pAura wants BBL fans to 'enjoy our fight' at VCT EMEA Challengers
four BBL Valorant players standing and looking into the camera

pAura wants BBL fans to ‘enjoy our fight’ at VCT EMEA Challengers

BBL's in-game leader says his team is ready for the spotlight in VCT EMEA
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Some of the world’s best teams will compete in the first season of the VALORANT Champions Tour Europe, Middle East and Africa Challengers, but none in the VCT can compare to BBL when it comes to popularity and the sheer size of their fan base. 

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BBL are the pride and joy of Turkey, and the road to get to where they are as a team has been anything but easy. Despite winning First Strike Turkey in 2020, one of the most impressive and important tournaments at the time, BBL failed to prove themselves internationally and in EMEA in 2021. They also struggled during the qualifiers for VCT this year; BBL were knocked out by Fire Flux Esports at Qualifier 1, then dropped to the lower bracket in Qualifier 2. 

However, under the guidance of their new in-game leader, Melih “pAura” Karaduran, the team managed an incredible lower bracket run, defeating their rival Futbolist in the grand final to secure a spot for VCT. Now, BBL face another challenge: competing consistently against the best under the pressure of a gigantic fan base.

We’re just getting started,” pAura said. “We know our potential. Let them enjoy our fight.”

BBL’s new IGL

PAura is one of the most respected and experienced IGLs in EMEA. He made a name for himself in 2020 with Team Heretics and moved on to lead SuperMassive Blaze all the way to Masters Berlin in 2021. His move to BBL was highly-anticipated, with fans speculating for weeks on whether pAura would be joining the Turkish giants.

“I received offers from both NA and EU, but due to the early qualifying date of Europe, I couldn’t wait while evaluating the offers in NA and didn’t want to miss the European qualifiers because I didn’t have much time,” pAura said. “If I had chosen to wait and there had been any glitches in the process, I would have been without a team. And the reason why I chose BBL over Europe is I think BBL deserves the very best, and I thought I could be in EMEA with them again, and we did it together.”

The 24-year-old’s belief in BBL paid off, and his impact on the team cannot be understated. Despite predominately playing Sentinel agents, pAura was able to adjust to accommodate teammate Hüseyin “aimDLL” Kabişteke, the star Sentinel player on BBL’s roster, ahead of the qualifiers.

Even though we play the same role, I think we have a different game structure on the agent,” pAura said. “So whoever needs the team structure and who is suitable for the game structure, one of us plays flex and the other plays Sentinel.”

Getting to know and then leading a new team in such a short amount of time was a challenge beyond agent picks, too. To make that time frame work, strategies can’t get too complex, pAura said, and execution is more important than usual.

“You build everything again, try to get to know the players and create plans accordingly, and during this time, your game plan changes according to the situation, and you expect them to adapt,” he said. “Since we don’t have much time to work, I try to put forward a game that the team can play more comfortably rather than a systematic game. You must have formulas that you can achieve success in both the long-term and the short-term, and I try to do this best by getting to know the players.”

BBL face challenges ahead of VCT Challengers

BBL and pAura’s hard work paid off in the end, but there were some external factors that heavily impacted the team before they even started playing their qualifiers. Three members of the team, including head coach Berke “Vlad” Kantürk and pAura, contracted COVID-19, which contributed to their struggles going into Qualifier 1. 

“We had a very difficult time as a team,” pAura said. “Although we tried not to show it to the people who follow us and our fans, it both disrupted our working order and had friends who had physical problems, especially me, but we didn’t give up and we succeeded.”

The team seems to have recovered since then and is in much better shape going into the start of VCT EMEA Challengers on Friday, pAura said. He is excited and ready to represent his new team against Guild in their opening match, but there is one other opponent, in particular, he is looking forward to facing: G2 Esports, who boast the familiar faces of Auni “AvovA” Chahade and Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas.

“I can’t wait to play against my old teammates,” pAura said.

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Yinsu Collins
Award-winning Esports Journalist @Upcomer & Freelance Host, specializing in VALORANT, LoL and CS:GO. Previously SkySportsNews & RedBull Gaming | CPFC