In a historic victory for the Singapore franchise, Paper Rex became the first APAC team to reach a VCT Masters Grand Final after beating Optic Gaming 2-1.
Paper Rex is a team pioneering a new style of play at the highest levels of VALORANT. Even when facing the reigning champs, throwing out constant aggression carved holes in the Optic Gaming game plan and disrupted them on entries. Optic struggled mightily to contain Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto on the lurk and Paper Rex found themselves deep in enemy territory consistently.
f0rsakeN match stats
- Agents: Neon, Chamber
- ACS: 265
- KD: 51-43-9 (+8, 1.19)
- ADR: 165
- FKFD: +4 (13 FK)
- KAST: 70%
- HS: 33%
Optic's head coach, Chet "Chet" Singh, spoke on how dangerous f0rsaken's feel for the lurk is and how crucial that was to the Paper Rex victory.
"This time around they just exploited walking into bomb sites and they drstroyed our trips," said Chet. "They were playing very well on the lurks and honestly the lurks won them the map"
Over the two 2022 Masters events, f0rsakeN has proven himself mechanically, but now we're seeing his superior positioning. His 59% First Blood success rate against Optic, earning a server high 13 first kills, shows a player willing to approach the unapproachable areas of a map. Thankfully for him, his read on the game allows his lurk to often go unnoticed, providing easy pinch and trap plays for his teammates.
Paper Rex dominate on Haven
On Haven, a map where Paper Rex served Optic their biggest round deficit ever winning 13-3. The lurks coming from f0rsakeN were masterfully done. The win overall was a team effort with Khalish "d4v4i" Rusyaidee chipping with earth shattering clucth rounds. In a huge 1v4 clutch right before the half and contributing a 75% clutch rate, he dominated when he had to. However, the Chamber composition that Paper Rex hasn't played a ton in APAC allowed f0rsakeN to take slow lurks into areas not often obtainable by walking.
For Optic, it's usually the reverse that's true. Victor "Victor" Wong has had great success in running at teams on the Neon, but Paper Rex didn't let the site executions overwhelm them.
"When you play against a Neon, there's a possibility they fly behind you. I mean, we use Neon on Fracture. We know what it's like basically and Victor plays really, really fast and he usually reads it very well. So, he's usually behind the teams on the flank, so we knew we had to slow down to try and catch him because if we barrel into a site sometimes we lose track of where he is and it can go really bad. So yeah, it was slightly planned, but the good thing was the team was adjusting so well mid round that they sort of grasped what was going on based on how Optic were playing and it turned out really well for us. I think we had some really big clutches, so that is what allowed the score to be as big as it was"
Optic FNS on beating XSET: “I wanted it to be set in stone that we are the better team when we are all healthy and all good to go. I think we proved that today”
Optic and XSET spoke to the media after the match, discussing group stages, the FNS sick game, and the next round of playoffs
Blake Van Poucke
The backwards compositions of Bind
Moving onto Bind, both teams tried to outsmart the other with their agent compositions. Paper Rex is known to run f0rsakeN on Yoru, but brought out the Fade, Raze, and Chamber. Head coach Alexandre 'Alecks' Salle expected to see the Neon and was thrown by the meta composition.
"We had to think about it because we thought they were going to pick a different composition," said f0rsakeN.
Salle chimed in too: "We thought they were going Neon and Jason (f0rsaken) was like I'm going to pick Chamber, so we just went Chamber"
Paper Rex on the Fracture win
As for Fracture, we saw the full fire power of Paper Rex Valorant on display. A team who shows this much aggression can condition teams to start expecting timings. IGL Benedict "Benkai" Tan used this to his advantage to set up fakes. The moment Optic adjusted to Paper Rex's propensity for heavy utility on site entries, they made changes to their strategy. They baited Optic into late rotations and were able to walk into sites for free
"For Fracture, we knew that they probably did some homework on the way that we play and we went out playing the way we normally do which is a lot of early aggression and trying to get into their faces," said Benkai. "After the first three rounds that they won, they were just reacting to whichever push that we did by pushing the other area of the map that was open so we adjusted by faking those takes a bit more to bait out that reaction from them and I feel like we could've done it better. We just perfectly read them each time"
The final score was 13-5, with Paper Rex holding a 9-3 halftime lead. The aggressive-minded game plan wasn't a surprise to Optic, but as Chet referred to it as a lack of execution.
"We did expect aggression from Paper Rex and we were pretty much ready for it but we couldn't execute our plan this time around"
Optic on the rematch narrative
Regardless, the narrative around Optic is their ability to find the faults in their opponents after losing to them initially. Paper Rex throttled them in every sense: on entries, mid rounding, mid game adjustments and aim duels. Yet Optic remains confident in the rematch and learning from the experience.
The highly touted Optic IGL, Pujan "FNS" Mehta, spoke on their ability to overcome the loss.
"When it comes to rematches, we definitely prep a little bit more just because we're familiar with the playstyle in terms of actually playing against the team, so once we familiarize ourselves with how a team plays be either scrimming them or playing a match against them, even if they're able to beat us, we kind of understand as players what to do to out maneuver them"