It took them a while to do it, but ZETA DIVISION ZETA DIVISION Japan Rank #1 Laz Ushida Koji crow Maruoka Tomoaki Dep Yuuma Hisamoto SugarZ3ro Shota Watanabe TENNN Tenta Asai had finally done it.



Considered one of the top teams in Valorant‘s Japanese scene, the team — then known as Absolute JUPITER Absolute JUPITER Inactive makiba Miyamoto Akatsuki Laz Ushida Koji crow Maruoka Tomoaki barce Takebayashi Ryo takej Takemori Shogo Reita Oshiro Ryu — has more recently played second fiddle to their rivals, Crazy Raccoon, over the course of Valorant Champions Tour, losing to them twice in a grand finals. Once in the Stage 1 Masters finals in Japan, and then another in the Challengers Finals, even stung more by losing out on the one slot for Masters: Reykjavik.

But the team never bowed down to their rivalry. A new player and a team rebrand came in before Stage 3. It wasn't smooth, but with determination and a bit of fortune, they had qualified for Masters: Berlin thanks to Japan getting two spots for Germany, and beating Crazy Raccoons in the Stage 3: Challenger Playoffs finals was the cherry on top.

Maybe the third time's the charm.

The core of the team goes way back to when they played in professional Counter-Strike as Absolute. Ushida "Laz" Koji, Maruoka "crow" Tomoaki, Takebayashi "barce" Ryo, and Takemori "takej" Shogo have played with each other since 2017. Oshiro "Reita" Ryu later joined them in 2018 and has been with them ever since.

In the spring of 2020, the group moved over to Valorant and signed with JUPITER. Then known as Absolute JUPITER, they made their major Valorant debut in the RAGE Invitational, the first Ignition Series event in Japan, and swept the bracket to get their first tournament win.

They kept their impressive record going; they won the RAGE Japan Tournament, the second event in the Japanese Ignition series, and wrapped up 2020 by crushing the offline First Strike: Japan in Tokyo.

When the VCT started this year, they started the circuit in Stage 1 by placing in the top two of Challengers 1 and 2, setting them onto the path to Masters. In Masters, they beat two teams in the upper bracket with ease before reaching their soon-to-be rivals: Crazy Raccoon.

Their match in the upper bracket finals was tough, but JUPITER made it through to reach the finals. But when the two met again in the grand finals, it was a different outcome. JUPITER had a close loss in the first map, but were then swept aside in the next two maps by Raccoon as their opponents won the championship.

After their loss, JUPITER returned to the fray for Stage 2, this time with the chance of going to Masters: Reykjavik on the line. They topped their group in Challengers 1 to qualify for the Finals. In the Challengers Finals, JUPITER met Crazy Raccoon again in the upper bracket finals, but they lost this time and were sent to the lower bracket. They came back to meet their rivals again in the finals, only for history to repeat itself — JUPITER lost the match 1-3. Worse, a trip to Iceland slipped right from their grasp.

Despite their losses, the team would not be shaken by their rivals. Between stages, they added Miyamoto "makiba" Akatsuki to the roster as the org went under a rebrand. Now known as ZETA DIVISION, they were determined to put fate into their own hands.

Stage 3 began like previous stages: ZETA topped their group in Challengers 1 to qualify for the playoffs. In the Challengers Playoffs, they only needed to reach the grand finals to go to Masters: Berlin, with Japan getting two spots this time rather than one.

The playoffs got off to a rough start; in the upper bracket semifinals, they lost to Northeption, sending them to the lower bracket. ZETA would then recoup, making their way through the lower bracket, and most importantly, beat Northeption again in the lower bracket finals, qualifying for their first international tournament.

They would have time to celebrate their win later — they had a score to settle with Crazy Raccoon once again in the finals. This was mainly for seeding and pride, but ZETA wouldn't miss out on a chance for some vengeance.

They started the finals by winning the first two maps to bring themselves to match point. But they were caught off-guard by a Raccoon comeback attempt as they brought it to map five. But ZETA prevailed to beat their rivals in a grand finals match one and for all to win the tournament.

ZETA have earned what they've yearned for for a long time. But now Berlin will be their chance to prove their worth on the international stage. They've overcome their rivals — now they have an even bigger mountain to climb.