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VALORANT: Paper Rex qualify for Masters Madrid by overcoming Karmine Corp 2-1 in intense Group Stage finale

Paper Rex will be joining fellow Pacific team Gen.G as well as Sentinels and LOUD from the Americas in the Masters Madrid Playoffs.

Singaporean VALORANT powerhouse Paper Rex qualified for the 2024 VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Madrid Playoffs after they defeated Karmine Corp in the Group Stage finale. (Photo: Paper Rex)
Singaporean VALORANT powerhouse Paper Rex qualified for the 2024 VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Madrid Playoffs after they defeated Karmine Corp in the Group Stage finale. (Photo: Paper Rex)

Singaporean VALORANT powerhouse and 2023 VALORANT Champions runners-up Paper Rex have qualified for the Playoffs of the 2024 VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Masters Madrid after they outlasted Europe's Karmine Corp, 2-1, in the final match of the Group Stage on Tuesday (19 March).

Paper Rex earned their spot in Masters Madrid as the runners-up of the VCT 2024 Pacific Kickoff alongside South Korea's Gen.G Esports, who placed first in that tournament. The Pacific region's two representatives were to face off six other teams from the Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle-East, and North Africa), and China in this year's first interregional competition.

Masters Madrid began with a Swiss format Group Stage where the eight participating teams needed to score two wins against teams from other regions in order to be among the four teams advancing to the Playoffs.

Paper Rex stumbled in their first match of the tournament, losing 1-2 to China's EDward Gaming. That forced the Singaporean squad into an uphill battle for a Playoff spot, starting with EMEA's Team Heretics.

Paper Rex defeated Heretics on Monday (18 March), 2-1, to score their first win of the Group Stage and advance to the final set of matches to determine which teams will advance to the Playoffs. Standing in the way of the Singaporean team were Karmine Corp, who also had a 1-1 score.

Paper Rex entered the series with guns blazing, taking a commanding 8-1 lead in the first half of game one at Bind. However, Karmine Corp managed to trim their opponents' lead down to 9-6 by round 15.

While the Singaporean squad won the next three rounds to get on the verge of claiming the first map, Karmine Corp refused to back down and won four-straight rounds. However, Paper Rex finally closed things out on round 23 to claim the 13-10 win on Bind.

Cahya "Monyet" Nugraha led the way for Paper Rex in game one, racking up 20 kills and seven assists against 17 deaths as Raze. Aaron "mindfreak" Leonhart on Brimstone also pitched in with 18 kills and eight assists on 16 deaths.

Paper Rex carried their momentum into game two at Lotus and had a 3-1 lead by round 4. Karmine Corp then flipped the script and went on a 7-1 run to be the ones leading at 8-4 after the first half.

Paper Rex looked to make a comeback by winning the first two rounds after the side switch but Karmine Corp shut the door in their opponents' faces by claiming the next five rounds to win Lotus, 13-6, and forcing the series to a deciding game three.

With a spot in the Playoffs at stake, the decider at Ascent was as close as it gets. Karmine Corp struck first and had a 4-1 lead by round 5 before Paper Rex won four-straight to gain a 5-4 lead by round 9. However, it was Karmine Corp that ended up leading 7-5 by halftime after they won the last three rounds of the half.

Karmine Corp looked to be in a commanding position in the second half as they extended their lead to 9-5 by round 14. Paper Rex then struck back and won three-straight before Karmine Corp answered by winning rounds 18 and 19 to get within one round away from the Playoffs.

With their backs against the wall, Paper Rex pulled off an incredible four-round streak to instead be the ones in match point at 12-11 by round 23. However, Karmine Corp refused to back down and won round 24 to force the game into overtime.

The extra rounds then saw Paper Rex showcase their experience in clutch situations as they scored two-straight round wins to claim the 14-12 victory in Ascent and a spot in the Masters Madrid Playoffs.

Jason "f0rsaken" Susanto led the way for Paper Rex in the decider, racking up 22 kills and 15 assists against 18 deaths as Fade. Ilya "something" Petrov on Gekko was also instrumental in his team's victory with his 20 kills and three assists on 16 deaths.

With their victory over Karmine Corp, Paper Rex have joined fellow Pacific team Gen.G as well as Sentinels and LOUD from the Americas in the Masters Madrid Playoffs. Those four squads have guaranteed themselves at least US$35,000 in winnings, though they surely have their sights set on the US$250,000 grand prize.

The Masters Madrid Playoffs will follow a double-elimination format with the first round of the upper bracket on Thursday (21 March) kicking off with regional showdowns. Paper Rex and Gen.G will face off in a rematch of the VCT Pacific Kickoff followed by Sentinels taking on LOUD.

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