OpTic Gaming in a familiar spot after upper bracket loss to Paper Rex
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Original Reporting

At the upper bracket final of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Stage 2 Masters tournament, OpTic Gaming lost to Paper Rex 2-1. This is the fourth time in 2022 that OpTic have lost an upper bracket final match.

A history of OpTic rematches

One could assume this would lead to some trouble for the team, but losing in the spot they did has gained them an international championship. Talking to OpTic players post-match, they knew their preparations around teams usually lead to victory, whether that’s the first or second time around.

“We prep really hard for every team we play against,” said in-game leader Pujan “FNS” Mehta, “which helps in those rematches we’ve had in the past. But, in those rematches, we familiarize ourselves with our opponents more and understand more — as players — what to do to out-maneuver them.”

This came to fruition in three recent rematches. Firstly, from 2022 Stage 1 Challengers, OpTic lost to The Guard in the upper bracket finals. They didn’t beat them in their first rematch but did so at Stage 1 Masters on their way to the title. On that same path, they lost to Brazilian team LOUD in the upper bracket finals to beat them in the grand finals. And last but not least, in this tournament, they beat XSET, who they lost twice to regionally.

Paper Rex counters OpTic’s strategies

In their first matchup against Paper Rex so far, OpTic Gaming weren’t able to get the win. The series was close, but the maps were based on big leads developed in the first half. As much as everyone knows how Paper Rex plays, watching it and facing it were two very different things. The best example of this was Haven, a great map for OpTic statistically, that they lost to Paper Rex 13-3.

“Paper Rex exploited us by locking into a bomb site quickly,” said OpTic coach Chet “Chet” Singh. “Their team played very well on the lurks — those lurks won them the map.”

FNS seconded his coach’s sentiments, with one specific player’s lurks, well, lurking in his mind.

“With Paper Rex, it wasn’t a lack of awareness that led to our loss; it was a lot of good lurks and timings,” FNS said. “For example, Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto’s lurks through mid or garage led to some great timing moments for them.”

Looking internally for the future

Like Stage 1 Masters, Paper Rex used their movement and quick engages to win important rounds. When asked, OpTic were quick to dismiss Paper Rex’s aggressive and surprising playstyle as the reason they lost.

“I wouldn’t call anything they did ‘unexpected,'” said player Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen, “but it was our lack of execution that led to our loss.”

Now they face the winner of Fnatic and FunPlus Phoenix for a possible rematch against Paper Rex. Out of the two, Chet expects to see Fnatic next on their patch to the finals.

“I think we’re going to play Fnatic next, since they’ve been great against FPX recently,” Chet said. “Fnatic has two insane riflers who are playing great, so limiting them on site is going to be important.”

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.