Paper Rex Benkai spoke to Esports.gg’s Rohan Samal about the team’s journey and the focus on communication to elevate their performance.
VCT Masters Reykjavik has been full of surprises. EMEA was supposed to be the strongest region, but there is no EMEA team remaining in the top four. Many fans considered Japan’s Zeta Division to be the weakest in the lot. The players themselves came into the event with the goal of at least winning a single match. They are now in the top four along with Paper Rex, OpTiC and LOUD. The top four are from four different regions.
Zeta Division accomplished their initial goal, the match against Fnatic seems like ages ago now. It was Japan’s first win on the international stage and they had taken down a top tier team, although Fnatic did have a couple of stand-ins. Eliminating Fnatic was just the first step. Their journey since has inspired awe and seen a surge in their individual confidence. Zeta Division is now top four at VCT Masters Reykjavik. Their next match will see them take on the best team from Southeast Asia, Paper Rex.
Paper Rex - The best SEA has to offer
Paper Rex are already in the top four at VCT Masters Reykjavik. How far can they go?
Paper Rex’s VCT Masters Reykjavik journey started in the Malaysia & Singapore Challengers. Starting in Group A, Paper Rex went through the entire challengers without losing a single map. It was a mixture of aggression and controlled strategic outmaneuvering by the team that allowed them to blaze past their opponents.
"The scene in APAC is just filled with talent from every region," said Benedict "Benkai" Tan. "You can just pluck a player from each country and you can make a super team. Team Secret proved that at Champions, they had a pretty good showing. On any given day, any other APAC team could have come here instead of us."
The team lost its first map in Group B of the APAC Challengers against Persija Esports but they still won the match. They went into the playoffs and did not lose a single map until the Grand Finals where they faced XERXIA. The extremely close Grand Finals, 3-2 in score, saw two different playstyles compete against each other. Eventually, Paper Rex emerged victorious, getting that coveted playoffs berth in the VCT Masters Reykjavik. XERXIA started in the group stage.
Order in Chaos: Communication is Key to Paper Rex’s success
"It might look super chaotic on stream without hearing the comms, it’s actually something we have been through many many times.
But there’s a much deeper layer to this strat, a layer upon which the team was built on : Communication.
As IGL I knew how important that aspect was when it came to molding a team together. I had a lot of emphasis on it when we go into practice. Although it might look super chaotic on stream without hearing the comms, it's actually something we have been through many many times. It was pretty much just another day for us in terms of how we were communicating.
Benkai to esports.gg
Jinggg and forsaken are two of the most aggressive players at Reykjavik. The double duelist duo has been able to break through the opponent’s defenses, often being the spearhead of the SEA squad.
The glue that holds the team together, Benkai's leadership allows players like f0rsaken and Jinggg to shine.
When asked how he, as an IGL, accommodates and effectively utilizes this duo in his strategical approach to the game, Benkai said he curates the strategy based on inputs from his players.
It happened almost every single round on the attack side for buying. They (f0rsaken and Jinggg) just kept feeding me different ideas and they made it so easy for me. All I needed to do was fill in the gaps and we just executed on them every time. So it was really good in a way that there's no way they could have anti-strated them.
Paper Rex’s last match was against G2 esports, the best EMEA team. But Paper Rex eliminated them, making the series look rather easy. After a slow start on the first map, Paper Rex picked up the pace in the second half and continued it into the next map.
"For the case of G2, after the first map, after we made the comeback, we knew that we were in such a great spot, we were very confident that we could just out-aim them, said Benkai. "So on Bind, we just took the fight to them whenever we could and we trusted our aim to out-aim them."
The Paper Rex aggression was too much for G2 to handle with the SEA players out-aiming their EU counterparts, a sentiment echoed by G2's Auni "AvovA" Chahade as well.
"They just played a lot better than us. All five out-aimed us in the end. The whole event we couldn't figure out how to get in the gear compared to the playoffs," said AvovA.
Benkai: "DRX is just like our Kryptonite. They just have our number every time. Their playstyle is The playstyle that we hate to play against."
Paper Rex brought out the Yoru against G2 after a relatively unsuccessful attempt against DRX. This time it worked.
"Honestly, DRX Is just like our Kryptonite. They just have our number every time. Their playstyle is 'The playstyle' that we hate to play against, said Paper Rex Benkkai. "They're always just holding behind. We can almost never do anything aggressive. It's so hard to find a gap in their defense or in their default. That's why we couldn't really make it work. We didn't really adjust to DRX's timings that well. But compared to G2, I felt like that we started on the attack side and took the momentum all the way. Even though our defense is the weaker side, we just wanted to get as many rounds as we could on the attacking side."
Thoughts on Zeta Division
Paper Rex Benkai.
"I think they are peaking higher than I have ever seen them peak before" : Paper Rex Benkai
Paper Rex will next face Zeta Division, yet another team that has been nothing but impressive so far at Masters.
"They just look so insane this tournament. I think they are peaking higher than I have ever seen them peak before. It's just insane with the kind of results they are showing. I am so happy for them," said Paper Rex Benkai.
Zeta Division has played many more maps than Paper Rex and has a lot of momentum on its side. After winning and eliminating several other teams from the event, Zeta Division’s players have a lot more confidence as they approach their final few games at this tournament.
“Biggest thing is we freed up the nerves that we had initially in the first series, and coming this far into the tournament, we have built up a confidence that has allowed us to perform at our full potential. But, it’s also a big support to our coach and our analyst.”
Even as fans can expect a lot of aggression from Paper Rex, Zeta Division has shown tremendous growth since its first match in Iceland. The increased confidence and wins allowed them to free up nerves and perform at their full potential.
The Benkai VCT walkout
His last walkout was as a cameraman. What's next for Benkai?
I keep planning for my last walkout. The cameraman thing was my last walkout cause I wasn't expecting to win. But since then, after the match, I've been told I've been given access to Riot's wardrobe.
Paper Rex Benkai when asked what his next walkout is going to be.
He is a capable IGL, he is responsible for putting together the best team from SEA. His focus on communication and ensuring excellent synergy between the players is a big reason for Paper Rex’s success so far at the tournament.
But he has also become popular for his funny walkouts and costumes. What’s next? Well, apparently he says has access to Riot’s wardrobe, so we might see his creativity run wild.
Valorant fans can catch Paper Rex’s next match on Twitch
on April 22 at 10 pm CEST.