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FPX’s VCT Masters title run was built through adversity

In FunPlus Phoenix’s Valorant Champions Tour Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen Victory Round on Breeze, Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin chased the final kills on B Site.

He headed to the compound’s entrance, fought the first two challengers in a long-distance duel, defeating both in quick succession before targeting the last two Paper Rex players in the B tunnel. He pushed forward and finished off both players with two headshots. The Russian teenager threw off his headset and headphones as he leapt from his seat to hug his FPX teammates.

Just over 10 days earlier, SUYGETSU sat at home and watched his team take on international competition with a substitute. He got his travel visa just in time to play in FPX’s second playoff stage match at the VCT Masters.

“Losing rounds they should have won was stressful,” SUYGETSU said in a press conference about watching FPX from home.

Playing with a proxy wasn’t the only negative factor against FPX at VCT Masters Copenhagen. The team had to deal with a lack of recovery from the tournament schedule along with unrest at home as their Ukrainian IGL and Russian players had to deal with their country’s war to even be able to travel to the event.

“I still read the news. There’s a damn war in Ukraine… it’s still going on and people are still dying while Russia invades Ukraine. It’s always on my mind, at least,” said FPX’s IGL Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov in an early press conference at Masters Copenhagen.

“War sucks.”

FPX began by downplaying a man

The FPX Valorant team at the VCT Masters Copenhagen
Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

SEIDER won 2:2 with FPX at the VCT Masters Copenhagen.

When FPX came to VCT Masters Copenhagen they already had plans in place in case the majority of their squad were unable to travel. The team, having learned from their ordeal during their Stage 1 Masters qualification, had fielded three substitutes for the worst-case scenario.

Luckily for FPX, they only had to use one of those players, Alliance’s Mathias “SEIDER” Seider, for about half of the tournament.

While the team still managed to progress in the event, the players outlined that they were still not at full strength due to their use of a substitute. But they still had confidence in themselves that they were one of the best teams at the event.

“Considering our preparation and all the changes we should be making every day, I would be happy with the top 4. But … we are capable of winning everything,” said ANGE1 after qualifying for the playoff phase.

Overall, the team went 2-2 with SEIDER and each player switched roles to include him in the lineup. But thanks to those losses, FPX had to play as many games as possible on their way to the Grand Finals, dealing with four consecutive games in the group stage and three in the playoff stage.

The grind from VCT Master Copenhagen

Preparing for multiple alternates and then bringing their original member up to speed was already a process for FPX head coach Erik ‘d00mbr0s’ Sandgren. But then turning around and preparing strategies and studying the next day’s opponent meant the Swedish coach had a lot on his plate when it came to this tournament.

Ahead of their match against OpTic Gaming, a day after their win over Fnatic, d00mbr0s prepared deep into the night to get his team ready to battle the Phase 1 champions. He said he only slept about 4 hours the night before.

FPX ANGE1 raises his hand as he competes on the VCT Masters stage
Lance Skundrich/Riot games

ANGE1 has been competing in competitive FPS for over a decade.

“For me, a lot of preparation is an advantage, although I may be tired that day, as long as I’m well prepared and informed [ANGE1] the right things that can usually do adoptions as well, so I did it,” d00mbr0s said of why he was strategizing so late at night.

The team also had little time to rest on those days, going to their hotel from games late at night to wake up and then having just a few hours to prepare for the next game.

According to Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks, the routine could have benefited the team at some point.

“But I feel like it helps us,” he said after FPX’s win over OpTic. “Because it would be like we’re all just in a routine at the beginning. It was like wake up, play, wake up, play, wake up, play. Then I think when we had our first day off, we were like, ‘What the hell?’”

The relief of victory

After defeating Paper Rex 3-2 in the Grand Finals, FPX gathered on stage around the Masters trophy for a final interview before raising their well-deserved hardware.

Ardiis started an FPX chant with the crowd, saying that the team is ready to “take the world” at Valorant Champions. ANGE1 took the time to point out a fan in the crowd carrying the Ukrainian flag, which Riot Games’ IGL was forbidden from doing on stage at the event.

The fan later handed him the flag to drape over his shoulders as FPX approached the crowd to greet onlookers after the ceremony.

“It meant a lot to me. I felt like I went home with it. I miss that flag so much,” he said.

FPX Head Coach VCT Masters Copenhagen stage with red light
Lance Skundrich/Riot games

d00mbr0s has been part of the team since it was founded in 2020.

d00mrb0s, looking exhausted from the five-game streak, said he would like a month’s sleep.

FPX came into the tournament with high hopes, their goal was to qualify for champions and finish in the top four, even if they had to play the entire tournament in a stand-in. FPX, often cited as one of the best teams in the world, was finally able to show what they were capable of, even if they were disadvantaged almost every step of the way.

“For me, this win really meant a lot,” d00br0s said of the Grand Final. “I think our team has gone through some really difficult times this year, as a team but also as individuals.

“I’m glad we’re working our way through and coming out on top despite so many things happening around us and I’m really glad we’re finally getting something for all the hard work we’ve put in, even though things are pretty at times looked run down. I’m just happy and relieved.”

https://www.dexerto.com/valorant/fpxs-vct-masters-title-run-was-built-through-adversity-1881804/ FPX’s VCT Masters title run was built through adversity

Emma James

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