The boys from the Hertha BSC eSports academy can’t complain of a lack of things to do at the moment. The Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship and the newly introduced DFB-ePokal are keeping the Hertha gaming team busy with plenty of challenges and goals – the stuff of dreams for any gamer! “We want to continue establishing ourselves at the top of the VBL and make sure we finish in the top four at the end of the season,” says Leroy 'leroy_1892' Richter, who joined the team before the season. Along with his teammates, Eren 'ErenPyrz030' Poyraz represents the ‘Old Lady’ not only in the VBL, but also in the DFB-ePokal. “We have three very strong players. The big dream for us would be to win the ePokal at the final in Berlin,” reveals the Berlin native with a smile. The two players sat down to discuss the two competitions, key players for their teams, and possible factors for success for the rest of the season.
Leroy, you’ve been with us since FIFA 21 and you’re currently playing your first season in the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship. How have you settled into the team? And how pleased are you with your performance so far?
Richter: Yeah, I settled in very quickly and I feel very much at home here. In terms of my performance, I got the season off to a very good start but recently I’ve not had the luck on my side in some matches. Nevertheless, I’m still in a good position and I’m ranked in the top 100 players in Europe, which isn’t bad considering it’s my first season. This season is far from over though and I’m confident that it will end well.
In January 2021, you qualified for the PS4 VBL playoffs with quite an eye-catching record of 87 wins, three draws, and no losses in 90 games! How long did it take you? And would you say that certain players made the difference for you?
Richter: I played it every day for a week and was lucky not to have needed many attempts. It worked out the way I had imagined beforehand right away! Dodi Lukébakio, Maurice Čović and our newcomer Nemanja Radonjić helped me to a lot of wins.
Eren, you also qualified for the VBL playoffs in January 2021 but on Xbox. Which three Hertha players were game changers for you?
Poyraz: It was similar to what Leroy said with me. Radonjić, Čović and Luca Netz are the three I would name. Luca is an incredibly strong player, especially in defence. He has a slightly different player model and is built very robustly, so he’s particularly good in duels!
What is your favourite formation to play with our team in FIFA 21? Which would you recommend to Hertha fans and why?
Poyraz: I would advise people to set up the Hertha team in a 4-4-2 set-up. This formation gives players a lot of options; you can play a wide game down the wings or focus on pushing forward through the middle. Regardless of that though, what’s important is to have plenty of wingers and full-backs in your squad!
In the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship, things are going a lot better for you and your partner, Tom Bismark, in the 2 vs 2 mode. What do you think are the reasons for that and what have you changed?
Poyraz: I played together with Tom on FIFA 20 and I have a very good understanding with him. An example of that is the tournament in Dresden that we won together last year. We both know how the other plays and know which runs and tactics the other likes to use. We’ve also had the luck on our side in a lot of games! I’m confident that we can become even better together in the future.
The first half of the VBL Club Championship is already behind us and now you’re in the middle of the second half, sitting in a very respectable fourth place in the table. What are your goals for the remaining games of the season, Leroy?
Richter: In short, what I want personally is simply to win every game. As a team, we want to continue establishing ourselves at the top of the VBL and make sure we finish in the top four at the end of the season.
Do any matches in particular stick in your head for positive reasons?
Richter: Definitely! The very first match I played in the VBL was an absolutely crazy game. I built up a 3-0 lead, but my opponent fought back and equalised in the 85th minute. With the very last attack of the match, I was able to grab a late winner. I won’t be forgetting that one in a hurry! (grins)
Thousands of people tune in to watch our VBL show on Twitch every Wednesday. Do you find that being watched by that many people adds extra pressure or is welcome additional motivation?
Richter: It’s definitely more motivation than pressure for me! Honestly though, I don’t notice it during games because I’m totally focused on my game. Of course, the realisation that there’s a lot of people out there watching you does push you on. We have to block that out when it comes to competitions so we can fully concentrate on the game.
Finally, let’s take a look at another competition. Eren, you and Chrissi (Christoph 'ChristophStriet' Strietzel), Tom and coach Daren have been successful in the DFB-ePokal so far. You’ve made it into the last 32 in Germany, where the top four will travel to Berlin to take part in the final tournament in Berlin. How do you rate your chances?
Poyraz: Making it to the final four is the goal and I think that we can achieve that. We have three very strong players which is a big advantage compared to other teams where the performance gap is bigger. If we get a good draw, I’m convinced we can reach the last four and maybe even advance past that! The big dream for us would be to win the ePokal at the final in Berlin.