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XSET have beat XERXIA 2-0 to win their opening match at Champions Istanbul. It’s also the team’s first win at any international VALORANT Champions Tour event.

At the recent Masters Copenhagen event, XSET weren’t able to find a win and were eliminated after two matches. Even still, that experience was crucial for developing their game ahead of Champions.

“Even though we lost those games, those losses were pivotal in identifying weak points for us to work on in the off-season going into Champions,” XSET’s head coach Don “SyykoNT” Muir said in an interview.

Coach Don “SyykoNT” Muir of XSET makes an entrance onstage at the VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on September 3, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

So far at Champions, no North American team has lost. For that trend to hold, XSET will have to win their match at 8 a.m. ET on Sept. 4 against either FunPlus Phoenix or KRÜ Esports. As the reigning champs from Copenhagen, many expect FPX to be a top trophy contender at Champions.

“They hopefully won’t be as strong at this tournament as they were in the last one,” SyykoNT said. “And even if they are, we feel like we’re in a really good spot with the hard work we’ve put in to go toe-to-toe against them.”

No matter who they go up against, SykkoNT is confident that XSET can take the win.

“It comes down to our confidence and our communication,” he said. “If those two things are high on stage, then we’re a pretty indomitable force.”

XSET win opener against XERXIA

Although XSET took the match win over XERXIA 2-0, both maps — Fracture and Icebox — were hotly contested. The two biggest takeaways from the series were the incredible performance from XSET’s Zachary “zekken” Patrone and XERXIA unorthodox agent picks.

The Thai team played two of the least picked agents — Phoenix and Yoru — on Fracture and Icebox, respectively. Although they lost both maps, XERXIA’s Thanamethk “Crws” Mahatthananuyut does not think their agent choices were to blame.

“The game was really close,” Crws said. “It wasn’t because of the Yoru or the Phoenix pick, it was just because of the trading we failed to do better than them. That cost us so many rounds.”

SyykoNT also felt that the agent choices were viable, at least in the short-term.

“You’re not used to scrimming a Phoenix, you’re not used to scrimming a Yoru, you’re not used to seeing this kind of utility usage,” he said. “It definitely caught us off guard in some rounds.”

Thanamethk “Crws” Mahatthananuyut of XERXIA competes at the VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on September 3, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

Unfortunately for XERXIA, they were plagued by other problems. The poor trading along with giving over opening picks to XSET’s Chamber were just part of the issue.

“They weren’t afraid to take duels and they just took up space,” Crws said. “They just kept on pushing. We couldn’t really use our strats properly because they kept on pressuring us.”

XERXIA are a team that has struggled in 2022. Although they qualified for both VCT Masters, the Thai team couldn’t escape groups at either event. If things continue the way they’ve been going, Champions will be more of the same.

“The preparation coming into Champions was not perfect,” Crws said. “A lot of teams are prepared now. They do a lot of homework on us. We really need to change our styles, and we haven’t really met the perfect combination of agents we want to us.”

XERXIA play their lower bracket match at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 5.

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