"Looks like Theokoles and Thaldrin are just on the other side and it's going to be as well Dumbledoge from the top lane, the hits go in . . . oh! Ten points to Dumbledoge! First Blood!"
-Rivington “RivingtonThe3rd” Bisland III, 2015 Mid-Season Invitational
It was an odd start for the International Wildcard Invitational champions Beşiktaş e-Sports Club. The Turkish side had chosen to 2v1 SK Telecom T1 top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan yet still committed to a double jungle on the bot side with their own top laner Berke “Thaldrin” Demir and jungler Muhammed “Theokoles” Işık. SKT AD carry Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan freely farmed unopposed in the bot lane while MaRin was relatively unharassed by Beşiktaş AD carry Tomáš “Nardeus” Maršálek and support Mustafa “Dumbledoge” Kemal Gökseloğlu.
Approximately 2:30 into the game, Beşiktaş’ initial gameplan became clear. Thaldrin and Theokoles moved up from their blue side jungle, joining their mid laner Isak “Energy” Pettersen Fjell while Dumbledoge appeared from top lane. Their unconventional efforts were all in service of killing SKT’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The honor of the kill — First Blood in that game — went to Dumbledoge’s Janna, earning him instant fame and fortune, along with his memetic in-game name and affable personality.
Jokes aside, the IWCI champion has a tenuous place at the MSI tournament specifically. A wildcard team faces insurmountable odds against the top teams from all five major regions. This kill onto the best player in the world in the first three minutes of an inevitable loss to the Korean juggernaut SKT is Beşiktaş’ only noteworthy achievement from the inaugural MSI event.
The last somewhat successful Wildcard representative was Brazil’s paiN Gaming at the 2015 World Championship. PaiN benefitted from the fact that the World Championship is a larger tournament with more representatives from each region and the added bonus of being placed in what was universally considered the easiest group. They won two games and still failed to exit the group stages into the playoff bracket. The other IWC team, Thailand’s Bangkok Titans, did not win a single match.
With the familiar faces of Dumbledoge and Thaldrin, Turkey’s latest IWCI winner SuperMassive eSports now inherits Beşiktaş’ 2015 MSI legacy. Born from the ashes of the initial Beşiktaş team, SuperMassive acquired Beşiktaş’ spot in the 2016 Turkish Champions League. Beşiktaş later picked up the roster of Oyun Hizmetleri, becoming Beşiktaş.Oyun Hizmetleri and SuperMassive’s eventual opponent at the 2016 TCL Winter Finals. Dumbledoge bested his former organization 3-1, earning SuperMassive a spot at the 2016 IWCI.
SuperMassive is an amalgamation of some of Turkey’s most tenured players, most of whom have prior international experience either with Beşiktaş last year at MSI or Dark Passage. In addition to the aforementioned Thaldrin and Dumbledoge, Theokoles is a jungle substitute, backing up former HWA jungler Furkan “Stomaged” Güngör. Top laner Asım “Fabfabulous” Cihat Karakaya and mid laner Koray “Naru” Bıçak were both part of Dark Passage’s 2014 World Championship team, another wildcard representative at an international event that failed to win a single game.
Dumbledoge leads SuperMassive with dynamic roams and aggressive engages. He routinely leaves his partner, Danish AD carry Nicolaj “Achuu” Ellesgaard to his own devices in lane to roam. Acting as a secondary jungler, Dumbledoge is a frequent ganker — often more than jungler Stomaged who spends time farming on the likes of Graves, Gragas, Kindred and previously Rek’Sai — and provides not only necessary crowd control for teamfights, but SuperMassive’s primary source of engage. Usually this task would fall to the top laner of the team, especially with Maokai and Poppy’s overwhelming popularity. Thaldrin sometimes mistimes flanks and engages and Fabfabulous is more of a carry player that the team has recently benched in favor of Thaldrin in the current meta, therefore SuperMassive heavily relies on Dumbledoge to start off fights.
Large-scale, late-game fights are SuperMassive’s primary key to victory, and the team uses them to take objectives. Even though the team was out-rotated several times by Hard Random in the recent IWCI tournament finals, that mattered little with Dumbledoge roaming the map on Poppy or Bard. He accrued early advantages for his laners in order to place them ahead of their opponents before the full 5v5 fights broke out. Come time to teamfight, the initiation was also on Dumbledoge, who aggressively engaged, dictating the pace for his entire team. Supplementary engage and crowd control from Thaldrin or even Naru was used to consistently dive enemy backlines and lock down opponents, occasionally in time for another round of initiation from Dumbledoge if necessary.
Poppy is a significant flex pick for SuperMassive, allying with Dumbledoge in the support role more than Thaldrin in the top lane. SuperMassive’s primary initiator also plays the off-beat pick of Elise, using her Cocoon to trap opponents and start off fights. Above all, Dumbledoge excels at target prioritization and separating adversaries from each other so that the rest of SuperMassive can pick them off one by one.
The way to best SuperMassive is by outsmarting them on the map while separating them and not falling prey to their 5v5 fights. Against the significantly superior individual talent — never mind overall macro prowess and team strategy — of 2016 MSI, SuperMassive have a tough road ahead of them if they want to take one game. Besting 2015 Beşiktaş’ zero percent MSI winrate will take Dumbledoge on Bard or Poppy and SuperMassive holding out through the laning phase, able to amass some sort of advantage that they can later use in teamfights.
Fortunately for SuperMassive, the 2016 MSI schedule is slightly less punishing. A double round robin rather than the single round robin of 2015 gives the Turkish team more opportunities to upset one of the five major regions. Not to mention that this team is clearly stronger than 2015 Beşiktaş, whose only current legacy is a single First Blood onto the best player in the world. Still, SuperMassive taking even one game from their major region counterparts would be a monumental upset, even if the match mattered little in the overall standings.
Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.