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Competitive VALORANT in Korea was a one-team region until the most recent Challengers event, were NUTURN took the Masters: Reyjavik slot over DAMWON Gaming. Vision Strikers, a team with an over 100-series win streak at one time, dominated the region until their surprise exit at the Masters qualifiers to NUTURN.
The black and yellow organization swept the top squad 2-0 and stomped through the rest of the tournament, not dropping a single map. NUTURN will come into Masters on a 16-map win streak thanks to their great teamplay and individual prowess. The team has leveled up its play in recent months, none more so than the Korean Challengers finals MVP and NUTURN’s Sova player, Kim “Lakia” Jong-min. Lakia enters the VCT Masters: Reykjavik in great form.
📰 Let’s take a look at the Finals MVP NU Lakia’s stats comparison. Huge improvement overall! As one of the more aggressive supporters of the team, his perfectly timed lineups and heavy weapons play was very impressive and absolutely fun to watch! pic.twitter.com/CcxbCvzw67
— VALORANT Champions Tour KR (@valesports_kr) May 11, 2021
Who is NUTURN’s Lakia
Lakia, like many of Korea’s VALORANT players, is a Counter-Strike veteran. He played for a few teams, but most notably for the Korean squad GOSU. Before his retirement, Lakia played with other soon-to-be VALORANT players like Cloud9’s Son “xeta” Seon-ho and Vision Strikers’ Kim “stax” Gu-taek.
Lakia was apart of Vision Strikers’ first seven-man lineup, but left for free agency. He then wound up on the PROPARTY roster that NUTURN would pick up to represent them. With PROPARTY, Lakia and his team finished top four at First Strike Korea, with the player on Duelists. Before his adoption of Sova, he would play secondary Duelist behind Park “allow” Sang-wook’s Jett.
Once situated in his role as Sova, Lakia took a while to come into his own as a player. He still showed up in the server, occasionally topping the leaderboard with kills or average combat score and damage per round, but would be overshadowed by allow or NUTURN’s in-game leader, Kang “Solo” Keun-chul. It wasn’t until the qualification tournament for Masters: Reyjavik that Lakia showed what he could do in his role. He finished in the top 10 of the tournament for ACS, at 257, and his average kills per round were at 0.93.
Over the course of NUTURN’s win streak through Stage 2 Challengers, Lakia stood out as a support player. He was unafraid to take fights and hit a bomb site with his team. Unlike other region’s take on Sova, hanging back with various lineups for the team, Lakia joins his team in their aggressive attacks. Lineups are in his repertoire, but he will also run onto a bomb site with a shock dart in hand to cover different angles for his team.
Lakia’s playstyle ahead of Masters: Reykjavik
Lakia did not stop playing Duelists when he made the switch to Sova, however, picking Raze on Split for the team. Sova is not a meta pick on the map, and choosing Raze give him more support tools in such a tight map. Lakia’s general playstyle, on Sova and otherwise, is always supportive. He will clear space with Paint Shells or a Recon Arrow and stay behind the entry players. On defense, Lakia takes an anchor role, except on Split where he roams around the middle of the map. Because NUTURN do not run a Sentinel on their most played maps (Ascent, Haven and Bind), Lakia takes the traditionally-Sentinel role of site anchor.
He regularly holds down bomb sites by himself and is not afraid to peek while alone. Despite his role as support and site anchor, ahead of Masters: Reykjavik, Lakia has one of the top Kill/Death/Assist ratios at the event.
📋 Only 10 days to go for #VCT Stage 2 Masters: Reykjavik!
We have prepared global top player ranks, including all 50 players from the participating teams using stats gathered from the respective Playoffs of each region.
Check out today’s 🌟K/D chart! pic.twitter.com/8j6J5IBxUH
— VALORANT Champions Tour KR (@valesports_kr) May 15, 2021
Lakia and NUTURN start their VCT Masters: Reykjavik journey on May 25, against Brazilian representatives Sharks Esports, at 4 p.m. ET.
Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.