Coming into VALORANT Masters Reykjavík, we considered Xerxia underdogs and a B-tier team and a likely Groups dropout. They got second spot right behind Paper Rex in Valorant’s APAC Regional division, yet look like a first spot in their Masters group.
How wrong were we?
Xerxia, new name same me
We see many new names on the scene at Masters Reykjavík. XERXIA’s roster isn’t among the fresh faces anymore as they appeared on the international scene a few times last year.
Unlike the roster itself, XERXIA stepped into the esports scene at the beginning of 2022. After being established, the organization’s first move was picking up the ex-X10 Valorant squad, which achieved many regional and global successes in 2021. Itthirit “foxz” Ngamsa-ard, Panyawat “sushiboys” Subsiriroj, Natchaphon “sScary” Matarat, Thanamethk “Crws” Mahatthananuyut, and Thanachart “Surft” Rungapajaratkul continued their journey under a different banner.
Despite changing the uniform, the lineup managed to maintain their performance starting VCT 2022 Thailand Stage 1 Challengers in full swing by losing only two maps throughout the event. XERXIA showed how dominant they were and qualified for the VCT 2022 APAC Stage 1 Playoffs.
However, the path to Masters Reykjavík was long and passing the Thailand stage was just the beginning. At that time, stronger opponents from Asia – Pacific were awaiting XERXIA. The team took their first wound against BLEED due to the technical issues, but they succeeded in making it through APAC’s playoffs no matter what.
Eight teams remained in the final stage. First, XERXIA defeated BOOM Esports 2-0 in the upper-bracket quarterfinals and moved to the next round. However, the region’s one of the best teams Paper Rex were waiting there to upset them.
After dropping to the lower-bracket, XERXIA had no loss left to give. They recovered, won against Persija Esports, BOOM Esports and BLEED consecutively to earn a seat at VCT 2022 Stage 1 Masters Reykjavík. Then, it was time for the grand final of APAC where XERXIA and Paper Rex met again.
The grand final series was outstanding as both teams gave everything they had. Since the first seed of APAC is set to start in Masters Reykjavík’s playoffs, winning the trophy was crucial. But, XERXIA fell short, lost the series 3-2 and had to settle for second place.
Familiarity with the global scene
This is the third participation of XERXIA’s roster in international occasion. This time, they are more experienced, more confident and familiar with the different regions’ playstyles. The team have a serious chance to advance in the tournament, but the lack of a map pool will hurt their dream.
XERXIA is coming from a region where playing the game aggressively is the prior option. With this in mind, they educated themselves to slow the game down from time to time thanks to what they learned last year. As we witnessed in the APAC Playoffs, the squad prefer to rotate fast and try to push the space they were given in defense. These easily readable tactics might hurt them against stronger rivals. They can find a way to turn things around during a round, although they were missing one or two teammates. The Thailand-based team’s plans that are set up as a duo or trio are powerful and those will be the key for them at Masters Reykjavík.
As showcased in their VCT Masters opener, their tactics are easily “seen through”, but hard to counter. In their opener against OpTic Gaming, they won Icebox and Ascent back to back to upset a tournament favorite and prove they are the dominant region in 2022.
The next match against Team Liquid (later today) is a chance for them to put all western rivals in the dirt. Our pre-tournament power rankings may be completely out of whack after all.