Stax on First Strike Korea LAN: “[Playing on] the biggest stage is all I dream of”

Vision Strikers have booked their spot in the Valorant First Strike Korean semifinals after beating F4Q.

Vision Strikers have extended their win streak to 45-0, taking down F4Q 2-0 in the Valorant First Strike Korea Regional Finals to book their spot in the semis. It was all eyes on the star-studded roster, although Kim “stax” Gu-taek and co weren’t feeling the pressure.

Valorant First Strike Korea has brought Riot’s premiere FPS title to LAN. It’s been a long time coming in the online period, and while there’s been smaller events dotted around, this is truly the first big outing for teams.

That has put all the pressure on players transitioning from the online era, and none had a record more prestigious than the five on Vision Strikers. The Korean squad is yet to lose a single series, maintaining a 44-0 win streak heading into First Strike.

In their first outing against F4Q, they were able to extend that to 45-0. The squad of CS:GO stars managed to take down the underdogs, although it wasn’t without a struggle.

F4Q came out swinging, with former Overwatch League star Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk flying around Ascent and Haven on Raze, trying to goomba-stomp and rain down terror with the Bucky.

However, the meticulous play of Vision Strikers caught up with F4Q’s hyper aggression. Goo “Rb” Sang-min put on a display on Jett on Ascent, dropping 26 frags in 21 rounds with an ACS of 346 to completely mop the floor. This included several clutches to keep F4Q from forcing overtime.

On Haven though, it was Stax that stood up to the plate. The Breach ended up with 42 takedowns ⁠— 28 kills and 14 assists ⁠— as he helped Vision Strikers scrape overtime from a slow start, before converting the map into a 15-13 win.

“I’m so happy right now,” he said in English during the post-game interview.

“I thought it was going to be super easy, but F4Q has their own individual skill in aim and reflexes, so it was harder than we expected. We’re happy that we made it to the semifinals on the first day of First Strike though,” swapping back to Korean.

F4Q’s style of play certainly threw a lot of strategy out the window. Buckies and Judges were picked up on almost every round, with the squad playing tight angles on aggressive pushes. It forced Vision Strikers to adapt to a different style of play, to try and match their opponent’s aggression with picks of their own.

“The biggest issue that we faced against F4Q wasn’t their strategies, but Bunny shaking things up. The individual skill was the difficult thing to outplay, so we focused on defense to take double pushes to outfrag them before the plant went down. F4Q had so much utility in the post-plant, so we had to switch it up in the middle, going for picks instead of strategy.”

First Strike is the first real event where all eyes are on Korean Valorant. With the ecosystem now becoming more internationally intertwined, everyone has reason to take note of what’s happening in the big regions. Vision Strikers’ reputation as a top squad is a storyline that’s been uttered incessantly.

That doesn’t mean the players are immune from nerves though. Their two slow starts on both maps could be attributed to that. However, Stax said they weren’t focusing on that. Why would he when all he dreams of is playing on the big stage?

“[Playing on] the biggest stage is all I dream of. [Playing] in front of the biggest crowds. We didn’t feel nervous about LAN because we have the experience playing on LAN in other games prior to Valorant. However, we were upset a lot of the fans couldn’t watch the game in the stadium. It felt good to play regardless.”

Now, the run to their well-deserved title is a lot clearer. The squad will go up against Cloud9 Korea in the semi finals. However, Stax doesn’t have their eyes on them as their biggest competition. 

“I guess TNL [formerly known as Quantum Strikers] or T1 [Korea],” he said, talking about who they expect to play in the final.

Vision Strikers will play next on December 5 against Cloud9 Korea.

ProducerJosh Swift
Andrew Amos
Andrew Amos
After joining Snowball in mid-2018, Andrew "Ducky" Amos has fast become one of our region's best esports writers. Cutting his teeth in Oceanic Overwatch, he now covers all kinds of esports for publications globally. However, his heart still lays at home, telling the story of Aussies trying to make it big.



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