A few teams also made their Champions debut in the tournament — including local Singapore-based team Paper Rex (PRX), who qualified after finishing second in Masters Copenhagen.
Unfortunately, unlike their showing in Denmark, PRX failed to impress in Turkey.
Despite winning their opening match against Edward Gaming (EDG) 2-1, they suffered back to back defeats against Leviatán Esports and Team Liquid, which saw them exit the tournament in the group stages.
In the face of the defeats, coach Alexandre “alecks” Sallé felt that they weren't prepared enough for this tournament.
Alecks explained that the team had limited time to prepare, as the players flew to their home countries in late July to take a short break, before flying back to Singapore to practice. They then left for Istanbul for the tournament in late August.
“I think every time we lose there are always things that you feel that we could’ve done better. I think we weren’t as prepared for this tournament as we were for Masters in Copenhagen, and I think that showed," he shared with Yahoo Esports SEA.
"But at the end of the day we also had to go up against some really fantastic teams that played really well, so credits to them for being able to shut us down.”Alexandre “alecks” Sallé
One door closes, another opens
While PRX failed to make headway towards the latter stages of the tournament, for one member, a new opportunity arose.
“Despite being ousted from the tournament (which wasn’t what we hoped for), I was able to provide observations on the analyst desk for the rest of the tournament, which was awesome,” Benedict “Benkai” Tan shared.
Despite coming close to beating Team Liquid, which went all the way to the decisive third map, they couldn't find the opportunity to close out the match.
“Losing is never fun, so naturally the whole team felt a bit down after that game. I think we had some opportunities to win on Haven [the first map] that we didn’t capitalise on, so that was mainly what bothered us afterwards. I think they were clearly better on the deciding map Ascent,” Benkai said.
When asked if the squad felt any sort of pressure, Wang “Jinggg” Jing Jie shared that they didn't, and always strove to enter tournaments without pressuring themselves too much, something which the players had shared in a previous interview with Yahoo Esports SEA.
Similarly, PRX also did not do anything special to prepare for the tournament, focusing on the basics and maintaining “business as usual”.
Their mentality was also unchanged despite going into such a high stakes event, however, coach alecks did admit that expectations could have been an added factor.
“Our mentality to all events is the same. We try to approach it in the manner that gives us the least pressure, and that is to focus on enjoying ourselves while we’re at the event and relaxing in the moment. This tournament might have been a little harder, as expectations might have gotten to us after our good run at Masters Copenhagen,” alecks said.
Jinggg said that for now, they would be focused on taking a much needed break, before jumping back in and playing in third-party tournaments.
PRX are one of the 30 teams announced for the brand new VALORANT franchising.
They will be participating as early as February 2023 on the big stage in the kick-off tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which will feature all 30 franchised teams.
This story is the work of student contributors working with Yahoo Southeast Asia.