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Umut Gültekin: German esports world champion

Aged 21, Umut Gültekin from Germany has won the most important national and international titles in eFootball. This is his success story. 

Author_Vanessa_SchmidtVanessa Schmidt, 04.01.2024
Umut Gültekin spends several hours a day training to prepare for tournaments.
Umut Gültekin spends several hours a day training to prepare for tournaments. © © picture alliance / ZB / motivio

When Umut Gültekin switches on his games console, he sometimes stays on it for eight hours a day. Computer games are fun for a lot of people, but for Gültekin, time spent on the console involves rigorous training. Gültekin is from Germany and world champion in eFootball: he is under contract as a professional with RB Leipzig. While other athletes at the club play on the pitch, the 21-year-old competes virtually, playing matches worldwide in the digital football simulation FIFA. As with a team in real life, Gültekin has a team and coach supporting him, and he is a member of the eFootball national team too, of course. Gültekin won the individual World Cup championship title in Copenhagen in 2022. This was followed in 2023 by team victory in the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia. A native of Hamburg, Gültekin won his first title at the age of 17 – in his very first season. Today he is regarded as the best player in the world, says RB Leipzig.  

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Gültekin used to have no chance against his big brother when playing FIFA. “He was always better than me,” says Gültekin. “But at some point I started beating him regularly, and I was the best player within my group of friends.” Gültekin won a scouting tournament and realised he had what it took to become a professional. Family and friends have supported him in his endeavours, and it is with them that he is best able to switch off when he’s away from the console. While others play video games in their free time, Gültekin meets up with friends to play real-life football or table tennis to get away from the virtual world. 

Gültekin has mastered the game almost to perfection. But he offers this advice: “You should always train against other good players. Regularly watch streams with tips and tricks to get better.” He believes Germany is one of the leading countries in the field of esports: “Germany is probably the country with the most young talent across the board. A lot of clubs promote young players in their academies. And Germany has the Virtual Bundesliga, which is an excellent league: here you can compete with other top players on a weekly basis. A lot of other countries don’t offer this kind of opportunity.”