This weekend’s Red Bull Campus Clutch, which will be held in Madrid, Spain with a live audience in attendance, is set to be a historic event in the short history of Valorant esports.
As only the game’s second-ever international LAN, it may also offer Turkey, a nation that has taken the game to its heart, its first taste of success on the world stage with many predicting their team of university students to overcome all and lift the trophy on Sunday.
Few are more confident of that than the Turkish players themselves. Arriving as Bedel Ödeyenler, the roster has every right to be confident. They beat out 1600 other teams in qualifying -- far more than any other region offered up -- and they count BBL Esports’ Barış “fred” Özdemir as a player.
“We can win this easily,” Arda “ZZ Madzzy” Demirel told GINX TV on the eve of the event, describing a journey through qualifying that, if he’s correct, may prove more difficult than the event itself.
"We are really good at this game. If you compete against those teams, and you win the national, it’s easy to win the World Finals,” said Madzzy.
Madzzy cut a confident figure on the eve of the event. (Picture: Ginx TV)
Traditional preparation for an event with $20,000 on the line would usually be preceded by analysing the other teams -- pouring over hours of VODs to learn opponent’s habits and strategies -- it was something that the players of Bedel Ödeyenler felt unnecessary.
“We didn’t do much preparation for this tournament," admitted Madzzy. "We played with each other before, we trust ourselves. No prac, no scrims, we just came to win this."
There are certainly teams here that can stop them. Out of the other 11 involved, the United States' Bay Area Vandals, Egypt's Anubis Gaming, and Belarus' Platoon all have the potential to dent Turkey's ascent but Maddzzy isn't bothered.
"Anubis are really good," he says of a team that they have scrimmed with many times, "but you will see we won't drop a map."
Turkey’s embrace of Valorant is visceral. There is an energy for the game in the country that perhaps only North America as a whole can rival. Viewership spiked whenever Turkish powerhouses Futbolist, BBL, and Oxygen faced off against their European rivals in the VCT Stage 2 Challengers Finals. Public votes to decide the MVP in any tournament featuring Acend’s Mehmet Yağız "cNed" İpek -- arguably the best player in the world and likely to win it anyway -- are instead landslides as Turkish fans back their star player.
cNed (pictured) has become of the esport's biggest stars. (Picture: Red Bull Content Pool)
Flying the flag for their homeland is something that Madzzy embraces: "We are playing for Turkey, it's very important for us and it makes us very happy."
For Madzzy. the love that Turkey has for Valorant comes down to one thing - Riot.
Perceptions within the country that other developers overlooked them, proved fertile ground for a company that has regional offices throughout the world. “Riot Games really showed their support to the Turkish community and we have a big community and they like it[...] Now every kid in Turkey wants to be an esport player.”
Those kids will have to wait in line, with Madzzy hoping victory in the Red Bull Campus Clutch will help him earn a contract with an esport organisation.
"I want to say one thing: don't forget this face," said Madzzy. "When I am in the final and on the stage, I will lift the trophy."
Turkey kicks off their campaign at 3 pm CEST today (17th July) when they will face off against Belgium's PXL Esports.
For more information check out our Red Bull Campus Clutch viewers guide.