Charlie ‘Chaaaarlie’ Tang dreams of professional ‘Valorant’ career


James Hoeck

Charlie ‘Chaaaarlie’ Tang, senior in LAS, is a competitive Esports gamer who plays for the University’s Esports team. Tang specializes in the game “Valorant” and ranks in the top 4,000th in the game within the North America region

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

The grind it takes to be a professional in the esports scene is a daunting task.

Charlie Tang, senior in LAS known in game as ‘Chaaaarlie,’ is not put off by this grind, but is actually encouraged by it. As a current member of the Illini Esports “Valorant” team, Chaaaarlie’s dreams reach further than a collegiate esports career.

“My goal is to play ‘Valorant’ professionally,” Charlie said. “For the time being, I’m young and I can do stuff like that.”

The story of Chaaaarlie began far before the launch of “Valorant” in June 2020. His journey began in the late 2000s, when his older brother introduced him to the popular Valve title, “Team Fortress 2.” From here, Charlie’s journey in esports began in the TF2 competitive scene at the young age of 14.

His life in the esports scene has been a continuous one. After his brief stint in the TF2 competitive scene, he quickly switched to another popular Valve-made first person shooter title called “Counter Strike: Global Offensive.” “CS:GO”’s necessity to grind the game and train aim prepared Charlie for his future in another FPS title: “Valorant.”

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“I had a lot of fun playing (‘Team Fortress 2’),” Charlie said. “I tried playing in leagues. I competed in one of the lowest leagues in ‘Team Fortress 2’ when I was maybe 14 years old? Then I switched to ‘Counter Strike.’ Eventually ‘Valorant’ got released, and I played that and joined the team last semester.”

“Valorant”’s drop came at the perfect time for Chaaaarlie, who was living through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in America at the time. 2020’s release of the game allowed Chaaaarlie time to grind “Valorant,” propelling him to the top nearly instantly with his previous game experience. “CS:GO” is similar in nature to “Valorant,” so Chaaaarlie’s aim and mechanics transferred smoothly. 

Part of the reason why “Valorant” is so appealing to Chaaaarlie is because of how easy it is to grind the game. Despite having already logged thousands of hours into the title, Charlie still has fun playing even after all of this time. 

“It’s something I can always come back to,” Charlie said. “And I just know I’ll get something out of it. Personally, I feel good playing the game, I feel good practicing the game and just getting better. Seeing my improvement, even if it’s just a little bit, feels great.”

Although Chaaaarlie’s esports career is his current priority, he still sets time aside to pursue what he loves. With dreams of potentially being a doctor after a “Valorant” career, the senior’s integrative biology classes are not taking a backseat to gaming. A normal day for Chaaaarlie isn’t complete without also grinding coursework and on-the-job clinic experience.

“I’m trying to stay just a well-rounded person,” Chaaaarlie said. “I wake up, take a shower, go to my classes if I have classes that day, or go to work. I work at an off campus clinic. Then I come back, get homework done and just grind ‘Valorant’ for the rest of the night.”

“Valorant” and school take up the majority of Chaaaarlie’s time and leave him with very little time to do other things he enjoys. Before the heavy course load began and the nights of grinding valorant started, Charlie pursued music as a creative outlet. His passion for playing music persists despite his inability to spend as much time on it.

“I love music,” Charlie said. “I played in the orchestra in high school. I like playing piano and singing, even though I’m not that good at it.”

Music and coursework can be put off if Chaaaarlie continues his current trend. Placing top 2,500 in the North America region for the past two seasons and currently being ranked around 4,000th, Charlie aims to reach even higher by the end of this current season, with the eventual goal of playing professionally at the forefront of his will to achieve better placements.

“This season is about three fourths of the way through,” Chaaaarlie said. “I’m currently 4,000th, but by the end I want to be top 2,000 or 1,000.”



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