Riot Games had a tough time breaking into Southeast Asia (SEA) with League of Legends over the past decade. League of Legends’ Pacific Championship Series in August 2021 saw an average of . But Valorant was a completely different story with the recent APAC Last Chance Qualifiers gaining over 61,000 concurrent viewers in the English stream alone, . After the launch of Valorant in 2020, some of the biggest esports organizations in the region made their way into the title and haven’t looked back since.
Singapore-based organization Paper Rex is one of the SEA organizations that has immensely benefited from the rise of Valorant in the region. It has quickly climbed the ranks and become one of the most popular teams in SEA, having made it all the way to Valorant Masters Berlin. The team’s journey has not been easy and it had various challenges to overcome since its entry into Valorant.
The team was hit with a in 2020 where multiple players were allegedly involved in manipulating the results of a competitive game. Paper Rex had to suspend its First Strike-qualified roster and start all over again. However, Paper Rex managed to overcome all of these hurdles and persevered to help showcase the strength and potential of the SEA region on one of the biggest stages that Valorant esports has to offer.
AFK Gaming had a chance to engage in a conversation with the Paper Rex Valorant team where we learned about their journey through the different VCT tournaments in 2021, their drastic lineup change at the start of the year, how the team managed to grow exponentially in the last six months, and their expectations heading to Berlin.
Moving from CS:GO to Valorant
Paper Rex was founded in 2020 and after a brief stint competing in CS:GO, it transitioned to Valorant shortly after the game’s launch. The team had to move from a game that was familiar to one that had just launched, consisting of its own share of new mechanics. While mechanical skill translates across most FPS titles, Valorant threw in agents with their own unique abilities into the mix, which heightened the learning curve for the team. Considering that Paper Rex transitioned over to Valorant long after a lot of teams had jumped onto the scene and familiarized themselves with it, the team had a tall mountain to climb to compete against the best that the SEA region had to offer.
Jett specialist F0rsakeN said that the team certainly underwent a lot of changes in terms of agents and how it played after Jinggg was added to the lineup. “For example, on some maps, we use two duelists, which causes our playing style to rely more on aiming and getting kills. However, in [other] maps, we are currently trying to use just one duelist, and Jinggg who will play a non-duelist role,” he explained.
Earlier this year, Zhan “Shiba” Teng took a step back from the active roster, which ultimately affected the team’s dynamic. With Jinggg replacing Shiba, the team is still trying to adapt to the change and is trying to strike the right balance.
Despite Jinggg and f0rsakeN becoming two of the top players in Southeast Asia, coach alecks did not want to shower any praise just yet as the team is just getting started. When asked about the team’s performance at recent events like The Esports Club Showdown, alecks said that the team hasn’t reached its full potential yet.
Jinggg joined the Paper Rex roster a few weeks before the start of the APAC Last Chance Qualifier and it is possible that he didn’t get to showcase what he brings to the table. At the TEC Showdown Jinggg and f0rsakeN ended the event as the two top-ranking players with average combat scores above 300.
“Jinggg has gotten a lot more comfortable with the way we play, and also that has allowed us to put our little boy f0rsaken back on Jett, much to the delight of the entire country of Indonesia,” said Alecks “Honestly, the whole team played extremely well, and that in my opinion allows Jinggg and f0rsaken to do what they do. I'm pretty happy with everyone's performance so far!”