On this day in LoL Esports History: The Inaugural IWCI kicks off [2015]

On April 21st, 2015, the inaugural International Wildcard Invitational was held in the Volkswagen Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. Seven teams were invited from regions around the world to compete for the final qualifying spot in the first ever Mid-Season Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games


The following teams were invited to the 2015 IWCI: Turkey's TCL Winter champion Beşiktaş Esports; Japan's LJL Season 1 champion DetonatioN FocusMe; Russia's SLTV StarSeries Spring champion Hard Random; Australia's OPL Split 1 champion Chiefs Esports Club; Brazil's CBLOL Summer champion INTZ e-Sports; Latin America's LAC Opening Grand Final champion Kaos Latin Gamers; and Vietnam's GPL Spring runner-up Bangkok Titans.

Latin America South champion Kaos Latin Gamers defeated Latin America North champion Lyon Gaming to earn its spot in the 2015 IWCI. Bangkok Titans was selected to represent the GPL when GPL Spring champion Saigon Fantastic Five was unable to travel to Istanbul due to visa issues. All champions were enabled for the 2015 IWCI sans Viktor, The Machine Herald, who was disabled. 

The tournament took place over four days, with a best-of-one single round robin group stage starting things off. Bangkok Titans started the tournament as the unlikely heroes of southeast Asia, secured the first seed in the playoffs with a record of 5-1. Hard Random finished at 2nd with a record of 4-2, with INTZ e-Sports finishing 3rd with the same record. Beşiktaş Esports secured the final bracket spot on its home turf with a record of 3-3.

Beşiktaş Esports hit its stride at the right time. The Turkish champion swept Bangkok Titans out of the Semifinals before defeating INTZ 3-1 in the Finals. Beşiktaş Esports qualified for the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational to the group stage.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

Joined by Taiwan's LMS Spring champion ahq e-Sports Club; China's LPL Spring champion EDward Gaming; Europe's EU LCS Spring champion Fnatic; South Korea's OGN Champions Spring champion SK Telecom T1; and North America's NA LCS Spring champion Team SoloMid, Beşiktaş Esports became the first International Wild Card representative in MSI history. 

While Beşiktaş Esports failed to take a game off of any other team in the group stage, the Turkish representatives certainly made an impression. Berke "Thaldrin" Demir held his own amongst the internataional Top Lane talent, and Support Mustafa Kemal "Dumbledoge" Gökseloğlu managed to secure First Blood on SK Telecom T1's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. Both Thaldrin and Dumbledoge have made several international appearances since MSI 2015 across several strong TCL teams. 

Turkey has since gone on to become on the elite wild card regions, developing talent and more recently, taking a page out of the LCS playbook and starting an arms race over South Korean imports. The opportunity for minor regions to share the international spotlight was instrumental in the subsequent developments of those regions, and the International Wild Card scene as a whole. 

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