Highly-anticipated VALORANT team KOI did not disappoint during their debut in the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Europe Stage 1 Challengers open qualifier this week. The Spanish organization, created by Ibai “Ibai” Llanos and Gerard Piqué made it all the way to top eight in their first ever tournament before narrowly losing to Team Vitality.
Their star duelist, Joona “H1ber” Parviainen led the charge and helped his side take down five teams in the open qualifier, including Excel Esports. Despite the 2-0 loss against Vitality, H1ber said he remains positive about his team’s debut performance.
“I’m personally super proud of us with how well we did,” he said. “I was expecting us to do well because we were getting some decent results with the little practice we had, but I wasn’t expecting us to maybe go this far on our first try.”
H1ber did note, however, the difficulty of losing after coming so far. He took solace in the fact that KOI has some time to fix the mistakes they identified before the next qualifier.
“I said to my teammates after the Vitality game, I know we are heartbroken right now but we have to look at the good things,” H1ber said. “This was an amazing run for us and we have the potential to become one of the best in EU, so we will only get better from here. We will fix our mistakes and come back stronger.”
Leaving Team Finest
H1ber left Team Finest as a free agent before joining KOI, a move that stood out due to his reputation as the most consistent member of the team. Looking back on that decision, the Finnish player explained the move came down to a much-needed role swap.
“ALIVE is a great Jett player and a great duelist player,” H1ber said. “I was talking with the coach we just signed to Finest at the time and we were just discussing it, whether I was sure this was the best thing for my career, because he obviously knows I’m a great duelist and he thinks I would do so much better if I was playing duelist on another team.”
H1ber further expressed gratitude toward Finest for releasing him from his contract instead of forcing him to stay until the end of the year.
KOI X VALORANT 2022 pic.twitter.com/c7tQAWQG6f
— KOI (@KOI) January 5, 2022
Plenty of teams came calling H1ber’s departure from Finest, with rumors linking him to teams like Fnatic during the offseason. However, he felt most comfortable with the team KOI was building and made the decision to join the Spanish org.
“I trialed for basically ten different teams in every single role, but KOI is where I can play that duelist role, which is amazing,” he said. “Pretty much all the top teams already have a duelist, so there is no spot for me there.”
He added that the discourse about his destination added extra pressure to his decision, since teams started giving him deadlines to decide about their offer once they heard he might be looking elsewhere.
“There were so many leaks about where I was going, which I felt like could have hurt me because some teams started to give me deadlines when they were hearing about leaks and rumours of me trialing for other teams,” H1ber said. “It was like, ‘you have to sign with us right now or it’s over for you.’”
However, when KOI found out about H1ber trialing with Fnatic, he said it was easy to formally join them.
“I was so happy with the people we have in KOI and the people behind the org,” H1ber said. “I didn’t want to take the chance with any other teams, this feels good, why not just go with it?”
For the fans
H1ber’s decision to join KOI has already turned into a fantastic career move. In terms of viewership alone, KOI blew all of the other EU teams out of the water. After drawing in more than 25 thousand concurrent views in their game against Excel, H1ber said he is enjoying all the support from their fans.
“The support I was getting has been absolutely crazy,” he said. “I was not expecting the support and views to be this strong. It actually helps me perform better knowing how much people watch and support us.”
KOI will have another shot in the second open qualifier next week, but in the event they aren’t able to progress into VCT, H1ber said he would be more than happy to play in the LVP — the VALORANT Regional league for Spain and Portugal.