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FUT Esports’ journey to becoming a partnered team

FUT Esports’ journey to becoming a partnered team

Wiwona

12/29/2022

2022 started off well with the announcement of the first-ever offline tournament, which later on was followed by the news of the VALORANT partnership program. The long-awaited news dropped right after VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Finals. The accepted teams were announced and FUT Esports was one of the two Turkish organizations to land themselves a partnered spot in 2023.

FUT Esports (formerly Futbolist) is a prestigious Turkish esports organization with an enormous fanbase. FUT Esports’ VALORANT division was formed in October 2020 after signing LOL-.

Soon after, the team participated in First Strike Turkey and got 2nd place in their first ever showing with the newly unveiled team.

In 2022, FUT scored themselves a win in VALORANT Regional Leagues Finals. their biggest achievement in VALORANT to date. This only made the fans question whether the team would get accepted into the partnership program or not. With all 30 VALORANT partnered teams announced, it was a pleasant surprise for the fans that both BBL Esports and FUT have made the cut.

We sat down for an interview with the general manager of the team, Baki Can Kadıoğlu, and talked about the partnership process and the team’s goals for the upcoming season.

Interview with FUT’s Baki

Run It Back: What expectations did you have while applying for the partnership program?

Baki: Since the beginning of VALORANT’s release, we’ve been excited about the game. The initial release strategy, how good the game looked even at release, and how fun it was to play it got everyone in FUT into it. So, right off the bat we’ve been heavily invested in it and aimed for the top of the scene. Knowing that Turkish people would love the game, since the genre was so fitting for our region and trusting in Riot that they would make use of all their know-how in LoL into the VAL scene to build a healthy ecosystem for all parties involved, we expected VALORANT would be a game changer and we would want to be a part of it at the highest possible level. So when the partnership program was announced, the aim was to be one of the teams chosen for the spot, and we thought we had a good chance.

Run It Back: According to the many reports coming out, FUT was in doubt as to be on the list of partnered organizations. How much time before the announcement were you guys sure of your place?

Baki: We had trust in our process and the culture we’ve built over the years to carry ourselves to the finish line, but I would lie if I said we did not have doubts. “The reports coming out” are usually not exactly on point regarding what exactly is going on, so we were worried more about doing our job right than reading the reports out there. We can say it worked out pretty well.

Sinan & Furkan learned about it earlier than most of FUT and I had a call at 3.20 a.m. KR time sharing the news (thankfully), but we had to keep our mouths shut so you wouldn’t believe the stuff we had to do for the next few days to keep it to ourselves until the official announcement. That’s a story we will tell for a long time.

Run It Back: How did the application process for getting the Riot partnership look like? What were some of the main criteria that Riot took into account?

Baki: We were very impressed by Riot and the standard we were being held to when the partnership process was announced because my first line of thought was, “This is a very healthy way to look at the scene at this particular time and ensures that the bar set by Riot in different aspects of the industry for eligible teams will benefit the future of the game.” Riot’s communication about the process was nothing but stellar so we had a pretty good idea about what was going on at all times.

The first thing I did was to write all I was brewing up about it until the morning in our company Slack, and edit all aspects of it until I was satisfied with them. Then we had discussions over it, getting excellent feedback and contribution from our team, and a long and meticulous preparation process by our owners that took multiple iterations. By the time our last stage presentation ended, I was feeling satisfied that we did everything we could about it.

The main criteria were exactly what they told you: fan-first mentality, sustainable long-term growth, and a compelling brand.

Run It Back: What do you think set you apart from the other organizations that applied that gave you the advantage of attaining the partnership?

Baki: Who we work with and how the company is run. I believe that in all industries, the level of commitment from owners and how it resonates within the company defines you. We had people so excited to create something that they set up a watch party in 24 hours which turned out to be the biggest outdoor celebration we had so far. Our VAL team performed at a level that they did not show before. Every single day people tried to bring their A-game and that was processed into a product by the management that was tailored for the fans. When you get people to align and work for something that is to the benefit of the whole, that is when you can achieve great stuff.

Turkish fans feel ecstatic after the VRL Finals victory.

Run It Back: Since you are officially a partnered organization with Riot Games, what benefits does it bring for your VALORANT team (apart from playing in the top league of EMEA?

Baki: Competing at the highest level is the greatest benefit you can have if you are a competitor. The scene will of course bring more fame, more money, etc. but also everyone is even more aware that the bar is high and they need to give it their all.

The scene also provides a unique opportunity for Türkiye as people are crazy about the game and to be able to represent them is pretty huge.

Run It Back: What are some adjustments team-wise you guys are intending on making before the 2023 season begins (team-wise, preparation-wise)?

Baki: That would be confidential information (smiles).

Run It Back: What was FUT’s plan B in case the partnership with Riot did not work out?

Baki: We knew that we would always be invested in the scene since the game is simply too good to walk away from and is already integrated into our DNA, but we knew that we would be looking at a very different landscape if we did not make it. We would have had to re-evaluate our options, but thankfully it did not come to that.

Run It Back: What are your team’s goals for the 2023 season?

Baki: Though we won the VRL Finals: in 2022, we feel that we are still not at the championship level in the global scene. We aim to be able to win as much as possible and fight for every match and every round. We know that the Turkish crowd is always behind us so we’ll try to do our best and show that we belong.

If you’ve been following us, and you really should if you’re not, you know that we’ll meme the hell out of it no matter the result. 

Stay tuned to Run It Back for more breaking news, interviews, features, event coverage, and updates in the world of VALORANT! Remember to join our Discord where you can use our analytical platform, interact with fellow VALORANT aficionados, and win prizes!