The DRX Valorant team were favorites to win VCT Pacific, and they were expected to make a deep run at VCT Masters Tokyo 2023.

After all, this largely unchanged roster finished 5th-6th at Masters Reykjavik 2022, 5th-6th at Masters Copenhagen 2022, and 3rd at Valorant Champions 2022 and LOCK//IN São Paulo, consistently finding their way to the top.

However, they achieved neither this season: DRX finished the VCT Pacific regular season in first place, but did not lift the championship trophy after they were reverse swept by rivals Paper Rex in the grand finals. At Masters Tokyo they got past the group stage, only to fall to Paper Rex a second time in the upper bracket quarterfinals.

In the first round of the lower bracket, they were eliminated by NRG Esports, comprising largely the same former OpTic Gaming squad that ended their Valorant Champions 2022 run in the lower bracket final.

Byung-chul “BuZz” Yu sat down with ONE Esports in an exclusive interview after their tournament run to talk about the challenges DRX had to overcome this year, his personal struggles, and what they plan to do from now until Valorant Champions 2023.

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The DRX Valorant team were not themselves at VCT Masters Tokyo 2023

DRX taking their last bow at VCT Masters Tokyo 2023 on stage after their 0-2 loss to NRG Esports
Credit: Riot Games

During recent press conferences and interviews, Paper Rex had one thing to say about their Pacific rivals this season: “we know what they will do.”

On DRX’s predictability, BuZz partially agreed. “Nowadays yes, but in the past no. With the new roster and the new lineup we didn’t prioritize crafting a lot this year,” he told ONE Esports. “We just wanted to make things a bit cleaner, make sure there are no mistakes and flaws — and I guess going through the process made us more predictable.”

The biggest change to the DRX Valorant roster this year was the addition of rookie Jung “Foxy9” Jae-sung, their duelist specialist who plays Jett and Raze. This rotating sixth man meant that Kim “Zest” Gi-seok sat on the bench for most of VCT Pacific. It also affected BuZz, who had to temporarily hang up his duelist role in favor of Killjoy and KAY/O.

“For me personally the role swap was not easy, but it’s something as a professional player, I should be able to pull off and I feel I could’ve done that a little bit better,” BuZz shared. “For Champions, I don’t know what role I’m going to be playing or what responsibilities I’m going to have, but I’ll try to make sure I can help my team get the title.”

DRX Valorant team at the post-game press conference at Masters Tokyo 2023 after their elimination loss to NRG Esports in round one of the lower bracket
Credit: Riot Games

Even though he is more than willing to adapt for his team, and has in fact, played many agents and multiple roles throughout his Valorant career, he still has his preferences.

“I would like to stick with more of a consistent role where I can have this one role or one agent or one responsibility, and work on it with our teammates to make sure our executes are on time,” said BuZz. “It’s not an agent thing, but I prefer consistency in what I’m doing.”

Getting knocked out of Masters Tokyo early means that the team can now take almost a full two months to start preparing for Champions 2023 to which they’ve already qualified. For DRX coach Seon-ho “termi” Pyeon, he sees this as a partial blessing, revealing in the post-game press conference that his players have been dealing with burnout, partly due to their intense practice and competition schedule.

For BuZz, he wasn’t affected by burnout. Rather, he was affected when he saw his teammates suffering form it which he found “tough,” for there were other factors besides practice schedules at play. He would reach out to talk to them about it, recognizing that they’re “only human.”

DRX laughing and posing together on stage in photoshoot at Valorant Masters Tokyo 2023
Credit: Riot Games

He acknowledges that they’ve been consistent players, but on days where they underperform, he puts in extra. “I go into these games with the mindset that I’m going to do more, I’m going to pop off more, I’m going to do more today because my teammates aren’t feeling that well,” said BuZz.

“I feel like they would’ve done the same thing for me too, so sharing that burden, sharing that responsibility. We gained a lot from Masters Tokyo because it brought us closer together as a family and it has definitely made us stronger as a team, and I’m grateful for that. Hopefully we get to show what we’ve learned in LA.”

“With everything being so open during Tokyo Masters, we can now work on that together. We just need to get the vibes out, the energy out, we’ll get everything figured out,” BuZz added. “I feel like we’re on the right path. We can bring back the 2022 Istanbul DRX back and have a really great run.”

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