Southeast Asia Valorant heavyweights, Paper Rex and Bleed Esports, are facing difficult struggles in the coming season due to the absence of numerous key players, namely Wang “Jinggg” Jing Jie, Marcus “nephh” Tan and Tyler “juicy” Aeria, who are set for mandatory national services.
According to Paper Rex head coach, Alexandre “Alecks” Sallé, at the Champions 2023 tournament last week, his team will be focusing on their plans for a lineup change when the team returns to Singapore. Although it would be possible for him to go back to his team after a year in service, the 20-year-old is unlikely to return as reports hint that he intends to continue his studies.
The same is the case for Bleed Esports, which is now looking for a replacement for nephh and juicy for the upcoming competitive season. For the latter, there is a big possibility that he will re-join his team after national service.
Seeing the age rules set by Riot Games, it’s likely that juicy has decided to begin his military service at age 16—two years ahead of the earliest national service enlistment age of 18. The minimum age required to play in the franchise league is 18, but juicy will only be 17 when the next season starts. By entering national service early, juicy will be able to finish his service and come back when he meets the required age.
Fans of the two teams are undoubtedly concerned by this news, especially with the departure of Jinggg and nephh, who proved themselves to be important players on their respective teams. With the level of competition likely to rise in 2024, they will be competing with scouts from teams outside of Singapore who have begun searching for young talents in the SEA region.
When Jinggg joined PRX in 2021 as a replacement for Zhang Teng “Shiba” Toh, he quickly brought stability to the PRX roster, significantly improving the squad’s performance. In the next two years, he helped the team in the APAC region by emerging victorious in both the VCT APAC Stage 1 and 2, winning the Pacific 2023, finishing third in the Masters Tokyo, and eventually ending as runner-up in the Champions 2023.
On the other side, nephh who joined Bleed from X10 Esports in March 2023 quickly became fans favorite as he helped the squad win the VCL MY/SG Split 2 title and advance to the VCT Ascension Pacific 2023. There, the squad overcame SCARZ in the grand finals in Bangkok and secured their spot as a new challenger in the VCT Pacific League for the next two seasons, where they will battle against teams like DRX, ZETA, and Paper Rex.