NUTURN Gaming, the preeminent dark horse of the VCT Masters 2: Reykjavik tournament, was knocked out on the penultimate day of competition by Fnatic after losing 2-1 in the lower bracket finals. Even after recovering from a map deficit with a win in their Ascent pick, they evidently fell to their bane of existence, Haven, after 21 rounds. As a result of their defeat in Haven, NUTURN finish their time in Iceland with a 0-4 record on the map, taking the majority of all their total losses into account.
Even after busting out a new composition as a last-ditch effort to surprise Fnatic, with senior talisman Kang “solo” Keun-chul and bustling upstart Seo “Suggest” Jae-young taking Cypher and Phoenix after two months of scarce play, NUTURN couldn’t dissuade Fnatic’s momentum as the latter charged ahead to the grand finals and a showdown with Sentinels to crown Valoran’t first international LAN champion.
Fresh off their disappointing elimination, NUTURN took questions from the media in a press conference to discuss their journey in Reykjavik, how the defeat to Fnatic panned out, and what they will take back home to Korea to improve both themselves and the rest of the region in the lead up to Masters Stage 3: Berlin, which will happen in roughly three months’ time.
Below is the transcript of the full press conference.
For Solo: You are a player who helped put South Korea in the top of Counter-Strike 1.6. How has it been for you to be the protagonist of the country in yet another FPS [game]?
Solo: Like you said, I’ve been at the top of the world in CS and that’s something that I was always proud of, [and] with this new game that Riot made in Valorant, a lot of the skill sets carried over. Although we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to in this tournament, very soon we will be at the top of the world.
To Solo: During yesterday’s press conference, you mentioned the need for your team to change their composition and set up new strategies against what would then be Fnatic in the lower bracket finals. What did you specifically target for each of the three maps?
Solo: When we spoke yesterday, I said that we were pretty confident we could play well with the same comp so we went ahead and did it. I think the issue we had in the previous game was just simple mistakes and that we could overcome that. But as for Haven, we really had a bad record throughout the tournament so we brought back the team comp that we’ve been practising a long time ago in Korea. We wanted to surprise the other team but also show something better in Haven.
To Kim “Lakia” Jong-min: For Haven, NUTURN selected a composition that the team never played before, which had Suggest on Phoenix and Solo on Cypher for the first time in about two months to complement the rest of the usual picks. What was the rationale for selecting a new comp for such a high-stake Game 3?
Lakia: The team comp we had previously had for Haven, we found out that it really wasn’t working against European or NA teams, so we brought back a team comp that we had often practised in Korea but just hadn’t used in [other] tournaments. It wasn’t that we weren’t prepared, it’s just that we brought something new to the game.
To Solo: Among the teams you’ve faced in this event, which had the most frustrating strategies or tactics?
Solo: I think we had the most difficulties when we were facing the two NA teams. It wasn’t that they had amazing strategies or tactics., it was just that we had difficulties dealing with their individual mechanics, so that was really frustrating for us.
To Solo: Your time at Masters was an incredible showcase of just how insane your team’s mechanical skills are. Do you feel like your emphasis on skill over meta affected your overall performance?
Solo: With the younger players on our team, they actually had some of the best mechanical skill sets in all of Korea and I think, because this was their first international tournament, they were a little nervous and weren’t able to perform at the top of their potential. Having said that, this isn’t going to be our last international [event] and I think in the future they’re just going to get better and I’m looking forward to that.
To Solo: We saw NUTURN play Haven and consistently lose on that map. Is the team’s play in Icebox really that bad where Haven had to remain as an option in the series against Fnatic?
Solo: It is true that Icebox is one of the maps where we have a little less practice on, but to tell you the truth, if Team Liquid had advanced to this match, we were actually planning on playing Icebox; but if Fnatic came up as they did, we were planning on just playing Haven. Haven is actually not that weak of a map for us. In Korea, we have a pretty good win rate, but it seems that we weren’t prepared for the NA-EU comps in Haven.
To Lakia: You’ve had a fantastic tournament over the past week. What was your personal highlight in the tournament?
Lakia: I think I’d have to go with the clutch scene that we had against Version1 in Ascent where it was 2v1 in Round 23.
To everyone: You guys are exiting Masters as the third-best team in the world and I know it’s not first, but how are each of you feeling knowing that you made it so far especially with a younger roster as Solo had mentioned?
Lakia: As you said, it’s too bad that we didn’t win but third is not bad for our first tournament in Valorant. As you know, for Suggest and allow, this is their first international tournament in esports so I think it’s going to be a huge experience and will help them improve in the future.
To Suggest: Getting this experience under your belt and seeing how the rest of the region play, where does Korea stack up and what can we expect in the next international event?
Suggest: I think I’d have to admit that NA and EU teams did perform quite well this time, but I think Korean teams can definitely perform as well if not better in the next tournament.
To Suggest: You were one of a handful of players throughout the tournament so far to play four total agents across your matches. We’re seeing a lot more versatility with players picking so many agents. How important is it to have that versatility rather than just kind of being a ‘one trick’ as they say?
Suggest: In Valorant, it’s very important to know all the agents really well because even though you don’t may not be playing them in [the] game, you have to understand the mechanics of the agent to deal with them if the opposing team picked them.
To Solo: You guys have faced a variety of regions at the first international event. What’s the one thing, whether it’s the meta or playstyle, that you would like to take back to Korea and see how the teams there do?
Solo: Yeah, in fact, we’ve already decided what we want to take back home and I think it’s most likely going to be what the EU regions have been doing [such as] utilizing Sage, Astra, and Viper. I think we’re going to take this back home, give it some practice, and hopefully take it to Berlin.
To Solo and Jung “peri” Bum-gi: You two have been playing professional games in esports for almost 30 years combined, going all the way to CS 1.6. Your former teammate Kim “glow” Min-soo over at Vision Strikers just retired a few weeks ago. Does either of you feel like your time is coming to an end or does this result make you want to come back next time?
Solo: Although I would like to play until I’m 40 years old, it’s really not that feasible and just between the players and I’ve just told them today that this tournament is going to be my last.
Peri: Having just recently passed 30, it’s getting harder and harder for me to play professionally. I think as soon as we find exciting talent, it might have to be time, but until then, I’m happy to [keep] playing.
To Solo: Some people question the capability of Korea in this game. Taking that into consideration, with this third place in Masters 2, do you guys think your country can contend for the top in Valorant?
Solo: If you look at our match score between Sentinels and Fnatic, we lost 2-0 and 2-1, but if you actually break it down into rounds and split them up, I don’t think we were very far behind in each of and every one of those rounds. And now, having experienced teams from all these other regions, I think you should be looking forward to us in Berlin and we definitely will be performing very well.