Coming out of nowhere, Acend won the inaugural Valorant Champions Tour in 2021. 2022’s VCT didn’t kick off with the explosive start many likely expected for the EMEA squad, but star player Mehmet Yağız ‘cNed’ İpek still has his eyes very much set on the prize.
As the curtain fell on the inaugural Valorant Champions Tour, EMEA underdogs Acend walked away as unexpected victors. Facing off against a star-studded cast of global squads all determined to snatch the crown, the relative newcomers pulled the rug out from beneath some of esports’ most iconic orgs, proving that dreams truly can come true.
Coming into 2022, however, the team had a target on their backs. With EXCEL’s Patryk ‘paTiTek’ Fabrowski claiming “I don’t feel like they [Acend] are [superior] right now,” Stage 1 of the tournament proved that Gods can, indeed, bleed. The team crashed out of the tournament before the playoffs, with Aleksander ‘Zeek’ Zygmunt missing the last group match because of mental health problems.
Stage 2 has been a lot more successful, with a playoff spot already locked and some dominant wins under their belt. cNed, the star of the show, remains hyper-focused on Masters, and is looking beyond to Champions 2022, firmly believing his merry band of misfits can walk away with the trophy for the second year in a row.
Acend cNed: “We can become VCT Champions again”
As noted in Red Bull’s new Unfold documentary, cNed began playing games when he was seven years old, quickly recognizing he had a “a special talent.”
“I genuinely knew I had a special talent and one day I’d be playing at the highest level; so I worked really hard to finally get there and achieve it,” he told Dexerto. “While playing CS and Zula I never thought I could go pro, but when Valorant came out the first three to four months were enough for me to understand I could play this game at the highest level and become a pro at it.”
With many seeing him as the backbone of the Acend roster, their Stage 1 defeat culminated in a reshuffle that saw then-IGL Santeri ‘BONECOLD’ Sassi and Vladyslav ‘Kiles’ Shvets benched. Recalling that, during Stage 1, they “were underprepared and there were some issues within the team,” he believes their Stage 2 success is due to their new and improved squad, featuring Vakaris ‘vakk’ Bebravičius and Ondřej ‘MONSTEERR’ Petrů.
“I think we are stronger individually compared to our old roster,” he comments. “The old roster had better chemistry, and I believe we will achieve very good things if we achieve the same chemistry with our new roster.”
Noting that, coming into Stage 2 Acend “still have the same mentality and nothing has changed,” the Turkish ace is convinced that “we can become champions again this year.”
What would make victory even sweeter is the fact that Masters is hosted in Istanbul, the largest city of his home country.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” he confesses. “This is the first time one of the top tournaments for a game will be held in Turkey, and I think Turkish viewers and players are very hyped about this.
“I hope I’ll be there on that stage,” he concludes, presenting his rivals with an open challenge. With three spots ready and waiting at VCT Masters Copenhagen, cNed believes that one of them rightfully belongs to Acend. Will they triumph against the meat grinder that is Fnatic, who remain undefeated in the VCT competition? We’ll have to wait and see. But if there’s one guarantee, it’s that cNed will be firing on all cylinders.