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The VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Stage 2 Masters tournament grand finals have been decided, a battle between Paper Rex and FunPlus Phoenix. A battle between Asia-Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa region teams will decide who wins it all. Paper Rex made a run through the upper bracket, only losing one map so far total in the tournament. As for FPX, they’ve played the most in the tournament, fighting through groups and the lower bracket.

Paper Rex represents Asia in their first international finals

Much like LOUD in Stage 1 Masters, Paper Rex are using team synergy to make an upper bracket run. But, where LOUD are focused on their individual talent working together, Paper Rex are entirely unique at the level they play at. Not only are they an amazing team, but their aggressive trades and lurks are a spectacle to watch. At times, it feels like you’re watching a team who optimized how fast a round could possibly be won. That alone makes them fun to watch, but their talent and clever strategies lead to success.

f0rsakeN Paper Rex
Paper Rex duelist f0rsakeN after a victory on stage at the VCT 2022 Stage 2 Masters tournament. | Provided by Riot Games.

The best examples of this are their two duelists: Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto and Jing Jie “Jinggg” Wang. On heroes such as Chamber, Yoru, Neon, Raze and Reyna, Paper Rex can get immense value in their aggressive situations. As duelists on a team like Paper Rex, they’ve been the spearhead for the teams’ quick executes. Out of all the players who played in Stage 2 Masters, f0rsakeN is second in average ACS at 258.1, with Jinggg at fifth with 247.3. Then, with other players like Aaron “mindfreak” Leonhart leading the event in KAST at 79%, you have the recipe for a great VALORANT team.

A bye helped their path to the top of the playoffs. They then faced two great EMEA teams in Guild Esports and Fnatic, not losing a map to either. Then, in the upper final, they beat Stage 1 Masters champions OpTic Gaming 2-1, booking their ticket to the finals. Paper Rex are the first Asian team in an international VCT LAN final, and they look to win it all. Now, they will face the only EMEA team in the tournament they have yet to face.

FunPlus Phoenix fight all the way through the tournament

FunPlus Phoenix, despite topping their region in Stage 1, weren’t able to attend the international LAN in Iceland. So when they got second and qualified for Copenhagen, the team were excited to attend. Their start still wasn’t great due to VISA issues from player Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin, forcing them to field a substitute. They had to fight through the group stages, qualifying second in their group after a loss to DRX. So when they faced regional rivals Fnatic first in the tournament with substitute player Mathias “SEIDER” Seider, a 2-0 loss was expected but no less hard to take.

FunPlus Phoenix Stage 2 Masters
The FunPlus Phoenix team huddle before a match at the VCT 2022 Stage 2 Masters tournament. | Provided by Riot Games.

However, with SUYGETSU’s return, the full roster and its synergy is back together. They beat Guild Esports first in the lower bracket 2-1, the third seed from EMEA. Then, they got revenge against DRX 2-0, and even beat Fnatic for the first time in Stage 2. After playing essentially daily since the event began, they beat Stage 1 Masters champions OpTic Gaming to make it to the grand finals.

Heading into this event, it was tough to see FunPlus Phoenix win simply due to their substitute situation. Yet, as soon as they got their full roster together, they started rolling. Off of top performances from Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks, Andrey “Shao” Kiprsky and SUYGETSU, the team looks dangerous. Ardiis in particular is among the tournament’s top fraggers, seventh in ACS at 244.3. With the fact that FPX has four players, including ardiis, who top the rounds played metric in the competition at 456, these numbers show consistency unlike any other player remaining in the competition. The coaching staff showed their counter-stratting prowess in the win against OpTic Gaming. For that series, the team admitted that they don’t know OpTic too well, and still beat them with one day’s prep. Now, they’ll have to face Paper Rex to try and get the EMEA region another title.

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