TCL Winter 2019 Preview

The Turkish Champions League (TCL) is Turkey’s fully professional League of Legends league, the region has often produced teams that have made a good showing at previous World Championships.

Matt Porter
Freelance Esports Writer
26th Feb, 2019·☕️ 6 min read

The Turkish Champions League (TCL) is Turkey’s fully professional League of Legends league. While Turkey is one of Riot Games’ wildcard regions, meaning international tournament qualification isn’t guaranteed for any of the teams, the region has often produced teams that have made a good showing at previous World Championships. It is also known as the Vodafone FreeZone Şampiyonluk Ligi due to sponsorship reasons.

Competition Information

Games in the TCL are played offline, and are broadcast on the official Turkish Riot Games Twitch and YouTube channels.

The TCL competition is held twice a year, once in Winter from January to April, and once in Summer from June to September. The champion of the Winter Season qualifies for the Mid-Season Invitational Play-In, giving them the chance to compete with some of the best teams in the world. The champion of the Summer Season qualifies for the World Championship Play-In stage, again, giving them the chance to compete in League of Legends’ most prestigious competition.

There are 10 teams in the TCL, expanding from eight in previous years, and starting from 2019 it has taken on the franchising model that has also been adopted in the American LCS and the European LEC. Previously, teams could be relegated from the league based on performance, and new teams would come in to take their place. There will now be an academy league which is replacing the old promotion league format. All teams participating in the TCL must also have a secondary team competing in this academy competition.

The 10 TCL teams are: SuperMassive eSports, 1907 Fenerbahce, Royal Youth, Galatasaray Esports, Team AURORA, Dark Passage, Besiktas Esports, Galakticos, HWA Gaming, and Bursaspor Esports.

The format for the TCL is a double round robin, where each team will play each other team twice in a best of one game over the course of a season. At the end of the season, the top six teams will qualify for the playoffs, with the first and second placed team receiving an automatic bye into the semifinals.

The playoffs will be a single elimination tournament with the matches now being best of five. The first placed team will play the lowest remaining seed from the quarterfinals, with the second placed team playing the highest remaining seed.

SuperMassive eSports have been one of the dominant teams in previous years of the TCL, with wins in both the Summer and Winter Seasons in 2018, and Winter 2017. 1907 Fenerbahce have also been competing at the top in the TCL, with a win in Summer 2017 qualifying them for the 2017 Worlds Play-In stage. SuperMassive have competed in every playoff final since 2016. Before their dominance, it was Dark Passage who won the majority of matches in the TCL.

Competition History

Turkey has had a professional League of Legends tournament since 2013, and it was the team Dark Passage who dominated the early years of competition. Back then it was called the Riot Season 3 Turkish Championship, but it swapped names to be the Turkish Champions League in 2015.

Turkey also hosted an International Invitational Tournament until 2015, where teams from around the world would come and compete against local teams, however this competition no longer exists.

Winners of the Turkish league would previously qualify for the International Wildcard Tournament, a secondary competition to the World Championships. However, since 2017, the winner of the TCL now progresses to the Play-In stage of MSI and Worlds, where they must beat teams from other wildcard regions in order to qualify for the main events.

The Current Season

It is SuperMassive eSports who are dominating the early goings of the 2019 TCL Winter Season once again, with a record of nine wins and one loss so far. As has often been the case over the past few years, they will be the team to beat going forward, and it’s highly likely they will make a good run at the playoffs again.

Just behind them are 1907 Fenerbahce and Royal Youth, both on a record of eight wins and two losses. Royal Youth, under their old name Royal Bandits, actually came top of the Summer 2018 Season standings, however couldn’t get past SuperMassive eSports in the playoff finals. Galatasaray Esports, one of the new teams in the league, and Team AURORA are a couple of games behind them.

Meanwhile, Bursaspor Esports are languishing at the bottom with no wins from their 10 games yet. Besiktas Esports and Galaktcos are another couple of newer teams in the league, but they currently each have a losing record.

Smart money would be on SuperMassive eSports to come top of the league and also to win the playoffs. However 1907 Fenerbahce and Royal Youth are in contention, and have been performing almost as well as SuperMassive eSports over the past few years. Watch out for the likes of SuperMassive eSports’ Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, who joined the team in December 2018, having previously played for SK Telecom T1 since 2014, the most successful team in League of Legends history.

A sleeper team to keep an eye on would be Galatasaray Esports. Although they’re a new team, they’re currently sitting in fourth in the table with a decent record. Plus, they are affiliated with the Galatasaray football club, one of the most successful Turkish teams of all time. Galatasaray Esports have the veteran Dan “Godbro” Van Vo on the team, who has a professional career stretching all the way back to 2012.

The 2019 Winter Season is currently being played on League of Legends Patch 9.3, which has performed a mechanics cleanup on the likes of Aatrox, Akali, and Irelia in order to give them more weaknesses.

In the previous patch, Aatrox’s power was reduced, and now he has been given a further nerf by trading his ability to sustain off minions for higher baseline regen. Plus, Umbral Dash’s second charge has been removed.

Akali’s ability to hide from turrets in her Twilight Shroud has been removed, and her Five Point Strike no longer heals if it hits at least one enemy when cast at 180 of more energy. Meanwhile, Irelia’s Bladesurge damage to minions is going up and Defiant Dance’s damage reduction is increasing, however her Passive is being nerfed to give opponents better ways to deal with her.


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