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For fans of the VALORANT Championship Tour in South Korea, ESportsConnected has history from all over esports and is forming a new Korean superteam. The roster is a mix of victorious VCT Korea players, former streamers and a successful coach. This newly-formed team took what they could from free agency and other teams in the region to start fresh and grow into a Korean team to rival DRX (formerly known as Vision Strikers).

The building blocks for a new powerhouse

In South Korea, ESportsConnected’s esports history revolved around popular games like League of Legends, hitting highs such as winning IEM Season X in 2015 against teams like Fnatic and Team Dignitas. After the organization’s favorable experiences with Riot Games, they decided to continue that partnership in a new game and join the VCT Korea scene. After getting in, some quick scouting helped them determine what kinds of people should be part of the squad.

“We had long-term and short-term goals, and from there we looked around for which players are fitting for our goals,” ESportsConnected CEO Song Seong-chang said. “With our experience, if everyone doesn’t understand those goals, teamwork can decline.”

Teamwork was a very key point for Song, as the management looked heavily into player and coach synergy for their eventual roster. While Song said the team doesn’t expect to win it all out of the gate, their focus on coordination and getting the most out of their talented roster is why they have the potential to be the next Korean superteam.

However, it was impossible to build a team without acknowledging the elephant in the room: DRX, who has topped the Korean VCT scene since their formation. Yet despite being an obstacle in the way, Song said his connections with ESC’s rivals can help replicate, and maybe even overcome, the top Korean team at the moment.

“I’m a close friend of DRX’s management. We’ve been talking about esports a lot together and what we can achieve for years,” Song said. “Now, they’re the No. 1 team in Korea. I don’t think we can beat them right away, but there are a lot of things they’re doing that we can use as our benchmarks.”

Pieces fall into place

Building ESC’s first VALORANT roster started with signing former Apex Legends and Lag Gaming player Yoo “Moothie” Seung-woo along with former F4Q player Kim “GodDead” Sung-sin. Both players not only had recent experience in VALORANT esports, but both have significant popularity in Korea. GodDead was originally going to move to full-time streaming after leaving F4Q, but ESC persuaded him to put streaming on pause to go for another shot competing as a pro player.

After signing those first two players, more key positions fell into place. This included their head coach Jeong “Jaemin” Jae-min, formerly of NURTURN Gaming, and new coach Jung “peri” Bum-gi. At the same time, DRX loaned Lee “k1Ng” Seung-won to ESC around the same time former F4Q player Kim “zunba” Joon-hyuk joined.

These signings created a foundation of connections, with GodDead and zunba’s past on F4Q and the coaches’ time together on NURTURN Gaming. That will help offset the team’s adjustments created by pro players like peri moving from pro to coach.

peri ESportsConnected
Peri congratulated Sentinels after losing 2-0 at Masters 2 in Reykjavik. | Provided by Riot Games

“When I was a player under Jaemin, I didn’t have many talks with him about the technical parts of VALORANT,” peri said. “Now, there’s a lot of communication, down to the smallest details of the game.”

Peri’s focus matches what both his CEO and head coach want: teamwork and synergy. As a player-coach, after playing under Jaemin in big tournaments like VCT Stage 2 Masters Reykjavík, his role is to help create a good atmosphere on this future ESportsConnected superteam.

“I feel that with this environment, I can help build the players into stronger people,” peri said. “I joined the team with the winning mindset, that we will win the VCT Challengers tournament, and I’m holding to that.”

Rivals turned teammates

The players of ESportsConnected also expressed confidence in the team. K1Ng said he knows this roster can compete against the best in Korea.

“I came to ESC to make this team successful in VCT and all other tournaments,” k1Ng said. “We will beat all the other Korean VALORANT teams, just the same as when I was on Vision Strikers.”

k1Ng ESportsConnected
Vision Strikers say goodbye to k1Ng, sending him on loan to ESC. | Provided by DRX

At the same time, k1Ng said his departure from DRX was a tough decision. After thinking over whether he should stay or go for a long time, he decided that leaving DRX was the best option for both a challenge and a new perspective.

“After I moved to ESC, my thoughts about the decision I made changed,” k1Ng said. “The world I was living in was a small world, and I think I have to meet more people and gain more experiences to keep growing both as a player and a person.”

The same day k1Ng joined the team, zunba also signed on, marking another experienced player in the Korean esports scene hopping over to ESC. The two had faced off many times last year, particularly during VCT Stage 3 Challengers, as both F4Q and Vision Strikers fought to win the tournament and move on to the next international event. Both teams reached the final and qualified for Masters Berlin, but Vision Strikers got the better of F4Q, 3-1.

After playing across from each other up to that point, they now have to work together to prevent DRX from winning in 2022.

From his time competing in Overwatch and now in VALORANT, Zunba said he knows he can fight against the best again due to his refreshed mentality.

“When I was moving from Overwatch, those last few months, the enjoyment wasn’t there anymore,” zunba said. “Now, in VALORANT, I feel that enjoyment, which helps me practice more. I feel the same mentally as when I was in APEX — that same level of happiness.”

zunba APEX ESportsConnected
Lunatic-Hai, zunba included, winning Season 3 of the Overwatch Apex tournament. | Provided by OGN Entertainment

After all, zunba played for the Lunatic-Hai team that won back to back seasons in Overwatch’s APEX series in Overwatch. He even played for the South Korean World Cup team that won back-to-back tournaments for their home country. Winning is no foreign concept for him, and now he is part of ESportsConnected, a new Korean superteam on a different esport.

Last-minute shuffle

The day after zunba’s signing, k1Ng and their two coaches signed, their final player joined their roster: Former Crazy Raccoon and Overwatch League player Park “Bazzi” Jun-ki. This built another bridge between him and zunba from Overwatch and moothie from Lag Gaming.

However, moothie soon departed from the team and was replaced with Yu “TS” Tae-seok. Now, with their roster finalized, ESportsConnected’s superteam will face off against other VCT Korea teams with tempered expectations, at least to begin with.

But, as their roster gels together and improves with the talent they said they have, ESportsConnected’s goal by the end of the year is to represent their region as the new Korean superteam.

“Our final goal is to make it to Champions this year,” peri said, “So as a message to fans, please get invested in us from the start so you can see it all happen.”

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