After failing in their efforts to sign the Heroic squad in March 2020, FunPlus Phoenix put their plan to enter the Counter-Strike scene on hold for several months, making another attempt only in the fall, when they engaged in talks with GODSENT. It is now over two months since the Chinese organisation unveiled the international team, who are still trying to find a permanent solution to their in-game leadership predicament following Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend‘s departure.
Miikka “suNny” Kemppi is the third player to take the team’s reins, after Luka “emi” Vuković and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong. The former ENCE member was approached after negotiations with the Dutch player fell through at the last minute, helping the team to book a spot in the ESL Pro League Season 13 playoffs.
Martin “STYKO” Styk appeared on Tuesday as a guest on the ‘HLTV Confirmed’ podcast and spoke about the struggle to find a permanent fifth player. According to him, the organisation has given the team as much time as needed to find the right fit.
“We found the in-game leader, but negotiations just didn’t go through between chrisJ and FPX,” STYKO said. “That was unfortunate because even though he didn’t sign, we practised hard with him, we won a tournament, and made it into the finals of another. It was all looking good, but in the end, there was a deal-breaker and we had to get a new IGL.
“Less than 48 hours before the EPL roster lock, we decided to go for suNny, who was on our shortlist of IGLs even before we went for chrisJ. But, when we approached him, suNny said he had that project with flusha and he wasn’t sure where to go, so he told us it was better if we tried out chrisJ. We tried him out and it was the right fit.”
FunPlus Phoenix will finish out the ESL Pro League season with suNny, after which they will likely move on from the Finnish player, with STYKO revealing that negotiations with chrisJ have been resumed.
“By the looks of things, we’re going back to chrisJ if everything gets settled,” he said. “There is nothing signed, but it’s looking much brighter than it was a few months ago when the deal fell through.
“We want to play with each other, he fits our style and he’s a really good in-game leader, in my opinion. He also lifts our spirits during the game, which is necessary for our team and he learned a lot from karrigan, I guess.”
With suNny leading the team instead of chrisJ, FunPlus Phoenix advanced to the ESL Pro League playoffs with a 3-2 record, beating OG, BIG, and Renegades, and losing to the two best teams of the group, Heroic and Complexity. STYKO was surprisingly candid when asked to assess the team’s recent performances.
“Honestly, we are playing really bad Counter-Strike,” he said. “I feel that it’s not like we advanced to the playoffs, but that other teams failed to advance. BIG fell flat in our group and I expected them to be among the top three. OG also had some questionable games, and Renegades haven’t really put up a performance in Europe yet.”
FunPlus Phoenix‘s preparations for Friday’s Pro League match against FURIA have been less than ideal after suNny recently tested positive for coronavirus. The Finnish player has experienced mild symptoms, forcing the team to practice with coach Jonatan “Devilwalk” Lundberg.
“suNny tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday and he was unable to play due to having high fevers,” STYKO said.
“We are demotivated, but we’re seeing this light at the end of the tunnel as chrisJ wants to come back and we want him to come back as well. If this all works out I believe that by the end of the summer we’ll hit top 10 in the rankings, we’re going to qualify for the Major, and by the end of the year we are going to be an established tier-one team.”
You can access the full VOD of Tuesday’s episode of ‘HLTV Confirmed’ below.