From hobby to career: stories of professional Esports players

Do you ever sit at home watching CS2 Major or LEC and LCS and wonder how the pro players became what they are today? There are many great pro players on the esports scene at the moment. Many of them started playing video games at a very early age, but each story is different. I chose to talk about the best, or at least, some of the best players in CS2, League of Legends, and VALORANT and their journey to greatness. Let’s dive in.

Stories of greatness

Without a doubt, the majority of video game lovers play games for fun and out of a hobby. In some rare cases, the hobby can become a very well-paid career. That’s what happened to s1mple, Faker, and TenZCS, League of Legends, and VALORANT best.

Faker and T1

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is considered the best in League of Legends. His story begins with a single parent who was sure his son would make it as a pro player. Since the inception of the esports industry eastern Asian countries have first recognized the potential of the industry and invested in it. Faker’s father nudged the Unkillable Demon King to start playing games. T1 midlaner began his journey with a MOBA game called CHAOS. After that, he switched to LoL, sometime in late 2011. It wasn’t long after that T1 (SKT1) contacted him to play in their second team.

Faker who had just started high school decided to pursue the gamer dream and drop out. The rest as they say is history. Only two years later, in 2013, he won his first World Championship, and now as we know he has four, along with countless domestic titles in LCK.

S1mple’s struggling journey

Another player considered (and probably is/was) the best in his game is Oleksandr ”s1mple” Kostyliev. Just like Faker, s1mple also started gaming early on. He started by playing Counter-Strike 1.6 inspired by his older brother who he used to watch play. As there was only one computer in the house, s1mple didn’t have the possibility to play whenever he wanted, but to wait his turn. Something I think many of us with a sibling can relate to.

S1mple started playing CS:GO as soon as it was released in 2012. He played the game for one year before he stepped into the competitive scene in a semi-pro tournament with the local team Lan Dodgers. After that, he signed for Courage Gaming and then HellRaisers who had many superstar players in the team. This led to one of the problems in his early career resulting in toxic behavior. That and the ban from his CS 1.6 days made him miss a couple of majors. However, in the end, as we know he became a well-respected AWPer and now has around 20 MVPs, Major, and other high-tier tournament titles under his name.

Race for best VALORANT player

Pro VALORANT players in most cases switched from CS:GO to the Riot’s FPS. The same thing goes for TenZ, who is considered one of the best in the game. Tyson “TenZ” Ngo started playing video games when he was only three years old. At the age of 15, he competed at his first LAN event which his mom first had to approve. Similar to Faker and his father, TenZ’s mother also saw the potential in gaming (even though it took some convincing).

After high school TenZ signed for Cloud9 and competed shortly for their CS:GO team. Some time he was a streamer for the org and then VALORANT beta came knocking on his door. TenZ became the first player to hit Radiant on VALORANT and that brought him a lot of recognition and respect. The fact that he is protanomaly colorblind didn’t stop him from making 40 kills on Breeze at VCT 2022: North America Stage 2 Challengers tournament. As VALORANT is still young we have yet to see what Tenz will do in the future. So far he already has two VCT titles and a couple of MVP awards.

Seven exciting years of A1 Adria League in the making!

Believe it or not, we have been through six years (2024 being the seventh one) and 12 exciting seasons of the A1 Adria League while two new ones are awaiting this year. We have come very far since the inception of the league and our first tournament. After many different games and a lot of format changes, we have arrived at today. Take a look at what made the A1 Adria League great, enjoy a trip down memory lane, and reminisce together with us.

From 2017 to today

Everything began with three games and at that time unknown teams. Today we are proud to have hosted some of the best European names in League of Legends, CS:GO, now CS2, and FIFA. Valiance&CO won the league in the first season with Nexa and Hunter who are now playing best European CS2 tournaments with G2 Esports. And that’s not all. That same season we also saw Sacre compete who would later go on to play in EU LCS.

Similar to the initial season, the second one was remarkable as well. That is when we changed the name of the league from VIP Adria League to A1 Adria League, added two new games, Clash Royale and Hearthstone, went mobile, and introduced a new tournament format.

The year 2018 and seasons 3 and 4 introduced Dota in the A1 Adria League and we have seen a tremendous rise in the prize pool between these two seasons. While Team uNIQUE took home 1000 euros, the winners of the 4th season in CS:GO ex-BLUEJAYS won 5000 euros.

CS:GO and FIFA in their prime

Moving forward to next year, Dota 2 and Hearthstone were replaced with Brawl Stars, a game that is still immensely popular and one of our featured games today. Many players who are still competing in 2024 in A1AL made their debuts in season 5 such as Tarik Novo, Esad Memic, brstimir in FIFA, and 4glory and Blink in CS:GO. Now as we know, Tarik Novo has six titles behind him and is expected to win even more.

As we know everything has an end except League of Legends, and in that matter, this MOBA made its return in 2021 with seasons 7 and 8 when Split Riders and Metamoon triumphed. While Tarik started his reign in FIFA. That year we unfortunately didn’t have LAN at the end of the year but we survived COVID better than we hoped as we had almost 30.000 watched hours with more than 200.000 live views.

The return of the LAN

The year 2022 brought back the LAN event and besides that, the finish of the jubilee 10th season of the A1 Adria League watched over 100,000 unique viewers. We introduced new games and a mini-tournament format where the additional games were played for one or two weekends instead of the whole season. Such was PUBG where Entropiq took the title, League of Legends, F1, and VALORANT who made its debut.

We didn’t stop at seven games and last year we had a total of nine different games and competitions. With CS:GO (now CS2), FIFA23 (now EAFC24), and Brawl Stars as main games, we introduced for the first time Fortnite, Trackmania and Rainbow Six Siege. Additionally, League of Legends, PUBG, and VALORANT stayed in the league as mini-tournaments.

Season 12 last November had an amazing LAN finish where the titles went out to Tarik Novo in EAFC24, Salada de Frutas in Brawl Stars, Zero Tenacity in CS2, and SHAQ came victorious in EAFC24 Mobile. Apart from the games, we hosted many different events as a part of Reboot InfoGamer powered by A1 with more than 50 hours of entertainment and a prize pool of more than 17,000 euros.

We already mentioned that this season the prize pool will be a whopping 40,000 euros and that the competition will be as exciting as ever with the first qualifiers starting at the beginning of June.

Get ready and sign up!

Wintermint is the new VALORANT champion in A1AL!

Many familiar names showed up in this year’s VALORANT competition in the 11th season of the A1 Adria League. Wintermint won the second mini-tournament with a dominant performance and took home a part of the 1000€ prize pool.

Wintermint wins against caLLLamity in the finals

Out of 10 registered teams that competed in the VALORANT mini-tournament, the best who came on top and defeated the competition was Wintermint, with Wanhed as the most sounding name. Even though the finals were really exciting, the biggest surprise came early in the bracket. Namely, the team that was the biggest favorite to win this tournament, Extreme Esports failed to make it further than the first round. They were defeated by caLLLamity with a 13:11 score, who then went on to reach the grand finals.

In the top four, we saw all familiar teams and names such as caLLLamity, Wintermint, LINK, and Purpure. And as we know, caLLLamity won their opponents, while our new champions were better than Purpure.

In the finals, which was in the form of best-of-three series, Wintermint showed supremacy and won the game with a 2:0 score, becoming the new VALORANT champions. kequeq, and bmblbe in caLLLamity were on the verge of winning the competition once again. As we remember they were also playing together last season when they won the VALORANT tournament with Grandmas Gambit. However this year, Wintermint stood in their way and with a dominant performance took home the title.

The first game was played on Ascent where Wintermint basically ran over their opponents with a 13:6, which was unexpected. The second map was Lotus, and there the battle was much closer, but in the end, the result was the same – Wintermint winning. The score on the second map was 13:11.

VALORANT is the second mini-tournament that A1AL is hosting!

As we have announced recently the 11th A1 Adria League season is gonna be more exciting and with way more games. So far, we have introduced three standard games that will be played during this season. Apart from that, six more mini-tournaments are coming to A1 Adria League. After League of Legends, which was already revealed, we are here to present you the second mini-tournament in Riot’s other game, VALORANT!

Sign up and become the third-ever VALORANT champion in A1AL

This is the first season where we will have tournaments played for and throughout only one day. There will be fierce competition, and if you want to win the prize and become the new VALORANT champion sign up and get ready to clutch your way to the title. The VALORANT mini-tournament will be held on April 13th so there is still plenty of time to gather your team and prepare for the legendary battle that awaits you.

There will be no qualifiers for this tournament, so all you have to do is sign up and start competing. The bracket will be single elimination so there is no place for mistakes. The matches will be bo1, while the grand finale will be played in a best-of-three format. The prize pool for VALORANT will be 1000 euros, and the winner will get his share of 600, while the second and third place will win 300 and 100 euros, respectively.

To sign up click on the link below!


We just introduced VALORANT in A1 Adria League last year, and during the previous two seasons, we have seen a lot of exciting and tense matches. So far in our league, two champions have been crowned, Balkan Stars and Grandma’s Gambit. Be the third champion in the region in this growing FPS game! Don’t miss out on this epic opportunity to showcase your skills and compete against some of the best gamers in the region!

Grandmas Gambit are the second VALORANT champions in A1AL!

VALORANT championship made its first appearance in the A1 Adria League in the ninth season. Then we crowned team Balkan Stars. A couple of months later here we are at the end of the second championship in Riot’s popular FPS and we already have a new champion. Team Grandmas Gambit took home the title after an amazing run throughout the competition.

Best regional players in Grandmas Gambit

Unlike last season, the VALORANT championship in the tenth A1 Adria League season was played for one whole day. There were a lot of good teams, but in the end, the team that was dominating the competition was Grandmas Gambit. They defeated everyone in their path without losing a single map which was impressive.

In the second round, the team that was eliminated first was Tokita. They were defeated with a 2:0 score since it was Bo3. After them, the champions swept away the team Why No Eco. In the finals, they were against CWE_WHITE which was the most successful on the other side of the bracket. They also didn’t have a loss before they came into the final match against Grandmas Gambit.

In the finals, the whole amount of two maps were played since that is all it took for Gambit to become champions. The final match-up started with CWE_WHITE banning Haven, while Gambit didn’t want to play on Breeze. The first map was picked by CWE and they chose Bind, while Gambit wanted to play on Ascent. Evidently, they won on both maps, securing the championship with a swift win.

Grandmas Gambit was the biggest favorite for winning the title. Many familiar names in the VALORANT pro scene are a part of that team such as qpert, elllement, tatzuki, kequeq, and bmblbe. Elllement and qpert are not just famous in the region but in Europe as well. Elllement used to play for Excel, while qpert signed for Cloud9 just a few days ago. However, the best man in the finals was bmblbe with the best KDA score. He got 32 kills in each game. Except qpert, the whole roster in Grandmas Gambit is looking for a team, so check out their performance!


Last call for VALORANT Tournament!

This is your reminder you still have a day to sign up for the VALORANT Tournament! It is set to start on the 22nd of October which means you still have more than enough time to sign up for them.

A1 Adria League Season 10 VALORANT Tournament

After we introduced the VALORANT in Season 9, it showed a lot of potential so we decided to keep it for Season 10. Popular tactical shooter from Riot Games has already developed into a full-scale esports title. In the tenth season of the League, we will crown the best VALORANT team in the region for the second time. You can already sign up for the Tournament!


killax: We are where we deserve to be, at the top!

The VALORANT championship in A1 Adria League is completed, and after two weekends of great games, we have gotten our first champion in this game. Balkan Stars managed to defeat everyone and win the title. We talked with the captain of the team killax about their experience, the championship, as well as their plans for the future.

How does it feel to be the first winner of VALORANT in the A1 Adria League?

Firstly, I would like to thank the whole Adria team for the chance to compete. Regarding how we felt at the beginning of the competition, we were pretty euphoric, but right now we feel like we are where we deserve to be, at the top. We plan to stay there.

You justified the role of favorites. What do you think about the competition, and who would you single out as the toughest opponent and why?

That’s right, we even fulfilled our own expectations. The competition was solid, and we would like to single out team Minima who showed us for the second time that we shouldn’t underestimate them and that they are worthy opponents. They were the toughest opponents, and the reason is exactly the resistance that they put playing against us.

You didn’t lose a single match in the playoffs. What influenced such good performance of the team?

I want to thank the whole team. Everyone remained calm and kept a good mentality throughout the whole tournament. My teammates and I worked really hard to get to this point, and I’m glad we played the way we did. I would also like to thank everyone who showed their support. All the time we spent practicing really paid off.

This year we have had a change in the format, some games are only played for two weekends in a row. VALORANT fits this category as well. What do you think about this way of competing? 

We think that this format is good. Maybe it would be better for next time to separate quarterfinals from semifinals and finals. Because playing the quarterfinals on the same day can affect the players and their performance.

Instead of the standard four games in A1AL, this season we have seven. What do you think about these changes in the league?

We are happy that VALORANT finally got the attention, and we are glad to have had the chance to be a part of this league. We also hope that in the future seasons we will be there as well.

What are your plans now, considering VALORANT competitions?

Our plans at the moment are to be on the top in VALORANT East United, the competition which hosts more than 15 neighboring countries, and the competition looks interesting and very challenging. I would also like to take this chance and mention that we are looking for an organization that would help us improve and do great things together. So if some organization is reading this, and believes in our potential – we are waiting for you.

First VALORANT championship in A1AL goes to Balkan Stars!

The first VALORANT tournament in our A1 Adria League is successfully finished. We have enjoyed two weekends of Riot’s FPS, and seen some great teams compete for the title. In the end, it was the regional favorites who won it all. Balkan Stars are the first A1AL VALORANT champions.

Balkan Stars dominated the playoffs

We have seen a lot of great matches today. Seeing that all of them were Bo3, the fights were intense. Minima took down in the first round a familiar name in the region. Zero Tenacity fell down to them after all three maps. On the other side of the bracket, it was Diamant Esports who was dominant. They went on to secure the finals without a loss.

In the first semifinals, we have seen Diamant Esports defeat SHEEESHSQUAD with a clean 2:0 victory. They were dominating their opponents in both games. As expected they showed great skill and deserved to be the first to secure today’s spot in the finals. The other semifinal was an intense one. Even though Balkan Stars won with 2:0 the fight was closer than it looked. Both matches ended up with a 13:11 score. Minima didn’t give up at any point in the game but in the end, they failed to make it to the finals. They were really good in the second game of the semifinals and had a lead over their opponents, but Balkan Stars after changing sides managed to come back and secure the finals.

Balkan Stars gave it all against their opponents Diamant Esports in the grand final. They took the first game on Fracture and showed some amazing gameplay. The second match was a really intense one. Balkan Stars started well on Breeze, but somewhere in the middle of the match, Diamant managed to even out the score to 8:8. After that Balkan Stars picked up their game and went on to win the remaining 5 rounds, ending the second match with a 13:8 score.

Balkan Stars win the first VALORANT championship in A1 Adria League with a 2:0 victory and take home the 700€ prize. Congratulations!

Eight teams easily secure a spot in the VALORANT playoffs!

The only qualifier for our new game VALORANT is completed. This is is the first season in A1 Adria League that we are hosting a competition for the new Riot’s FPS. We have seen some familiar names and some new ones, which is normal seeing that the game still has a long way to go in gathering bigger regional followers.

Top 8 advance to the playoffs

Today we have had a fight between many teams, and eight of the best qualified for the next stage of VALORANT. The first round of the competition was the best-of-three series. The other rounds were played for seed, considering we have gotten the eight qualified teams already after the first round.

A familiar team in the VALORANT competition of our A1AL were Balkan Stars, who are already a dynamic and synergic team. For some time now the Macedonian squad has been competing in tournaments for this game, and we have high expectations they will do great in the playoffs.

We have also seen teams such as Diamant Esports and Zero Tenacity A who have already made a name for themselves in some other games such as League of Legends. Their new composed VALORANT rosters took their chances today and Diamant Esports managed to qualify, while Zero Tenacity A was eliminated. The winning game for Diamant we have followed on stream and it was an easy stomp against team Kajmak.

Besides Balkan Stars and Diamant Esports, the other 6 qualified teams are:

  • AngryTeam
  • Why No Eco
  • AIF
  • Minima
  • Lost Soul

The VALORANT playoffs will be held next week, May 30th, where the bracket will be single elimination and the winner will earn a 700€ prize, while the second-best team will be awarded 300€. Prepare well because all the games will be Bo3! See you next week!

Sign up for the VALORANT qualifiers!

It’s your time to shine VALORANT players! Gather your teammates and join the battle for the prestigious trophy and 1000€ prize pool. This is your opportunity to show your skill and the strength of the regional VALORANT scene.

Everything you need to know about VALORANT qualifiers

One of the most requested titles finally joined the A1 Adria League. Inspired by the Counter-Strike series of tactical shooters, VALORANT takes 5v5 action to another level. On the first day of the beta, VALORANT amassed the second most concurrent viewers for any game ever on Twitch, with 1.73 million viewers tuning in across dozens of streams. Since its release, it developed into a full-scale esports ecosystem with millions of players and fans worldwide.


In Season 9 of the League VALORANT will be played in two phases. The first phase will be an open qualifier played in a single-elimination format. Most of the matches will be Best-of-1. Deciding matches for the top 8 will be the Best-of-3 series. This way we’ll get the best teams that will compete in the playoffs. Similar to League of Legends, the first Saturday is reserved for the qualifiers, while the second one, a week later, is for playoffs. The playoffs format is a bit different. It’s an 8 team double-elimination with semifinals and grand finals being Best-of-3 series. Plenty of VALORANT action is coming your way. Make sure to follow all the news on our official website and social networks so as not to miss a thing!

  • A1 Adria League Season 9 – VALORANT – Qualifier

Make sure to check the rule book for all the detailed information and rules. You can find it on the LINK.

*This competition is not affiliated with or sponsored by Riot Games, Inc. or VALORANT Esports.