Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin is one of the best professional Valorant players who achieved international success when he won Masters Berlin together with his Gambit Esports teammates in 2021.

It ultimately was his breakout tournament, where he clutched out multiple rounds that looked unwinnable against G2 Esports in the semifinals of the playoffs.

His heroics eventually led to the first-ever 13-0 blowout victory in an international LAN event, making history.

The win earned nAts his first major esports trophy and proved that his unique playstyle could lead his team to victory on the global stage. Top Korean player Kim “stax” Gu-taek told ONE Esports that nAts’ lurk strategy became so popular in his region that teams and players tried to emulate his playstyle.

ONE Esports had the opportunity to interview nAts at Valorant Champions 2021, where he shared valuable insight into his playstyle with an in-depth guide on how to dominate games while sneaking around the map.

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What is the lurking playstyle?

Lurking is when a single agent from the attacking team goes to the opposite side of the map, waiting for an opportune moment to sneak around and shoot opponents from behind.

Lurkers move based on the information they gain. They sometimes even bait their team to get a better position on the map.

nAts’ guide on how to properly execute his lurk playstyle

This guide will help players understand the game better. Lurkers are very different from how duelists and initiators play. The role falls into the hands of sentinel and controller agents like Cypher, Killjoy, Chamber, Viper, and Omen — characters that excel in superior positioning and information gathering.

These agents can set traps to learn the enemy’s location and break their opponent’s line of sight using their smokes which they can also use to sneak around the map.

“The main thing I’d like to say about lurking is that you have to understand how your opponent plays because that will mean a lot,” he explained. “If you know they’re playing a certain way, if you know an area on the map is free, if you can spot the patterns through that information, you’ll be able to do some unpredictable things.”

Players should keep a mental note after each round on where the enemy agents are and what parts of the map they’re defending. They can then use this information to get close enough to the enemy team to hear footsteps or agent abilities when opponents decide to commit to an attack or make their mid-game rotations.

“The second thing is, you have to do it confidently,” he continued. “If you’re not confident, it’s going to be hard to execute your plays. You’re going to take duels every time, and you have to win them to be a good lurker.”

How Gambit Esports’ Masters Berlin win shifted the Valorant pro meta

Gambit Esports, VCT Stage 3 Masters Berlin
Credit: Riot Games

Gambit’s star player shared that their playstyle focused on slowing down each round as they gathered all the information they could before deciding to make their move.

“Actually, we could do other things with our playstyle, but at Masters Berlin, we played slow games that our opponents found annoying. Some of those plays worked,” he said. “The main point of our game is to slowly take information about the opponents during the round and then do something about it by the end of the round.”

Considered somewhat unconventional because he isn’t a duelist main, Gambit Esports’ star player was surprised when others began to emulate his sneaky plays, with other pro players showcasing it at Valorant Champions 2021.

“I was thinking about that two years ago, that there would come a day when someone would copy me,” shared nAts. “But, still, I wasn’t ready for the large number of players that began copying my playstyle after Masters Berlin.”

The next step of nAts’ playstyle revolves around being even more unpredictable. With so many teams now studying how he plays, he sees the value of changing things up, especially as he and his team gradually advance at Valorant Champions.

“Right now, I’m trying to do something new. I mean, lurking is lurking. Everybody will be waiting, anticipating where I might be,” he explained. “And, because of that, you have to constantly be creating something new; it’s so hard to keep doing the same thing, as people will be waiting for you.”

This new mindset likely stems from Gambit Esports’ 0-13 loss on Bind to Acend during the Red Bull Home Ground tournament on November 6 where they finished in 5th-8th place.

“As you saw in the games after Masters Berlin, a lot of people were trying to annoy me, to destroy my game,” he continued. “I was trying to do a lot during the games, too, like on Bind and Icebox. I’m trying to annoy people as well, to be able to take control of the map.”

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