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Original Reporting

When Papara SuperMassive Blaze stepped off the plane in Berlin, it took them a moment to realize what they had achieved. That moment passed quickly though — it was time to focus on the only thing that mattered: VALORANT.

The Turkish squad put their heart and soul into the stage at VCT Masters Berlin, but fell short twice while playing Acend. They thought they were more prepared the second time, but eventually fell 2-1. Their only win came against Paper Rex.

The team, while proud, doesn’t think they put the land of four seasons on the map.

“I don’t think we did represent Turkey,” Mehmet “Turko” Özen said after the loss. “We came to Berlin, but we could have done much more.”

From Istanbul to Berlin

The team was understandably sad after the second loss to Acend, but they were still proud to have made it. The feeling Turko and Baran “Izzy” Yılmaz got after winning was unrivaled and they desperately wanted to capture it again.

SuperMassive Blaze had barely managed to make it to Germany in the first place, losing to Gambit in the Challengers Playoffs. Once they did arrive they didn’t drink or party. They loved the modern architecture of the city, but didn’t make plans to see anything.

“We didn’t think we’d get eliminated,” Izzy said. “But I can drink beer now that the tournament is over for us.”

SuperMassive Blaze and Acend VALORANT teams pose together
Both teams found time to pose for a group photo | Provided by Acend

Despite the losses, the team knows they’ve improved over the course of the event. They’ll need to go home and work on the aspects of their play that fell short, though. SuperMassive Blaze only have one shot at succeeding in the Last Chance Qualifiers in order to make it to VALORANT Champions 2021, which will also be in Berlin.

“We need to improve our communication and tactics,” Izzy said. “How to use utility, who should stay where and how to improve our retakes. Things like that.”

SuperMassive Blaze gets to enjoy Berlin for a couple of days before flying back home to Istanbul. They’ll have another four days off there before they start training for the LCQ that starts on Oct. 10.

“We’ll look at everything we did with a close eye,” Izzy said. The squad believes their teamwork is top notch, but it can be too inconsistent. It hindered them when it mattered most.

“Our teamwork and communication is close to perfect,” Turko said. “But one day isn’t the same as the next. If it’s not a good day we won’t do well.”

Looking ahead to the LCQ

There is another player who’s represented Turkey at VCT Masters Berlin. Acend’s Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek, who beat his countrymen twice at the event, lost to 100 Thieves in the first round of the playoffs.

“I really like him, he’s a really good player,” Turko said. “I wish to god he can represent Turkey and win a lot of games here.”

The loss, for now, is another step towards where SuperMassive Blaze want to end up within the ever growing VALORANT scene. They know they can’t win without losing.

“I think we are improving ourselves everyday, every hour,” Turko said. “No team can succeed without losing.”

Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.
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