The VALORANT Champions LA Finals saw Paper Rex fiercely competing for the title. Although they didn't clinch the victory, their journey was filled with notable moments and triumphs. In an intimate discussion with Alexandre "alecks" Sallé shortly after the final, we dive into the team's transformative year, their exhilarating experiences in Korea, and their battles against different teams throughout the event.
Alecks speaks candidly about the challenges faced by his young team, offers insight into their pivotal matches, and expresses gratitude to their fans. The interview provides a unique glimpse into the dynamics of a team on the rise and the leadership steering its path.
Commiserations on the loss, but it was an incredible year and run for you guys. How would you reflect on your team's journey to the finals?
We had a very good year. Moving to a different country was very challenging. Many underestimate how young our team members are — leaving family to pursue their career is significant. I couldn't make such a move at 23 or 24, even with offers in China. Yet, some of our players are 18, 19, 20 and have made that transition. Ilya (something), for instance, has lived away from home for about two years.
Our experience in Korea was very enriching, and our victory there is our most notable achievement, more than any other. Surpassing DRX lets us genuinely call ourselves as their rivals; it used to be one-sided before. That was one of our happiest moments for us. After that, playing before large audiences has been great. At major events, there are two stages, and the second stage is our goal. Reaching it lets us showcase our style, and feeling the fans' energy is humbling. It's incredible to have such support.
Despite the outcome, are there moments or matches during Champions that truly showcase the potential and caliber of your team?
Obviously, I believe we didn't show our best in the finals. It should have been closer. EG might have still won, as they were well-prepared, but we could have played better. But the LOUD game and the previous EG game, where we came back from a deficit, showcased our mental strength under pressure. That's something I'm proud of. It's also commendable how confident the team was in validating our play style (obviously, it needs to be refined). But those two games make me especially proud.
Against Evil Geniuses, what was the big difference maker? You bested them in the first match, but what would you say was the significant difference between two days ago and the finals?
They were very well prepared — potter must have spent the whole night working before our match. And props to her. They had a clear game plan to counter our strategy, and we fell into many of their rotations and traps — they played confidently. I'm actually very happy for them. They've had a challenging year, and to perform above expectations and secure this win is commendable. They should be proud.
You mentioned potter, who's victory was considered one of the biggest talking points of the event. Can you elaborate on your view of her coaching style?
Potter comes from a Counter-Strike background where she's won tournaments. She's also done analyst work and desk jobs — she's seen everything in esports. Also, being older than her players (especially in Asian culture) gives her a respect and makes it easier to convey ideas. From what I've observed, she seems to have built a strong family unit within the team. Coaching, for me, is about team culture and the top-down approach, focusing on team operations and relationships. Observing potter and her team, it's evident they've fostered strong mutual support.
With their in-game stuff, I've always watched EG play, even when they were losing and had different rosters. While some labeled EG as good "anti-strat" team without a game plan, I disagree. They have clear ideas about their gameplay. Technically speaking, their utility layering is commendable. And this utility layering is a taught skill, not something innate.
People who claim she isn't at the top of her game are mistaken. She's done commendable work. Being possibly the first woman to win a major male-dominated tournament is a testament to her capabilities.
From a coaching perspective, how do you approach a post-finals debrief with your players after a high-stakes match like this? And lastly, any words for your fans?
Honestly, we might revisit this finals three months later. I don't think we're gonna look at it for a long time. We did the same for the previous competition, only reviewing it after some time had passed. Now, we might take a long vacation. Everyone should spend some time together and apart; it's been a lengthy year. We need to reset. I'm proud of our achievements this year; many teams would envy our position.
To the fans, thank you for your unwavering support. We understand our role in this industry is to entertain. Every time we compete, we aim to deliver our best performance. We're honored to represent you in APAC and around the world. The encouraging messages and support you send us are touching and deeply appreciated. Thank you.
This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.