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Original Reporting

Entering the final years of high school is on the mind of almost every 16-year old. Those dreaded years of examinations and assessments. But for XSET’s newest VALORANT player Zachary “zekken” Patrone, it’s about performing at the highest level in Riot’s first-person shooter. 

Zekken has been brought in as the youngest professional VALORANT player at just 16-years old. The former Noble player has been assigned the duelist role for his team, arguably the most important role for garnering the highest amount of frags during a match. 

Yet his age is one of his strengths, as he has room to grow and become one of the best in the game. “One of the biggest upsides as a player is the potential that I have because I’m so young,” zekken told Upcomer in an interview. 

His journey 

Prior to his acquisition by XSET on June 26, zekken played under Noble, a semi-professional roster. He was in-game leading at the time, which is notoriously assigned to the oldest or most experienced player on the team. 

Not for zekken. He and Aiden “King” King took the reins themselves during his time on the roster. 

But there was always a feeling that zekken could be ready for the next level. While he was yet to make it on a professional team, his statistics suggested he could. He has over 250 average combat score on Sova and Raze, two of his most played Agents in his career, according to VLR.gg.

During a Stay Plugged IN LAN in Boston last month, members of the XSET management team met zekken to offer him a professional contract. “The COO of XSET visited me at the LAN and I thought that was a nice gesture. It was good to meet him and some of the other XSET people,” zekken said. 

But zekken had already played with several professional teams, he was in demand. 

Yet he chose XSET, a team that recently signed former CS:GO in-game leader Rory “dephh” Jackson. “I was trialling with a bunch of different teams,” zekken said. “[But] I chose XSET mainly because I believe it’s the roster that has the most potential to do something really big and most potential for me to grow individually.” 

“With dephh and the XSET environment as a whole I’m a lot more capable to grow, develop and continue to get better as I play with them,” he said. 

Dephh’s contribution

Since dephh has lifted the in-game leading task from the youngster’s shoulders, he is able to reach his full potential. “Not IGLing has lifted a lot of pressure from me and allows me to focus more on communicating and utility and just fragging overall,” he said. 

“[Dephh is] just a really smart and good IGL so it’s good to play under him.” 

Zekken, alongside the refreshed XSET roster, played in the VALORANT Championship Tour Stage 3 Challengers 1 Open Qualifier. They beat Insight and Dark Zero to earn qualification for the most competitive event in North American VALORANT. 

At the Challengers 1 Main Event, which began July 9, XSET took down Rise, another team that looks to break through to the highest level. 

But their biggest challenge is just hours away. Friday, July 9, XSET will face Sentinels, the best team in the world. This is the biggest test for the youngster and they will likely be the hardest opponents he’s ever faced. 

With just a few weeks practice on his new team, zekken, the youngest professional player in VALORANT, will look to prove his worth for XSET against the best in the world. 

George is the lead reporter for Upcomer from the United Kingdom.
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