The tier-2 VALORANT player who struggled with Sentinels is becoming a Challengers star

A second chance at reaching the highest tier of competition.

In the middle of the NA VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 season, a slumping Sentinels team performing below expectations made their first major roster change and introduced the tier-one fan base to Eric “Kanpeki” Xu for the first time.

His time with Sentinels was short-lived and didn’t produce the results that either side intended. But almost nine months later, the player who went winless in the NA Stage Two Challengers main event last year is now thriving on one of the top teams in the current Challengers ecosystem.

Two weeks into the 2023 NA Challengers League, TSM were sitting at 1-1 after a loss to M80. Following that defeat, longtime member James “hazed” Cobb informed the team of his decision to step away. Needing to fill a vacancy, TSM turned to Kanpeki, who’d been playing with various tier-two or three rosters since leaving Sentinels.

To make things work, TSM moved Anthony “gMd” Guimond off the initiator role and onto the smokes role that hazed had previously occupied, so that Kanpeki could play his go-to initiator role. Just by looking at the team’s results since, and the numbers Kanpeki has put up, it’s been a runaway success for TSM so far.

TSM have won all three matches since adding Kanpeki, versus The Guard, OREsports, and Disguised, while only dropping a single map across all three series. Kanpeki has rocketed to the top of the stats leaderboard over these three weeks, according to VLR.

He’s tied for the fourth most total assists of any NA Challengers player, despite only playing three weeks instead of five, which makes him the clear No. 1 in assists per round. He’s also No. 1 in kill-assist-survive-trade (KAST) percentage at 86 percent, 10th in highest ACS, and fourth in K/D.

Kanpeki has come a long way from his underwhelming time with Sentinels. While Kanpeki did underperform individually with the team, he also joined during a time when Sentinels as a whole was not playing well at all. But under this new system, Kanpekl is firing on all cylinders, and a TSM run all the way through Ascension would cap off an incredible journey for him back to tier one.

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