FunPlus Phoenix

FunPlus Phoenix Bolster Its Valorant Division

FunPlus Phoenix announced the signing of a new player Emir “rhyme” Muminovic, and former coach Neil “neilzinho” Finlay to its Valorant division on Tuesday, August 30. The announcement surfaced just a day ahead of VALORANT Champions 2022, where FPX will compete for the organization’s second big trophy.

Rhyme Joins FunPlus Phoenix As A Substitute

FPX unveiled rhyme as the newest member of its Valorant roster on Tuesday. The 23-year-old Norwegian Valorant pro joins FunPlus Phoenix as the sixth player on the lineup, albeit only as a substitute.

Rhyme started his professional esports career as a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player in 2017 when he was a part of KkoN Norway and later GAMERZ RED. However, while rhyme has some involvement competing in CS:GO, his experience is limited to lesser divisions, having never played for any notable organization.

After struggling to build a successful career in CS:GO, rhyme decided to transition to Valorant, where he made his first professional appearance in April 2020, when he joined Ninjas in Pyjamas as a stand-in. He remained with the Swedish esports organization for two months before signing a permanent contract, extending his stay for five more months.

Unfortunately, due to the team’s lackluster results halfway through 2021, NiP decided to bench, leaving him on the bench for over a month before the Norwegian player found a new home. In December 2021, rhyme signed for Gen.G Esports, but his stint with the Korean esports organization was rather short-lived and fairly unsuccessful.

With Gen.G, rhyme has failed to make it through four NA Challengers open qualifiers, while the team’s top placement was second at Proving Grounds $20k – Spring 2022. And after seven months of failing to produce anything noteworthy, rhyme and the rest of the team go cut from Gen.G, ushering in a complete roster rebuild.

Since his departure from Gen.G in July, rhyme has been homeless, but it seems like he was given another chance to prove his worth. Interestingly, despite his lack of success, rhyme has joined one of Europe’s top Valorant teams, where he’ll serve as a substitute, suggesting that he might get some playtime at VALORANT Champions.

Expanded Coaching Personnel

As it seems, FunPlus Phoenix are not taking any chances ahead of the biggest Valorant tournament of the year. Besides signing a substitute player, FPX have also added former CS:GO player and Valorant coach neilzinho.

The 31-year-old entered the Valorant esports scene in July 2022 as a coach for Rix.GG, before joining G2 Esports in January 2021. As a G2 Esports head coach, neilzinho led the team to the title at Red Bull Home Ground, placed second at VCT 2021: Europe Stage 3 Challengers 1, and reached the semi-finals of VCT 2021: Stage 3 Masters – Berlin.

Unfortunately, G2’s poor results at the end of 2021 saw neilzinho part ways with the team and join DarkZero Esports, where he has achieved middling success in lesser competitions, namely winning the Knights Gauntlet 2022: Championship. Since leaving DarkZero, neilzinho has led Dark Ratio through NSG: Summer Championship – Open 14 and Knights Arena Monthly Gauntlet 2022: July and won both.

But despite neilzinho’s experience as a head coach, he joins FPX as an analyst and will work alongside long-standing coach and former analyst Erik “d00mbr0s” Sandgren.

New Challenges Ahead

With a new player and analyst, FunPlus Phonenix are now ready to travel to Istanbul for the VALORANT Champions 2022, where the Chinese esports organization will compete for its second big trophy. It will mark the first VALORANT Champions event for FPX but the second big tournament of 2022.

FunPlus Phoenix travel to Istanbul as one of the top favorites to win the coveted title, having proven themselves as one of the top European teams this season. FPX kicked off the year by winning the VCT 2022: EMEA Stage 1 Challengers but were unable to attend VCT 2022: Stage 1 Masters – Reykjavík due to travel visa issues.

Still, FPX kept their wheels spinning and placed second at VCT 2022: EMEA Stage 2 Challengers before winning their first Masters title at VCT 2022: Stage 2 Masters – Copenhagen.

A day ahead of the VALORANT Champions 2022 kick-off, FPX is priced as the second favorite to win with esports betting sites, who have priced the European squad at +375, slightly behind LOUD at +400, and ahead of Paper Rex at +450.