Paper Rex, who were initially not pleased with the fact that they were matched up against EDward Gaming to start VALORANT Champions 2022, faced their fears and conquered them today with a 2-1 victory in the opening match of the tournament.
Before the tournament even started, Paper Rex’s Benedict “Benkai” Tan said on the Plat Chat podcast that the team had a lot of trauma from playing Chinese CS:GO teams. So when Paper Rex and EDG were placed in the same group for VALORANT Champions, they weren’t looking forward to it. But PRX have gotten over what might be the biggest mental roadblock of the entire tournament in the very first match.
EDG made their first international appearance in VCT history today, and it was also the first time that a Chinese team made it to an international tournament. The fans came out in droves, and the match viewership soared to a peak of at least 760,000 views, which is the highest viewership for an opening match in any international VCT tournament to date. EDG had the fans, the intimidation, and the momentum that caused viewers and players alike to take notice ahead of the match.
During the pre-tournament press conferences, multiple players from other regions commented on the team’s perfect run through the East Asia LCQ lower bracket and how dangerous the team was looking heading into the competition.
Now that they’ve been defeated in the first match of VALORANT Champions, teams might be breathing a little easier, even if they still looked incredibly good in their match against PRX.
The match started off on Pearl, and EDG lived up to the hype early on in the map. After five straight rounds going to the Chinese team, PaperRex were finally able to put up a round and then kept going, ending the half 6-6. After they found their footing, PRX were able to lean into their patience and allow EDG to push into their holds, which caused a slight slowdown in pace. As the teams settled into each other’s strategies, the rest of Pearl went back and forth, ending with a 13-11 win for PRX.
If the first map was two teams settling into one another, the next two maps were about figuring each other out with more detail. Icebox went decidedly in EDG’s direction and Haven was a bit of a struggle for PRX, but they were able to pull out the win 13-8, ending their first match with a victory against a team they were initially not looking forward to facing.
Now that PRX have gotten over their fear of EDG, and especially since they beat a team that has been hyped up by analysts and fans over the past few days, PRX are looking to be one of the teams to beat. They’ll move on to the winners match to fight for the top seed going into the playoff bracket, while EDG will fight with their backs against the wall in the elimination match, and they’ll still have another match after that to get through to the playoff bracket.
Paper Rex’s next match will be against the winner of Leviatán vs Team Liquid on Sept. 1. EDG will play the loser of that match on Sept. 1.