XERXIA’s Crws Talks About His Trials, Tribulations, and His Journey to Valorant Champions
Among all of the teams heading into Valorant Champions this year, XERXIA’s tale is easily one of the most fascinating. The team was formed in January and in just eight months it managed to secure a Champions spot against some of the biggest and most established teams in the world. I got the opportunity to speak to Thanamethk "Crws" Mahatthananuyut about his journey from being a prospective dentist to being one of the world championship finalists in Valorant. He shared the highs and lows of his competitive career and how Xerxia seeks to cement itself as a top international team at Champions.
Crws’ humble beginnings helped shape his journey
Crws hails from Thailand, a Southeast Asian country known for its rich history, tourism, and its ultramodern cityscape. Growing up as a kid in the country, Crws wanted to become a dentist but due to financial constraints, he was unable to pursue his career goals. He had to drop a year and focused on training himself to become an esports player. He got noticed after months of hard work and eventually made his way to Xerxia earlier this year.
After becoming a pro esports player, Crws has been living a very hectic but exciting life. He said, “After becoming a pro player we are constantly scrimming but the practice is just one part of it. There is a lot of content we produce as an organization and that is taking up our time as well. We are doing our best to perform well at Valorant Champions. Qualifying for our first major LAN event was a heartfelt moment for the team. To be able to play together in a camp and competing against the best teams in the world feels special.”
Ever since he joined Xerxia, he has helped the team secure first place finishes at the FPSThailand VALORANT Tournament, both the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) 2022: Thailand Stage 1 and Stage 2 Challengers and second place finishes at both the Asia Pacific (APAC) Challengers events. The team has been extremely consistent and a lot of it has to do with Crws and his teammates being able to identify each others’ strengths and weaknesses and playing around them.
Xerxia wants to surprise everyone at the event with Crws revealing that the team has been experimenting with new playstyles. Crws wants to continue his journey as a pro esports player and wants Xerxia fans to continue supporting him and his teammates. Xerxia had to move a lot during the past few months as they did not have a fixed bootcamp location but the team has managed.
Preparing for Valorant Champions
Crws is looking forward to facing FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) once again. In the team’s previous encounter at Masters Copenhagen, Xerxia ended up losing out narrowly to FunPlus in a best-of-three matchup. He said, “I am looking forward to facing FPX the most as the last time we faced off, we didn’t perform as well as we expected. I want to go up against them one more time at Champions to see how strong they are and how much we have improved over the past few months.”
He added, “As a roster a lot of Xerxia’s players have been playing together for a year or two. Even though Xerxia was formed this year, we have been together for a while. The core of the team has remained the same. But our style is very different from other teams in the region and it works, which has helped us stay competitive as one of the top teams in the region.”
Several analysts and community members pointed out that Xerxia’s record against European teams has been far from ideal. Crws feels that it wasn’t a case of European teams being better, but it was the Xerxia roster that made mistakes in rounds the team should have won. He said, “Economy-wise, we made some mistakes and ended up losing rounds we should have won. We lost three or four thrifty rounds which is something that can and should not happen. We want to minimize our mistakes in the upcoming event.”
He added, “A lot of the times, it is not about which region is better than the other. Sometimes teams just get drafted into really tough groups while others have an easier time. I would say APAC is on par with other regions and there is not much difference in terms of the highest levels of play.”
On The Future of Valorant Esports
In 2023, Challengers will encompass more than 20 leagues around the world, ensuring every Valorant player from participating regions can make it to global events. Challenger Leagues will provide highly organized competitions that begin with open qualifiers and ladder the best teams into two splits of multi-week regular season play.
Each year, international leagues will expand by one team, until hitting a cap of 14 teams in 2027. Teams who win Challengers Ascension will earn a two-year promotion into their territory’s international league. Promoted teams will have the opportunity to prove themselves against the international league teams during the VCT season, receive similar league benefits, and have an equal chance to qualify for Masters and Champions. After two years, teams will return to their league to battle their way back through Challengers and Ascension tournaments.
This new format has received mixed feedback from the community and Crws shared his opinion on the topic. He said, “In the current format, I like how all teams start at the same place. In previous events higher seeded teams received a headstart, making it so much harder for teams that play the early group stages to qualify. Their strategies are exposed and it’s great that Riot has strayed away from the older format into what we have for the current Champions event.”
“But in 2023, having a league will probably affect tier-two teams. Even though there is a domestic league, only one team can qualify for the international league which is low. And having just one team per year per region is really tough. I am not really a fan of it. But we will try our best and continue competing.”
Xerxia might be one of the teams that qualify for the international league and be partnered with Riot Games. Crws is looking forward to competing at Champions and in the 2023 competitive season. He said, “We hope our fans enjoy the tourney and we look forward to your support.” Crws and his teammates will go on stage starting 31st August in Istanbul, Turkey. The three-week event will conclude on 18th September with the second-ever Valorant world champion being crowned.