When these two Polish players first shared a stage in Katowice, they were enemies in an early 2019 local Fortnite tournament. After spotting each other again online when the VALORANT beta was released, Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt hopped on Patryk “starxo” Kopczyński’s stream and asked if they could play together.
“Out of us two, starxo wasn’t that popular, that big,” said zeek. “So when I hopped on his stream when VALORANT came out and he was playing with his viewers, I jumped on that opportunity. After we played, I realized that he was really, really good. He DM’ed me shortly afterwards and that was the beginning.”
With zeek unofficially scouting starxo from Fortnite, they stuck together within the local Polish VALORANT scene. Now, they’re on Acend together, aiming to win Champions and help put Polish players on the map. But the road to their partnership had many twists and turns.
Nieśmiałe początki (Humble beginnings)
Starxo and zeek became friends in 2020 in that VALORANT beta stream. Before this point, they knew one another by name from Fortnite and CS:GO. But after playing together, they realized they shared the desire to play competitive VALORANT. And as luck would have it, zeek was already in the process of building a Polish superteam called Those Guys. Zeek needed one more player to finish a potential roster, and after some practices, starxo joined the team.
The all-Polish team, captained by starxo, dominated the country’s scene by finishing in the finals for seven tournaments and winning six of them. Starxo and zeek aimed to inspire local Polish talent to hop on this new game. They wanted to use their country’s best VALORANT players to go head to head against the best teams in Europe.
“It was our dream, back in Poland, to make a Polish superteam with the newer talent that came up,” zeek said. “We wanted to be like the CS:GO team Virtus.pro because they sparked that game’s popularity in Poland when they won the ESL Major in Katowice back in 2014.”
But, in the midst of trying to be the first VALORANT Polish god squad, players on Those Guys got offers from other teams across Europe. Teammates starxo and Michał “RETO” Silski went over to Entropiq, while Mikołaj “Mickebwoy” Chojnacki went to avr25iq. And, after some talks, zeek went to nolpenki. This split up the duo, along with their hopes for an all-Polish VALORANT team, as both nolpenki and Entropiq ended up with a mixed European roster.
After starxo and zeek left for different teams, both worked their way up to the top tier of VALORANT by joining competitive teams and working their way to Masters. For starxo, his time on Entropiq led him to Raise Your Edge Gaming, which became the core for Acend. As for zeek, his performance on nolpenki led him to G2 Esports, which he joined at the start of 2021.
“It sucked, I felt like we weren’t going to play together anymore,” zeek said of starxo’s move.
But, that separation wasn’t long. G2 Esports failed to qualify for Masters with zeek in Stage 1, and he was subsequently benched from the starting roster. But, while it was unfortunate to be off of the team, the upside was being able to play with old friends again.
“When I got benched from G2, we rekindled our friendship,” zeek said of starxo. “We played together a lot again and we redeveloped our synergy.”
At the same time, Acend and starxo were on a more victorious path than G2 and zeek, winning Europe’s Stage 1 Masters but also losing in three straight Challenger tournaments. That was when the newly reconnected pair heard rumors of Jose Luis “koldamenta” Aranguren Herrero leaving Acend. When Acend Coach Laurynas “Nbs” Kisielius asked their players who would be a good fit, starxo recommended zeek to fill his slot.
“The team trusted me and, as it turns out, we didn’t need anyone else,” starxo said. “Plus, the coach knew his skill and that helped the process.”
After the two old friends and teammates started playing together again, Acend continued to make big steps on their path to Champions. They won VCT 2021: Europe Stage 3 Challengers 1, beating G2 Esports (and their former teammate koldamenta) 3-1.
Playing together on Acend, starxo and zeek proved their chemistry with great teamwork despite their time apart. But for zeek in particular, he got to show how good his play alongside his friend was to his former coach and current opponent, G2’s Head Coach Neil “neilzinho” Finlay. This coach had nothing but positives to say about both players, starting with the half of the Polish duo he didn’t coach.
“I think starxo is one of the most underrated players in EMEA,” nielzinho said. “It’s easy to always focus on Mehmet Yağız ‘cNed’ İpek in Acend, but starxo is one of those players who is just so annoying to play against. He always seems to win impossible clutches and the energy he brings to his team is something that’s incredibly important.”
This high praise for a potential opponent wasn’t just for starxo, as he also had high expectations for zeek. After coaching him at G2, and despite seeing him leave to Acend, nielzinho still admires what zeek brings to the game.
“I would say zeek’s one of the most versatile players in EMEA right now,” nielzinho said. “He can play almost any agent to a very high level and has insane firepower. You can rely on him to come up huge in crucial moments and his movement is something I was impressed with.”
G2 Esports and Acend, now rivals, battled it out for one of the EMEA region’s Champs spots. However, Acend were the ones to make it in. G2 fought in the EMEA Last Chance Qualifiers but got eliminated by Guild Esports in the lower bracket final.
The duo of starxo and zeek built a solid partnership as soon as they started playing VALORANT together. Individually, they are two promising talents in the European scene, but together they can and will aim for the top. They’re now venturing to prove that their friendship can not only help Acend win at Champions but that it can also inspire more Polish talent to strive for an esports career in VALORANT.
“Since the start of VALORANT, we have wanted to make this Polish superteam dream come true,” said starxo, “and it will always be our goal to inspire Polish players to compete in this game.”