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HolyPhoenix: “I believe in myself and in my team. We still have a chance…”

Tom Matthiesen

There’s no need to beat around the bush: it’s looking dire for Istanbul Wildcats at the Mid-Season Invitational. After three games played the TCL champions are still winless—the only team in the entire tournament with an 0-3 record. If they want to stand a chance to make it to the Rumble Stage, the team will have to win all of its upcoming matches.


0-3 down in Group B, HolyPhoenix and his Istanbul Wildcats teammates will need three wins to stand a chance. Image courtesy of Riot Games.

We spoke to the bot laner of Istanbul Wildcats, Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık, after he lost against PCS champions PSG Talon. He told us what’s going wrong in the team so far and why he feels he might need to step up more as a leader for the team. However, HolyPhoenix made sure to talk his hopefulness as well, explaining the ways he and the Wildcats could bounce back from the rough start.

Hotspawn: Before we talk about the game versus PSG Talon specifically, HolyPhoenix, I have to say that you seem pretty down to earth for someone who has suffered a few tough losses at MSI.

HolyPhoenix: I mean, I just feel empty. I don’t know. All three games we played, we made stupid mistakes that we shouldn’t have made, I think. I think we had the potential to be 3-0 in the group, but we are 0-3. That’s really disappointing to me. I have been at international tournaments for six years and I don’t want to go back home being unsuccessful like this. So I feel kind of empty. I still look forward to winning and I still think we do have a chance. We have the potential. We can make it to 3-3, we can still get out of the Group Stage. There is still a chance, so we will see.

Hotspawn: The games you played were mostly close and it seemed like you did have a good plan heading into them. How did you prepare for this group?

HolyPhoenix: Since the meta has changed with the patch, it is kind of hard to prepare. The drafting is very different from what we all played in our leagues. So, we may know what their favorite champions are, but we can’t know what they are gonna do in the drafting phase. We analyzed what the champion pool of our enemies was. That was the best we could do for the drafting. MAD Lions was already a team we knew, but PSG Talon and paiN Gaming are far away from us, so we don’t know them. So we just prepared how we wanted to play. We couldn’t prepare something special against them, so we just practiced the team comps that we are used to playing.

I think our drafts and our preparation were ok. What went wrong is that we made silly mistakes, rookie mistakes, that made us lose the games. Today as well. After we made a play in the bot lane, the game was really hard for us. We gave them two kills, and they just had the tempo to go around and snowball the game. That’s what they did. They’re a good team, so they punished us for the mistake we made.

I think we made those mistakes because there is a lot of inexperience from us on the international stage. All four of my teammates are playing in an international tournament for the first time. I’m not saying that I am perfect! [Laughs] But I do think that it kind of affects our team. It was part of the problem.

Hotspawn: How do you notice that inexperience in your team then? In what way does it affect how you play as a team?

HolyPhoenix: Since we normally only play against TCL teams, we are used to having TCL plays. Of course, we do scrim against European teams as well—I think that’s one of the reasons why we played so well against MAD Lion: we are used to their playstyle. But against paiN and against PSG we kind of failed because we are not used to adapting. That’s how you feel the inexperience in the team. Against a TCL team, if you make the bot lane play with the Nautilus Flash, maybe it will work because you are used to playing against them. Or maybe against MAD Lions it could work. But against this team, it won’t work. You need to calculate that, and we failed to do that.

Hotspawn: Even though you’re down 0-3 in the group, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many of the games were very close, meaning that there is a realistic chance that you win the rematch. How are you going to spend the short amount of time you have until your next matches to polish the gameplay?

HolyPhoenix: Maybe I need to control everything. [Laughs] That’s what I could do. It’s a bad thing to do, actually. At the start of the season, I was kind of doing that. But let’s say that when your child grows, you need to let them go and stand up for themselves. That’s how you become a good team. In the TCL we were that team. Everyone knew what to do and we played as a team. But here, I don’t really feel that. Maybe I just take control of everything and see how it goes in the future games. It’s something I could do. We will see. We’ll have a meeting after today.

Hotspawn: Can you talk a bit more about that role you took on early in the Split with the team?

HolyPhoenix: So, when I joined the Wildcats, they had just finished second place last year in the first Split, and then they were eliminated in the semi-finals in the Summer Split. Fatfetch and I joined as the bot lane, with the rest of the team staying the same. I kind of felt that the team was inexperienced. So I tried my best to be a player and a coach for them, teach them how to play the game. We adapted to that and we knew what to do.

But in this international tournament, everything is different. There is maybe also some excitement there. So many people are watching and you are representing the TCL, so there is a lot of pressure. Especially when you’re younger, if you are 18 or 19. A lot of things happen. But there still is a chance that we will make it. I believe in myself and in my team. We still have a chance to come back.

Hotspawn: We’ve seen you take leads and climb back from deficits. What are you going to focus on to try and get three wins out of the next games?

HolyPhoenix: If you see us play a good game, we probably have really good communication in that game. But if you see us as you saw us today, it’s because of really bad communication. Today, after the bot lane play failed, everyone was kind of down. We could do much better. Maybe we still won’t be able to win that specific game, but it won’t be as one-sided as today’s game. So, I think we could improve our communication in our future games. No matter if we are behind or ahead in the game: we just need to get the synergy back together, I think.

Hotspawn: To round up the interview, HolyPhoenix, is there anything you’d like to say to the Istanbul Wildcats fans who’ve been supporting you?

HolyPhoenix: Anyone who supports us: I thank you. And anyone who doesn’t support us: still thank you. [Laughs] I hope you at least enjoy watching us. Today’s game was a failure for us, but in our future games we will play better, I promise.

Istanbul Wildcats and HolyPhoenix play their next game against MAD Lions on Monday, May 10th, at 3 PM CEST. You can catch them in action on Riot Games’ official MSI stream.