NAVI unveil star-studded Valorant team: “Goal is to show the best performances and win tournaments”
VCT EMEA partner NAVI have announced their Valorant lineup for 2023, featuring the core of FunPlus Phoenix’s successful roster.
NAVI have landed the FunPlus Phoenix quartet Dmitry ‘SUYGETSU’ Ilyushin, Pontus ‘Zyppan’ Eek, Kyrylo ‘ANGE1’ Karasov and Andrey ‘Shao’ Kiprsky, along with the team’s head coach, Erik ‘d00mbr0s’ Sandgren.
Rounding out the lineup will be Turkish superstar Mehmet ‘cNed’ İpek, who played an integral role in Acend’s Valorant Champions victory in 2021. That year, he was ranked the second-best player in the world by Dexerto.
FunPlus Phoenix’s lineup was in high demand after a successful year that saw it qualify for every international tournament. The team ended up missing the VCT Stage 1 Masters event Reykjavík due to travel restrictions in Ukraine and Russia. They won the title at the following VCT Masters event, in Copenhagen, after a miracle lower bracket run, before placing fourth at Valorant Champions 2022.
But despite the team’s success, FunPlus Phoenix were unable to enter the partnership program for Riot’s international leagues in either EMEA or Asia-Pacific, prompting the organization to listen to offers for the roster. The only player from the FPX team who will not join NAVI is Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks, who has been linked with a move to Americas league team NRG.
For NAVI COO Oleksii ‘xaoc’ Kucherov, the success of FunPlus Phoenix’s lineup made this team an obvious choice as the organization looked for a title-contending roster for 2023.
“We aim for the highest result in every competition, so doing our best is a consistent approach for us,” he told Dexerto. “Our previous team didn’t deliver tier-one results in 2022, even though we had very close games almost every time.
“At the same time, FPX’s former roster proved itself the best in EMEA in 2022, and it was really tempting for us to acquire them. We have also known the team’s IGL, ANGE1, for about 20 years, and are confident that his skills as a captain will help us achieve top results. A good IGL is absolutely essential for success.
“Negotiations with FPX started right after Riot released its slot distribution. We appreciate FPX’s fast decision-making since the timing was very tight. At the very beginning, we had a few scenarios laid out for building our future team. The main one was to get all the players and their coach, but we also had plans B and C with one or two replacements if needed. We are happy with how everything turned out, having only one replacement. cNed is a great player and an excellent fit for the team.”
NAVI set lofty goals for VCT 2023
With the core of a championship-winning team and a star player added to the mix, NAVI are shaping up to be one of the favorites for the VCT EMEA league, which will be based in Berlin. Old foes Fnatic, Team Liquid and Vitality are among the other nine partners that will be taking part in the league.
A powerhouse in the CS:GO scene with their Ukrainian team, headlined by Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, NAVI are looking to create the same success in Valorant.
“Our goal now is to show the best Valorant performances next year, win tournaments, produce a lot of interesting content for fans, and show them that we deserve their attention,” xaoc said.
NAVI’s new Valorant team will make its debut for the Ukrainian organization in the VCT 2023 Kickoff Tournament, which will take place between February 14 and March 5 in São Paulo, Brazil. The event, featuring all 30 partners, will provide an acid test of the team’s international title credentials.
“I don’t want to make any predictions since it raises the pressure on the guys, but I’m sure their skills and capabilities can earn them a top-three placing at even the biggest tournaments,” xaoc said. “Still, there are several very strong competitors from all around the world, so we will see how it goes.”
NAVI Valorant roster
- Kyrylo ‘ANGE1’ Karasov
- Andrey ‘Shao’ Kiprsky
- Pontus ‘Zyppan’ Eek
- Dmitry ‘SUYGETSU’ Ilyushin
- Mehmet ‘cNed’ İpek
- Erik ‘d00mbr0s’ Sandgren (head coach)