BBL Queens Vania: “If we just play our own game, we will be one of the two [EMEA] teams going to Brazil”

Pedro Romero
category_image Valorant
    Reading time  ~10  mins

    From consistently competing in the EMEA Game Changers scene with little to no success to their name, BBL Queens took a huge leap forward in their form for the 2023 season. After retooling the lineup with the addition of Zehra "Felipa" Durak and Zeynep "Rayka" Kalkan, the team would go on to finish at least Top 6 in the first two splits of the year.

    In Series 1, the team went perfect in the group stage (7-0) and ultimately finished second via 3-2 grand finals loss to G2 Gozen, and in Series 2, they had another flawless group stage, but consecutive losses to G2 and FUT Female left them retract to a 5-6th place finish. While BBL suffered a setback in Series 2, thanks to their overall form throughout this year, which far surpassed their track record from 2021 (9-12th in Series 3) and 2022 (9-12th in Series 2 and 7-8th in Series 3), there is hope they can revive their Series 1 runner-up form to win Series 3 and qualify for the GC Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    Prior to the start of the EMEA Series 3 competition, BLIX interviewed BBL Queens’ Aleyna "Vania" Keskin on the team’s performance in Series 2, her individual progression as a player and a leader, her thoughts on the current state of women's Valorant in Turkey, how she views her chances on qualifying for the 2023 GC Championship in Brazil and more.

    Looking back at Series 2

    Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thanks for doing the interview, Vania. I really appreciate it. To start off, with EMEA Series 3 right on the near horizon, I’d like to ask how you’ve been preparing for the upcoming event. What changes have you made to your individual game during the break?

    Aleyna "Vania" Keskin: Thank you for doing this interview with me. We prepared individually for the previous stages as usual and we made some changes to get better. We will continue to play the game that everyone expects from BBL Queens in EMEA Series 3.

    BLIX: After starting off the 2023 season on the right foot with a 2nd place finish in EMEA Series 1, BBL Queens didn’t continue their momentum in Series 2, finishing 5-6th place after a 2-1 loss to FUT Female in the playoffs. About that series in particular, what do you think prohibited the team from not performing well against FUT?

    Vania: We played poorly against FUT, not being able to play our own casual game. They were prepared to play with us, unfortunately we were not at our best on that day.

    BLIX: That series succeeded an impressive regular season where BBL was the only undefeated in the phase to finish first in their respective group, which featured Acend Rising, FUT and Guild X. What prompted the change in the team’s form from the regular season to the playoffs?

    Vania: After the group stage, we went to the gaming house. We played the first tournament there before, but this time it didn't go as we expected. We had less time to get used to it than the previous time and we could not get used to the gaming house quickly. This caused a difference in our form.

    BLIX: What did you focus on improving from the end of Series 2 up until the start of Series 3?

    Vania: I think we are really good as a team, so we focused on improving our individual performances.

    Vania’s progression as an IGL

    BLIX: In a YouTube video uploaded by BBL, some of your teammates cited you as a comforting IGL or someone who looks after the team and leads them with your individual skill. How would you describe your IGLing?

    Vania: Being IGL relaxes me a lot in my individual game and it makes me feel like it gives me the opportunity to watch the map we play from a bird's eye view. Sometimes I know the moves our opponent can make and I tell my teammates what we can face, which is comforting for all of us.

    BLIX: What do you think has been the biggest issue you encountered as an IGL throughout your entire career and why?

    Vania: I consider this the best team I've ever played with because individually all my teammates are good and players with game sense such as Felipa (sometimes it helps me to give instant call). Before them, I used to have a harder time, individual game sens weren't that high and I had a hard time picturing what I wanted in my players' minds.

    BLIX: Each IGL has had a particular partnership with their coach during preparations for matches that enabled the team to play a certain style. How have you been working with Meseka [Melih Kaya] as your head coach throughout this past year?

    Vania: Before some matches, we exchange information about our opponent's style of play frankly, our first choice is to play our own game against the opponent rather than to change our own game according to the opponent. Meseka has given me a lot of freedom as an individual, which prevented me from being overwhelmed by the responsibility of working.

    In general, our minds work in a similar structure or I can understand what he wants to say very easily, so it is very comfortable for me to work together.

    BLIX: So far this season in EMEA GC, we’ve seen a few players stand out as the top fraggers of their team despite not being either an initiator or duelist specifically. Arguably, the biggest example of that change in dynamic is yourself where you‘ve been playing as a controller for all of your career but finished Top 2 in the group stage of Series 2 in VLR rating, ACS, K:D ratio, KAST, ADR and KPR. What did you and the team do to make this aspect possible?

    Vania: Frankly, I always thought that I was a good player individually, but especially as of this year, I found myself in the team. I can predict the opponent's moves well, it comes to life in my head like chess, so I can take a good position and sometimes I can get killed without having to shoot 1v1 aimfight. These are the biggest reasons for my good stats.

    BLIX: Due to your individual performance, people are beginning to see you as one of the best players in EMEA GC. Where do you think you stand in the ladder of best GC players in the region?

    Vania: I performed good statistics in the first two tournaments, but the important thing is to keep it up afterwards. I never saw myself as enough, so I continued to improve, but I still think I am one of the best female players.

    Looking at the women's Valorant scene in Turkey

    BLIX: FUT Esports put up a great showing in Champions 2023 by finishing 7-8th place, thereby making it the highest finish by a Turkish team in the game’s history. How do you view the current level of women's Valorant in Turkey compared to the men's scene?

    Vania: FUT has made us all proud by representing our country very well this year. But when we look at the women's side, I do not think that the same attention is given both in Turkey and in other countries. There are clubs that try to do this as best as they can, like my own club, I respect all of them, but I think it is still not enough.

    BLIX: About the growth, which aspect within the Turkish GC community has developed the most?

    Vania: There are a lot of Turkish female players at GC now. That way everyone can see what female Turkish players can achieve, and it became more serious.

    Balancing school and career

    BLIX: Another thing you mentioned is that you currently study pharmacy in college. How have you been able to balance both your academic studies and your professional Valorant career?

    Vania: Everything was easy for me since I didn't play games professionally when I started university. After entering the professional arena, it was much more difficult to take school and the game at the same time.

    Honestly, I can't say that both sides are going balanced. Sometimes I focus too much on the game and ignore the academic part.

    BLIX: What’s the hardest part about keeping both your studies and career in top form?

    Vania: If I want to maintain the best of both, I have to sacrifice my time for myself. This causes an intense process, but if you can handle it, you can easily overcome it.

    BLIX: How were you then able to transition so seamlessly to Valorant right around the time the game was launched?

    Vania: Frankly, when the game first came out, I was in high school, I was staying at the school dorm and I didn't have my computer with me. I could only play on the computer when I returned to the family home during the holidays.

    I had problems in this aspect for a while, after graduating from high school, I played almost every day and didn't have much difficulty in adapting to the game, it was like it was made for me.

    BLIX: What was the biggest thing that you improved on from the start of your career and the present?

    Vania: Compared to when I first started, I improved my game knowledge the most. I don't even remember how I played in my first professional matches in Valorant. A lot has changed in my gameplay.

    BLIX: Final question: how do you view your team’s chances at qualifying for the 2023 GC Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil?

    Vania: The next stage is very important for us. If we don't experience an unexpected situation like in Stage 2 and just play our own game, I think we will be one of the two teams going to Brazil.

    Be sure to check out BLIX's earlier Game Changers interviews on our Valorant portal.

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    CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
    Copyright © 2024 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.