Interview With Paper Rex’s Coach Alecks
Yoann: Hello, everyone! Today I'm with Alecks, coach of Paper Rex.
When and how did you get into eSports?
Alecks: It's a long story because I'm a lot older (33 years old). But the eSports ecosystem wasn't very developed in Asia when I was 16 years old. So, I didn't really play, but I got injured playing football. I didn't have anything to do, so I played a lot of Counter-Strike. It was a bit of a competitive drive in me.
I signed my first contract when I was 26 years old. Where they just give you peripherals or jerseys, and you're like, Okay, why not?
Within a year, I quit because I wanted to pursue my studies, I went to the National University of Singapore. Still, I eventually dropped out because I wanted to go back to eSport.
I joined Paper Rex as a player before switching to Valorant. Then we had an opportunity to pick up Forsaken, and the boss told me, Okay, your playing days are over, haha. I had to take a step back and become a coach.
Yoann: Alright! What's your job as a Valorant coach, and how can you help your players?
Alecks: I think the coaching role is a bit undefined in general because it's a very new job. I kind of do a bit of everything. I don't have any support staff with me right now, and I do the anti-stratting, watch all the games, and oversee training. I try to make sure that they improve in the best direction. I try to take care of them in a very holistic kind of way. I try to make sure that they're good, they're very young, and I'm a lot older than them, and I've been through every step of their career before they have.
Yoann: That’s nice! How do you prepare to play against opponents, especially in Valorant’s tier one?
Alecks: It's a complicated question, actually. Like first of all, some teams like to change their compositions in Asia, and you wouldn't know what's coming.
So it's very hard to prepare.
Generally, we try to focus on ourselves before we look at our opponents because it's hard if they change one agent or a very small detail. The stuff they do can look very, very different.
And that's also them trying to prepare for you. It's a bit of a mind game.
I would try and pick up from opponents some tendencies they have, but in general, I find it very hard to prepare for opponents. We play our own game.
Yoann: Paper Rex has a very unique play style. How would you describe it as the coach?
Alecks: I think it's just slightly more fast-paced than other teams because we try to run two duelists compared to a lot of other teams.
It gives us the advantage being explosive can bypass a lot of utility. It's unique because everyone else prefers to play it a bit more safely.
Yoann: Which play style is the hardest to play against?
Alecks: To play against those that are really, really slow. I think FPX comes to mind where they're really patient. They wanna punish mistakes.
During the finals in Copenhagen, we needed to adjust on the fly. After the first map we sat down, we were like, it's a bit hard to just run at them. We have to figure something out.
And we had to slow down our game style. I would say that's the hardest, but we're trying to learn how to like apply our style to this kind of team.
Yoann: That’s interesting. What's your preparation routine before matches?
Alecks: I wake up super early, around 7:00 AM and I just get in the practice room to watch more VODs.
Then I get the boys in around during lunch. And we'll be just going through the game plan. I’m trying to keep it short, so like maybe 30 minutes, and we're done. Then they go for the warmup. After that, we try to take the pressure off by playing the Nintendo Switch, we just hang out together and play good games. We are not even thinking about the game. By the time we get there, we are happy and in a good mood.
Yoann: That's very cool! During 2022 VCT, you were one of the only teams to have played every single agent in the game. Is it a way for you to stay unpredictable?
Alecks: Actually, during practice, we try a lot of different comps.
We tried to play Phoenix on Breeze for fun. I don't think we're trying to be unpredictable by playing every single agent. We have like at least two to three comps per map.
I think between Copenhagen and Istanbul, we tried to be funky in the compositions.
I wouldn't say it's about being unpredictable, we just trying to break the game, try and see if we can find some combinations that don't make sense and kill people.
Yoann: During Masters' Grand final in Copenhagen, you played a super weird composition on Breeze with Yoru, Fade, Astra, Breach, and Neon. What was the thought process behind it?
Alecks: We’ve been practicing it for a while!
We decided to just go against the meta because we wanted to see if we could pull it out with something no one has ever seen before, there's a chance we can take people by surprise and maybe just run away with it.
I think like we probably should have switched the Fade for Sova, especially against Cypher, I think we would’ve won if they ran Chamber.
Cypher was a big problem for us because they had way too much info at the start of the round. And Sova would’ve been better to counter it rather than Fade.
For example, when we were practicing in Europe, everyone was using Chamber. Nobody was using Cypher. We knew that if we could get behind the Chamber TP, we would've killed it guaranteed every time. But it wasn’t the case, he was playing Jett, and he was destroying us.
So a bit unlucky on our end. They played really well!
Yoann: You had very interesting ideas with this composition, and it still was a close match. What did you learn from it?
Alecks: First thing was that we weren't prepared enough. I think most people don't know this, but we were only confident going B. We had a big problem going A.
We have some good ideas now. We could probably try Harbor!
The second thing would be that I think Jason (Forsaken) and I agreed that if we wanted to use Yoru on breeze, we needed a lot more time.
We had three months to prepare our Yoru on Bind. But this one, we had like two weeks, and although we had some ideas, you still need to get a lot of scrim practice before being comfortable.
Yoann: What are your thoughts about the Valorant Franchising program in general?
Alecks: I assume that it's a little bit like an American model of sports, which is basically no relegation. With the same teams all the time, and people building fan bases.
Franchising in Valorant has been like a godsend for the region. It's great to now have Korean, and Japanese fan bases.
I'm happy they chose Paper Rex. I'm happy they raised the minimum salary because there was no minimum salary in Asia before, it's a big deal.
And, if you're a young kid, 16 years old, playing your socks off, and you're amazing. Someone is gonna pick you up, then you're gonna have this opportunity.
Yoann: Great! How do you feel about Pearl as a coach?
Alecks: When I look at the map, I quite like it. My team likes Pearl, we are happy to play it. We like these maps where you can just go in and fight people if you want, at any time. We could just make it a kills game. We could just run B long and try to challenge which is quite fun.
Yoann: All right. So do you think Harbor will be a great agent for your aggressive play style?
Alecks: Yeah, for sure. I think it's the first agent with three pieces of utility that are all smokes, compared to like every single controller. I think it's good for us. We generally only play one controller because we play two duelists.
So one extra smoke might help us a lot.
It's an extremely fun agent to play. It allows the controller player to be more creative.
Yoann: So do you prefer attacking or defending, This is a quick question.
Alecks: Attacking haha.
Yoann: Of course! What would you change to Valorant if you were a developer? Agent, Gun balance, Map…
Alecks: I'm sure people talk about Chamber a lot. I actually quite like where Chamber is right now. I think it's good to have agents that can disappear, it's part of the game. Everybody keeps on comparing the game to CSGO.
It's absolutely the best agent ranked, people don't know how to deal with it.
In general, I think it's nice actually. I quite like it. It's a French guy. I wouldn't really change anything right now.
I just like what they're doing, the game changes constantly and you have to think about it. I'll just keep doing what they're doing.
Yoann: Which team would you like to play against in the near future?
Alecks: We always like to play against teams from other regions. We have never played against LOUD and I think it was the saddest thing that we couldn't even practice against the current champions of the world.
And now they've broken up. Probably Sentinels right now.
Yoann: What are your short and long-term ambitions?
Alecks: We just wanna win some titles, get back to the grand finals and win. Preferably it'll be in a Champions tournament rather than a Master's one.
For the short term, this Brazil tournament would be really nice to win.
I would like to coach this team as long as they want me. I don't think I would hop to another team, but I'm very happy where I am, so I'll just try and get Paper Rex as far as possible!
Yoann: Of course! Is there anything else you want to add to this interview?
Alecks: To the fans, thank you for your support, we try our best all the time.
Thank you for interviewing as well! And big thanks to Paper Rex for securing my career path. It's not always possible for a player to just like continue going, becoming a coach in the same org, I might be the only person that has done this actually.
Yoann: All right. So thank you for your time, and best of luck for next year!
Alecks: Thank you very much!