In just one tournament, DRX DRX Korea Rank #2 Flashback Cho Min-hyuk (조민혁) BuZz Yu Byung-chul (유병철) MaKo Kim Myeong-gwan (김명관) Foxy9 Jung Jae-sung (정재성) BeYN Kang Ha-bin (강하빈) went from perennial Pacific powerhouse to dark horse.

One reason for this was due to the team changing its roster to incorporate promising prospects into its lineup. But the team's newest addition, Cho "Flashback" Min-hyuk (조민혁), had to leave the starting lineup soon after Kickoff ended.

That's when DRX brought in another prospect, Kang "BeYN" Ha-bin (강하빈), to replace him. As it turned out, BeYN led them to an undefeated regular season and stood out as the player who brought the mood up in a team that needed some change.

Looking back, BeYN entered the team at the one moment in the past couple of years that DRX had less pressure on their shoulders. After winning tournament after tournament in Korea, they entered Pacific as a perennial contender. Then, after a disappointing end to 2023, they released both Kim "Zest" Ki-seok (김기석) and Goo "Rb" Sang-min (구상민) to put their prospects Jung "Foxy9" Jae-sung (정재성) and Flashback on the roster. Pacific Kickoff was good, though still showing areas they needed to improve on. Then, Flashback announced that he had to step down to the inactive roster due to personal reasons, and BeYn got brought up.

Heading into the Stage 1 regular season, BeYN himself had worried that he would have to fill in big shoes. Not only were Zest and Rb gone, but he also saw Flashback as a great player he had to replace in his own way.

“Our teammates Zest and RB, I know how good and dominant they were,” BeYN said. “I was hesitant or worried to replace them, and I knew I could get the opportunity but also knew Flashback was better than me at the time. I didn't think I had a spot, so I just worked on myself and eventually got that chance at the big leagues.”

DRX BeYN celebrates a win on stage BeYN celebrates alongside his teammates on the VCT Pacific stage. (Image via DRX)

From his time involved in the DRX system, he got to know both the main roster and the prospects, and in turn they knew of him. Even then, the overall vibe around the team heading into Stage 1 was a small sense of panic, until BeYN and the team got their first win under their belt.

“When Stage 1 began and Flashback had to go, the team had the mentality that we were in trouble,” BeYN said. “Our first game was against Team Secret Team Secret Asia-Pacific Rank #6 invy Adrian Jiggs Reyes JessieVash Jessie Cuyco Wild0reoo Brheyanne Christ Reyes 2ge James Goopio Jremy Jeremy Cabrera , and we still had that mentality, but as the match went on I felt like I was playing in Challengers again. I pushed our team to do all the basics right, and when we played together, I got that confidence to play well for the team.”

Team Secret were their first win, but their match against Gen.G Gen.G Korea Rank #1 Munchkin Byeon Sang-beom (변상범) t3xture Kim Na-ra (김나라) Meteor Kim Tae-O (김태오) Lakia Kim Jong-min (김종민) Karon Kim Won-tae (김원태) was the true test against top opposition. Not only were Gen.G finalists at Masters Madrid, but they started well in the regular season, only losing to Paper Rex Paper Rex Asia-Pacific Rank #1 mindfreak Aaron Leonhart Jinggg Wang Jing Jie f0rsakeN Jason Susanto d4v41 Khalish Rusyaidee something Ilya Petrov . Out of all the star players in the lobby between DRX and Gen.G, it was BeYN who led the lobby in almost all stats. Match rating, ACS, kills, KAST, you name it and BeYN was the best on it, all while playing the usually quiet controller role.

BeYN gets a 4K to win Bind against Gen.G

Not only was BeYN crucial to their wins, he was keeping the mood light and fun despite the pressure he put on himself to do well. In fact, the rumor grew that there was a nickname that BeYN had regionally: Korean Zellsis. Talking to BeYN, this name did not come out of the blue. In fact, he might have come up with it himself out of admiration of the Sentinels player.

“The nickname Korean Zellsis, there isn't any one good origin story,” BeYN said. “When I looked at Jordan "Zellsis" Montemurro, I just saw someone that loved the gym and that was something I wanted to share with him, from my perspective. I also know he brings up the energy for the team and the fans, and that's something I want to do. But I do scream that I am Korean Zellsis in scrims, so I wanted to keep that energy into VCT, and I guess it came through in comms.”

Whether it was in the gym or in the server, the nickname stuck around long enough for it to appear on popular podcast Plat Chat Valorant. From there, BeYN only grew in popularity and in game, keeping up the form from the Gen.G game to compete the regular season undefeated. DRX were in the easier group in retrospect, but DRX faced their own troubles that they overcame. As the self-appointed "moodmaker" for the squad, BeYN fit into the roster easily.

“In my opinion, I think I have a unique personality to bring the mood up even if things are looking bad,” BeYN said. “I've been with the org for a while, and I was familiar with the roster anyway. When I joined the team, they just accepted me for who I was, so it all worked out.”

DRX huddle before match DRX huddle before a match in VCT Pacific. (Image via DRX)

It worked out until the playoffs. DRX got a hard draw, first facing off against regional and international contenders Paper Rex. The series went to three maps, but Paper Rex just squeezed through to get their spot in Shanghai. Thanks to DRX going undefeated, they got another chance in the lower bracket, but T1 T1 Korea Rank #3 stax Kim Gu-taek (김구택) Sayaplayer Ha Jeong-woo (하정우) Rossy Daniel Abedrabbo Carpe Lee Jae-hyeok (이재혁) iZu Ham Woo-ju (함우주) xccurate Kevin Susanto upset Gen.G to set up another matchup against a team that made it to Madrid. Alas, Gen.G were adamant to rebound after that upset, as DRX lost another three-map series.

Those two losses were brutal for the momentum DRX built, reminiscent of how good T1 was to start the season before losing to Paper Rex to miss out on Masters Madrid. As any good player does in tough moments, the losses taught BeYN some crucial lessons about himself.

“In the playoffs, facing Paper Rex in the first set, I just was too nervous,” BeYN said. “I think I still need to learn to control that, and improve on my fear of playing on a big stage. Facing against Gen.G, we lost a big lead on Sunset. All of us relaxed a little too early when we were up 7-0, and until we finish out a map, we can't relax or underestimate anyone.”

Now, watching Masters Shanghai from home, BeYN will continue with DRX to try and redeem their playoff performance in Stage 2 and potentially qualify for Champions. If he can keep up his form from the Stage 1 regular season, DRX will be on a good trajectory to make it back to Champions and compete for an international title once again.

And this time around, if they make it, they'll have a type of player they've always needed: a hype man who can back it up.