DRX fend off unconventional Paper Rex in Stage 1 Masters winner's quarterfinals
Provided by Riot Games.

DRX fend off unconventional Paper Rex in Stage 1 Masters winner’s quarterfinals

Korea tops APAC in the winner's quarterfinals

DRX defeated Paper Rex at the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Stage 1 Masters, 2-1 in an unconventional but entertaining three-map series that featured the first Yoru ever seen at an international tournament.

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The two teams who dominated their respective regions faced off against each other in a match full of unexpected agents and clutch plays, both teams tested their signature coordination against an equally equipped roster. The match largely came down to how DRX dealt with the curveballs Paper Rex threw their way, like picking Reyna and Yoru.

“We actually expected other picks, like Sage on the first map, so the Reyna surprised us,” said Kim “stax” Gu-taek. “We already knew that the Yoru pick was going to happen from our scrims against them in Asia, so we stuck to our game plan and played well.”

A big comeback win on Haven

On map one, both teams demonstrated the individual skills needed to win the match on pistols. Paper Rex took the player advantage, but DRX’s Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan almost brought it back. Paper Rex took the first two maps, using their fast pushes on attack to surprise their opponents.

DRX earned a flawless round to start their path to taking control of the map, but Aaron “mindfreak” Leonhart made some big plays to bring Paper Rex back into the fight. DRX went into the half up 8-4.

Paper Rex continued to keep the game close, but DRX maintained their lead at 9-6 with another clean round. Then, with some great positioning and timing from Khalish “d4v41” Rusyaidee, Paper Rex started winning back rounds. After tying it 9-9, both teams traded a pair of rounds to keep the score tight.DRX squeaked out another lead but Benedict “Benkai” Tan tied it up 10-10 with a 3k of his own.

To give them their first lead for a while, mindfreak clutched up a 1v2 post-plant scenario. The next round was similar, but with DRX losing a 1v2 due to a great round from Wang Jing “Jinggg” Jie. Paper Rex essentially won by getting great rounds from every player on their team, one after another — and nothing demonstrated that better than Jinggg pulling out a 4k play on Reyna to close out the map 13-10.

Bind brings a Yoru pick from Paper Rex

DRX were on the ropes with Bind up next, but Paper Rex used their advantage to surprised everyone with Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto picking Yoru. No one had ever chosen the reworked agent in international play before this map, and the risky plays he enabled helped Paper Rex start off strong. It wasn’t until stax notched an ace through a 1v4 clutch that DRX really stopped their opponent’s momentum.

After tying it up 3-3, DRX started to regain their footing and took the lead. Stax continued his strong play, helping DRX build that lead off of mistakes from Paper Rex. As the APAC team lost both money and rounds, they went into the half down 3-9.

DRX continued their momentum to stick a defuse on the pistol round, but Paper Rex got a round right back on a force-buy. Paper Rex needed to go on a run as good as on map one to win the series, and they got close. Mindfreak yet again pulled out a round win with a 2k spray into smoke, ulting to confirm a bomb explosion.

Yet despite Paper Rex’s best efforts, DRX were just too far ahead. They took the map 13-8 and forced the game to map three.

Ascent decides it all

Ascent started with both teams trying to get into each others’ heads. But with everyone trying to counter-pick each other, the team compositions came out different than most people expected. And speaking of unexpected, Paper Rex didn’t see a 4k to from Yu “BuZz” Byung-chul to win pistols coming while he sat with a mere 8 HP. The next handful of rounds seemed to feature a 4k at the hands of DRX as their members played around Paper Rex’s wild strategies.

Down 0-5 and fading fast, Paper Rex took a timeout to try and win their first round. Benkai then made a great play with a shock dart, a recon dart and a 2k wallbang with a Sherriff to win Paper Rex their first round, and they took a couple more wins using clever tactics.

Even with those plays working for Paper Rex, DRX held onto a significant 9-3 lead at halftime. DRX played a very passive attack as the rounds went on, using their opponent’s aggression to their advantage. Yet again, Paper Rex went into halftime looking to make a comeback.

Unfortunately for them, Paper Rex’s aggression to start off the next half wasn’t enough, as DRX read their tempo for the 13-8 map win. With victory in the bag, DRX will face the winner of OpTic Gaming versus The Guard as Paper Rex drop down to the loser’s bracket.

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Michael Czar
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.