dephh: It’s time for XSET to “break through and say ‘f**k y’all'”

. 2 weeks ago
XSET Valorant squad posed on stage at NA VCT LCQ
Cody Gan

XSET have consistently been one of the top teams in North American Valorant with multiple top-four finishes across the Valorant Champions Tour circuit in 2021 and 2022. 

But the team has yet to book a ticket to an international tournament across its multiple iterations. According to XSET’s IGL, Rory ‘dephh’ Jackson, that may change come the VCT Stage 2 Challengers playoffs, as he hopes the team will finally take the next step.

“I know everyone is thinking that we’re a top-four finish only [team], but I think this is the stage that we break through and say, ‘F**k y’all,”’ he said in an interview with Dexerto.

XSET secured the No. 1 seed in their group with a 2-0 win over TSM in the last week of play, dropping one series, against 100 Thieves, in their five matches.

XSE dephh in glasses playing Valorant on a computer
dephh joined XSET in June 2021.

While they placed better than in Stage 1, dephh said that XSET have not played as cleanly in the group stage as they would have wanted. He also credits the rise of other Valorant squads in the region like NRG and Ghost Gaming as a reason for the tight race for the top spot.

“I definitely think the depth of the skill gap is closing up,” dephh said. “It feels like this is probably one of the most competitive stages we’ve had in terms of just the looks that different teams give us.”

The team bolstered their roster in April ahead of Stage 2, bringing over analyst Drew ‘DrewSpark’ Spark-Whitworth from XSET’s Rainbow Six Siege squad.

The new addition has brought a pragmatic, numbers-driven approach that helps cut through some of the more feeling-driven aspects of breaking down tape or practice.

“He’s like, ‘Your anti-ecos are s***. These are the numbers to back it up, fix them’, and it kind of helps because when you’re playing you can get offended by certain things when he mentions it, because it’s on me, right?” dephh said.

“So I can take offense in that moment, but when you have the numbers to back it up there’s nothing that I can say.”

XSET in VCT playoffs

With the No. 1 seed, XSET have secured a bye into the second round of the upper bracket, where they will face the winner of the first-round clash between FaZe Clan and 100 Thieves. While his teammates may see FaZe as the easier opponent, dephh said he would love to get revenge on the squad that ruined their perfect group stage record.

“I definitely want some redemption against 100 Thieves. My heart is kind of telling me 100 Thieves but my head is telling me FaZe,” the XSET IGL said about his preferred opponent.

As for their chances in the playoffs, dephh pointed toward Cloud9 and The Guard as the team’s biggest obstacles in Stage 1. Neither team made it out of the group stage this time around, so XSET may have an easier road to the top than before.

Cloud9 have historically had XSET’s number in international qualification tournaments, knocking the squad out in VCT Stage 1 Challengers playoffs and the 2021 North America Valorant Champions Last Chance Qualifier.

“Definitely the stars are aligning in that way,” he said.

XSET’s teenage duo, Zachary ‘zekken’ Patrone and Matthew ‘Cryocells’ Panganiban, have statistically been the team’s best players in VCT Stage 2. Cryocells leads the way in Kill/Death ratio, while zekken tops the team in terms of average kills and damage per round.

While many will have their eyes on the two talents as the point of the attack going into the next stage of play, dephh said Brendan ‘BcJ’ Jensen, the flex player on XSET, is one of the main factors in the team’s consistency across the group stage and before.

“He’s a player that feeds off the moment. He has some of the best [communication], I think, and it’s not just comms,” the British player said. “In the rounds that you pause and you’re thinking about how the teams are playing he has some of the best input in the moment.”

BcJ has played many different agents across his tenure on XSET, calling himself the “flex god” according to dephh, and adds more than just fragging to a team that has employed his services for over a year.

Making it to an international LAN

International tournaments and glory are almost always the goal for players in the VCT circuit. But VCT Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen and Valorant Champions in Istanbul have a different allure to them, with Riot Games considering allowing fans into the arena for both events.

For dephh, who hasn’t played at a tournament with fans in attendance since his Counter-Strike days, the possibility of competing in that environment again is enticing.

“For me, coming from CS and having to travel to all these events, there’s nothing like it. It’s really what it’s all about. I’ve done personally a couple of years now of just online play and it just doesn’t satisfy that need as a professional gamer,” he said.

For now, all dephh and his teammates can do to satisfy that need is get ready for Stage 2 playoffs and take on each match one game at a time on their way to a potential top-two finish and a Masters 2 slot.

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