In the nine years of the Virtual Bundesliga to date, no individual winner has ever managed to successfully defend their crown – although that could all be set to change this year as 19-year-old RB Leipzig player Umut Gültekin goes into the Grand Final as the title favourite.
Umut "RBLZ_Umut" Gültekin began his career at Hamburger SV, and despite his young age he has long since ceased to be a talented up-and-comer: his bulging trophy cabinet is proof the teenager is already the real deal.
Having won the German championship in 2020/21, he is hotly tipped to retain his title at the forthcoming Grand Final in Cologne on 4 and 5 June. Moreover, he is a two-time winner of the prestigious Elligella Cup, and just a few weeks ago won the VBL Club Championship with Leipzig. Needless to say, Gültekin is already a pillar of the German national team too.
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His consistency on the PlayStation is as astonishing as it is impressive. In 2020/21 Gültekin did not lose a single game in the Club Championship or the Grand Final, and this season too he has been the best player with 16 individual wins.
Overall, has chalked up 43 wins (five draws and six defeats) from 54 VBL Club Championship games, making him the most successful German player of the last two years.
It is no surprise, then, that expectations are sky high. “When everyone expects to see you in the final before the competition even starts, then there’s a lot of pressure,” said Gültekin’s coach, Daniel “Fehrminator” Fehr. “But Umut is the kind of player who often performs even better in situations like that.”
Gültekin himself gave an insight into the secrets behind his success: “I definitely need water. Before and after the games I always go on a toilet break, which shows that I drink a lot. And it has to be quiet – I need peace.”
The 19-year-old played football on a real-life pitch for a long time too, and says there are several parallels between the game and its electronic version: “Everything’s almost exactly the same, except that in football you work with your body.”
In the build-up to the Grand Final he will be training for up to seven hours a day, but is aware not to overdo it: “You have to be careful not to play too much, because then your head is just a mush.”
Regardless of how much he trains, the final is by no means a foregone conclusion. His competition, including last year’s finalist Dylan "DullenMike" Neuhausen and former German champions Michael "MegaBit" Bittner and Tim "TheStrxngeR" Katnawatos, will be no walkovers as he bids to become the first individual to retain the German VBL Championship title.
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