“If you’re doubting us right now, what are you doing? … XSET is here to play. We’re here to win.”
That’s what Don “Syyko” Muir told Mitch "MitchMan" McBride in a postmatch interview on broadcast following XSET’s victory over FunPlus Phoenix at VALORANT Champions on Monday.
A team that didn’t win any matches at VCT Masters: Copenhagen beat the team that won that tournament to reach the playoffs at VALORANT Champions. XSET’s victory over FPX was one of the biggest victories ever in the history of the young North American organization. Syyko said it was definitely one of the top three or top five biggest wins for the team.
“This is a huge statement for us. Like I said in the postmatch interview with Mitchman, if you’re still sleeping on XSET right now, for what reason do you have to sleep on XSET at this point?” Syyko told reporters in a postmatch press conference. “We’ve established in the last two-and-a-half years that after every tournament we’re going to keep getting better and better, or at least stay consistent … We’ve never once taken a step back and gotten any worse. We’ve only ever gotten better.”
Photo credit: Riot Games
XSET's dapper coach is right. Throughout last year and the early part of this year, XSET were consistently good but not great, finishing fourth in big regional North American tournaments but never above that. But the team has taken even greater strides in the past few months.
During Stage 2 of the NA VALORANT Champions Tour season this year they finally broke through that fourth-place “curse” and beat OpTic Gaming to be the NA champions. That allowed XSET to qualify for Masters: Copenhagen where they failed to win any games. Now at Champions, they have won two games to reach the next stage of Champions and guarantee another top eight finish at an international tournament.
XSET got off to a great start on Monday against FPX in winning the first map, Pearl. Brendan "BcJ" Jensen had an outstanding game, getting 24 kills and only 7 deaths, and he won three 1v1 duels.
FPX won Map 2 on Fracture in convincing fashion with Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks having a monstrously good stat line of 29 kills and 10 deaths.
XSET bounced back in Map 3 on Breeze, with BcJ crediting the team’s mental fortitude.
“Really you gotta be tough mentally as a team, and I think we’re probably the toughest out of any team at this tournament,” he said.
Photo credit: Riot Games
Syyko concurred with that sentiment saying all the players have a great “rinse and reset” attitude. His message to the team when they came back for Map 3 was: “Ardiis popped off last map -- no big deal. Breeze is ours. Time to shut ‘em down.”
They did indeed shut them down, winning Breeze 13-4 after running out to an 11-1 lead at halftime.
What’s next for XSET?
Up next for XSET, they will face the winner of 100 Thieves vs. Fnatic. When the team was notified of their potential matchup in the press conference, Zachary "zekken" Patrone turned his head back and appeared upset about the prospect of another potential NA vs. NA matchup in the quarterfinals of an international tournament. XSET had to face fellow NA team OpTic Gaming in the quarterfinals of Masters: Copenhagen.
There was some mixed reaction from the team about who they might play next, with some not liking the idea of facing another NA team at that stage and others welcoming the NA vs. NA matchup. In-game leader Rory “dephh” Jackson and Syyko both said they thought the team matched up better against Fnatic.
The one team everybody seemed to want to face later in the tournament was Leviatán.
“I would love to play Leviatán again,” Jordan “AYRIN” He. Those guys are really good practice partners we play against, they’re great guys. It was a bitter loss for us in Copenhagen. So it’d be great to rematch them, preferably semifinals, finals.”
“They push us to be better every day in practice and we love playing against them in practice,” Syyko said. “We’d love to match up against them in the finals. I think that would be spectacular.”
Coming into Champions, the thought of XSET reaching the final of the tournament seemed far-fetched. Some even thought NA. 3 seed 100 Thieves were better than XSET. Even Nerd Street had 100 Thieves higher in our power rankings entering the tournament. Now that they’ve reached the playoffs, XSET can dream about reaching the final, but their coach was quick to reign in the finals talk, at least for now.
“We gotta get to finals first,” Syyko said. “Job’s not done, right? Like we qualified for playoffs. Let’s take this one step at a time.”
Lead photo credit: Riot Games