Paper Rex’s Journey to VCT Masters Berlin: Carrying the Baton for SEA Valorant Esports
From being just another Valorant team to representing the entire SEA region at Berlin.
Paper Rex Journey To VCT Masters Berlin As The Face Of SEA Valorant Esports
Valorant’s expansion in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region has been swift and successful. Since its release in June 2020 the game has given . One such former CS:GO team from SEA that switched to Valorant only to make it huge is Paper Rex, who will be competing in the upcoming VCT 2021: Stage 3 Masters - Berlin.
Their journey has not been easy though, as they've lost, learned, persevered, and kept on grinding from one Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) qualifier to the next, finally making it through to one of the biggest stages that the game has to offer.
At the VCT 2021: Stage 3 Masters - Berlin, Paper Rex will be going up against some of the best Valorant teams from around the world. The squad fields a strong and diverse Southeast Asian roster:
Benedict “Benkai” TanRusyaidee - IGL
Khalish “d4v41” Rusyaidee
Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto
Aaron “mindfreak” Leonhart
Zhan “shiba” Teng Toh
Alexandre “alecks” Sallé - Coach
AFK Gaming had a chance to catch a conversation with the Paper Rex Valorant team where we learned about their journey through the different VCT tournaments, their drastic lineup change at the start of the year, how they managed to grow exponentially in the last six months, and their expectations heading to Berlin.
A rocky start to Paper Rex’s journey
Paper Rex entered competitive Valorant in July 2020, establishing itself as one of the early adopters. Back then, the Singaporean organization had started off its journey with a completely different roster, composed of former Counter-Strike players that had moved over to the new tactical shooter.
At that point in time, Riot Games had not publicly revealed its esports plans for the game. However, to test the waters, they had announced the ‘Valorant - Ignition Series’, a series of regional tournaments organized by multiple third-party organizers in partnership with Riot Games to build a competitive ecosystem for the game.
Paper Rex participated in many of these tournaments alongside other local third-party competitions. But despite being one of the first to join the Asian Valorant esports scene, the Singaporean organization did not achieve the success that many expected from them.
They tried to make the initial lineup work, making no changes for about four months. But after a continued slump, Paper Rex began to make some key changes. Multiple roster shuffles were made but to no avail, the only positive result in 2020 that came their way was a runner-up finish at The Gym Singapore Invitational.
Nikhil "nikH" Hathiramani - Co-Founder & CEO of Paper Rex commented on these changes stating that despite all these players being very talented individuals, they did not have the right attitude, not just towards the game and training, but in life per se.
The 2021 season started off with Riot Games announcing the Valorant Champions Tour for the entire calendar year, where the champions from multiple regions would make their way to the Valorant Champions 2021. This was perceived by many as a massive opportunity for teams like Paper Rex, who could legitimize themselves with strong performances on the main stage.
Unfortunately, in January 2021, Paper Rex crashed and burned in its first attempt, failing to make it through the VCT 2021: Malaysia & Singapore (MYSG) Stage 1 Challengers 1 - Qualifier. This forced the organization to reconsider its approach, once again undergoing a roster shuffle.
“It really comes down to the pool of players that we have here (SEA), developing some ‘bad habits’ that they have gotten used to from their Counter-Strike days,” explains nikH, “Some of the players that were with us would not qualify to work any full-time job! Habits like coming late, (lack of) discipline, not communicating with your upper management, and an overall poor approach towards professionalism.”
This was followed by Paper Rex making a shocking move that would change the fortunes of the team, while eventually making them sole representatives from the Southeast Asian region at the Berlin Masters.