Leading up to the second season of the Asus ROG Academy esports program, business head of consumer and gaming PC in Asus India, Arnold Su, spoke to IGN India about the company’s plans for ROG Academy Season 2, the change from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to Valorant, and the response to ROG Academy from the Indian gaming audience. Su has also spoken to IGN India before about ROG Academy Season 1.
Lessons From ROG Academy Season 1
“Season 1 of ROG Academy was the starting point for our journey and the response we received from gaming enthusiasts all across India was overwhelmingly positive,” says Su on how the first season informed the initiative’s second season. “It cemented our plans for Season 2 and made finalizing the project an easy decision.”
According to Su, ROG Academy has learned to be more flexible and adaptable in terms of what and how it was teaching players, and a good starting point for that is a comprehensible curriculum that can also be changed to meet the needs of players.
“It’s always easier to design the modules and prepare lessons once we know the caliber of the players we are working with,” says Su.
Why ROG Academy Switched From Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to Valorant
One of the bigger changes in ROG Academy is its switch from focusing on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to Riot’s free-to-play shooter Valorant. Speaking on the switch to Valorant, Su says that the backing of Riot Games and partners like The Esports Club is what made Valorant the natural choice for ROG Academy Season 2.
“It is one of the more popular FPS titles in India at the moment, particularly driven by content creators, streamers and engaging narratives in the competitive scene,” he says. “In addition, Valorant is a complex, well-designed and well-optimised game developed to run smoothly on almost all machines. This is a really important factor in regions like South Asia.”
It also helps that Riot has been supporting Valorant with regular tournaments at various tiers. “This means that our players will have ample opportunities to play in official tournaments and we will also be able to map their journey from the amateur/semi-professional tiers to the higher ones with time,” says Su.
India’s Response to ROG Academy
The ROG Academy’s first season had a good response, according to Su, with over 2,100 participants registering for try outs. Valorant saw 1,800 participants, which Su points out, comes during lockdowns because of a global pandemic.
“However, we also want to recreate the experience, that the selected players go through, for our community through glimpses of our training sessions, live streams with our players and coaches, guided lessons and Q&A sessions where fans can also learn quite a few handy tricks,” says Su.
How ROG Academy Helps Participants With Their Esports Careers
Of course, the most important question for any esports academy would be how it helps its participants with their future in esports.
According to Su, the ROG Academy program helps with laying a solid foundation for players. The program revolves around certain focused key concepts.
“Our entire approach revolves around providing the players with a glimpse into what the life of a potential professional gamer looks like and equip them with the ability to learn correctly,” says Su. “We want to support them with a conducive environment through a professional setting, required equipment and the backing of our other resources which will help them grow as players and as teammates. With Academy, we are also hoping to provide a certain amount of exposure to these players, which will gradually help them build themselves as players.”
ROG Academy Season 1 Finalist on What They Learned
Aside from Arnold Su, we also got to talk with ROG Season 1 finalist Aniket ‘Kr4cker’ Jawkar about how ROG Academy helped him and what he learned from the process about the esports industry. Jawkwar is currently the Captain and IGL of the team.
One of the key things Jawkar learned through ROG Academy is the work ethic required to make it in esports. Hard work, effort, and dedication are required, but Jawkwar also learned how to play as a team and effectively strategise in tournaments, helped by having esports veterans around to help with teaching players.
“The Academy gave us a chance to learn from one of India’s top players – Marzil,” says Jawkar. “The experience, maturity and wealth of knowledge he brought to the table was immense. We also focused on playing together as a team, using our strengths in official matches and creating strategies that we could utilise in tournaments.”
Jawkar was also kind enough to impart some of the wisdom he learned in playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with ROG Academy, with one of the most important things being to learn something new with every match, regardless on whether it’s a win or a loss.
“Playing competitively takes a lot of effort and hard work,” says Jawkar. “One of the most important things is to be able to grow individually as a player every time you play a new map. One has to be able to learn something new each time they play, no matter it leads to a win or a loss. Watching your own demos is a very important aspect of identifying your mistakes. It is something I would suggest to anyone who is looking to improve their game- just go back and watch your demos.”