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Following months of qualifier after qualifier (after an even bigger qualifier), we’ve reached the end of summer and its final destination: VALORANT Masters Berlin.

There will be 15 of the best teams in the world from seven regions (after Bren Esports’ visa issues) that embark to Germany to capture the trophy and automatic qualification to the upcoming world championship. As a bonus, the winning team will also secure an extra spot at Champions, for their respective region.

As we count down to curtain opening in Berlin, I will guide you through each of the 15 teams vying for masters victory about their roster, map pool and the burning questions surrounding them.

Vision Strikers starting lineup

Vision Strikers team photo at Stage 3 challengers
Vision Strikers after winning Stage 3 Challengers. | Provided by Riot Korea

Yu “BuZz” Byung-chul (South Korea)

Agents played (past 60 days): Jett (22)

Signature agent: Jett

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 251.2 ACS
  • 1.37 K:D
  • 0.87 KPR
  • +29 First Kills-to-First Deaths (94 FK, 65 FD)

Goo “Rb” Sang-min (South Korea)

Agents played (past 60 days): Sova (10), Skye (3), Raze (3), Sage (2)

Signature agent: Sova

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 195.1 ACS
  • 1.40 K:D
  • 0.68 KPR

Kim “stax” Gu-taek (South Korea)

Agents played (past 60 days): Breach (10), Sage (6), Skye (6)

Signature agent: Breach

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 199.1 ACS
  • 1.42 K:D
  • 0.76 KPR

Kim “MaKo” Myeong-gwan (South Korea)

Agents played (past 60 days): Astra (15), Viper (6), Omen (1)

Signature agent: Astra

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 211.5 ACS
  • 1.33 K:D
  • 0.76 KPR

Lee “k1Ng” Seung-won (South Korea)

Agents played (past 60 days): Killjoy (16), Cypher (3)

Signature agent: Killjoy

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 235.1 ACS
  • 1.57 K:D
  • 0.86 KPR

Kim “Lakia” Jong-min (South Korea) – Substitute

Agents played (past 60 days): Skye (5), Sova (2)

Signature agent: Skye

Stats (past 60 days):

  • 206.2 ACS
  • 1.26 K:D
  • 0.77 KPR

Stage 3 Map Pool

Loading screen for Haven
Loading screen for Haven. | Provided by Riot Games

Haven: 6-0, 100% (75% Attack Round Win, 62% Defense Round Win)

Ascent: 5-0, 100% (71% ATK, 56% DEF)

Icebox: 5-0, 100% (82% ATK, 92% DEF)

Bind: 3-0, 100% (73% ATK, 74% DEF)

Breeze: 1-0, 100% (ATK 75%, 80% DEF)

Split: 1-1, 80% (55% ATK, 50% DEF)

My player to watch: stax

Vision Strikers Masters stax
Kim “stax” Gu-taek holds the Stage 3 Korean Challengers trophy. | Provided by Riot Korea

To choose just one player from Vision Strikers is like taking away a puzzle piece or removing a Jenga from a wooden tower. It’s an impossible task, and doing so would tear down what makes the South Korean champions so beautiful — their unbreakable coordination and chemistry with one another. Vision Strikers are a team of six (seven when sidelined Kim “Zest” Ki-seok is active) who can all argue that they’re the best at their position in the region, but they push their egos aside to create a team capable of challenging for the world title.

Virtually since their inception, where they went 104 games unbeaten before finally falling to fellow Berlin representative F4Q, Vision Strikers have been a team the rest of the world has been watching closely. World-class teams have admitted to learning and taking setups from the South Korean squad, taking inspiration from their synchronized attacks and unflappable demeanor.

So, if there were one player to highlight among the Strikers, even for a minute, it would have to be stax. As the best Breach player globally in the short history of VALORANT, he’s often been the talisman that makes the clockwork precision of Vision Strikers so appealing to watch. Throughout his one-year career, stax’s statistics on Breach are out of this world, holding a 1.39 Kills/Deaths with an ACS of 222.1 in the 101 maps he’s showcased him on.

The big question for Vision Strikers in Berlin: Can they prove they’re not a gigantic fish in a small pond?

There shouldn’t be a question of whether Vision Strikers are good — spoiler: they’re damn good — but more so on how good they actually are. If you show the average VALORANT fan their Stage 3 stats without any context and compare them to their Berlin competition, they’d ask you how anyone but Vision Strikers could be favored to win the tournament.

However, therein lies the problem. It’s challenging to compare Vision Strikers to their Western counterparts. It’s not that the South Korean VALORANT scene is a weak region — far from it — but it’s a fact that, when compared to North America or EMEA, the depth isn’t there. Their rivals vastly outmatch South Korea’s player base, the investment from top organizations and overall viewership. It’s not close.

While that doesn’t mean Vision Strikers couldn’t show up to Berlin and make a statement by running through the field without dropping more than a game or two, like their domestic conquest, they’ve been relatively untested when compared to Sentinels or Gambit Esports.

At Masters Reykjavík, NUTURN put South Korean VALORANT on the map with their third-place finish. This time, Vision Strikers want to put South Korea at the center of that proverbial map and raise the game’s awareness in their country.

In Berlin, Vision Strikers should be aiming to make it through the group of death and qualify for Champions

F4Q and Vision Strikers shake hands after the post-match ceremony. | Provided by Riot Korea

Vision Strikers aren’t going to have an easy time starting in Masters Berlin. To make it out of the group stages and make the playoffs, they’ll more than likely need to beat at least one of EMEA’s best teams. That would be either the No. 1 Turkish team SuperMassive Blaze or Europe’s No. 1 in Acend.

Getting out of groups will prove that Vision Strikers are a genuine contender for international trophies. Also, it will all but secure them a spot at the upcoming world championship. If Vision Strikers get bounced from groups, they’ll play in the Asia-Pacific Last Chance Qualifier to make it to Champions. Though they’ll be favored there, unknown elements like the inclusion of two Chinese teams for the first time could make it trickier than previously anticipated.

The plan for Vision Strikers is simple: beat Singapore’s Paper Rex to start the tournament, topple an EMEA giant and punch their ticket to not only the knockout stage but Champions. And, for a team that might be the best at planning things in all of VALORANT, I don’t doubt they can execute this one just as perfectly as the rest.

All stats for this article are provided by vlr.gg

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