It's hard to find a more unique story in the first half of 2024 than that of Patryk "paTiTek" Fabrowski.

When the best players in the world competed in LA at Champions 2023, he had just finished a season for Diamant Esports Diamant Esports Europe Rank #13 xiTsha Arkadiusz Nowak westside Thander Andrej Živanović Grmekista Tilen Grmek Prti Ivan Erak Pa1ze in the Eastern European tier two Valorant scene. His goal was to get back to tier one, and his shot at reaching it was slipping away. After playing for Case Esports Case Esports Inactive between seasons, the FPS veteran got his second opportunity in tier one thanks to Team Heretics Team Heretics Europe Rank #2 MiniBoo Dominykas Lukaševičius Wo0t Mert Alkan RieNs Enes Ecirli benjyfishy Benjamin David Fish Boo Ričardas Lukaševičius needing a sixth man.

It wasn't a permanent role, which was clear from the start. Team Heretics had a star initiator, Mert "Wo0t" Alkan, who could not play for the first couple months of the year due to his age. Until Wo0t turned 18, paTiTek had his opportunity in the limelight once again. Both Team Heretics and paTiTek entered the year with few expectations but immediately showed the world that they were not to be trifled with.

Out of all regions, EMEA had two of the biggest surprises in their Kickoff tournament. Karmine Corp Karmine Corp Europe Rank #33 MAGNUM Martin Penkov tomaszy Tomás Machado N4RRATE Marshall Massey marteen Martin Pátek sh1n Ryad Ensaad and Team Heretics rose to the top off the backs of great teamwork and fresh talent. Nobody could deny the radiance around the youth movement in EMEA, especially since Heretics were playing with one of their prodigies on the bench. According to paTiTek, it didn't take long for him to realize that the team's potential was much higher than others predicted.

“Before Kickoff, I just wanted to show I could play at the highest level,” paTiTek said. “The expectations then arrived when we first played together and I got along with them. I realized that we had the potential to truly make something good. I was a little stressed and constantly overthinking, especially on stage. I think I wasn't performing to my standards, but the team was doing great.”

paTiTek Team Heretics paTiTek poses on stage at Masters Madrid. (Image via Riot Games)

Team Heretics had plenty of stars even with Wo0t not available. Dominykas "MiniBoo" Lukaševičius fit in perfectly alongside his veteran older brother Ričardas "Boo" Lukaševičius, while Benjamin "benjyfishy" David Fish showed that the talent he hinted at toward the end of VCT 2023 was just a taste of what was to come.

Heading from the stage in Berlin to playing in front of a big crowd in Madrid, paTiTek felt the pressure build for Heretics. He may have been one of the oldest players on the roster, but his only prior time playing against the best in Valorant was during the pandemic. Madrid was his first major LAN, and he felt like his performance there was unacceptable.

“Everyone on the team had their inexperience playing on a big stage like that, including me,” paTiTek said. “ Paper Rex Paper Rex Asia-Pacific Rank #1 mindfreak Aaron Leonhart Jinggg Wang Jing Jie f0rsakeN Jason Susanto d4v41 Khalish Rusyaidee something Ilya Petrov was one of my hardest games mentally because it was a knockout game and I performed super badly. For me it was a huge blow, being a sixth man and wanting just to do my best. I was on the verge of crying post-match. It was unacceptable for my standards and it just sucked to be in that moment. It was a huge learning moment for me though, because I knew what went wrong and what I could adjust after.”

Team Heretics faced two of the best teams in the tournament, Sentinels Sentinels North America Rank #5 TenZ Tyson Ngo Zellsis Jordan Montemurro zekken Zachary Patrone johnqt Mohamed Amine Ouarid Sacy Gustavo Rossi and Paper Rex, and lost to both. The team was eliminated, and with Wo0t returning weeks into the Stage 1 regular season, paTiTek knew that his best chance to prove himself so far had been a failure. He vowed to himself that if he got that second chance at an international event, it would be different.

Stage 1 kept the team's expectations high. Team Heretics remained a regional competitor coming back from Madrid, but paTiTek stepped away as Wo0t turned 18 and joined the roster. Now a free agent, paTiTek still couldn't get his mind off his performance at Madrid and even considered retiring from competitive Valorant.

“Going back to Berlin, my mindset was just to move on and perform, but that loss still lingered and made me think about my place in tier one,” paTiTek said. “After Wo0t rejoined the roster, I went home and focused on relaxing and improving my mental health. I thought if I got another opportunity in tier one it would be very different. If I didn't, I thought it just wasn't meant to be. I just played ranked, met with friends, and just waited to see what my future was.”

paTiTek huddles Team Heretics paTiTek huddles alongside Team Heretics. (Image via Riot Games)

In that short downtime, Team Heretics fought back to their regional finals and finished in second place. This meant that the team was headed to back-to-back international events, now traveling to Shanghai. Yet, a roster problem struck Team Heretics once again when MiniBoo decided to take a break for his studies. Heretics needed a substitute to fill in for the international event. As it turned out, they had the perfect player in mind: a flex who was familiar with their team from just weeks prior.

“I accepted, of course, who wouldn't?” paTiTek said. “We went with basically zero practice with this adjusted team. We took it as another learning curve for us, taking the challenge in a more fun way, so the mood was completely different than in Madrid. I realized this was my second chance, and my improved confidence showed.”

Team Heretics were heading into Shanghai just as they had when VCT 2024 began: with no expectations. They moved Wo0t from his traditional initiator role to duelist so paTiTek could fit into the roster. It looked like a desperate change until Wo0t started to get comfortable on Jett and sniped through top duelists along the team's path to the finals. Despite eliminating the Chinese home teams, a feat that could've made them the villains of the event, the crowd picked them as their favorites and cheered for them the loudest as Shanghai entered the playoff stage.

paTiTek stage Shanghai finals Gen.G paTiTek looks as Gen.G win the Masters Shanghai finals. (Image via Riot Games)

Everyone on the team looked reinvigorated, but paTiTek specifically stepped up in comparison to his performance at Madrid, finishing fourth in assists per round across the entire tournament. It all clicked at Shanghai thanks to one active change he focused on.

“Originally, I think I was too hectic of a player both in gameplay and comms,” paTiTek said, “so I actively tried to be more chill and see the game from a bird's eye view. I wasn't thinking my decisions through, and my focus for Shanghai was going back to the fundamentals.”

One of his best moments was in the lower finals, as he clutched on one health against G2 Esports.

Despite losing in the finals to Gen.G 3-2, paTiTek's performance has demonstrated his skills as a tier-one player. He showed his ability to adapt quickly to new circumstances and opponents, while still improving as a player. Now, paTiTek is physically back in the same position he was after Wo0t joined Heretics, but not mentally, having broken through one of the toughest moments of his competitive career and completed his redemption arc.

“In Shanghai, I managed to uphold my standards,” paTiTek said. “I showed my talent but also kept that level head and I knew I could be a hero if my team needed me to be. For me, it was redemption for Madrid, and I succeeded.”