Version1 head coach Ian "Immi
" Harding wears his heart on his sleeve and provides invaluable insights into the heart of his team.
As one of the representatives at the VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT): Stage 2 Masters event held in Reykjavik, Iceland, Version1 is a pillar of the North American VALORANT space.
Advancing through their domestic qualifiers, Immi and Version1 aim to book their tickets to Stage 3 Masters held in Berlin, Germany. However, Version1 takes each step as they come, one day at a time.
Coach Immi spoke to Esports Heaven about the team’s experience at Stage 2 Masters, his former days as a professional Counter-Striker player and coach, and taking a brief exploration into his coaching philosophy.
First, how was your experience at Stage 2 Masters? What was one of the biggest lessons that you and Version1 learned from the event in general?
It felt good to get back on stage and play in VALORANT’s first event on LAN. Riot did a great job with the event, and we were proud to represent North America.
There’s no doubt that the fact we played with a stand-in impacted what we were able to do competitively.
Regardless, we were proud of our performance, and we were happy to get the experience and continue to build chemistry between our team.
Obviously, Stage 3 Challengers 1 hasn’t gone exactly to plan with losses to 100 Thieves and Pioneers, but Challengers 2 is right around the corner. When it comes to preparation, what’s different this time around?
Our goal was to get to the next stage and not have to play in the open qualifier—that’s a win for us.
We don’t have much of a plan beyond that, other than to show up and play our best.
We are excited to have Zellsis back in the lineup; he’ll be playing with us the next time we compete.
Jordan is a leader on our team and a player who can flex multiple agents and make a difference for our team.
With experience as a coach and as a player, you’ve got a very unique insight into what it is like to operate within a team at the highest level. From your years as a player in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, what was one of the lessons that really impacted your coaching in VALORANT?
From my years playing professionally in Counter-Strike, I was always a strict IGL and a very tactical coach.
In the transition to VALORANT, I’ve changed my approach.
I’ve learned in this game, and with this team, it’s more effective to focus on building the bond between our players. I believe that fun and structure go hand-in-hand, and each has its place.
Everyone on Version1 has a voice and we come to conclusions and make decisions as a team.
You’ve mentioned that the team doesn’t take themselves too seriously and it sounds like the locker room is fairly lighthearted. What are some of the positives you have seen from keeping the environment more loose? Is this the type of environment you would have wanted as a player?
As I mentioned, building a bond is the focus right now. This is the structure I would want as a player in this game.
In matches, each player is learning to think for himself. They don’t rely on “if this goes wrong, we do A, B, C.”
Rather our players look to adapt to situations and trust their teammates to help them remedy the situation.
We have fun and enjoy competing alongside each other and as a result, our team looks forward to practice and spending time together.
It’s always interesting listening to coaches perspectives on things outside of strategy and tactics and your insights on Coach’s Corner are incredibly valuable. You show how you would increase the energy and motivation for your players, but could you describe how you might manage a situation where your team is playing too confidently and needs to tone it back?
A team with a lot of confidence is not always a bad thing, but if we need to focus up to secure a round, we obviously will pause and discuss, or I’ll explain that.
However, I can almost always trust the players to self-regulate, so we typically use our opportunities to pause a match to share feedback or discuss the approach that will ultimately help us get the win.
Last but not least, I’d love to hear some of your long-term goals? What are some of the things you hope to accomplish with Version1? Are your eyes set on VCT: Champions? Any specific thing you hope to do in the foreseeable future?
We do our very best to stay in the moment and take every practice and match as it comes. We want to get to VCT Champions and we think we have what it will take to win, which is something we’d like to accomplish as V1.
But honestly, we live day by day.
We don’t look backwards and don’t look too far ahead.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Riot Games.
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