Korean teams at Masters Berlin feat. Chobra, Achilios, Paperthin
9/8/2021, 12:00:33 PM
Although touted as one of, if not the best region in the world when it comes to competitive gaming, Korea isn’t really well-known for their prowess in tactical first-person shooters. Despite this, NUTURN shocked the world by placing third in the first VALORANT International tournament in Reykjavik. With Masters 3: Berlin quickly approaching, we asked a few questions to Willian “Chobra” Cho, Clinton “Paperthin” Bader, and Seth “Achilios” King, the English casters for VCT Korea, in order to get their thoughts about the region’s two representatives (Vision Strikers and F4Q) and how they’ll fare at the upcoming tournament.
Chobra: The easy answer would be Rb, Lakia and Bunny. Although when it comes to Bunny I’m more curious if his Raze is gonna get by for free on the international stage like it does in Korea.
On a deeper level, I think K1ng and MaKo will leave a mark at Berlin. They are some of the most reliable anchors we’ve seen in the KR scene both in terms of positioning and aim. It’s something Korean teams have often lacked behind the flashiness of the ‘Korean Jetts’ so I’m excited to see them hold it down even when rounds get tough.
Paperthin: Tough to choose, all 11 players from just the Korean region are so talented. So, I will go with the top 3 players I would say to watch out for from Korea.
1. Stax – The ingame leader and insanely talented head-shotter for Vision Strikers has stepped into his new role as shotcaller quite nicely as Stage 3 went on, and brought his team to more and more success, with VS looking better and better throughout the event on their way to an eventual victory over F4Q. Stax will stand out not only for his solid in-game leadership, but his ability to use flashes to set up his teammates. Whether that be on the fly with his Jett, or in set plays and executes other teammates, for example Mako on Astra/Viper (Mako hides in smoke, Stax Flashes, Mako pops out and gets kills). But what may be most impressive about Stax is his ability to clutch rounds for his team. Often the last line of defense on the Defenders side, he asked to pull out 1vX’s on a regular basis, and often succeeds, on the back of his uncanny ability to click heads.
2. Bunny – The Raze one-trick will turn heads in more ways than one at Berlin. Not only is he a fantastic fragger with fantastic aim and reactions, but he is, for my money, the best blast packer in the world. Bunny has mastered, in particular, his ability to gain entry to sites from long and complicated angles. For example, on Ascent A attackers side, Bunny can make his way from almost the A main Boost to near the generator, even past dice. This makes it insanely challenging for the defenders to deal with him, as his entry is faster and harder to deal with than a Jett’s in some ways, and opens up a lot of opportunities for his teammates to use their utility to assist in the execute. Whether it be flashes timed at the beginning of his first pack to cover his entry, as well as smokes to cover the angles that would be troublesome for Bunny’s landing spot, and then to follow up quickly off the information he gets while he is also being disruptive. On top of that, he has incredible reaction times to make sidestep maneuvers to get himself out of bad situations or avoid enemy utility. Guaranteed, Bunny will be in many highlight reels for Masters Berlin.
3. Mako – A former Jett main, and one of the newcomers to the Vision Striker’s squad, has proved to be a HUGE asset to the team even with his role switch into a smoker. Usually you will see Mako on Astra, and he moves to Viper for Icebox/Breeze. When on Astra, he is typically in the back line, working that typical smoker positions, and using the gravity wells/nova pulses to set up his team mates and for post plant cover. He does, from time to time, play further forward and work off his own utility to get picks, often with Stax or k1ng. On Viper, he does an excellent job for having just switched agents since moving to VS for this most recent stage, boasting an average ACS of 297.2, 2.56 K/D, and 14 First Bloods to 1 First Death. He has been a big part of why VS has absolutely DOMINATED Icebox (in 5 matches on Icebox during Stage 3, VS won all 5 matches, and only dropped 10 ROUNDS in all 5 matches played). Mako has been able to take his excellent shooting mechanics and instincts as a duelist and transfer to the smoker role insanely well in a short amount of time. Keep your eyes on his utility usage and just great map awareness.
Achilios: From VS – Stax and Mako. Stax has done a wonderful job stepping into the IGL position while still maintaining solid individual stats. Mako has slotted in perfectly to this roster, taking the place of glow. His performances on Astra have been phenomenal to watch, and it’s clear that he has a great sense of how to play a map round over round to continually get the upper hand over his opponents. As the two permanent fixtures on the roster, they are definitely ones to keep your eyes on.
From F4Q – It’s all about Bunny…sort of. Bunny is known for his explosive entries into Spike Sites, judge in hand, without a care in the world. He’ll certainly draw an immense amount of attention, but I’d encourage people to look at Zumba and FiveK more closely. FiveK is the captain of the squad, and when he’s having a good day, so is the rest of the team; Reyna being his main is appropriate given his feast or famine nature of playing. For Zumba, keep your eyes on his utility. He loves to do Astra combos with Bunny & Esperanza, and essentially since Astra was released in pro play, he’s made a heavy argument for being the best in the world. His style is very much reactive and in the moment, responding to what his opponents are doing; if his reads are correct (and they often are) expect to see him find heavy impact.
Chobra: This is a particularly interesting question for Berlin as Korea is sending two teams that are very much not the stereotypical Korean team-style in any esport. Both Vision Strikers and F4Q lean more on the aggressive, active style of play and both have mentioned how they play by ear more off of comms than sticking with strict set plays.
I would say VS has the sheer firepower to take over most teams globally. All 6 players on the active roster would easily make my top 10 list in Korea off of pure individual skill. F4Q is now this team of misfits – they’ve got nothing to lose and they know their own strengths very well. They have some distinct weaknesses but I think F4Q has become very good at brutally cutting losses and pushing hard on their advantages – and this kind of flow could be the x-factor on a global stage.
Paperthin: It’s hard to say exactly what qualities separate the Korean teams from the other regions. In particular because the two representatives of KR for Berlin are wildly different teams in terms of their play styles. One thing that does stand out to me in conversations with players from various regions outside of Korea is how focused on utility usage they are, whereas when I talk to Korean players and coaches, they are much more focused on positioning, angles, and crossfires. However, Vision Strikers in particular has really started to adapt more utility usage into their play style, particularly with Mako running Astra/Viper. Until Stage 3, Viper was rarely used in the region, but now has found much more use as teams have started to realize the vision control potential she brings.
Achilios: While I don’t think any of the teams at this event are slouches, one of the biggest differences historically in esports between Korea and the rest of the world is practice regimen. Peoples’ eyes often go wide when they hear the type of hours Korean players pull in order to prepare for matches, and I’m sure VS and F4Q will continue to grind ahead of this event. The competition is tougher than ever, but with VS’ support and coaching staff on site + the addition of coach Locomotive for F4Q, these two teams should be stronger than we’ve ever seen them.
Chobra: I think Vision Strikers has a shot. In theory I think if VS could play against Sentinels it would be some crazy fireworks. Even stylistically it would build into some insane back and forth. F4Q could have some chance of taking a map as well, but I think it’d be a long shot for them simply given map pool versus Sentinels.
Paperthin: I think the Vision Strikers can truly give the Sentinels a run for their money. They have come together as a team incredibly well over the course of Stage 3 Challengers, and look better than any team has in the history of Korean Valorant. But, they are a young team (I think the youngest at Berlin) and aren’t battle tested at international competition. Sentinels are just so consistent and talented, I would have a hard time betting against them if they run into VS. That being said, it would be shocking to me if the series wasn’t at least very close. I truly expect the finals to be Sentinels vs Vision Strikers.
Achilios: Barring some bat-shit-crazy level up from F4Q, I think this hope rests with Vision Strikers. I believe they have the individual talent and veteran knowledge from the coaches to come up with a solid game plan should they cross paths with Sentinels. From there, it will all be about execution during the series.
Chobra: As mentioned above, Vision Strikers vs Sentinels would be a real treat. But in terms of the group stage, I’m quite interested in hopefully seeing Gambit vs 100T, and also how ZETA DIVISION will do in Group B. Of course this is in addition to the KR team matches – which honestly we’re blessed to see some titan matches for both KR teams in each group A and D.
Paperthin: Just looking at the group draws, Sentinels vs G2 should be an excellent barometer of where not only both the teams are at, but where both the regions are at in comparison to each other. I was really looking forward to F4Q vs Bren to give us an indication of how KR would stack up against SEA, unfortunately with Bren not being able to make it, we won’t get to see that match up. Still really excited to see how the other teams handle F4Q though. For a dream matchup, I would love to see Vision Strikers vs Sentinels of course!
Achilios: As mentioned, I think everyone has been chomping at the bit to see Vision Strikers take on Sentinels. If it happens, and it’s not the Grand Final, it could be a bit of a tragedy. Still, VS’ group stage matches still look to be entertaining, regardless of which EMEA team they could end up facing. I realize they have Paper Rex in the first round, but I think only a lunatic would expect VS to lose there.
We here at Run It Back would very much like to thank Chobra, Paperthin, and Achilios for sharing their very comprehensive thoughts on the upcoming major tournament. The group stage for Masters 3: Berlin is going to be starting very soon. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action!
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David "Miles David" Josiah
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