One has now become none as this Singaporean player and his team bow out of the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) tournament to fulfil his duties to our nation.
Singapore-based Paper Rex came up short against US-based Evil Geniuses in a 1-3 thriller to take home second place in the championship this morning (Aug 27) in Los Angeles, securing Asia Pacific's best global performance in Valorant.
Valorant Champions Los Angeles is the final leg of the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) — the highest-level tournament organised by Riot Games — and sees international teams vie for championship glory.
Having previously bested Evil Geniuses in the upper bracket finals, Paper Rex entered the match as favourites, but found themselves on the back foot early, losing their selected map pick of Bind 10-13 despite securing an 8-4 lead.
The Singapore team's answer back on the second map, Ascent, would even out the score at 1-1, but subsequent losses in the third and fourth maps with 5-13 and 10-13 respectively put an end to Paper Rex's dream for their first world championship.
Heartbreaking losses are not new for Paper Rex, but perhaps this loss stings harder as the team prepares to bid farewell to their star player Wang "Jinggg" Jingjie who was recently confirmed to be no longer part of their 2024 roster as he leaves for national service.
Jingjie, 20, had told the media prior to the match: "If this is my real last tournament and I never come back, I'm just proud of everyone in my team for going through this journey with me.
"I hope the fans just... remember this era of Paper Rex."
After their loss, Jingjie took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, and wrote in an emotional post: "We finished 2nd in VCT 2023. Thank you everyone for the support, I guess that's it for me."
His teammate Aaron "mindfreak" Leonhart, also shared in a press conference after the match: "To be honest I think today we lost to ourselves again like in Copenhagen. And props to EG, they play really well also.
"At the same time... I just feel so bad cause this is Jinggg's last tournament."
Paper Rex's head coach Alexandre "alecks" Salle said in the press conference: "Everyone's irreplaceable, but sometimes life happens, you know?
"Army happened and Jingjie has to go for a while, but he'll be back."
Heralded as possibly the best Raze player in Valorant, Jingjie leaves behind big shoes to fill and many questions on what's next for Paper Rex.
Paper Rex walks away from this tournament with earnings of US$400,000 (S$540,000).
This bittersweet resolution comes hot on the heels of Paper Rex's best competitive year, winning the VCT 2023 Pacific League as well as coming third in VCT Masters Tokyo leading up to this tournament.