After an intense performance at Valorant Champions 2021, Acend came to hold the trophy high, their last in a series of monumental wins across the 2021 season. Champions was the biggest international tournament of the year for Valorant, the cap-stone to the whole Valorant Champions Tour, and featured 16 teams in total who’d battled throughout the year to book their place, culminating in a best-of-five final on December 12.
Acend finished top of Group A during the Group Stages, beating out X10 CRIT for the top spot and winning all but one match. Their first playoff game was in the quarterfinals against Team Secret, which proved to be no trouble at all. Acend took a 2-0 win and went on to the semifinals.
Team Liquid were considered one of the strongest teams to participate, but Acend made quick work of them in the semis. Dominating from the very start, Acend conceded just 11 rounds to Team Liquid, which cNed says was done “without any problems”.
Of all the teams to participate in the last stages of Valorant Champions, Russian side Gambit Esports gave Acend the most trouble in the finals. The best-of-five sent two wins Gambit’s way, but cNed and his team managed to pull it back to take the title. The Jett-main player comments that the expectations were high for the Russian team – “we were expecting hard competition from Gambit since they were the latest tournament winners, and it was as hard as expected.”
The grand final took five full matches to decide a winner, as Acend fought back from two losses in the fourth map, winning it 14-12 and forcing Gambit into a fifth match. “I thought we’d win Icebox,” says cNed, “but Gambit played better than I expected. They would have won the whole thing if they got one more round, but we were able to go through the overtime and win the map.” Acend then used their momentum to win an impressive 13-8 on Split, with cNed nailing 18 frags and eight assists, securing the title and taking home the trophy in a fitting end to their incredible 2021 performance.
“Playing in a LAN tournament is another experience altogether,” cNed explains when asked about his nerves on the day. “There were times I got nervous, but I had it under control!”
Playing in a LAN tournament is another experience altogether
But cNed’s end of year victory didn’t come from nowhere. Even from the start of 2021, he had a goal in mind, and was determined to make his mark on the Valorant scene – his old team, nolpenki, were participants in the first official Riot event for Valorant – First Strike Europe in December 2020 and made it to the quarterfinals before being knocked out.
While the team disbanded shortly after First Strike Europe, cNed wasn’t done with Valorant. “I wanted to find a new team and continue playing the game at a professional level once our team broke up. And it ended up like that,” he says, referring to his current stint with Acend. He knew that pursuing a career in esports would not be easy, saying that “this is a job that requires discipline, hard work and communication. You can’t do it as a hobby, you need to do it as a profession.”
Luckily, after being picked up by Acend, cNed was able to do just that, and now benefits from their intense training regime before matches. “We train every day, and we try to improve our communication and our game in bootcamps before major tournaments,” he says. Alongside this, cNed says his friends and family have played a big role in his success. “They were hopeful for me and gave motivational speeches for me to win, I thank them all. I am happy to be the first Valorant Champion.”
My goal for 2022 is to compete in and win Valorant Champions, of course
Referring to his home, cNed commented that his win might bring more Valorant hopefuls from his native Turkey. As the only Turkish player in the entire Champions competition, he noted that “this championship motivated more Turkish players,” going on to say that he “hopes to see more players and teams from Turkey at higher levels.” To further encourage new players, cNed gave his top three tips for fellow Jett players: “Don’t be afraid of playing aggressively, pave the way for your team, don’t be afraid of giving up scores.”
It’s a long year ahead for cNed and Acend, now that the Valorant scene is establishing these heavyweight competitions, but he shows no sign of slowing down. And with the Valorant Champions Tour set to kick off again for 2022 in February, cNed only has one thing on his mind. “My goal for 2022 is to compete in and win Valorant Champions, of course!”