ZETA DIVISION rose to prominence last year based on their surprise top-four performance at Masters Iceland. Ahead of VCT LOCK//IN, ZETA’s captain spoke with Dexerto about the team’s expectations for the event and who fans should keep their eye on at the tournament.
The surprise package of VCT 2022 Masters Iceland with a third-place finish, the Japanese team enter VCT LOCK//IN with hopes of returning to their best after a disappointing end to the year. ZETA DIVISION could not qualify for VCT Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen and bombed out of Valorant Champions in the group stage.
But more important than proving their doubters wrong in São Paulo is what lies beyond: the VCT Masters event in Tokyo, which will be a landmark occasion for Japanese esports.
“We want to have even better results, but for now, going to Masters Tokyo is our main goal,” ZETA DIVISION captain Koji ‘Laz’ Ushida told Dexerto.
According to Laz, adapting to the new meta and rearranging the team’s roles will be key to rediscovering their form. With the new roles, he added, the players can now “show more of our individual strength.”
In 2022, Laz picked up the Chamber role for the team and was the point of contact on defense in many rounds. He also sometimes led the attack if Yuma ‘Dep’ Hashimoto was not playing a Duelist. In 2023, that will change.
Laz pointed to Dep as the player fans and analysts should be looking at on the team. In an interview with VCT LOCK//IN desk host Yinsu Collins, Laz said that Dep would take up Jett duties for while he would return to more supportive Sentinels like Cypher and Killjoy.
Laz also gave an overall prediction for the tournament’s meta, saying fans probably won’t see much of Chamber at VCT LOCK//IN.
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“Chambers pick rate will be 1%,” he said.
ZETA DIVISION’s IGL on Japanese players in VCT Pacific
Despite ZETA DIVISION’s success in 2022 and the growing popularity of Valorant in Japan, only two Japanese teams were chosen by Riot Games to join the Pacific international league.
Those two teams, ZETA DIVISION and DetonatioN FocusMe, are also the only ones in the league with Japanese players on their rosters.
“Maybe it’s because the region’s growth of popularity was rapid and there was not enough stability for the Japanese teams and players to play long-term in the league? I can’t say for sure,” Laz said when asked about the lack of Japanese players in the league.
“A lot of Japanese players have issues with communicating in other languages, so that might also be a factor.”
The ZETA DIVISION in-game leader also said that the league could see more players from Japan if more teams from the country qualify through the Ascension tournament. The Japanese Challengers League, which has a slot in the Pacific region’s Ascension tournament, is the most popular tournament across all Challengers competitions, averaging almost 70,000 viewers, according to Esports Charts.
Japanese fans will have to wait until February 22 to watch ZETA DIVISION play their first VCT LOCK//IN match, against Leviatán. DetonatioN FocusMe will face Giants on February 13 in the second match of the tournament.