In 2020, PROPARTY were a mediocre Korean roster. They had big names from the Counter-Strike scene, but not much success, qualifying for First Strike but bowing out in the first round. With an extra 1 on the calendar and a new organization around them, though, NUTURN have found tremendous success throughout the year. They kicked things off by winning the DouYu Bie Zhuang Cup Winter against top Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean teams, and continued things throughout the VCT. They traded blows repeatedly with Vision Strikers, and with that team falling off throughout Stage 2, the door was wide open, and NUTURN took advantage. A 3-0 over DWG KIA in Korea’s grand final has sent them to Iceland.
Park “allow” Sang-wook
Jung “peri” Bum-gi
Seo “Suggest” Jae-young
Kang “solo” Keun-chul
Kim “Lakia” Jong-min
Jeong “Jaemin” Jae-min (Coach)
The first thing that sticks out about NUTURN, at least to those familiar with CS, are some of the names. Jung “peri” Bum-gi and Kang “solo” Keun-chul are each some of the best-known and longest-tenured Counter-Strike players in Asia, with a track record of being able to compete against European and North American teams. peri in particular is interesting, as the only Asian player ever to make one of HLTV’s top 20 players of the year lists, when he did it in 2010. With them in the support roles, it was a matter of time before this team found its footing.
Despite their achievements, though, they’re not the stars of this roster. That honor belongs to the duelists, Park “allow” Sang-wook and Seo “Suggest” Jae-young. allow is a solid Jett player, not quite the best in Korea but certainly not the worst. He has a tendency to disappear sometimes, but, when he’s on, he produces some absolutely riveting moments.
If allow is the inconsistent but sometimes spectacular Jett, then Suggest is the rock of this team on Raze. Probably the best player on the roster, Suggest is very consistent and always manages to lead the way for the team. Korean Raze play is actually very interesting, as many players will have specific lineups you won’t see anywhere else, and Suggest is no exception. You can seemingly always count on him to deliver for the team.
Lastly, Lakia will primarily be the Sova player. He put up a huge performance in the Challengers finals, being named the Finals MVP. Always clutch, Lakia is another younger member and one for the future to watch out for.
Living in Vision Strikers’ shadow
It’s safe to say that every VALORANT fan out there expected Vision Strikers to be in this position. The incredibly creative roster of Kim “glow” Min-soo, Kim “stax” Gu-taek, Lee “k1Ng” Seung-won, Kim “Zest” Gi-seok, and Goo “Rb” Sang-Min dominated Asia for a long time. They wouldn’t drop a series until mid-April – a full year after the game came out. And that’s after facing playstyles from four different regions in Korea, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. With an undefeated streak of 106-0, it seems like Vision Strikers dominated the region. And, in fairness, they mostly did. But ever since their turnaround at the beginning of this year, NUTURN have been incredibly hot on their heels.
NUTURN and VS have played each other five times in 2021. The first was in the very first open qualifier of Stage 1, where that allow clip is from. That game was back-and-forth for two maps before NUTURN opened up a big lead on Ascent. It looked like VS’ win streak was over before they pulled off a big comeback to take things 2-1.
The next matchup was in Challengers 2 of Stage 1, where, due to the Bo2 format, the teams would actually end up drawing. This makes NUTURN one of VS’ 6 draws throughout their undefeated run. They’d then play twice at Masters, once in groups and once in the grand finals. Both times the series would go the distance, to 3 maps in groups and to all 5 in the grand finals. And, of course, the first time they’d beat them, in Stage 2 Challengers. All this is to say that NUTURN have been right there with Vision Strikers for a long time. They just haven’t really had the chance to break past their barrier until they’ve fallen off this stage.
When VS were dominating, western analysts were getting worried. The team looked super strong and creative. But with VS shifting their playstyle and eventually falling off, general sentiment has been that Korea is a bit behind the rest of the world. If regions had to be ranked, most agree that Korea would be solid around fourth place, behind North America, Europe, and Brazil.
With that said, I think expectations should be cautiously optimistic for NUTURN. They kept up with Vision Strikers even when they were dominating, and have clearly proven themselves as the region’s best team as of late. Now, I think for NUTURN to do really well we need to see allow stay hot. If he’s rolling, though, NUTURN can certainly punch above their weight. Semifinals is a lofty goal, but one that just might be achievable.