MVP-Caliber Korean VALORANT Star Finds New Home for VCT 2024

In 2021, a South Korean player left a significant impact on NUTURN Gaming, leading a Korean team to their best international performance up to that point. Despite a less successful stint on Vision Strikers shortly afterward, this former Challengers MVP has made a comeback in the top-tier VALORANT scene.

Gen.G Esports, a South Korean team, has announced the addition of Kim “Lakia” Jong-min to their roster, making him the organization’s second signing of the offseason and the third player on the team. Lakia joins Gen.G after competing with Dplus in Korean Challengers, where they won both Korea Splits but were eliminated in the group stage at Ascension Pacific.

Lakia has consistently been recognized as one of the top talents to emerge from South Korea, a fact that became evident early in his VALORANT career. He initially joined Vision Strikers in mid-2020, but his career took off after he joined NUTURN Gaming at the beginning of 2021. He faced off against his former teammates to determine which squad was the best in Korea, earning the Stage Two Challengers MVP award as NUTURN reached the Stage Two Masters in Reykjavík.

NUTURN Gaming carried their impressive form from Korea into the international competition, finishing the tournament in third place, behind only Fnatic and Sentinels, two other formidable teams in 2021. By the end of the event, Lakia was ranked in the top 10 in various statistics, including rating, average combat score, and headshot percentage. He even earned an MVP award for his performance on day four of the tournament, following NUTURN’s victory over Version1.

Following various career developments, including a return to Vision Strikers and a year in Japan, Lakia transitioned from being a well-known top talent to becoming underrated and somewhat overshadowed in the world of franchising. He was unable to secure a spot on a franchised team for 2023, which led him to compete in Challengers for Dplus, with some familiar faces on the coaching staff from his NUTURN Gaming days. Although his team excelled in Korean Challengers, they fell short of making it to the knockout stage of Ascension Pacific, being eliminated by just a single map differential. Lakia, however, demonstrated that he was returning to his previous star talent level, and Gen.G is betting on him to recapture his old form.

Considering Gen.G’s ongoing team reconstruction, they have now filled the duelist role and only need to address other aspects of their roster. Lakia, known as an initiator who can adapt as needed, provides flexibility for Gen.G to construct their team. Together with Kim “Meteor” Tae-O and Kim “t3xture” Na-ra, it appears that Gen.G is strengthening their talent pool for the 2024 season.

If Lakia can return to his MVP form, both regionally and internationally, the VALORANT league should take notice.

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