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With Worlds 2021 on the horizon, the Turkish Championship League’s Galatasaray Esports are one of 22 teams from across the globe that are gearing up for their biggest and most important event of the year. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship will feature each region’s best players, all fighting for the same goal: to stand atop the mountain and hoist the Season 11 Summoner’s Cup.

The TCL reps, Galatasaray Esports, head to Reykjavík, Iceland with a full head of steam. The organization made drastic changes to their starting roster between the spring and summer splits and parlayed that into sheer dominance of the TCL. While the competition is stiff, GS should be a force to be reckoned with in the play-in stage at Worlds 2021.

Galatasaray Esports (TCL) Worlds 2021 starting roster breakdown

  • Top: Kim “Crazy” Jae-he | Signed in May 2021. Formerly a member of Rogue Warriors.
  • Jungle: Berk “Mojito” Kocaman | Signed in December of 2020. Formerly a member of 1907 Fenerbahçe.
  • Mid: Onur Can “Bolulu” Demirol | Signed in December 2020. Formerly a member of SuperMassive.
  • Bot: Noh “Alive”  Jin-wook | Signed in May 2021. Formerly a member of ⁠Beşiktaş Esports.
  • Support: Onur “Zergsting” Ünalan | Signed in July 2020, re-signed in December 2020. Formerly a member of Galakticos.

How they got here

Galatasaray Esports have been a part of the Turkish Championship League since 2017. However, in the four years GS had been members of the TCL heading into 2021, they had never finished a season above third place. But it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. In almost every split they had been a part of, GS made significant roster changes trying to find that magic formula. Heading into the 2021 spring split it was no different.

The start of the 2021 winter split saw a GS roster with only two players returning from their seventh-place 2020 summer team. Those two players were their bot lane duo of Ege “Padden” Acar Koparal and Zergsting. The team rounded out the roster with 2020 summer all-pro top laner Berkant “Luana” Kayhan, 1907 Fenerbahçe jungler Mojito and SuperMassive Blaze’s mid laner Bolulu.

The retooled roster looked a lot better in the opening split of 2021, finishing with a record of 11-7, which was good enough for the fourth seed heading into playoffs. After a sweep in the quarterfinals, GS went the distance against the eventual champions, Istanbul Wildcats in the semifinals, but came up short in the fifth game. They bowed out of the playoffs with yet another third place finish. Bolulu was one of the shining members of the team, picking up the all-pro team honors in the mid lane. But instead of looking to keep the same roster and maintaining their momentum heading into the summer split, management once again pulled the trigger on roster changes.

Heading into the summer, former all-pro top laner Luana was replaced with former T1 sub and Rogue Warriors top laner, Crazy. The bot lane duo was also broken up. Padden was replaced by Alive, who had been in and out of Turkey for the last couple of years. Finally, the team also brought in Heo “Irean” Yeong-cheol, who formerly coached Counter Logic Gaming, Evil Geniuses and even Turkey’s SuperMassive Blaze.

The risky changes paid off big time. GS looked unbeatable at times during the 2021 summer split. They finished the regular season with an impressive 15-3 record and steamrolled through the playoffs. They only dropped a single game in the entire playoff bracket and even swept NASR eSports Turkey 3-0 in the finals. The run helped Galatasaray Esports capture their first TCL Championship and their first-ever trip to an international tournament, in Worlds 2021.

Players to watch

Although the South Korean pair of Alive and Crazy were the catalysts that helped GS take their huge step forward in the summer split, all eyes are on the summer split MVP, Mojito.

Mojito outclassed every single jungler in the TCL by a wide margin in the summer split. He led all junglers in the region in KDA with a 5.79 average. That KDA translated well in CS differential as well. Mojito was only down in CS differential in two of GS’s 18 regular-season games.

While sharing his thoughts on the rising star jungler, Ahmet “Nova” Yılmaz, head coach of the TCL’s Team Galakticos, compared him to 100 Thieves’ Can “Closer” Çelik.

“Mojito tries to play every aggressive pick,” said Nova. “Right now, Mojito can be the next Closer. He has Closer’s style.”

Of course, Alive and Crazy will be key players to watch as well. Not only will it be interesting to see whether they can perform on the Worlds stage, both players could see potential reunion matches if they reach the group stage. Alive, back in 2018, was on one of the very first DWG KIA rosters. The team he was on featured two members of the DK team that won Worlds last year: Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and Heo “ShowMaker” Su. Crazy also played with a DK World champion. He was teammates with Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun back in 2017, when the pair were members of bbq Olivers.

How Galatasaray Esports can succeed at Worlds 2021

Only one member of this roster has been to Worlds before, mid laner Bolulu qualifying last year as a member of SuperMassive Blaze. When it comes to international competition, this team has not been battle-tested. However, they are coming into Worlds with serious momentum. This team didn’t just barely qualify, they got here through sheer domination of their region.

Another thing going for this team is their coach, Irean. Irean has had success as a head coach throughout his career,, including coaching SuperMassive back in 2018 where they came within one best-of-three  away from qualifying to the group stage both at the Mid-Season Invitational and at Worlds.

“For me, Galatasaray is the strongest wildcard team right now,” said Nova. “…I’m not sure about what they’ll be doing against a big team. Maybe they can get a win against Beyond Gaming or PSG.”

If GS can continue their dominance and if Irean can make the adjustments needed to win games, this team can be a real contender to get into the group stage.

This article is part of an ongoing preview series of all 22 teams competing at Worlds 2021. For our complete release schedule and more information on the other 21 teams attending Worlds, check out Upcomer’s Worlds 2021 Outlook Series hub.

ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.
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