VCT Masters 3 Berlin Asia Preview: Attacking the west head on
At VCT Masters 3 Berlin, the Asian presence at the second international VALORANT LAN is going to double compared to Masters 2 Reykjavík. Each of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia will be sending two teams to represent their respective regions. The results from Asian teams in Reykjavík were a bit of a mixed bag; early exits by Japan’s Crazy Raccoon and SEA’s X10, but a solid third place finish for the former CS:GO pros on Korea’s NUTURN roster.
Lots of eyes are inevitably going to be drawn to the stacked and prolific divisions of North American and European teams, but there’s an impressive amount of depth in the six teams representing Asia in Berlin. Let’s meet those six, starting with the Korean super team arguably attracting the most attention…
Prior to the start of Masters 2 Reykjavik, any team with aspirations of reaching VALORANT’s first LAN wanted to be the ones to kill the kings of Korea on the big stage. In the midst of what would eventually be a 104 series win streak, Vision Strikers out of Korea had drawn the attention of the world to a region on the rise. Unfortunately, two losses in the Korea Challengers Finals brought the streak and their Reykjavik bid to an end, much to the disappointment of the field in Iceland.
To make up for missing out on the previous event, Vision Strikers is debuting what is potentially an even more dangerous lineup at Masters 3 Berlin. They added two bright young stars in BuZz and Mako, moved the accomplished veteran glow to the coaching spot, then brought back the exceptional star in Lakia. This six-man roster is incredibly young, with the oldest player being stax at a ripe 21 years old. But they’re looking as dangerous as ever, going undefeated in Stage 3 while only dropping a single map. We’ll see how their fast, aggressive style plays out against international competition.
While NUTURN ended up garnering international attention in Iceland after defeating Vision Strikers in Stage Two, it was F4Q who actually struck first. F4Q handed Vision Strikers a stunning 2-1 defeat in the Stage Two group stage, ending their streak, but couldn’t capitalize on that momentous victory in the playoffs. Following this loss, they swapped out GodDead with Esperanza prior to Stage Three.
Unlike Vision Strikers, a team decorated with some of the top former CS:GO players Korea had to offer, the core of F4Q in bunny and zunba come from Overwatch. Bunny is one of several Korean VALORANT players thriving with the explosive Raze, fitting given his extensive DPS background in Overwatch. The team once regarded as a “stream team” of “accidental pros” may not be the favorites out of Korea, but their recent run has proven they’re not to be taken lightly.
Crazy Raccoon has the impressive distinction of being only one of three teams to appear at both VCT Masters 2 Reykjavík and VCT Masters 3 Berlin. They join KRU Esports and reigning champions Sentinels in that regard but are a very different team from the one we saw in Iceland. Just prior to the start of Stage 3, rion and zepher moved off the active roster into streaming roles with the organization. Crazy Raccoon added four players in their spots, including another Korean former Overwatch player in Bazzi, adopting a seven-player lineup.
The large mix of Japanese and Korean players will seek to redeem themselves on a global stage after a quick exit from Iceland in May. This team is deep; of the top 20 players in ACS during the Japan Challengers Playoffs, five of them are Crazy Raccoon players, led by Medusa at the number two position. The Sova main’s KD at the event was 1.52, the highest of anyone’s, and a whole 0.2 points higher than the second highest. They may have Raccoon in their name, but this team cannot be considered trash in any regard.
Prior to their July rebrand, ZETA DIVISION was known as Absolute JUPITER, and were absolutely bodying the rest of Japan in VALORANT. From June 2020 all the way through Japan Masters 1 this past March, they only lost to another team from Japan twice. Once to SCARZ in a small tournament that was just a six-team playoff, and the second time, unfortunately, to Crazy Raccoon in the grand finals of Masters 1.
During the first three stages of VCT, the team that had been dominating Japan just couldn’t get past Crazy Raccoon, losing to them three times during the course of the first two stages. They finally got past them in a grueling five-map series in the Stage Three Challengers Playoffs grand finals. Ironically though, both teams had already secured their spots in Berlin. This Masters berth was the culmination of statistical dominance from the ZETA core during those Challengers Playoffs. Remember how Medusa led the event in KD? Well the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best overall KD’s belonged to takej, Reita, and Laz, all from ZETA. takej and Laz also both finished top two in headshot percentage.
After a dominant run in Stage Three, the final loss to Bren Esports couldn’t have made things any harder for the Indonesian roster of Paper Rex. With the second seed out of Southeast Asia, the draw has dropped them into a gauntlet of a Group A, with Vision Strikers, Turkish superteam SuperMassive Blaze, and EU juggernaut Acend. But they’re not unused to playing in non-ideal circumstances.
In 2020, the core of this roster joined the Paper Rex organization, but to play CS:GO instead of VALORANT. However, in 2021, this team of Southeast Asian CS:GO veterans and rising stars were transferred over to the VALORANT division, and immediately became one of the region’s top teams. One of those rising stars is the 17-year-old f0rsakeN, but not the former OpTic India player forsaken who got busted on LAN for cheating. This young duelist is one of the best talents in the region, and he solidified that status with an unreal 283.8 ACS across the Challengers Playoffs, a whole 15 points higher than the next highest. In Group A, Paper Rex will need him to play spectacularly again just to survive at VCT Masters 3 Berlin.
The team formerly known as Bren Esports, now playing for Team Secret
Bren Esports was set to arrive in Berlin as the hottest team coming out of Southeast Asia. Except for a loss to Paper Rex they avenged just a day later, the roster from the Philippines hasn’t dropped a series since the Stage Two Challengers Finals. It’s been at these regional finals at the end of each stage where Bren has traditionally struggled. They lost in the first round of Masters One, then got bounced from the Stage Two Challenger Finals in two straight losses.
However, it was at the Stage Three Challengers Playoffs when all the pieces finally fell into place. They went undefeated in group stage, then 2-0’d their first opponents in the playoff bracket. After a heartbreaking loss to Paper Rex that ended in a 13-1 beatdown on Ascent, they responded to the pressure with a lower bracket final win to secure their Masters spot. To cap off their breakthrough, they swept Paper Rex in the finals, securing a much more favorable group at VCT Masters 3 Berlin.
Unfortunately, travel restrictions prevented the team from attending Berlin, and the roster parted ways with their organization. But the players didn’t stay orgless for long, and will compete in the near future under the illustrious Team Secret banner.