Text by: Bleghfarec
Just a year ago, Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk would have never expected to see himself on top of the world in Valorant, alongside esports veterans, holding up the trophy to First Strike: North America, the biggest Valorant event of 2020.
Playing under an alias that he set for himself on ESEA, purely for following the comedic notion that donning anime profile pictures and names improved your performance, Asuna has cemented himself as one of the stars of the North American Valorant scene, now under one of the most prestigious organizations in the scene.
And now, he’s riding that into 2021 as 100 Thieves root themselves into the Top 3 of NA Valorant going into the Valorant Champions Tour.
Sold into gold
Asuna’s Valorant career started off informally on Immortals, albeit under a different name in a showmatch setting. Short one player, Immortals brought on Asuna as the team’s fifth player in June of 2020. It wouldn’t be until the PAX Arena Invitational that Asuna’s performance came into the public eye, as Immortals went 4-0 in their group, with Asuna top-fragging in every single series.
While the team was knocked out of the quarterfinals by Cloud9 Blue, Asuna’s continued performance against the venerable Tyson “TenZ” Ngo proved to most that he was soon to be one of North America’s best Duelist talents.
Immortals never quite struck a home run in any event they competed in but it was a team that Asuna liked to play in. Having previously played with the players on the roster, they knew him and, in his words, they loved him.
Immortals had always had an interest in selling him and Dicey. Where they went didn't matter much to them.
To Asuna, his sale to 100 Thieves by Immortals came out of nowhere. According to Asuna, Immortals had always had an interest in selling him and Quan "Dicey" Tran, given they were two of Immortals’ most notable talents, despite only being free agents when they were signed by the organization. Where they went didn’t matter much to them.
100 Thieves entered the picture sometime in August. After dropping four of their players, they put Spencer “Hiko” Martin in charge of forming a new roster, and they added Nick “nitr0” Cannella, who left Team Liquid’s CS:GO roster to move to Valorant. Now with an FPS world champion alongside him, Hiko sifted through lists of potential players to round out their roster with. And one of the players he chose? That would be Asuna.
“I didn’t even talk to Hiko beforehand,” Asuna recalled. “He just messaged me out of nowhere. I've never said a word to that guy. I don't know what made him think like to pick me up or whatnot.”
After relaying the offer to Immortals’ Valorant manager, Asuna — and Dicey — tried out for 100 Thieves. The trial worked out perfectly and the 100 Thieves would buy out both Asuna and Dicey from Immortals, rounding out the roster.
“It's actually insane,” Dicey recalled. “I honestly wouldn't even if I went back in time and told myself that I'll be pro right now. I probably wouldn't believe it because at the time I was just playing like for fun just competing after that.”
For how Hiko chose Asuna and Dicey over other players? Neither of them really know. In fact they were both surprised.
“I'm grateful that Hiko, steel, and nitr0 were open to trying out new players,” Asuna said. “They gave us a shot and we were surprised they didn't just pick up their friends. You know, their 30-year-old friends, their Boomer friends from the nursery home.”
Youngblood among the "boomers"
Looking at the 100 Thieves roster, Asuna isn’t exactly the type of player you would’ve initially expected alongside legends such as nitr0, steel, and Hiko. While these three found careers and legacies in CS:GO and successfully transitioned over to Valorant with 100 Thieves, Asuna and Dicey are comparatively more unknown CS:GO players who broke out only in Valorant’s early days.
Asuna specifically recalled his struggle competing in ESEA’s Mountain Dew League (MDL) division, the second-highest division in ESEA’s CS:GO League. While he played and trialed in the division for multiple teams, Asuna never felt that he was really “good at MDL.”
“I feel like I had to just make my own friends, make my own connections, find my own clique in a way.”
For most of the teams he played on, the rosters were never set in stone, and he rarely got the opportunity to sign with an organization, if at all. Most of the teams were what he described as “PUG teams,” essentially just being mixes of different players that could change at any time, a practice commonplace in ESEA MDL.
"I feel like I'm still the star player, I don't think anything's really changed."
In Valorant, Asuna has basically only played for two teams, but both of them have been significantly more stable, and through that stability, he’s been able to shine in the server.
On Immortals, it was hard to argue that Asuna wasn’t the team’s star player, and for good reason. With his explosive plays and astounding past performances, his sale by Immortals was a no-brainer for 100 Thieves, then looking to build a star-studded roster for First Strike. But is his stardom drowned out alongside these other comparatively more legendary players?
Asuna doesn’t think so. Or maybe he does? Not even he is quite sure.
“Hiko, nitr0, and steel still all ingrained that I was a star player. So I feel like I'm still the star player, I don't think anything's really changed.”
Before the grand finals of First Strike, when Asuna was able to talk with me, Asuna and company hadn’t yet defeated Sentinels, then the best team in North America and who some would argue remains the best even today. But, even without the trophy and the $50,000 grand prize, he believed 100 Thieves had already planted themselves firmly in the Top 4, with the potential to be the best team in the region.
“I think we're top 4, that just seems like the most obvious answer, and then I feel like, at any day, we could be the best, and any other day we could be just the regular Top 4 team.”
In only the span of a few months, Asuna went from being just another player in the NA MDL scene to going full-time in Valorant, to becoming one of the most notable and talented players in Valorant.
Even at the top, Asuna still stays in touch with multiple players from his past, especially his teammates from Immortals, who he only wishes the best for.
“jcStani, Genghsta, and KOLER all gave Dicey and me the opportunity to succeed and be the star players on our team. If they wanted to, they could have been the star players, but they were humble enough not to and we got our opportunities. I'm hoping they will get their opportunity.”