For the first time in VALORANT history, Korean powerhouse Vision Strikers suffered a loss.
For the first time in VALORANT history, Korean powerhouse Vision Strikers suffered a loss. The team has dominated the region for as long as they have competed, and this week, someone put a halt to their win-streak. It was none other than F4Q, a team of streamers who, above all, like to have fun. Don’t let their laughs fool you, though - they came prepared to take down the almighty Vision Strikers.
Other teams have gotten close, but nobody succeeded in beating Vision Strikers before. Lately, Vision Strikers have looked a little more vulnerable, so it’s safe to say that it would happen eventually. However, that it would be F4Q to do it came as a surprise. F4Q have been working their way up the Korean ladder, and they’re currently ranked sixth in the region. Kim “zunba” Joon-hyuk, F4Q’s Astra main, won’t be with the team forever, as he will have to do mandatory military service soon. But before they have to make changes, the team is looking solid, with a nice win-streak to show for it.
F4Q had a massive task ahead of them. Even though they always play to win, they know that they’re up against players like Kim "stax" Gu-taek, Vision Strikers’ line of defence on Breach, and arguably the best Skye in the region.
Vision Strikers play a very traditional game of VALORANT, but they did a few things slightly differently this time. Before the series, Vision Strikers did not ban Bind, even though it's one of their weaker maps. F4Q picked it as the first map to play. Goo "Rb" Sang-Min plays Raze twice as often as Jett, but he masters both. This series, he played Jett on all three maps.
Bind was an exciting start to the series: Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk, one of the best Raze players in Korea, finds the multifrags to keep F4Q in the game. F4Q can't prevent VS from entering the sites, but they play it smart and execute their set plays to perfection. zunba is fundamental to many of those plays. Astra's gravity wells can delay a push, or pull in an enemy for someone else to finish off. One of the best examples of such a team play is when Bunny times the paint shells with the gravity well, and catches Vision Strikers off guard.
Vision Strikers keep doing what they do best: clicking heads. In terms of headshot percentage, they're no match for F4Q. Even F4Q's best aimer got out-aimed by the worst aimer on Vision Strikers (27% vs 29%). And then there's stax, showing he's worthy of all the praise by hitting 47% heads. Granted, the judges F4Q picked up when they couldn't buy rifles didn't help their percentages that much.
On the defending side, Vision Strikers lets it slip a little, but comes back in full force. It's only because of Bunny's effective use of the judge that F4Q holds on and takes Vision Strikers to overtime. Bunny has the free-flowing mechanics to blast all the way from A Main to the back of U-hall, and overwhelm the defender hiding in there. Even though Bind is a good map for defenders, every round in overtime went to the attackers, until Vision Strikers broke that curse and won F4Q's map pick.
F4Q strike back and win Vision Strikers' map pick of Split. Both teams are insanely good on Split: Vision Strikers had a 97% win percentage on this map prior to this match. Recently, though, they've had a harder time closing out the map. F4Q force Vision Strikers into an awkward position. They manage to break their economy, and capitalise on that. A 4-8 half isn't amazing for Vision Strikers, but not impossible to come back from on defence. Only when F4Q take the next pistol round and the round after that, it becomes a real problem for them. It’s Kim “GodDead” Sung-sin who pulls off amazing flicks, shutting down stax.
After a slow start for F4Q on Haven, they pull it back after the first five rounds. They clean up their plays, and once again break the economy from Vision Strikers. On top of equalling the scoreline, F4Q manage to win a crucial ninth round. GodDead denies the plant on A with a shock dart from Heaven, and Vision Strikers can't recover from that. They end the first half 6-6.
Things start to heat up in the second half. Despite their headshot percentages, Vision Strikers are notoriously mediocre at pistol rounds. F4Q get two rounds, Vision Strikers answer back with two. F4Q manages to get on match point, but they can't close out the series. Vision Strikers show their resilience by winning four rounds in a row to take it to overtime. Overtime on map 3 - it's all this series deserved.
F4Q start overtime strong, with an astounding 2v4 retake. Again, they fail to close it out, and a second overtime is needed to decide the series. In the second overtime, it's up to Vision Strikers to perform a 2v4 retake. It's by no means an easy task, certainly not on the B site. Vision Strikers had to try, but F4Q were prepared.
It was a fierce battle, but most of all, a fun game. Vision Strikers will have to play another game to qualify for Challengers, and F4Q showed the world that there's more to Korea than one team on a winning streak.
Image via Riot Games