The Group Stage of VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers is nearing its conclusion. Several teams bid farewell to the tournament after five weeks of enthralling matchups against some of the best sides from the region.
Turkish organization BBL Esports took on reigning World Champions Acend in an engaging Bo3 combat, which saw the former claim its biggest victory of the tournament and deny the latter a slot in the tournament's playoffs.
To earn their second win of the tournament, BBL Esports claimed rounds in Haven (13-6) and Ascent (13-6) after a close encounter in Split (11-13) denied them an easy victory. BBL concluded their VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers run by finishing fourth on the Group B leaderboard whereas Acend fell to fifth.
BBL Esports's head coach Vlad elaborates on their VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers experience
In a conversation with Sportskeeda Esports's Adarsh J Kumar, BBL Esports head coach Berke "Vlad" Kantürk shared some insights about his team’s performance at the VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers.
Q: After a rough start to the VCT Stage 1 EMEA Challengers, BBL Esports managed to defeat the reigning world champions of Valorant. How do you think BBL performed against Acend in this Week 5 fixture?
Vlad: I think the performance we put up today is the level at which we really play. We always used to choke against EU teams. Today was the first time we didn't do it. Since we were so relaxed and there was nothing to lose.
We knew that even if we lost, everything was going to be okay since our Group Stage slot was already decided. That is the main reason we play so relaxed with perfect communication.
Q: The Group Stage encounter against Acend was BBL's first official match against the team. In your words, how did Acend perform in this matchup?
Vlad: First of all, congratulations to Acend. They played really well. Unfortunately, they had to play a stand-in today. I am sorry for zeek. A player's psychological and mental status is something that needs to be taken care of in esports more often. That is a serious topic. I hope he comes back stronger. zeek is one of the best talents in the world, in my opinion. We look forward to his return as a World Champion.
When we saw Acend in our group, we were scared of them. They were returning to VCT as Valorant Champions 2021 title holders. However, at the start of the Group Stage, Acend didn't quite seem like the team that lifted the Champions trophy; they looked fragile. We knew that we could defeat them, but we had to defeat G2 first, which we couldn't.
We had the perfect map pool today. We knew Acend might have banned either Fracture or Haven, so we counter-picked Haven; it turned out to be great for us. We could've wound up with the Split game as well, but we suffered a seven-round loss in the beginning; we choked a lot.
When we returned from the deficit, there was a technical pause and additional tactical timeouts which broke our momentum. I am proud of my boys that we achieved a huge win against the reigning world champions.
Q: A week into the VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers, BBL Esports acquired Turko, adding him to the lineup. Can you tell us what led to the transfer and how he's been adjusting to the team so far ?
Vlad: I cannot say much regarding the benching of Muj and the arrival of Turko. I can say that Turko was a cold-blooded support player and one of the best talents in Turkey. In the early phases of the game, he was one of the best Initiators on the big stage. He is also great at managing clutch scenarios.
Turko performed in the Stage 3 Masters in Berlin last year and has good tournament experience. I wish we had one more week with him before the Fnatic game. He adapted really well, but it could've been much better if he had more time to practice with us prior to that match.
Q: VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers is the first VCT tournament to see a Group Stage in a round-robin format, leading to a double-elimination bracket. What is your take on this newly-appointed format, and would you like to see it continue in the later stages of VCT 2022?
Vlad: I really like the approach from Riot Games; especially the way the Group Stages were held, since we had a lot of time to prepare against our opponents each week. The audience was keen for the game as well, waiting every Sunday evening, preparing their chips and drinks to watch BBL play on the weekend.
If it was a double-elimination format, the teams would just want to face any opponent they see. However, I do think the seeding for the Group Stage needs improvement. Two Turkish teams in Group B and 3 CIS teams in Group A look uneven and is something that could have been done better.
Q: After BBL's outstanding victory against the world champions Acend, how would you like to describe the level of Turkish teams in Valorant?
Vlad: There are a few good teams coming up in VRL Turkey: Birlik. While there are upcoming teams like Surreal Esports and Fire Flux Esports, there is also a good presence of young talent in the region. We have to remember the unsigned players as well. There are a lot of young and talented players who watch us and the teams in VRL Turkey and grind really hard for their spot on the main stage.
One such player is Yiğithan "DeepMans" Kesici, who plays for Wave Esports in VRL Dach: Evolution. He has no professional background, but he is currently dominating his VRL with his team. Similarly, many players are yet to be discovered.
In the future, there will possibly be several organizations and players emerging from Turkey. In the upcoming VCT tournament, whichever Turkish team comes from the Valorant Regional Leagues will compete against the best VRL champions, and one of them will most likely go to the finals and take the spot for VCT Stage 2 Challengers.
Q: After the victory against Acend, BBL Esports have concluded their run at the VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers. How would you describe your experience in the tournament?
Vlad: We are not the same as when we started in the Group Stage. We were always worried about our opponents. But right now, it seems like we are getting to the level we aim to achieve. So far, we have taken two steps ahead and one step back, but we are keen to perform better every week.
There were some games that we cannot forget. The Haven match against Guild and the Ascent game against Fnatic are some of the moments we look back at. We could have won those matches easily. However, after the tournament, we have really stepped up and are ready for the VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers.
Q: After seeing BBL Esports perform their heart out in the VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers Group Stage, what can the audience look forward to from the team for Stage 2 of VCT EMEA Challengers?
Vlad: Our main objective was to stay alive in the Group Stage. Since that didn't happen, we are now aiming for a playoffs spot in the Stage 2 EMEA Challengers. Until then, we will be focused on our bootcamps. Our performance from Stage 1 will be evaluated and we will come back stronger for Stage 2.