As a six-year-old at home in Istanbul, Mehmet Yağiz ‘cNed’ İpek loved watching his 15-year-old brother Alihan ’deNc’ playing Counter Strike and pestered him to play and join in.
“He pushed me away at first, but I kept asking him and then he invited me to join him,” cNed said.
“One of the first experiences I remember was watching my brother’s character die in the game – and then being allowed to move the mouse around – when I couldn’t really do anything to spoil his chances.”
The brothers then began to play against each other and because Alihan was playing at a professional level in Turkey, cNed was exposed to the highest levels of esport. He was hooked.
With Alihan having convinced his parents that he and cNed were highly talented at gaming and it was worthwhile for them to devote their time to it, Mehmet also began to play semi-professionally.
But it was when Valorant took the gaming world by storm last year, and shortly after he turned 18, that Mehmet took a gamble that he had what it takes to make it to the top of the new game and branch out.
I trusted my game sense – my aim, my reflexes and the experience I had gained with the sniper weapons from Counter-Strike
“I trusted my game sense – my aim, my reflexes and the experience I had gained with the sniper weapons from Counter Strike,” the 19-year-old said.
“I thought I could be a really good player at Valorant.”
His instincts were right.
In March 2021 he won the Valorant Champions Tour Europe Stage 1 Masters with his team Acend, and was tournament MVP.
“As soon as Valorant, appeared, I sensed this was an opportunity to switch. I saw the game getting more popular and winning a global audience. “
Although the pandemic cancelled many competitions, lockdowns gave cNed the chance to livestream from home, winning him a huge audience. Today he practises a minimum of four hours and maximum of about eight hours a day.
Later this year he'll take part in the Valorant Champions Tour Stage3 Masters in Berlin.
It is rare for gamers to switch their main game and he admits that it might be risky to switch to Valorant if you're highly successful at Counter Strike.
“But if you believe in yourself and your skills then it could also bring opportunities.”
With Valorant now the most talked about, watched and played game of the year he doesn’t expect a new game to topple its dominant position and expects it will remain his devotion for years to come.