Evil Geniuses capped off their incredible run in the 2023 VCT season by dispatching Paper Rex 3-1 in the Valorant Champions 2023 grand finals to become world champions. From being regarded as a pushover early on in the season, the North American side enshrined themselves as legends of Valorant by defeating a boisterous PRX side that was on the same path to greatness and looked primed to win the event in their own right.
Even so, with losses suffered in Split, BindR and Lotus, the Pacific side were sentenced to second place in the international level yet again, after their previous finish in Masters Copenhagen 2022. Not only that, with Wang "Jinggg" Jing Jie set to commence military service and finish his career as a result, PRX finished their current iteration, which was formed through the addition of something and the moving of the IGL role to Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto, having missed the final hurdle in the last match of the year.
Nevertheless, despite falling short from being Valorant world champions, in the eyes of many, 2023 PRX will be looked at as a team who, although they experienced plenty of bumps along the way, continued performing to the best of their aggressive abilities and served as a fitting representative for the APAC region.
Following PRX’s grand finals defeat, BLIX talked to Khalish "d4v41" Rusyaidee about what went wrong against EG and how he’ll look back at this past year as an individual and as a member of his team.
Dropping the Crown to EG
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thank you for the interview d4v41. It's a pretty tough way to go out with this happening during the grand finals for Champions 2023 and it being the final game of the season. I want to know what's going through your mind right now given that the team lost at the final obstacle of the year?
Khalish "d4v41" Rusyaidee: For me, we've been to the grand finals before and we also lost in the grand finals before so it's definitely not a good feeling, I would say. But I think most importantly, I wanted to get this thing for Jinggg. It's gonna be his last match with us and that was, probably for most of us, our only target in the grand final, but it's such a shame that we couldn't get it for him.
BLIX: Going into that series in particular, you guys dropped the first map but came back in the second map. Unfortunately for PRX though, for the last two maps, it went away and kind of avalanched in favor of EG. What do you think went right for EG that simultaneously went wrong for you?
d4v41: I think what was working out for them very well throughout the series was probably their post-plant, I would say. I mean, they were having the right positions, the right locations, and the right timings and we weren't able to punish those. As you can see on Split and maybe the last map in Lotus, I think they were having really good post-plant positions and executes, you know? On Split, I think the reason why we lost was probably because we couldn't figure out where they were attacking. So yeah, props to them for playing really well.
BLIX: Boostio mentioned in a past press conference after his team lost to PRX in the upper bracket finals about how it was hard to figure out how you guys played. With this grand finals, do you feel they completely figured out how you guys were able to play or was there anything similar to that?
d4v41: I think maybe they took less fights individually, I will say. I think they were trying to emphasize the teamwork more rather than taking a headless chicken fights with us. I mean, I don't think they figured us out 100% but maybe, on our side, I think we didn't play at our best.
I mean, they played good, but also on our side, we didn't play our 100% in this game and this series, but I guess it happens with the pressure and expectations. We tried our best not to focus so much on trying to win the game, but I guess, just like what alecks mentioned, sometimes the nerves get to you and that's why you were kind of hiding behind each other. And especially jawgemo and Demon1 were hitting shots too, so yeah, the pressure did get to us.
BLIX: I guess for today then, they were simply just better than you guys, right?
d4v41: Yeah, definitely. Individually, maybe some of them, but as a team, definitely. As a team, they played very, very good.
Looking back at Paper Rex’s 2023
BLIX: I asked a similar question back then in the post-match press conference with your team for the grand finals but, particularly from you, what is going to be the biggest takeaway or memory that you're going to get out of this season (LOCK//IN, Pacific, Masters Tokyo, Champions) given everything that happened within the team?
d4v41: The first takeaway in Pacific is probably us being able to break the curse against DRX. They've always been a very tough opponent for us. Like we mentioned before, we don't like to play them because of how good they are in terms of figuring out our pushes and stuff. Playing as a team, I think that's probably our biggest takeaway.
Coming into this Champions, I think he fact that we managed to go into playoffs and even go even further from there, that's probably already a huge win for us as a team, but for a grand final, if we manage to come this far again, then probably maybe we will try to emphasize more in terms of teamwork voice because, sometimes in our playstyle, when we are not hitting shots as usual, you can't just rely on it, right? You kind of have to work as a team even harder, right? Maybe that's probably what we are going to take away out of this.
BLIX: Of course, with this being Jinggg's final game in his career, it's also going to mark the end of this current version of Paper Rex. What do you think is going to be the defining thing that describes this 2023 PRX team?
d4v41: I mean, we can probably just describe it with one word, right? It's chaotic. Having Jinggg in the team, he's the guy that kind of just goes in and kills three or four. Obviously, that isn't going to happen every round, but even if he didn't kill and stuff, he will always be positive towards the team. Probably what I will remember [the most from him] as a teammate is probably having a very good guy. And in terms of aim, skill, and also outside of the game, he's a very positive man so we're gonna miss him.
We're gonna miss those moments with him, you know? Of course, it's not, like, impossible to replicate again, but hopefully--I don't think we can find someone as good as him, but of course, no harm towards our future teammates or whatsoever, but I think it's gonna be very hard to find a replacement as good as Jinggg, but yeah, we're just gonna go back and dig in again and find those talents. We can't replicate 100% of him, but yeah, we're gonna try what's working for us.
BLIX: Hopefully this team, even without Jinggg, continues to do well and the same goes for you. It was a job well done in the entire year. It's unfortunate you guys weren't able to win the trophy, but still, it's plenty to be proud of.
d4v41: We should definitely be happy with the result. It doesn't matter even if we didn't become a champion today. There's always next time, right? You can always learn from it and hopefully next year we'll be back even stronger. Hopefully, from this experience, we can gain more knowledge and I can learn from EG because they definitely played better than us today. There's always something to take, so yeah. We are definitely very happy with the result because I don't think we were even expecting us to be in the grand final.