With C9’s win over Paper Rex in VCT LOCK//IN, it’s clear El Diablo has found a new home

Despite yay's incredible performance, Xeppaa somehow did even better.

In another high-profile contest during the first round of VCT LOCK//IN in São Paulo, North America’s Cloud9 was set to face off against Singapore’s Paper Rex.

This highly anticipated VALORANT match featured two of the very best teams from each of their respective regions. Every player on the stage has experience playing in an international VCT event and going very far in them too.

Right now, C9 is being dubbed as the American “super-team.” In the post-franchising VALORANT offseason, the org kept its core of in-game leader Vanity, initiator Xeppaa, and top-fragger leaf, then boosted the roster with the addition of both yay (nicknamed El Diablo for his dominance in professional scrims) and Zellsis.

As for PRX, they are one of the few teams who were able to get through VALORANT franchising without a change. The five members have been through so much together and have formed a distinct playstyle from their synergy.

However, both coach alecks and player Benkai mentioned at the pre-tournament press conference that so far in 2023, PRX has been struggling in their scrims.

PRX decided to start out the match with a bang, choosing VALORANT’s newest map, Lotus. Despite all of the hype and speculation around Chamber falling out of the meta after the agent’s multiple nerfs, both f0rsakeN and yay locked him in on the first map, no Jett to be seen.

The first half of Lotus shaped up to be the back-and-forth match everyone expected from these two teams. With chaotic rounds going back and forth, the map felt unpredictable and chaotic, and PRX pulled C9 in.

But Xeppaa started feeling a bit of this chaotic energy himself, and he pulled out a huge VALORANT round with a classic clutch that sent everyone watching into cheers.

The map continued with unexpected thrifty rounds and unpredictable situations, but it was quite clear that C9 started to pull away with the map. Xeppaa continued to show his expertise on Skye, and yay looked up to his old form, finishing the map with a 48 percent headshot percentage.

Moving into Pearl, things continued in rough form for PRX.

With a surprise composition coming through for C9 that featured Zellsis on Phoenix and yay on Sage, the team clearly had a strategy going into Pearl. They continued to get round wins on the attack after wiping out everyone on the side of PRX. In contrast to the expectation of other C9 members playing a support role for yay, this time frags were spread more evenly, with leaf and Xeppaa top fragging through the first half.

C9 looked stronger than ever, with a surplus of credits each round giving them riches from which to choose any weapon. Conversely, PRX had to face off with weaker weapons so many rounds in a row that they could never quite get a grip on the first half of the map.

Xeppaa’s ace in round 16 was just the icing on the cake that sealed the dealand the LOCK//IN victoryfor C9. They won Pearl 13-4 and PRX was sent home from São Paulo.

C9 will go on to face Korea’s star VALORANT team DRX in another huge matchup for the Alpha bracket. They will play on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 11am CT.

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