The F4Q VALORANT team formed for one reason: to get YouTube clips.
“I mean, they’ve straight up admitted to it,” said VALORANT caster Seth “Achilios” King. “When they started competing, the goal was entirely to get more viewership on their streams. This was in no way, shape or form a team that was put together for the purpose of being competitive.”
It’s not an origin story any of the players are ashamed of. In fact, Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk takes some pride in the fact that the team was formed just for fun but ended up competing with the best of them. Part of what makes F4Q special is the way they constantly exceed expectations — including their own.
“In Stage 1, we were just looking for highlight clips,” said Bunny. “And then in Stage 2, the objective became taking down Vision Strikers, so all of our practice revolved around preparing for Vision Strikers and beating them. Which we did.”
F4Q rose to international prominence after defeating Vision Strikers in April, cutting short their opponent’s whopping 102 match win streak. Despite the match’s status as among the most memorable of the tournament, neither team ended up making it to Valorant Champions Tour Stage 2 Masters in Reykjavík, as the Korean slot went to NUTURN Gaming. But both teams met again in the Stage 3 Challengers grand final, where Vision Strikers took the match 3-1. And this time, both F4Q and Vision Strikers will be in attendance come VCT Stage 3 Masters in Berlin.
South Korea has, historically, not found much international success in tactical FPS games. The perception that Korean teams would never be competitive at an FPS was and continues to be handily disproven in the field of professional Overwatch, but in titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, South Korea has remained fairly insular. As a result, both Korean representatives are seen as underdogs coming into Stage 3 Masters.
Just because they’re coming from the same region, though, it doesn’t mean they’re anything alike. In fact, according to Achilios, they couldn’t be more different.
“They’re polar opposites,” said Achilios. “Vision Strikers is very measured and will play slow if they feel like that’s what they need to do. F4Q is constantly making pedal to the metal, buck wild plays. Bunny is just gonna rush onto a site, whether he’s got a Judge or a Phantom. F4Q really likes to push the envelope. I think they’re going to widen some people’s eyes and make them wonder, ‘how have I not been watching this team?'”
Building a new dynasty
F4Q may not just be looking for highlights at Masters Berlin, but that playmaking mindset still persists. The team’s high-tempo, aggressive playstyle is one that can break through even the most stalwart defense if the defenders are ill-prepared. It’s definitely an “act first, think second” mentality — but never let it be said that F4Q’s play lacks precision. Bunny, who prides himself on his Raze play, believes that what sets them apart from other teams is how much faith they have in themselves.
“When I’m playing Raze, I feel that I use my Blast Pack much better than other pros,” Bunny said. “If other teams don’t put in the hours to watch our VODs and figure that out, they might have a hard time playing against us. Plus, all five of us have the agency to go for a play if we feel there’s a certain angle, so that leads to us getting a lot of clutch plays.”
It’s not just Bunny who is highly renowned on a certain agent. His teammate, Kim “zunba” Joon-hyuk, is widely known as one of the best Astra players in the world. His intelligent, reactive Astra play has made him a crucial part of F4Q’s strategy.
“Zunba is such an important part of this team,” said Achilios. “I think he’s got such a great mind for how people are rotating around a map. He knows when to catch people off guard, he gets great use out of his utility, and the placement of his stars is, I think, the best in the world. He’s been the best Astra in the world since she was released.”
Bunny and zunba have been a formidable duo ever since they began playing together, with the two constantly coordinating Gravity Wells and Paint Shells to take out unsuspecting opponents. Zunba’s prowess on Astra is made even more impressive by the fact that he never actually intended on playing her – at least, not until his teammates asked him to.
“When Astra was first released, the rest of us were super desperate,” said Bunny. “We knew we really needed a good Astra, and we came together to persuade zunba to play her. We told him, ‘if you play Astra and we end up making it to Berlin, we’ll buy you a lobster dinner, no matter how expensive it is.’ And we ended up making it, so the rest of us now have to pay for whatever zunba wants to have.”
The two players’ in-game synergy is clearly one that extends to real life as well. They have a history together, after all; both came from pro Overwatch, where they were teammates on the Seoul Dynasty.
“Since I’ve played on the international stage before, I won’t suffer from nerves or anything,” zunba said. He began playing Overwatch professionally in 2016 and has represented South Korea in the Overwatch World Cup twice. “But I’ll try to be serious about it and tense up a bit, since VALORANT clearly isn’t Overwatch.”
For Overwatch fans looking to get into VALORANT, there are familiar traces in the duo’s playstyles. Zunba was a tank player in Overwatch, tasked with controlling space around the map, while Bunny was an aggressive and mobile damage dealer. Though the two games are vastly different, some things haven’t changed.
“I really love casting them because I hate to see truly talented players step away from an esport and kind of fade into nonexistence,” said Achilios, who also casts for the Overwatch League. “A lot of people don’t necessarily try to move on to another game. To see zunba and Bunny shift over to VALORANT and now be at the second ever international LAN — it warms my heart to see that perseverance and competitive drive live on.”
An unstoppable force meets international VALORANT
F4Q will have a real opportunity to prove they can hang with the best of them come Masters Berlin. They’re at a bit of a disadvantage due to their unorthodox origins, but Bunny thinks their success, despite their circumstances, is indicative of their larger potential.
“The five of us aren’t technically pro players,” said Bunny. “The other teams will have a lot more professional experience and have practiced a lot more. But despite not putting in that much effort, F4Q still beat so many teams and made it to Berlin. Right now we’re actually focusing on practice and putting in the hours. I’m looking forward to what the other pro teams will hear when they lose against us.”
At Masters, they’ve been placed in a group with Sentinels and G2 Esports — tough opponents, but ones they’re ready to take on.
“I really want to play against SicK from Sentinels,” zunba said. “NUTURN faced them in Iceland, and when they came back, I heard from NUTURN that SicK was the best fragger based on their experience. So I’m curious to see what it’s like.”
Bunny shares zunba’s sentiment of wanting to play against Sentinels, though it’s not just one player that has piqued his interest.
“I watched them when they were in Iceland and thought they were really cool,” Bunny said. “I thought a lot about how it would feel to be on that stage.”
As their dream of international glory at Masters Berlin gets ever closer, F4Q are looking to be taken seriously as a competitive team. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to lose the sense of fun that has defined them all this time. In fact, that may be their biggest asset in the most important competition they’ve played so far.
“If you think about it, we’ve succeeded in achieving whatever we’ve wanted to achieve up until now,” Bunny said. “In Stage 1, we wanted to farm YouTube clips, so we got a ton of YouTube clips. In Stage 2, we wanted to beat Vision Strikers, and we did that. In Stage 3, we wanted to make Berlin, and we did that as well. What we want to do now is win in Berlin. So, to everyone who’s thinking of us as the underdogs: keep an eye out and see how we do on stage.”