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On Sept. 7, Paper Rex were eliminated from VALORANT Champions in Istanbul. The defeat marks the end of the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour season for Paper Rex. Even still, it was a monumental year for the Singaporean team.

At the 2022 Masters Copenhagen tournament, Paper Rex made history. They became the first team from the Asia Pacific region to be grand finalists in a major VCT tournament. And while that might have been the crowning achievement on their 2022 VCT season, Paper Rex have a lot more to be proud of.

With fourth and second place finishes at both Masters events in 2022, Paper Rex put their region on the map. They gave teams from Europe and North American reason to fear players from countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

“We’ve successfully destroyed the term of ‘minor region’ as far as it goes for APAC,” Paper Rex’s in-game leader Benedict “Benkai” Tan said. “So I think that’s job well done for us this year.”

The kings of ‘W gaming’

Jinggg d4v41
Jing Jie “Jinggg” Wang (L) and Khalish “d4v41” Rusyaidee of Paper Rex pose onstage at VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on August 31, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

Over the course of 2022, Paper Rex redefined what it means to play with the same style as a top VALORANT team. While teams often use aggression as a tool in their gameplay kit, no team epitomizes in-your-face, ‘W gaming’ VALORANT like Paper Rex. More, they showed that the play style isn’t just a gimmick.

“It’s not just pressing W,” Benkai said. “There’s a lot of depth to our playstyle. And if another team is able to replicate that, then they will for sure be able to do probably as well as us if not better than us. But at its current state, we are the ones that have been playing this playstyle for the longest. That’s why I think it will be a while until another team is able to do the same.”

For more than a year, Paper Rex have been honing this style into a deadly weapon. Ever since the team was eliminated from the APAC Last Chance Qualifier in 2021, they’ve been putting in massive amounts of work, grinding to improve. And, until Champions, the result was that they looked better and better with every event.

“This entire year has been a very successful year for us as a team. We’ve grown so much since Berlin from last year,” Benkai said. “Regardless of the result we’ve had here, we firmly established ourselves as a good team. I’m not going to say one of the best, but a good enough team.”

Paper Rex can’t find their footing at Champions 2022

alecks Paper Rex
Coach Alexandre “alecks” Salle of Paper Rex reacts at the VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on September 7, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

In the pivotal match against Team Liquid, Paper Rex stumbled. They’d brought the series to the third and final map, but couldn’t close it out against a well-drilled Liquid. At the post-game press conference, head coach Alexandre “alecks” Sallé spoke about the team’s showing at Champions.

“Normally our confidence comes from practicing well, and it was a bit hard for us to get into the groove,” alecks said. “We had a lot of obligations to fulfill. I don’t want to make this an excuse because we should be able to rely on our fundamentals and basics to play better, but we were quite out of sync in practice in this tournament.”

Over the course of 2022, Paper Rex have accrued massive numbers of fans. While that comes from heaps of charisma and brand-building, it’s also directly tied to their impressive tournament results. Although they didn’t perform to their fullest at Champions, Paper Rex are a team to watch in 2023.

“Thank you to all our fans for supporting us,” Jing Jie “Jinggg” Wang said. “We didn’t play as well this tournament, but we’re going to be back stronger.”