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Following months of qualifier after qualifier (after an even bigger qualifier), we’ve reached the end of summer and its final destination: VALORANT Masters Berlin.
There will be 15 of the best teams in the world from seven regions (after Bren Esports’ visa issues) that embark to Germany to capture the trophy and automatic qualification to the upcoming world championship. As a bonus, the winning team will also secure an extra spot at Champions, for their respective region.
As we count down to curtain opening in Berlin, I will guide you through each of the 15 teams vying for masters victory about their roster, map pool and the burning questions surrounding them.
SuperMassive Blaze starting lineup
Baran “Izzy” Yılmaz (Turkey)
Agents played (past 60 days): Jett (28), Raze (5)
Signature agent: Jett
Stats on Jett (past 60 days):
- 243.6 Average Combat Score
- 1.36 Kill:Death ratio
- 0.89 Kills Per Round
- +27 First Kills-to-First Deaths (98 FK, 71 FD)
Mehmet “Turko” Özen (Turkey)
Agents played (past 60 days): Sage (27), Phoenix (3), Brimstone (2), Viper (1)
Signature agent: Sage
Stats on Sage (past 60 days):
- 179.3 ACS
- 1.20 K:D
- 0.68 KPR
Eren “Brave” Kasırga (Turkey)
Agents played (past 60 days): Omen (14), Astra (12), Viper (4), Skye (3)
Signature agent: Omen
Stats on Omen (past 60 days):
- 214.6 ACS
- 1.04 K:D
- 0.73 KPR
Batuhan “russ” Malgaç (Turkey)
Agents played (past 60 days): Sova (25), Skye (5), Reyna (3)
Signature agent: Sova
Stats on Sova (past 60 days):
- 233.1 ACS
- 1.37 K:D
- 0.86 KPR
Melih “pAura” Karaduran (Turkey)
Agents played (past 60 days): Killjoy (23), Cypher (6), Reyna (2), Viper (2)
Signature agent: Killjoy
Stats on Killjoy (past 60 days):
- 199.0 ACS
- 1.00 K:D
- 0.67 KPR
Stage 3 Map Pool
Icebox: 5-0, 100% (70% Attack Round Win, 59% Defense Round Win)
Haven: 7-2, 78% (53% ATK, 59% DEF)
Ascent: 11-4, 73% (ATK 69%, 57% DEF)
Bind: 4-3, 57% (53% ATK, 51% DEF)
Split: 3-3, 50% (ATK 51%, 53% DEF)
Breeze: 0-1, 0% (ATK 13%, 50% DEF)
My player to watch: Izzy
During the creation of SuperMassive Blaze, their was a clear goal in mind: create the best Turkish team the region has to offer and contend internationally. And to compete at that highest level possible and challenge the likes of an Acend or Sentinels, they needed an all-star Jett player to be positioned at the front of their attack.
Russ, one of the best Jett players in EMEA, seemed to be the obvious choice. Instead, Russ stepped aside, becoming the team’s main initiator, and gave the spot to Izzy, a player that had only been playing the game professionally for a few months. It was less of Russ not believing in himself and more of a vote of confidence in Izzy, trusting that the youngster could one day not only become one of the best Jetts in the region but the entire world.
So far, so good, and Izzy has continued to transform from a standout on a lower-ranked Turkish team to a fully-fledged ace on the best team Turkey has ever assembled. His growth has been rapid, and, following a victorious qualifier to make it to Berlin where he got the slight edge over rival Turkish Jett Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek of Europe’s Acend, Izzy seems prepared for the spotlight he’ll receive at Masters.
The big question going into Berlin is: Can SM Blaze prove beating Acend wasn’t a fluke and take a run at the title?
As luck would have it, due to the format rules of Berlin, two EMEA teams were eligible to end up in the same group. After defeating cNed and Acend in the qualifier, SM Blaze will need to do it again with their opening matchup of Masters Berlin. On the other side of their group, they have Singapore’s Paper Rex and the consensus favorite from the Asian region, Vision Strikers, the champion of South Korea.
SM Blaze surprised teams with incredible mechanics on the road to Masters Berlin, with Izzy taking charge. Their matchup against G2 Esports, another Berlin qualified team, was less of a match and more of a one-sided beatdown, with SM Blaze out-aiming and bruising the European squad before mercifully putting them down. Now, with the chains of ping and connection issues gone away, the Turkish superteam might somehow be even stronger on LAN with their next-level reflexes.
For SM Blaze, it’s all about silencing the doubters. They did it once in the EMEA qualifier to make it to Masters, and now thrown in the group of death’s shark-infested waters, they’ll have to do it again.
In Berlin, Gambit should be aiming for: making a statement by advancing from the group of death
SM Blaze didn’t get here on luck. This team is the product of one of the fastest-growing regions in all of VALORANT, built to be the nation’s hope of grabbing the top prize in the game. While not having Acend and Vision Strikers in their group would have been easier, the team’s aim is much higher than just reaching the playoff stage.
At Berlin, though, I’d say getting through such a brutal group would be a tremendous sign for SM Blaze and end any doubts that they’re a one-hit-wonder. Following that, qualifying for Champions outright will almost assuredly require winning the entire event due to entering the tournament with 0 circuit points.
SM Blaze weren’t given an easy road at Masters Berlin, but they have to beat the best to be the best. That all begins with their date with Acend.
All stats for this article provided by vlr.gg
Tyler Erzberger is entering a decade of covering esports. When not traveling around the world telling stories about people shouting over video games, he’s probably arguing with an anime avatar on Twitter about North American esports.