Wildcard Regions: Turkish Championship League (TCL)

This time, we travel to another corner of the world to get all the action-packed details on the Turkish Championship League (TCL), where last year’s Wildcard winner is close to determining its representative for the 2016 International Wildcard Invitational (IWCI), scheduled to take place in Mexico City from April 16th to the 23rd. Ready for the deep dive? Let’s do this.

League Structure

The Turkish server started back in 2012, with professional tournaments kicking off soon after the initial launch event. Although HWA is recognized as Turkey’s first National Champion that same year, it wasn’t until 2013 that regional tournaments were officially held, with teams battling it out at the Turkish Grand Finals.

Since 2014, the TCL’s regular season follows a play-off format very similar to the LCS. The league is made up of 8 teams which compete twice a week in a two-way, Bo1 series. The top 6 teams move on to the split finals, where 1st and 2nd seeds automatically advance to the semi-finals. Within this new format, Dark Passage has risen to the top as the Turkish regional champion three years in a row.

Competitive Scene

Given its proximity to Europe, and the fact that most Turkish players have a secondary account on EU servers, the region’s playstyle is very similar to that of its EU neighbors. TCL teams are known to regularly scrim EU LCS or EU Challenger Series teams. The region’s meta used to focus on chasing down kills whenever possible, with star players wowing fans with their flashy, individual plays. However, a couple of teams, including Dark Passage and SuperMassive, have begun to focus more on high-level play and team objectives. Champion picks are also similar to those in the EU LCS, with Corki, Lucian and Fiora being the top picks during the Turkish Winter Split.

Time and again, Dark Passage has proven to be the most successful team in the region. Founded in 2003, this eSports organization was the first in its class in Turkey, and the loud roar of its white tiger mascot has been heard at competitive arenas for several other games besides LoL. Dark Passage won the Turkish Grand Final three times in a row and got a shot at Worlds back in 2014. However, during the 2016 season they lost Naru, one of their key players. Considered by many the region’s best player, this roster change has hindered the tigers killer instinct and potentially, their claim for the top spot in the region. On the other hand, having won first place at the Winter Split, their chances to represent their region at the 2016 IWCI are still very much alive.

Earlier this year, a new contender entered the Turkish arena: clad in blue and ready to prove their worth, SuperMassive caused quite the uproar after enlisting top players like Thaldrin, Naru and Dumbledodge. Unfortunately, this renowned roster has been unable to translate their fame into victories due to poor team synergy. Thaldrin and Dumbledodge are no strangers to championship glory, having been members of the winning team’s roster at the2015 IWCI, when they wore the black-and-blue colors of team Besiktas. They´re hoping to make the most of their vaulable experience battling the best teams in the world at last year’s MSI.

Besiktas e-Sports Clubs is another interesting case. Its name may sound familiar to traditional sports fans, as this pro team (formerly known as Aces High) was purchased back in 2015 by the well-known Besiktas Gymnastics Club, which also owns popular soccer, basketball and handball teams. It was also last year when Besiktas was crowned the 2015 IWIC Champion in Istanbul. During that legendary Grand Final, they faced off against the Brazilian team, INTZ, in front of a passionate home crowd cheering on Bisiktas with the club’s famous soccer chants during every match. Other key contenders that have been around since the outset of the Turkish league include Team Turquality and HWA Gaming.

The Contenders

By most accounts, the 2016 Winter Split has been one of the most entertaining and hard-fought tournaments in TCL history. As teams get ready to settle old scores at the semi-finals, the two direct qualifying teams, Dark Passage and Team Aurora are set to face off against Besiktas and SuperMassive respectively.

  • Dark Passage

    TCL’s most dominant team, Dark Passage did not disappoint during the regular season, rising to the top of the leader board with a 11-3 record. Two of the teams that were able to snatch a victory from Dark Passage during the preliminary round are now qualified for play-offs: Team Aurora, trailing close behind in second place, and Besiktas, the defending IWCI champions who will face them during the semi-finals.

    Player to watch: Elwind (top). A versatile player, known for his former mid lane glory days, now roams the lonely grasslands of top lane. Elwind’s innate skill is one of the key factors which allowed Dark Passage to rise to the top during the Winter Split. His renowned Trundle and Fiora were a fundamental piece during his team’s regional journey, and they’re expecting to crush the dreams of other regional teams at the hands of this gifted player.

    • Team Aurora

      Another key contender at the TCL semi-finals, Team Aurora, earned its second-place spot with a 10-4 record. Its bot lane duo, DarkSide (ADC) and Zergsting (support), proved to be one of the strongest and most synergic duos in whole the tournament. As they get ready to play their semi-final match, Team Aurora will face off against the evenly-matched third place team, SuperMassive.

      Player to watch: Avenuee (mid). Born in Germany, Avenuee is a former member of Fnatic Academy (the second team established by this well-known European eSports organization). He’s the tournament’s current KDA leader and the player with the least deaths. If his rivals aren’t able to shut him down during picks and bans, we’ll likely see a glorious myriad of master plays with Corki or LeBlanc, his usual comfort picks.

      • SuperMassive

        With an 8-6 record during the regular season, SuperMassive ended up tying Besiktas and HWA Gaming for third place. However, they were able to beat both of these contenders during their tie-breaker matches. SuperMassive, now the sole third place spot in the tournament, eliminated Team Turquality during the quarter finals with a 3-1 result in their Bo5 series. They will now face Team Aurora, from which they banned away Corki during their last two matches as a countermeasure for Avenuee’s reputably devastating mid lane shenanigans.

        Player to watch: Dumbledoge (support). Though we could’ve highlighted their mid laner, Naru, as SuperMassive’s MVP, he hasn’t quite brought his ‘A’ game this season. So instead we’d like to put the spotlight on Dumbledodge, whose popularity grew after getting that legendary kill on Faker at the 2015 MSI. Dumbledodge soon became a fan-favorite and is responsible for making “support carry” a thing in his league.

Whichever team makes it to Mexico City as Turkey’s representative will have the added responsibility of defending the IWCI championship title. Though Dark Passage seems to be the clear favorite, the rest of the teams’ performance has been on par. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Din of the Battle playlist below with highlights from the TCL Winter Split. Catch you next time!

The Din of Battle: TCL Winter Split Highlights

3 years ago

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