Today marks the beginning of Soniqs Soniqs North America Rank #9 's second week in America, as well as the roster's second day publicly representing the Pennsylvania-based organization. And most important of all, the team's second day back in the server as a team.
Relocating to North America was no easy feat, especially as the first team in Valorant to move across international regions. While organizations in North America have already imported individual players, attaining visas for an entire roster is much more difficult, even with an immigration lawyer.
But, "surprisingly, we got our visas very very fast," Chris "pl1xx" Li recalled. In the span of only a few months, the former EXO Clan roster went from searching for an organization to setting foot in the United States, settling into their new team house in Pennsylvania.
But during the early months of 2021, while the visas were still processing and the team's future remained uncertain, a majority of the their time together was spent outside of the server. With the organization's announcement still months away and scrims having dried up from the drought of events in Oceania, studying their future opponents was seemingly the only way for the team to prepare.
"As a team, we ended up viewing a lot of NA games and watching NA games every single day," pl1xx said. "Apart from the Oceanic Tour, there's not a lot of sh*t going on."
The troubles with the Oceanic scene are one that the roster know especially well. While Oceania still maintains a small local scene, with LetsPlayLive hosting the Oceania Tour in association with Riot, the region still lags behind even other smaller scenes.
"There're no tournies in Oceania and the tournies with prize pools are just not worth your time," pl1xx mused. "Obviously getting practice would be good, but in the end, there's no point in playing for a year and then only getting like $2,000 from the tournaments. It's just not worth it."
"You could get that type of money in a week in NA, it's crazy the difference between regions."
That deficit in support between the scenes has impacted the health of the Oceanic scene as well as its reputation as a whole. While Soniqs has cultivated a small following, consisting primarily of Australians cheering on their home team, the reputation of the Oceanic region as a whole seems to precede their own.
"Oceania's been made fun of by every podcast in North America," pl1xx explained. "For example, in podcasts like Plat Chat, people are saying Oceania's the worst region in the world, like potentially even worse than [Southeast Asia], even when they haven't even watched any of our games."
"It's pretty understandable when pro players think Oceania is really bad, but it's good that me and Crunchy, as well as my whole team, is showing the NA region that we're capable of doing something. Like, Crunchy reached Top 50 Radiant in like less than four days, and me and Crunchy were getting called cheaters in matchmaking as well. That's pretty funny."
"They don't even recognize Oceania as a region, it's funny. Oh, they think Oceanic players are really bad. But I know for a fact, for the amount of NA demos I watched, I can say that I think, mechanically, we're better than most NA players. Not all of them, but most of them."
So far, the team has been settling into North America comfortably, with the players already seemingly at full strength just a week into their venture. "I think we're fitting in, like we adapt so fast," pl1xx said. "I think we're all very happy that we're here. And everyone's at the top of the game, everyone's sharp. But the only problem is like, we still don't know how tipping in North America works."
Asked where he saw Soniqs in six months, pl1xx replied: "in the top four, to be honest."
But right now, it's hard to immediately pinpoint where Soniqs stand in the North American power rankings as of today, with the team having clocked into only two officials so far. But what the roster is looking towards is improving in the long haul, with Iyengaran "iyen" Raju stating that he hopes he and his roster can stay in NA for years to come.
Soniqs will prepare to soon take on Sentinels, who remains a strong contender as the best team in the world, especially with Tyson "TenZ" Ngo propelling the team through NA's Masters 1 nearly uncontested.
As the first true test for the roster in the big leagues, the god squad will finally get their chance to follow through with the international ambitions they set back in Oceania.
"I don't think we're concerned in the game. Obviously, we need practice — a lot of practice — but that comes over time. And I think we can adapt over time."