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The Istanbul Wildcats will face MAD Lions on the second day of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational and their star AD Carry Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık says they’re looking forward to facing fellow Turkish player İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek.

Armut caught the attention of MAD Lions at Worlds 2020, and the top laner has gone from strength to strength since joining the European side, helping them win their first ever LEC title in the Spring Split.

Now, Armut will take on a Turkish team for the first time since leaving SuperMassive in the Turkish Championship League, and HolyPhoenix said he is particularly looking forward to this matchup. He reckons the Wildcats will have a decent chance against MAD.

We played against Armut so many times back in TCL now, it’s weird that we meet back in the major tournament like this,” he said. “He is winning the LEC, we are winning the TCL, it makes us proud actually, but this will be even more fun to beat Armut and the MAD Lions.”

While HolyPhoenix said MAD Lions are a decent team, he feels they also lack the vital experience needed to succeed at international events. That is a weakness the Wildcats can exploit.

“They have really good mechanics and good team synergy, but I think sometimes they make mistakes and we just need to punish them in those mistakes,” HolyPhoenix said. “And we know them and how they play because they’re close to us in Europe. I think we can beat them.”

This year’s MSI is the first major international tournament for HolyPhoenix since Worlds 2014, and despite falling to paiN Gaming, the 23-year-old said he feels confident and is happy to be back competing at the top level.

“We expected to just crush [paiN] and win the game quickly but I think maybe just the first match we didn’t focus enough or we weren’t ready, because there was a break between the last time we played a tournament and I just say unlucky for a first match,” HolyPhoenix said. “But overall I’m really happy to be here again after six and a half years, and I just want to do our best even after this loss.”

HolyPhoenix is the veteran of this Istanbul Wildcats roster but he said him and his team have a lot of potential, especially after the dominant early game they showed versus paiN.

“In the early game we showed what we are capable of, and if you just play the dominant way that we played the first 15 minutes or something, we can beat every team in our group so easily,” he said. “We just need to focus on these problems for now, for tomorrow. 

Istanbul Wildcats and HolyPhoenix are currently 0-1 in Group B, but two teams out of four will progress to Stage 2 on Friday May 14th. This means they will have a few more chances to pull off some better results. 

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