DRX broke their glass ceiling at Valorant Champions

DRX stax at Valorant ChampionsLance Skundrich/Riot Games

DRX had their best performance internationally at Valorant Champions after a year of placing outside the top four at every event prior. After two years of crushing their home region, the team finally pushed through internationally.

In their first match in front of an international crowd on the first day of the Valorant Champions Playoff Stage, DRX put on a show for those in attendance.

In a two-on-four clutch against Masters Copenhagen winners FunPlus Phoenix, DRX’s IGL Kim ‘stax’ Gu-taek slowly walked across heaven on the B site on Haven and quickly found three kills as the opposition planted the spike. Kim ‘Zest’ Ki-seok cleaned up the final kill as stax leaped out of his chair and kissed his mouse.

With the crowd at their backs and heaps of experience from their past international events, DRX managed to break whatever kept them from competing with the world’s best at Valorant Champions 2022.

Traditionally, DRX have had a ceiling on their ability outside of South Korea. Formerly known as Vision Strikers, the Korean squad usually never has any trouble qualifying for Masters or Champions. But once they go outside of their region, the team seems to plateau at around the top six.

However, at Valorant Champions 2022, with stax leading the team in-game instead of Zest, the squad looked sharper and more energetic.

“As long as I am in-game leader I will make sure we do not finish fifth/ sixth,” stax said in a post-match conference after getting knocked into the lower bracket by LOUD.

The confident IGL kept his word and propelled the team past their previously achieved heights.

Sad it’s ended, happy it happened

DRX stax leans back in the Masters Copenhagen thrownSebastian Stigsby/Riot Games
stax, rb and termi retired from CS:GO together and made the jump into Valorant.

South Korea is not a hub for tactical shooter esports. The region is much more adept and interested in strategy and titles like League of Legends. The current core of DRX, stax, Goo ‘Rb’ Sang-min and head coach Seon-ho ‘termi’ Pyeon all retired from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive together to jump into Valorant with the former staff of MVP PK.

The team and the organization has enjoyed relative success, with Vision Strikers getting acquired by DRX in January 2021.

“We all know what our motivations are, what out aspirations are and why we’ve done this,” termi said when asked about working with the same support and executive team for so long. “I’m sure with a doubt that they are proud of the results that our team has achieved at the moment. Although we could have done better, I think third is something to be proud of.”

When asked if they thought they would ever reach these kind of international results in Valorant when they initially switched over, termi said the team was overall confident they would dominate South Korea.

“We knew for at least two or three years we would be the top and would be able to represent Korea and show good performances,” the head coach said.

Moving out of this era of Valorant, DRX and Vision Strikers will be remembered for their strategies and innovation around the world. While they may have had limitations once up against the best of the best, they can hang their hats on a top three finish at the premier Valorant tournament in the open era.