Derrek “Derrek” Ha is a NA Valorant player of Vietnamese descent who currently plays for Rise. He is known for his famous Sova plays. Derrek transitioned from Overwatch to Valorant and started playing competitively on Triumph. He then joined Phoenix1 for a three-month period and then several other teams before Rise back in April. Derrek sat down with Gamelevate to discuss his individual play, background in gaming and esports, as well his role in Rise. He also shared his insights on the future of competitive Valorant, and also touched briefly on Rise’s strategy moving into the third stage of Valorant Champions Tour (VCT)
To start, can you explain how you’ve felt about your play this year?
I think I really grew as a player. My time with Phoenix1, playing with CS veterans like fugly (Projekt Radiant) and Scrimming against tier one teams boosted my understanding of the game at a fundamental level.
What do you think you are doing well and would you improve on specifically?
I feel like my timings and macro understanding of the game have improved dramatically and I just need to focus on holding better angles and trading more efficiently.
Could you tell us about your background? Which games did you start with first?
My interest came from my dad playing CS 1.6 when I was around six or seven years old. I would always watch him play and he would let me play if he had to do errands. Over time, I moved to console gaming but came back to PC to play League of Legends around 2013 or 2014. After my time in LoL, I played CS:GO casually with friends, and with the release of Overwatch, I tried to pursue professional play.
How did your Overwatch career pan out?
I tried to compete in the game until 2019 but I just couldn’t break into the scene, I was alternating between tier three teams and my highest level of competition was Contenders Trials. After nothing came to fruition, I tried my hand at full-time content creation for Overwatch and transitioned to Valorant after its beta was released.
You’ve played on several teams since then. Could you tell us the reason behind this?
I’ve been on a lot of teams before Rise, mainly because I wasn’t good enough to join a tier one team from the get-go. Every single team I’ve been on was a learning experience and over time I believe I got noticed for being a prominent Sova in the scene.
Do you plan on staying at Rise, or are you looking to switch teams again?
My decision to stay in Rise is definitely final. I love the team chemistry and we do extremely well against other tier one teams in scrims.
What is your role in the team? Which is your current go-to agent?
I’m currently the Sova/Sage. I’m more of a supportive Sova rather than an aggressor like some of my competition. I trust my team to use my utility and get frags while I just hang around in the backlines.
You are the latest player to be added to the Rise roster. Did you find it difficult adapting to strategies and building chemistry with the rest of the group?
I had no problems filling in the Sova role they needed. Poised, our IGL, worked with me to explain what the team needed from me as a player. This, coupled with the strong chemistry of the team, made adapting easy, fun and productive, which was a huge bonus.
Which member of the team do you have the best chemistry with?
I can’t single out a single player since I have decent chemistry with all of them. I do work better with Shanks and Neptune because their aggressive plays are enabled by my utility.
Since you have been in the competitive Valorant scene since its infancy, what are your thoughts on its current state as well as its overall growth from the past year?
After the economy change and overall agent ability nerfs, I think the game is going into a gunplay-centric meta. Because of the changes, players will also have to think about utility usage because everything is so much more expensive.
You made it to the finals of the NSG: Summer Championship – Monthly May but ended up losing 2:0 to Complexity. How did you feel after the tournament?
We were upset about the loss because we felt like we definitely should have won. We were having some internal communication issues but props to Complexity, they played well and were the better team that day.
What is Rise’s strategy moving into the third stage of the Valorant Champions Tour? Are there any last-minute roster changes the fans can expect?
We’re just gonna play our game no matter who we are up against. We like to just mold to what the enemy team is doing and exploit their weaknesses. There is a roster change coming (editor’s note: the benching of Abdo “c4Lypso” Agha and the arrival of Phat “supamen” Le were confirmed before this interview went live) but you guys will have to wait until the qualifiers start.