Welcome to another episode of #streamerinsider. This time, we are interviewing VALORANT professional player – Turkish rifler luntaxE. We talk about the rigors and sacrifices demanded by a career in gaming, the role of streaming for pro players and more.
Long gone are the days when pro video games players are imagined as slackers locking themselves in a dark room downing Red Bull one after another. Nowadays, aside from having excellent in-game skills, they also have balanced physical-mental fitness, and great leadership mentality in case of Team Captains. luntaxE opened up with us about his day-to-day training routine, as well as how he has grown to be more mindful of his fellow teammates.
Gimbl: Tell us about your background, and how you got into esports.
luntaxE: My real name is Yigit Balkis, I’m a pro VALORANT player and Team Captain of RAREesports, a young esports organization from Turkey.
I grew up playing games with my friends at the internet cafe like everyone else. Since the computer in my house was quite sluggish for gaming, I was a regular at the internet cafe. The young me was particularly into Counter Strike series, and my idol back then was “robbiE” – the best AWP player in Turkey. In what could only be described as destiny, one day I chanced upon “robbiE” at the internet cafe while he was playing professional Counter Strike 1.6. Can you imagine? My dream was always to play with him on his team (GENERATION, GNT). After we met, my life took a sharp turn. I was lucky enough to take a seat in robbiE’s team in 2011. My role was entry fragger.
Our team was one of Turkey’s best teams and as the young star of the team, I had the chance to be in the limelight. In 2015, I started playing CS:GO and took part in many esports clubs as a team captain: HWA Gaming, Oyun Hizmetleri, ex-Dark Passage, Bursaspor Esports.
I had to quit esports after my father passed away in 2019. I got a job at Istanbul Airport and was away from the competition for a long time. I had a bad time suffering mental problems. Then VALORANT came along and sparked the inner fire inside me again. I felt the desire to compete and to win again. Esports is truly amazing sometimes.
Gimbl: Absolutely! Esports is a thrilling journey but I’m sure it’s full of challenges too. Can you tell us about the practice routines for an eSports athlete?
luntaxE: Just training in the game may be insufficient. You have to be strong mentally and physically. Fun fact is, the amount of stress hormone going through the esports athletes during competition matched those of race car drivers. It’s study-proven. Therefore, I always make sure to spare some time to hit the gym every day. It helps with my overall health and gaming performance too.
As for the gaming training regimen, it involves a lot of individual training before team training. Lots of hours playing Aimlab & DeathMatch solo, reviewing my past games, and watching excellent performance demos during team training.
Gimbl: I notice you stream as well as play competitively. How do you balance your time between streaming versus participating in esports?
luntaxE: As a professional player, you can broadcast while training individually. This is particularly beneficial for young players as they can learn from you by observing your disciplines as well as your skills. Apart from that, you don’t spend time with your team every day. So it’s good to stream and socialize with others in your off days while honing your skills.
Gimbl: Do you think streaming is a valuable resource for esport players to utilize?
luntaxE: If you are a full time professional team player, you may not have time to broadcast full time. However, you can stream when you are training individually or if you are not too tired after team training. This can both provide extra income and benefit those who want to become an esports player in the future.
Gimbl: I know you’re the team captain of RAREesports. What is it like as a team captain?
luntaxE: Being a team captain and in-game leader (IGL) are two different things. While the IGL is the leader inside the game, the captain is an outside or spirit leader. As the team captain of RAREesports, I am responsible for motivating the team before and after a game, putting the team together in tough moments and taking care of the good spirit in the long run. Outside of the game, my words are usually listened to.
Arguments within the team are unavoidable, so you need to be on good terms with everyone before you can be their leader. I truly believe that everyone in the team has a better side than each other. As the team captain, I try my best to ensure a healthy environment within the team where there shouldn’t be an ego war. There is a saying that I love and always say to the boys: “Do your ego to your competitors, not to each other.”
Gimbl: What do you think makes a trusted leader?
luntaxE: I think it’s the experience that makes a difference. You can have the best players in the world who work together positively. When everything is going well, the team works great and there’s nothing to say about the captain’s leadership. But when things go wrong, how a team captain weathers tough situations will speak volumes about his/her leadership. After all, if you want to fight a dragon, you need to bring along a dragon slayer.
I’m far from being a perfect leader, but as I have been here and there, done this and that, I make sure I use the valuable lessons learnt from experience to steer the ship and lead the squad through the battle.
Gimbl: What do your friends and family think of your profession?
luntaxE: It’s really funny at first. Getting paid for playing video games: it’s too good to be true, and it’s just not …serious – the folks thought. But gradually, as my family and friends saw that I made success and was able to finance myself independently, they changed their prejudice and showed respect. It is important to never give up.
In my opinion, esports is no different from conventional sports, because instant decisions you make in esports can lead you to either victory or defeat. In the game, you fight with 5 people in front of you and you have to make the best decision as quickly as possible. You start to perceive very well what it means to work individually.
Gimbl: What is the thing you are proud of the most in your gaming/streaming career?
luntaxE: I have many memories, but this is the first thing that comes to my mind. Before the transfer to GENERATION – GNT team in 2011, I was playing in the same team with my friends. My dream was to transfer to GNT and the boys knew it too. As I told you earlier, after the encounter with “robbiE”, I got an offer for GNT, just 3-4 days before an important tournament. Of course I accepted the offer. What’s ironic is the first opponent we matched with in the tournament was my friends with whom I played before the transfer. There was both stress and excitement. It was stressful because I was playing against my old buddies. But at the same time, it was my first ever tournament playing in my dream team. I committed ACE by killing 5 people first round. I played very well throughout the match and won the match for my team. This was proud.
Gimbl: What a story! What advice do you have for others hoping to follow in your footsteps and break into esports?
luntaxE: Giving up and letting go are the easiest options. But the important thing is to face the difficulties, to be ambitious and to be willing to take on the challenges out of your comfort zone. Throw yourself out into the open. Choose an idol for yourself and grind towards your goal. Don’t waste too much time paying attention to the chitter chatter by other people. Here are two wise words that I live by:
“If you don’t have an enemy, you’ve never been successful in life.”
“If someone is talking behind your back, it means you are ahead of them.”