEA League playoffs... Pedro | 26. July 2023

From just missing out on qualifying for Masters Tokyo, Giants avenged their showing in the VCT EMEA League playoffs by defeating NAVI 3-0 in the grand finals of the Last Chance Qualifier to stamp their ticket to Champions 2023. The victory capped off a perfect 7-0 run through the bracket for Giants as they also defeated Karmine Corp and KOI prior to taking down NAVI.


While the grand finals didn’t harbor high stakes, since Fnatic’s Masters Tokyo triumph awarded EMEA an additional spot in Champions, thereby qualifying both Giants and NAVI to the event regardless of what happened in this series, the Spanish organization ran through their opposition to end the domestic year on a relative high and have momentum ahead of the season’s cornerstone event.

Following Giants’ LCQ grand finals victory over NAVI, Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas talked to Fragster for an interview about the team’s road towards qualifying for Champions, what improvements it did during their break, how he views the team’s current state, and more.

Finishing LCQ against NAVI

Pedro Romero, Fragster: Congrats on winning the LCQ although it’s done in a finals that not many people will see as important given both team’s qualification to Champions. Nevertheless, in a match that did not have high stakes, how did you specifically approach this?

Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas: I mean, we didn’t want to show everything we prepared because we only showed just two maps, I think, in Last Chance right now so we said, “We’re gonna play off comms and we’ll play with the maps we can play so we don’t show anything,” so that’s the only preparation we had. We had a few set rounds that we discussed prior to the game because of Yoru and running kind of weird comps in a way, I would say, and that’s it, you know? Nothing that serious or something super try hard-y, anti-stratting them, or doing anything.

Fragster: Yeah and it definitely showed because no one changed their agents throughout the series–save for cloud, who played Yoru alongside Jett. Was that also taken into consideration given that you didn’t want to show too much by just not basically making any changes throughout the series agent-wise?

nukkye: Yeah, almost 100%. We showed as minimal as we could. He decided to pick [Yoru] and he wanted to have fun so I think that’s the main reason why he played the agent. It was just his decision.

Fragster: In a series like this, do you have any major takeaways you have from this?

nukkye: The only takeaway we had is that we still can improvise on be a good team fundamentally because, in reality, we played a comp that we didn’t play at all. It was just everything random and there were different roles for people so the only takeaway we can be proud of is that we can improvise and we can adapt and be good fundamentally on different agents, which is a good thing to have in the future. Even if some people don’t play in this team or whatever [in the future], that’s the thing we can be super proud of and take away from this match.

On making Champions 2023

Fragster: I want to now take the focus on to the team’s improvement from the end of the EMEA League up until this moment in time. Of course, you guys were close to qualifying for Masters Tokyo so to go from there to qualifying to Champions with relative ease, what do you think fared well for this team from the end of the EMEA league up until now?

nukkye: I would say there was no super specific thing realistically. I think the only thing that paid off and made us better was working hard. We didn’t have a long break. We worked earlier than most of the teams that didn’t qualify to Japan and I think just people stepping up individually and being reliable of being changed made a difference in us qualifying to Champs. Japan was super close just because we were still a new team and we needed to get over those rocks in a way that we have. And yeah, I think it was mainly just work ethic that got even better and I think it will be even better at Champs.

Fragster: In reflection of the team’s improvement, given that you mentioned the team’s struggles throughout the season, what do you think caused those struggles? What do you think made it so difficult for this team to being unable to play well compared to now?

nukkye: I think the reality is we have very young people on the team. I think I’m the oldest alongside our coach, so for me, moving to a different country is not as hard as them. They were very used to living at home and having a good routine at home. For me, it’s a bit easier, but for them, it just took some time to adapt and it’s good not only cultural shock but also everything. It was just a different routine and you’re working here. You’re not chilling as much as you could chill at home when nobody sees you, so I think that was the biggest shock and then people missing their families was a big problem for us in the team because everybody got really homesick because they’re not used to the environment, as I said. I think now it’s a bit more chill and, in reality, people are fully used to it. They have vacation and they visited their parents and I think the problem is solved kinda.

giants emea league 2023

Credit: Hara Amoros / Riot Games / LVP / lag.

Fragster: What do you think was the what’s the biggest thing that you improved within your individual game for the team within that same timeframe?

nukkye: I got better in the role that I competed in which is sentinel. Putting more time into preparation and more time individually putting. I would say I’d come back to the same answer as I said before which was just the work ethic increased and that’s what increased my performance overall as a player.

Fragster: For you, you’re returning to the international level in VCT for the first time since Reykjavik 2022, To get back to this level after so long, what do you think this says about your longevity and improvement with this Giants team?

nukkye: It shows that the team can have a very high trajectory in a short period of time and if we learn how to maintain it, it shows that we can maintain playing internationally. Not only including myself but everybody too. I would say it showed that the team is able to qualify for international events, which people didn’t believe in.

Fragster: This also marks the first time that other players within the team have been able to do the same. The biggest examples is rhyme, cloud, and F1tinho, all of whom had not reached this stage in years past.  How does this accomplishment affect those players and their performance throughout this year in the lead-up to reaching Champions? What does this accomplishment mean about them specifically also?

nukkye: It’s kind of a stepping stone for them in Valorant and everything. Nowadays, it’s like everything before franchising didn’t really matter that much. It’s like they started their career this time in order to make a name for themselves right now so I think it means a lot to them. I think, overall, it’s quite a learning experience so it took some time to be good from day one of franchised at whatever level so I think it’s just a stepping stone for them. I think, with qualifying, it gave them a boost of motivation to get out of groups and then try to win the tournament and, depending on how well we do in Champs, I think it will set a very good year next year for us so we don’t have to play Last Chance Qualifiers.

Looking forward to LA

Fragster: Do you have any team or player that you have an eye on when it comes to you wanting to face them at Champions? And if so, who are they and why do you want to play them?

nukkye: I mean FUT because we lost to them in the playoffs. So I say it’s them just to, I wouldn’t say exact revenge, but have a rematch. I feel we didn’t play our A-game that we could have played and that cost us the qualification to Japan, so I would say FUT.

giants emea league 2023 lcq

Credit: Hara Amoros / Riot Games / LVP / lag.

Fragster: Earlier in the season, I asked rhyme what he would rate the team on a scale of one to 10 and he said six given that you guys were roaming within the mid-table and he felt the team had a lot more to improve. Now I’m going to ask the same question to you: On a scale of one to 10, how do you view this team’s performance and state at this moment of time and why do you feel as such?

nukkye: 7.5. As for why, it’s because I think we still have things to fix and learn, not only as a team, but as individuals. It will take a lot of time and once those things will be fixed, it’s gonna be 7.5-plus and more and it will grow faster. There’s not been an insane amount of progress [since then], but I think, yeah, 7.5 is the current state of the team.

Fragster: Since you mentioned the things that you want to fix ahead of Champions, what would that be for this team?

nukkye: Some micro decisions and some global decisions to the team and then reacting to things and not forgetting the things that we learned. Those are the main things. I think everything comes back still to work ethic like memorizing things and not being lazy to react to things, which sometimes happens. You cannot play perfect every single day. If everybody can give at least 70% when they play, it’s going to be a lot better than having two people playing at 100 and then two guys are not there. So it’s just stability overall for the team. Because we don’t have a game plan around one guy carrying, it’s just around all of us getting a chance to play and perform and do our job.

Feature Image Credit: Hara Amoros / Riot Games / LVP / lag.