The first VALORANT LAN tournament is days away from kicking off with the VCT Masters 2 in Reykjavík, Iceland. Anticipation has hit its apex in the run up to the event. Before KRÜ Esports take on Fnatic to open the festivities, I’m here to provide a quick primer on the five players to watch throughout the week. While you may have heard of Tyson “TenZ” Ngo or Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, here are my players to watch as we head into VALORANT’s international debut.
Hunter “SicK” Mims: The best flex player in the world (Sentinels)
OK, I might be cheating by picking from the Sentinels; a well-known squad that’s playing in the VCT Masters 2. But this man deserves recognition. SicK may not be the overall best VALORANT player, and he might not be the most flexible, but he’s my pick for the best flex VALORANT player today. From his humble beginnings in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, to becoming one of the first players to turn Sage from a boulder to a thunderous, battling mountain, SicK has been a force for North America’s best team.
Now, not only can the jack of all trades bring out his battle Sage when needed; he’s developed into one of the region’s most fearsome duelists on Phoenix.
Oh, that’s not enough? He can also put on his best geometry professor costume and play a high-level Sova if needed as well.
Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi: The Arrow of Brazil (Team Vikings)
When it comes to VALORANT, it is truly an assortment of former pros converging from different competitive games. Newcomers are climbing their way up across the world. But, for the most part, the top names come from the world of established first-person shooters, most notably Counter-Strike.
Sacy, though? He’s a Brazilian legend, literally.
Since 2013, Sacy was an AD carry in the Brazil League of Legends scene. He primarily played for the RED Canids organization. Sacy won a domestic League of Legends title in Brazil in 2017. His transfer to VALORANT has further progressed him to the top of Brazil’s scene. A forward-facing Sova main, he contradicts most archers in the game. He prefers to lead from the front in an aggressive style to playing from the back. On a team that deploys double duelists, it’s not uncommon to see the Russian agent on top of the Average Combat Score and first blood standings.
In a stacked side of the bracket with Fnatic and Sentinels, if Team Vikings are to make it to the upper-bracket final, it’ll be behind the play of who could be the world’s best Sova.
Kang “Solo” Keun-chul: The old man of Reykjavík (NUTURN Gaming)
Oh, Sacy has been a professional competitive gamer since 2013? That’s nothing. How about someone who has been playing professionally before Riot Games, the creators of VALORANT, was even a company?
That’s the life that NUTURN Gaming’s 33-year-old leader Solo leads. He’s a former Counter-Strike pro who’s been around the professional scene longer than some of his competitors have been alive. While Solo won’t bring immense firepower, his experience will be paramount if South Korea’s champions want to go far in VCT Masters 2 in Iceland.
Alongside Solo is his co-pilot Jung “peri” Bum-gi. Peri is someone he’s played with professionally since 2010 on Korean organization WeMade Fox. The pillars of foundation in which NUTURN lean upon when things get messy oversee the run-n-gun youngsters on the team that rack up the frags.
After over a decade of playing first-person shooters as a career, a championship win in Iceland would be the pinnacle of his career thus far.
Jake “Boaster” Howlett: A man with the plan (Fnatic)
Boaster, though only 25, shares a similar role to Solo in how he captains his Fnatic squad. On a team filled with teenagers, their British in-game leader assists one of the best teams in the world.
In VALORANT’s infancy, Boaster stood out through his cult of personality. He danced and bantered his way along with his amateur comrades. When teams would swerve to the right, Boaster and his pals would go to the left, playing what they thought was the optimal way for stunning successes in VALORANT. Boaster and his friends were rewarded, getting signed by one of the world’s most famed esports organizations in Fnatic.
While their brand has grown in the orange and black of Fnatic, their style and flash remain firmly intact with Boaster at the helm. A team that utilized and starred Viper before becoming an integral piece of almost every Master-qualifying squad, nothing should surprise Fnatic in the VCT Masters 2 in Iceland.
The most considerable difference between Boaster’s tactics, now and then, is that he now wields one of the sharpest swords going into the event. Before, innovation and outthinking their enemies felt almost needed when pitted against an opponent with high-end talent across the board.
Now? Fnatic has the duelist Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev. He has the mechanics to keep up with any ace fragger in the field of 10 teams. With the big brain of Boaster and the maybe even bigger blade of Derke, Fnatic might possess the perfect combo and supporting cast to become VALORANT’s first international kings.
Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong: The future of Southeast Asia (X10 Esports)
This player shouldn’t be in Iceland. Not because he isn’t an incredible player — the 17-year-old might be one of the most skilled players at the tournament — but because he should be playing professionally in another esport.
Before he was the ace of Southeast Asia’s best VALORANT team, he was arguably the best Overwatch player in Southeast Asia. At 15, there was already discussion of him being the future of Southeast Asian esports and of Overwatch. He was that good. As a kid, he carried a Thailand national team in the Overwatch World Cup, almost toppling China in a thrilling 2-3 series loss.
There was only one issue, though. To become a pro in the Overwatch League, the ultimate dream for any promising player, he needed to be 18. Regardless of how good he was and how much better he could be than league starters, his future was set. Until he turned 18, he would have to play in the minor leagues. He was counting down the days until his birthday to have a chance to play in the Overwatch League.
However, that didn’t work for the teenager. He retired in 2020 and, less than a year later, went pro in a game where his age wouldn’t hold him back. He’s brought the same dazzling, pressure-filled gameplay he showcased in VALORANT to Overwatch. In the Southeast Asian final, which punched X10’s tickets to Iceland, Patiphan was on full display. He secured 24 first blood kills in the four-game series. The rest of his team combined for 20.
Of any player heading into Iceland from a smaller region, Patiphan is the player to keep your eye on. He already has more LAN experience than many competitors from his time going up against titans in the Overwatch World Cup. As the lights get brighter, he seems to be getting even better.
Finally, Patiphan can play in a major international tournament, right where he belongs: the VCT Masters 2 in Iceland.