Soulcas: Step up to the site and die again

December 02 2021

Soulcas: Step up to the site and die again

The tactical shooter exists on a grid.

Lines intersect lines, mapping out plant sites, spawns, middles, elbows, corridors, corners, heavens, and hells. For a player to be great at these games, they need to read these lines and draw out micro and macro patterns from them.

Which corners have deep, hard-to-empty pockets? What angles have slight edges that give you a second headstart on the shot? What thresholds do you need to cross in order to win the game?

These grid lines might be the most meaningful and least sexy element of the tactical shooter. Clean as they are, the headshots, flicks, and fragmovie fodder doesn’t guarantee all that much at the highest level—where most players have razor-sharp, radiant-level aim. At the end of the day, what every team needs are players that will not only read those lines but throw their bodies across them. Live or die.

On Split, against Acend, it is more often “die” for Soulcas. But, as one of Liquid’s lead shot callers and entry fraggers, this is his job. Get the team over the line, live or die.

“He has a good understanding of what he needs to do,” Sliggy, the coach of the team, says, “he’s just making so much space. A lot of times he’s just going in just to take the fire angles off of a chokepoint, so he’s often just walking into his death.”

As a concept, “making space” in the tactical shooter is a lot like “making space” in basketball. In either game, any player can miss any shot, but by creating space you create room for an open shot that any player is more likely to hit. The star fragger isn’t crowded by the many firing lines of the game and so they can simply plant their feet, stand, and then deliver. In basketball, the pros often create spaces by forming hard lines with their body—screening a defender, so the shooter can peel away.

(Steven Adams, number 12, emphasizes how much space a screen can create. Most screens are a soft line, bending a little on contact and creating a small window for an open shot. Adams’s screen is a hard line that creates a ton of space.)

In Valorant, the pros create space by pushing across lines they know their enemies will cover. Often, they do this with utility—blinds, smokes, grenades. But across a long round, the utility runs dry and they might be left with only their body.

In double overtime against Acend, up 14-13 a body is nearly all Soulcas has. He is 6/18 at that moment and simply can’t find an easy frag. Still, he knows he is vital. The rest of his team are shooting the lights out and he knows he can create space for them to win the game.

Guild has taken mid and used that space to take B heaven. As two Guild players drop onto the site to challenge ScreaM and Jamppi, Soulcas steps forward and takes low-percentage shots on Guild players who are running into smokes. Zeek knows where he is and has the better angle. Still, Soulcas wide swings out of cover, takes the disadvantaged duel, and dies.

In the process, he’s created space. Zeek cannot follow up with his team with Soulcas challenging him. This splinters the two players on the site—one diving in for a fight and the other hanging back for reinforcements. ScreaM mops up all 3 kills off of 3 isolated duels that Soulcas (as well as Jamppi) created for him.

Step up to the site and die again

“Honestly, no one’s gonna enjoy it much,” Sliggy comments, “but he does his role and he knows what it is.”

“Someone has to do the dirty work,” as he reflects, Soulcas marks that out dryly. “I don’t think anyone’s gonna particularly enjoy the role of double C4-ing into the bomb site into like 3 people. I’ve always wanted to be a really, really sick aimer so that’s something I’ve always been trying as well—as I’m improving my IGL-ing to still improve my aim. But a lot of the time you can never put yourself in favorable positions being someone like the [first entry] Raze.”

Get the team over the line, even if you got to throw your body into crosshairs to do it. It’s the selfless play that wins titles and the kind of cohesion that explains why Liquid looks so revitalized. Flexible in their aggression, it’s not only Soulcas who makes sacrifices. Any one of Liquid’s five members will bait out a shot for their teammates and use the space the other creates.

(Soulcas baits Nukkye off the defuse and sets up the clutch for L1NK.)

It’s a more reliable system, too. Gone are the days when ScreaM dies early into a retake and Liquid chokes in the clutch. Gone are the days where enemy teams simply need to isolate Jamppi’s aggression to get guaranteed man advantages. In their current style, threeof Liquid’s five players top fragged* both in their series against Acend at Home Ground #2 and against Guild at the LCQ.

It is not so easy to take apart this machine but neither was putting it together. Especially for Soulcas. It meant journeying a long way from old dreams of fragmovies, scuffed UK LANs, and the emotionality of falling short of the finish line.

*The top fraggers were Jamppi, ScreaM, and Soulcas in both series, each top fraggin on separate maps.

Frag movie dreams

Before Dom “Soulcas” Sulcas knew any of the hard lines of Valorant or CS, he was a kid begging for an Xbox. “I remember asking my dad for the original Xbox when I was like four or five years old and I wanted to play Halo. [...] I played that and I played CoD on the Xbox, like Trick Shot and stuff.”

In those teen years, he was fully bought in on the gospel of the headshot, in no small part because it’s the most outwardly artful element of the game. A clean flick or precise one tap mostly speaks for itself just like draining a three basketball or resetting into a flashy combo in a fighting game. When he was young, he took over his father’s PC and dug at the expressive elements of yourself that you find while reaching for an endlessly high skill ceiling.

“I first started editing when I was like ten or eleven years old,” Soulcas talks frag movies, the FPS montage. “I remember like, bringing my friend over and we were editing a Call of Duty montage video on my dad’s office PC downstairs and we’d work on it for hours and hours. I just found so much joy in editing and I loved the creative aspect of it.”

Going by dOMM at that point, he sporadically put up short frag movies full of quick-scopes and trick shots syncopated to a mix of indie, emo, and EDM of the day. They are snapshots of Soulcas at the time and the times that Soulcas grew up in. Hyper stylized to outright overcooked CoD montages blanketed YouTube in the 2010s, a way for kids to express skill through something more rhythmic, communal, and creative.

“The more I grew up the more I definitely appreciated the editing and just visual arts. I grew a lot more appreciation for people that do really great and creative videos. I’d always watch really good CoD edits and stuff and I think that’s where I kind of learned, just watching other videos. I didn’t really follow too many tutorials, it was literally from just trial and error.”

There was some root there that Soulcas was creating. The editing process was parts creative, parts educational, and parts aspirational—and all parts seemed to stick with him. As he ventured past CoD and Halo and into the tactical FPS, these qualities carried him well. When I ask Sliggy what makes Soulcas a strong player, it’s this “watch and learn” style that he points to.

“He’s really respectful of other players,” Sliggy sys. “He learns and respects a lot of other players and watches a lot of how they either warm up, play, or approach the game. So he’s a really good learner.”

As he grew into CS, that self-sufficient attitude almost certainly helped inside a UK CS scene with more than its fair share of egos and trolls—and not nearly enough veteran leadership.

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“The UK has always been a lot more like,” Soulcas pauses to find a diplomatic word, “colorful in terms of the types of people you get. You get some toxic people, some interesting characters. There’s so just many crazy things happening in UK CS.”

“It definitely didn’t help progress the UK scene. We really struggled to break out. [...] We’re so far behind, we didn’t have anyone to teach us really how to play. Really experienced IGLs.”

In that kind of environment, Soulcas’s approach to the game—trial and error/watch and learn—was all the more necessary. He took to watching players like Twistzz to better understand how to aim and to play his position. One of Liquid’s star fraggers at the time, Twistzz has long been one of the most crisp aimers in CS—a natural idol to any kid dreaming of frag movies.

In time, Soulcas had learned the fundamentals needed to reach a PUG star level, now weaving frag movies out of the headshots he was landing in UK retake servers and ESEA PUGs. In time, he’d get noticed by the UK’s professionals and invited into mix tournaments.* He’d play with a number of UK’s notables, like Endpoint’s Thomas or Fnatic’s ALEX, and earn his first few naysayers.

“I made a name for myself playing in the UK retake servers where the other UK pros played in and I was a bit of an onliner. People saying, ‘you won’t do it at LAN!’ and stuff. It was kinda funny.”

Soulcas treats it lightheadredly, almost like you would an errant high school memory washing up in the middle of the day. “It was like a free-for-all but it was so... I dunno, it was just fun.”

*PUG is short for pick-up game and ESEA is a server that hosts them (kind of like a ranked game). Mix tournaments are lower stake events with amateur teams or pros mixing up and forming random one-off rosters.

Trial and error

It’s a wonder if the constant UK free-for-all wasn’t good preparation for entering a brand new game like Valorant. After all, the British players have enjoyed success in Valorant that they have not seen in perhaps any major esport, let alone the tactical shooter.

In CS, the lines are well-drawn and clarified over the course of a near decade for CS:GO, over double that for the franchise. They’ve been traced and retraced by legendary artists of the game, until they’ve formed clear border lines. If any line remains unstraightened, someone will find it in a demo where every POV is clear.

For its age alone, Valorant’s borders were blurred. Then, there is the still-prevalent lack of demos, the need to study minimaps on VODs and guess at what happened, to try and glean lineups from snippets of play. In the beta days, Valorant’s bones were as bare as possible, with custom games lacking features like ghost mode.

The bare bones of Valorant gave Soulcas something he’d never had in CS: a level playing field. “It was just like everyone’s at the same level. Everyone starts fresh. ‘Cause the people in the UK scene, they all had great aim but it was just everything beyond that was kinda lacking.”

If anything, Soulcas finally had a leg up. Sliggy and Eamon provided veteran leadership and because of the UK scene’s struggles in CS, most of Soulcas’s team (fish123) was willing to cross over to Valorant immediately and whole-heartedly.

The sloppy freeform of the UK wasn’t such a disadvantage here, either. In a brand new title, everyone begins from freeform and all things start as free-for-all. Knowing how to learn by watching, trying, and dying over and over again, there is never more a premium on that than in the beginning of a new craft.

“Us lot, we kinda already had a good understanding of how to play as a team. We kinda just sat in a server, us 6, just like messing around. What works what doesn’t. We put a lot of effort into trial and error—figuring out what’s good, what’s not. [...] That was our main advantage, back in the beta.”

Already an avid learner, Soulcas was sensational just a few months into Valorant. Ranked as the 8th best player in the world by Valorantify (which was soon to be, he traced the lines of the game better than most did. Be it in lining up a piece utility or a crosshair.

More than subjective ratings, Soulcas had objective success with Fish123. That team won 6 of their first 7 tournaments and took over the EU Valorant scene in its infancy. In that new world, Soulcas’s creative, studious approach could thrive.

“It’s a lot more creative,” Soulcas notes, “CS is already established. It’s very hard to innovate in CS whereas Valorant you can really innovate. Any team right now could come up with something new and people could start copying it. [...] Things can come out of nowhere, which makes the game really fun. Anyone could come up with something really creative, that people may have not thought of before in top-tier teams. Then you start taking that as inspiration.”

Tracing out new lines in a new world, Soulcas’s Raze felt inspired. It was creative, flashy, and given that few teams were ready for it, it was every bit the frag movie material. He moved quickly and naturally with the agent, especially with the blast pack. More than finding angles and entries with big jumps, he’d often save a blast pack for tense clutch scenarios and use it to completely deny a duel or prevent himself from getting traded by a 2nd entry player.

(A 1v3 clutch versus ScreaM’s beta team, Prodigy. Soulcas cleanly lines a headshot up using the lines of the box then protects the spike with a grenade and blast pack.)

In a literal sense, Soulcas’s play was inspired. Before they were teammates, he watched ScreaM closely to remap his crosshair placement from CS rules to Valorant. In the early stages of a game’s competitive life, even fundamentals need to be found. And ScreaM found them very early.

That kind of innovation goes underrated, partly because it’s a bit harder to see. A wide peak in Valorant and CS may look identical to a viewer, but a seasoned player can feel the difference. If you wanted to argue for CS’s undying creativity, you’d probably start at the micro level—all the movements you can do and the ways you can avoid shots or peak angles. Valorant lacks some of that depth of movement and this shifts the boundary lines of the game.

“Crosshair placement is way more important in Valorant than in CS. In CS, it’s a lot more like people can crouch, ferrari peak you ‘round the corner. You don’t have a lot of time to react. Crosshair placement isn’t as strict, I guess you could say, as it is in Valorant. Valorant is a bit more slow, you can react to people.”

Soulcas and ScreaM both had good crosshair placement, taps, and re-aim in CS so going over to Valorant was natural for them. “Valorant’s a lot less spraying and it’s a bit more tapping focused. [...] Aim can really shine in Valorant and especially in the early stage.” The two became some of Valorant’s earliest success and would soon become teammates.

Early stages and unforced errors

The truly earliest stage Soulcas played on was Insomnia 58, one of the UK’s endemic gaming tournaments. It was Soulcas’s first LAN in CS:GO, a tournament characterized by the unique brand of weird that UK CS has.

There was this one Romanian team that came there and they were expected to win, they were pretty good. They were called XCG or something like that.”*

“We actually managed to beat them and make it out of groups. We upset them, but then they requested for the demos—I don’t know why. But I didn’t have it, I didn’t record my POV. [...] We made an agreement to rematch and in that rematch,” Soulcas pauses, “we got stomped.”

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Soulcas is mostly amused, looking back on it as a normal teenage folly in what is an abnormal career even for esports standards. I press him on his nonchalance, wondering how he took it in the moment.

“Yeah it’s kinda like,” he stretches the words while putting the memories together, “it was obviously very tilting. If I had just typed in this one command into the console it would’ve been fine. But it’s your first experience, things are gonna happen that you didn’t expect or you aren’t prepared for.”

“When things do happen like that, I just kinda say to myself, honestly just life goes on. You can’t really control what just happened, you can only control what’s happening now.”

If Soulcas wasn’t cultivating that mindset early, then he likely wouldn’t have survived the career that was to come.

*The team was XPC Gaming, and they would go on to win the event.

The Chopping Block

For most competitors, success doesn’t stick around that long. Only a few people ever reach GOAT status and even fewer can hit that point early in the game and keep it rolling. Like many, success didn’t stay for Soulcas.

“It can be a blessing and a slight curse,” Soulcas admits of the near-instant success in the beta, “where you come up so fast you don’t gain that much experience. You’re basically at tier 1 and you haven’t gained that much experience growing from the lower tiers and progressing your way to the top.”

In only few months, Soulcas had gone from hanging somewhere around tier 3 in CS to top 10 competitor in Valorant. In a year, he’d gone from showing Liquid vlogs to his girlfriend to being in them in himself. Along the way, the team’s dynamic completely shifted as well.

“When we took in ScreaM,” Sliggy explains, “[Soulcas] was playing more Raze into more of a support. So [Soulcas’s] role completely changed, right? A lot of his change in performance honestly would’ve been the time learning his new role at that stage. [Before ScreaM joined,] a lot of the time he was on Raze, he was making space, he was potentially even 2nd entry. He had a lot more freedom.”

“When ScreaM came in, the freedom pretty much went from him to ScreaM.” At First Strike, the role change, the dip in performance, it was all palpable to the point of the dramatic.

In a crucial round where Liquid has a man advantage over Heretics, Soulcas tries a specific lineup for what is likely Sova’s recon bolt. He tries for too long and pAura from team Heretics lurks up to him and gets a completely uncontested headshot. Stepping past a line too far, Soulcas lets Heretics into the site and Liquid loses the round.

Based on the raw Breach ult Liquid commits to A Cubby and Short, there was probably miscommunication and an expectation that Heretics hadn’t rotated that early. Still, Soulcas’s mistake was visible and egregious and one snapshot of an ongoing identity struggle. At the time, the entire team was a bit lost, a roster change was looming, and Soulcas was on the chopping block.

“I think we didn’t really know what to change,” Soulcas muses, “and it was kind of like at the time, I think I was more of an easier option to swap out. Like an easier role [to fill].”

Before that game began, Liquid entered First Strike with high expectations. Their road to game 3 alone was rockier than many fans would’ve wanted. On the analyst desk, MitchMan notes that if Liquid lose here, roster changes could be on the horizon.

(Presented for full context, Yinsu’s joke at 42:22)

Because MitchMan had pointed out Soulcas’s poor performance all series long, Yinsu Collins responded with a joke, “Mitch, are you—am I getting this right? Are you saying that if they lose today, they have to kick Soulcas?” She ribbed, “Because that’s what I’m hearing!”

It was a jab mostly meant for MitchMan—even if it were meant for Soulcas, it’s the kind of criticism most tier 1 competitors have to come to terms with. But Soulcas was one of the players on the hot seat and he was heavy with hard sentiments. Soulcas did not take the flak gracefully, pushing Yinsu to apologize publicly, which prompted Richard Lewis and a number of pundits to call Soulcas soft. Soulcas himself eventually apologized.

“It was a horrible experience. [...] Especially now that you’re playing under a tier 1 org, one of the biggest orgs in the world, you’re gonna have fans all over the world. You’re gonna have eyes on you and you don’t wanna be the reason to lose the game.”

Here, Soulcas is harder on himself than Sliggy or even MitchMan seemed to be. “Obviously you win as a team, you lose as a team but for me personally, I felt like I was the reason we lost the game. I just lost confidence, I felt like nothing was going my way. It was soul-crushing.”

For Soulcas, losing confidence is especially brutal because the roles he plays do not sit well with self-doubt. To plunge into a site, to bait for a teammate, to call a rotation, to set up the game-winning play, there’s only the smallest room for hesitation. Much as the criticism stung, Sliggy and Soulcas both felt it did something to bring his confidence back.

“[Soulcas is] quite an emotional guy, he takes things to heart quite a lot, so I knew he was gonna take it quite bad,” Sliggy said in an interview with Plat Chat. “But I think some of the stuff, Dom needed to hear and I think that was part of the reason why he came out fighting.”

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“There was a lot of doubt in me,” Soulcas says, “but I’ve always had this self-belief. Like, I’m not as bad as everyone thinks, I just need to prove it to people [...] I am good enough but it’s just my experience and my confidence was always holding me back. I think, for some reason I kinda like… It lit a fire in me to be a lot more confident in myself.”

As Liquid pushed forward, Soulcas pushed to both find his role in the team and fill it properly. “I was saying, ‘Let me try out in-game leading.’ Because I knew I had good ideas, they always said I had good ideas mid-round. I just needed the confidence to do it.”

While Soulcas transitioned into more of an IGL role, he was a regular entry fragger, and the team’s go-to player to flex onto new agents (winning maps at one point or another with Raze, Skye, Sova, Breach, Omen, Kay/0, Viper, and Sage).

Somehow, amidst that stack of roles, Soulcas was rebounding. As he built confidence in his own macro ability, he built a reputation as one of the best Skye players in the world.

“Having these rounds where they actually go pretty well from my calls, that gave me a lot of confidence in myself and in how I think, which maybe helped me become a better Skye player because I could understand the game a bit more. How I could influence the game.”

Seeing Soulcas’s Skye at work, it makes sense. His biggest plays on the agent come from having a read on when opponents will or won’t fear the flash enough to let him fake it.

“Honestly, he’s probably grown the most out of everyone in Liquid and even from the Fish123 days,” Sliggy adds. “I’m super proud of him and how much he’s grown.”

The growth Sliggy sees was partially expected, a potential he’s realizing that the team believes in. “And yeah, a lot of it was just pure potential man,” Sliggy lights up a bit, “This kid could be so good. It’s like, do we really wanna risk that?”

For an audience running off the duels on the observer feed, that potential is inanimate. For Sliggy and the team, all longstanding members of the UK scene, the potential had long been tangible, even down to Soulcas’s Counter-Strike roots.

Check HLTV // Unique Career

“There was one time where I played against this Russian team that came to an event. They were like, pretty good. Ec1s actually was at the LAN as well and he was playing for Fnatic academy at the time and I was playing in a mix. I think I was playing with L1NK at the time as well,” there’s a pause to remember. “Yeah.”

The Russians were Team Unique and in another bit of synchronicity, L1NK and Soulcas’s mix team was Cat345 - a play on Fish123. “I was playing against these Russians,” Soulcas continues, “and ec1s was sat behind the Russians and we were beating them.”

Up 10-5 on the first half on Train, it looked like Cat345 had an upset in their hands. They were playing with the dangerous energy of a mix team with nothing to lose, numerous players fragging well and making worry-free forward plays. Soulcas himself was locking down rounds through a mix of reading the opponent and creating space for teammates.

He catches one of Unique’s players dropping into Pop on an awkward timing as they start a full rush. Cutting Unique off from Pop, they’re lacking map control and pressured into funneling into B, where they feed out into roma’s spray.

As the game went on, the “weird” that seems to follow Soulcas crept into the game. “But then the Russians had the HLTV scoreboard up on their shift-tab thing in their steam browser so you could check the money and the economy of the enemy team. They could see what our buy was like, what money we had, if we had an AWP or not.”

Cat345 didn’t know of the disadvantage at the time and were trying to stave off what seemed like an honest comeback from Unique. Soulcas and L1NK shined in these moments, playing well off each other. Not far from their Valorant play, L1NK was hitting most of the clutch frags while Soulcas was baiting out shots, setting up trades, and making reads.

With no rounds to lose, Cat345 commit to a full rush. Br0die entries, taking an awp’s line of fire and Soulcas runs all the way through site to jump peak the awp, get the kill, and take the sniper for himself. Rather than retreat to a long angle with the awp, he weaves around the site and covers 3 separate spots the Unique players try to enter from.

It’s this sort of mid-round read that Soulcas has an odd talent for. “I think he’s probably the best at reading what the other team are gonna be doing,” Sliggy says. Or what they like to do and tendencies. A lot of the stuff that he brings comm-wise is really integral to us.”

Unique won the map 16-14, but there was clear video proof that they’d checked HLTV to do so. “Then we actually recorded it and there was a big thing where they didn’t get disqualified and then loads of people were tweeting about it, Smooya got into it, it was at the top of Reddit.”

Though Unique wasn’t disqualified, they lost the first map on a default. Ultimately, Unique would win the series fairly cleanly and to Soulcas it became one of many funny stories. “I’ve had crazy LAN experiences,” Soulcas chuckles. “It’s been kind of a journey in CS, but I loved it.”

Silver linings

For Soulcas, the end of CS didn’t mean the end of his career “weird” or the crazy experiences that stick to him. First Strike might not even be Soulcas’s biggest moment of infamy. After mounting a fantastic qualifier run to make Valorant’s first international LAN, Masters: Reykjavik, he and the team would enter the event with high expectations—seen by many as the best team in the best region. All these expectations would wash away as Soulcas reached a bit too far.

In their first match at the event, Soulcas creeps up to V1’s shot caller Vanity and looks to follow the leader as he pushes into A-site with the rest of V1. In an interview with Mikhail Klimentov and Washington Post, Vanity says his ADHD saved him, prompting him to dance forward and backward where most players would’ve stayed still or simply pushed.

Vanity wheels back into Soulcas, then whips around for a 360 headshot before Soulcas can switch from knife to gun. It’s a nail in the coffin for Liquid, who get upset by V1. It’s something of a perfect storm coming both from Vanity’s ADHD and Soulcas getting a bit too creative for his own good.

“Yeah, with the knife thing, it was kinda like trying to take too much of a risk. It was mainly I tried to get a better angle to try and get 2 people at once. [...] I guess yeah, it could be because I was trying to be too creative where I could’ve just turned around the corner, seen him, shot him, and be over and done with. Saved this whole fiasco of creating a meme.”

In reflection, Soulcas mostly sees silver linings. “Ah it’s just publicity. I made a tweet about it after the game and it got like 2k likes in a minute and I was like, ‘This has never happened before.’ There’s always a benefit to something. It wasn’t that bad when you look at it.”

At this point in his career, it only fits that he sees the storm clouds for their silver linings. How else do you walk through the tumult of the UK scene, the undulating cycle of a new game, and one of the most self-destructive roles in the esport and right back up to the next starting line?

Step up to the site and die again

At EPIC.LAN #34, Soulcas is more in his element than ever. “I used to always go to EPIC.LANs—like I loved them so much. The atmosphere and everything, just playing in a LAN hall, bring your computer.”

He’s at another of the UK’s endemic gaming tourneys and he’s playing only Reyna on a team called mixenergy. L1NK is there as well, playing CS:GO for a mix, the two tier-1 Valorant players looking to loosen up and frag out before Home Ground #2 rolls around.

Soulcas has undoubtedly had a hard journey between Reyjkavik and EPIC.LAN. In moments, Liquid realizes their insane potential and plays a beautiful game of Valorant both strategically and individually. On other days, they lose to teams they shouldn’t—like Na’Vi—and run into tragedy.

The team had long set a goal to attend every international LAN—they’d failed when they lost in overtime against a Gambit team that would go on to roll the world at Masters Berlin. It was gutting for everyone, but perhaps even more for Soulcas.

On the long journey, he hadn’t only broken and repaired his mentality but his physicality as well. Running into wrist issues, Soulcas again came close to being subbed out and found himself reshaping his routine and investing in physical therapy to restore his wrists.

More likely to strike you for data entry than construction work, the wrist damage could have stemmed as much from the punishing lack of practice tools Soulcas and most Valorant pros are over-familiar with. It could have stemmed as much from rewinding VODs to study teams and repeating motions to practice new lineups as it did from grinding aim.

To push the body, the mind, and the ego over the line, only to run into a team that read the grid of the game better than you…

Brutal as it felt, Soulcas had come far just to be able to fall short at that point. After the dust settled in Masters: Berlin, he came back to his same crafts with the same quiet growth he’d known for his entire career. Liquid won both the LCQ and Home Ground #2 in strong fashion and Soulcas sat 3rd and 2nd in assists per map at each event. It’s a growth that trickles into his frag movies too, each still dripping with emotionality and creativity but with more chops to back it up.

At EPIC.LAN, the years and experiences bleed together in a surreal way. Back on a mix, back at one of the UK’s relaxed LANs, he’s now taking pictures with fans as though he were an ALEX or a Smooya. “I had 2 people come up and ask for a photo and I was like, ‘this doesn’t feel right.’ The last time I came here I was just some UK CS player.” Soulcas laughs, “I still find that wild. [...] Here and even now, being one of the best Skyes in the world, it’s kinda surreal to think.”

In time, EPIC.LAN will end and Soulcas will return to an unforgiving grind and an unforgiving role he’s come to embrace.

He will return both changed and constant, growing from deep roots.

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He will return, ready as ever to intuit the lines of strategy and feeling intersecting between the teams.

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He will return, ready as ever to step up to the site and die again.

Writer // Austin "Plyff" Ryan
Graphics // Felix Temple

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  Community and pride: staff spotlight with Sarah A Team Liquid fan turned Liquid+ staff member, Sarah.GG is one of the many friendly faces that our fans get to interact with on a regular basis. They’re also an out and proud nonbinary person who embodies the phrase “be gay, play games”. We got a chance to sit down with them to discuss Pride month, career journeys, and why World of Warcraft is their favorite game.