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Duelling Genius: Who is Roca?

Evil Geniuses VALORANT roster is where it is today largely thanks to Daniel “roca” Gustaferri. The Counter-Strike veteran turned VALORANT ace has been paramount in the team’s rise to prominence in North America and will continue to be a cornerstone of their strategies for a long time. And it’s because of that history and experience that makes him such an interesting player to watch–but just who is roca? 

Before he was leading the charge Evil Geniuses VALORANT roster, roca spent his time practising the sweet science of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. From 2015 to as recent as May of 2020, roca has been a staple of the tier 2 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive space in North America.

With teams like eLevate, compLexity Gaming, Echo Fox, Splyce, and Dignitas streaking his resume, roca has a plethora of experience to call upon when game day arrives. However, it’s not just lip service that roca genuinely was a Counter-Strike professional–he and his teams had strong performances.

Alongside Splyce, roca and company were able to topple Ghost Gaming to win the 2017 ROG Masters title. That same squad would end up advancing in 1st through the IEM XII World Championship open qualifier. Even going back to 2015 roca was still proving that he had potential alongside compLexity Gaming in their silver medal finish during Northern Area 2015.

What’s more important is that he primarily focused on leading his team’s pushes as the de facto entry fragger. This fact would, ironically enough, foreshadow his prowess in VALORANT for Evil Geniuses. 

After retiring from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2020, roca made his way to VALORANT. First debuting on Spacestation Gaming alongside some familiar faces Evil Geniuses fans might have come to know now, the team struggled to find stable success. However, his performance was obvious. Dating back to the Nerd Street Gamers Winter Championship, his showcase in Spacestation Gaming’s win over North American fan favourite Moon Raccoons would turn anyone’s head. 

While being the team’s entry fragger, roca was able to average a 247 average combat score (ACS), accumulate 38 kills, have 183.4 average damage done per round (ADR) all the while maintaining a 29% headshot rating. That’s simply impressive–but then add the context that Moon Raccoons were quickly becoming a threat in the North American VALORANT space and it becomes that much sweeter. 

And after joining Evil Geniuses in June of this year, roca has only continued to put up consistent performances in a difficult role. 

What’s consistently impressive is how well roca is able to not only find value on his entry plays but also still maintain a strong presence statistically. Take for example this series from the Nerd Street Gamers Summer Championship against Cloud9 Blue. Just with his Reyna, roca was able to maintain a 215 ACS, a 31% headshot rating, and 142.7 ADR–in a loss. That kind of entry threat is strictly impressive no matter how you slice the numbers and what’s more interesting it’s a more unorthodox pick than we’ve seen globally. 

Most teams rely on your standard flash-and-dash type of combos we’ve seen popularized by teams like Vision Strikers and Sentinels. Evil Geniuses can call upon something very unique with roca and often times it works beautifully, especially when you have players like Kelden “Boostio” Pupello playing off angles and Brandon “BRANTED” Ballard anchoring with smokes and utility. 

Uninspired with one cherry-picked data set? Take this example from the recent Knights Monthly Gauntlet where roca boasted a 273 ACS, a +17 kill to death differential, 198.5 ADR with a staggering 35% headshot rating across 3 maps. Again we have to reiterate; this isn’t just some lurking Reyna who is padding their stats–roca is EG’s entry fragger, that’s what makes this so insane to think about. That kind of building block is difficult to come by and is something that make’s Evil Geniuses VALORANT roster so unique. 

While he may be overlooked now, roca’s experience and style will make him a star and combining that with Evil Geniuses’ veteran leadership coming in the form of Counter-Strike legend, Christine “potter” Chi, the team has some of the best building blocks ahead of the 2022 VALORANT season. With the final festivities beginning to take place for the inaugural VALORANT season, keep your eyes peeled for Evil Geniuses as we venture into what’s next after VALORANT Champions–roca’s impressive mechanics and one-of-a-kind style will make its mark in due time. 

Images via Riot Games

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