They will need another in-game leader.

South Korean organization DRX benched its longtime VALORANT in-game leader Kim "stax" Gu-taek on Monday, May 27.

Stax's removal from DRX's active VALORANT lineup comes after the team had difficulties against domestic opponents in the first semester of 2024. They didn't make it past the semifinals in VCT Pacific Kickoff in February and finished fourth place at VCT Pacific Stage 1 this month, losing to Gen.G on both occasions.

It's currently unclear whether DRX will bring on a new player to replace stax or if the organization will simply reinstate Cho "Flashback" Min-hyuk to the active lineup. Flashback took an indefinite leave in early April due to personal reasons.

Stax's long journey with DRX

Stax undeniably had a good run with DRX in the past few seasons (Photo by Lance Skundrich via Riot Games)
Stax undeniably had a good run with DRX in the past few seasons (Photo by Lance Skundrich via Riot Games)

DRX's decision to bench stax from the active lineup must have been tough. The 24-year-old was an integral part of the team since the organization picked him and the rest of Vision Strikers' lineup in January 2022.

Together, DRX and stax, went on to win VCT Korea Stage 1 and 2 in 2022 and to finish runners-up in VCT Pacific League 2023. The partnership also bore fruits on international soil as DRX finished third place at VALORANT Champions 2022, only succumbing to Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker's OpTic Gaming.

Stax and DRX, however, couldn't keep up the performance in VALORANT Champions 2023 and VCT Masters Tokyo 2023 despite enjoying semifinal run at the beginning of that year at VCT LOCK/IN São Paulo. This year, as said, DRX has also struggled against local rivals and thus missed qualifying for VCT Masters Shanghai, and haven't given signs they'll put out a good fight in Champions should they qualify.

Why was stax benched from DRX?

Although we don't know the exact reason why DRX benched stax, removing the in-game leader or the head coach is generally the first step an esports organization takes after underwhelming results.

It might be hard for DRX, however, to find a new in-game leader as experienced as stax with such a short time lying before VCT Pacific Stage 2, which will kick off on June 15.