The highly anticipated VALORANT Team KOI did not disappoint in their debut in the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Europe Stage 1 Challengers Open Qualifier this week. The Spanish organization, founded by Ibai “Ibai” Llanos and Gerard Piqué, made the top eight in their very first tournament before narrowly losing to Team Vitality.
Their star duelist Joona “H1ber” Parviainen led the charge and helped his side defeat five teams in open qualifiers, including Excel Esports. Despite losing 2-0 to Vitality, H1ber said he remains positive about his team’s debut performance.
“I’m personally very proud of how well we did,” he said. “I expected us to do well because we got some decent results with the little practice we had, but I didn’t expect that we might get that far on our first try.”
However, H1ber noted the difficulty of losing after coming this far. He took solace that KOI will have some time to fix the bugs they identified before the next qualifier.
“I said to my teammates after the Vitality game, I know we’re heartbroken right now, but we have to look at the good things,” H1ber said. “It was a great run for us and we have the potential to be one of the best in the EU, so we’ll only get better from here. We will fix our mistakes and come back stronger.”
Leave Team Finest
H1ber left Team Finest as a free agent before joining KOI, a move marked by his reputation as the most enduring member of the team. Looking back on that decision, the Finnish player explained that the move was due to a much-needed role reversal.
“ALIVE is a great jettist and a great duelist,” said H1ber. “I spoke to the trainer that we just signed with Finest at the time and we spoke about whether I was sure this was the best thing for my career because obviously he knows I’m a great duelist and he thinks I would do it much better playing on another team as a duelist.”
H1ber went on to thank Finest for letting him out of his contract rather than forcing him to stay through the end of the year.
KOI X VALORANT 2022 pic.twitter.com/c7tQAWQG6f
– KOI (@KOI) January 5, 2022
Many teams hailed H1ber’s departure from Finest, with rumors linking him to teams like Fnatic during the off-season. However, he felt most comfortable with the team that was building KOI and made the decision to join the Spanish organization.
“I’ve dabbled in every single role for basically ten different teams, but KOI Here I get to play that duelist role, which is amazing,” he said. “Pretty much all top teams already have a duelist, so there’s no place for me there.”
He added that the discourse about his destination put additional pressure on his decision, as teams began giving him deadlines for deciding on their offer once they heard he could look elsewhere.
“There were so many leaks about where I’m going and I felt like it could have hurt me because some teams started giving me deadlines when they heard leaks and rumors that I was trying out for other teams” said H1ber. “It was like, ‘You have to sign with us right now or it’s over for you.'”
However, when KOI found out about the H1ber tests with Fnatic, he said it was easy to officially join them.
“I’ve been so happy with the people that we have at KOI and the people behind the organization,” H1ber said. “I didn’t want to take the risk with any other team, that feels good, why not just join in?”
For the fans
H1ber’s decision to join KOI has already turned into a fantastic career move. In terms of viewership alone, KOI blew all other EU teams out of the water. After racking up more than 25,000 concurrent views in his game against Excel, H1ber said he enjoys the support of his fans.
“The support I’ve received has been absolutely insane,” he said. “I didn’t expect the support and views to be so strong. It actually helps me to perform better knowing how many people are watching and supporting us.”
KOI will have another chance next week in the second open qualifier, but in case they can’t get promoted to the VCT, H1ber said he would be more than happy to play in the LVP – the VALORANT regional league for Spain and Portugal.