After four weeks of player in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, TSM is tied for 2nd place with Team Liquid behind Cloud9. TSM Top Laner Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik spoke about the team's changes from spring to summer and the test of its upcoming match against reigning LCS champion Cloud9.
I'm joined by TSM top laner Broken Blade after another 2-0 week. TSM is now tied for 2nd place with Team Liquid, but it wasn't an easy road to get there. Counter Logic Gaming put up a pretty good fight, were you expecting that?
I'm not sure what we were expecting, honestly. I think that this week's practice before our matches wasn't the greatest that we've had. We weren't very well-prepared, and the draft we ended up playing was not what we wanted to play, but that's how it ended up. What we showed against CLG isn't one of our strongest playstyles, in my opinion. However, we pulled it off and eventually won the game, so I'm still happy.
How do you think TSM has improved since your top 4 finish in the 2020 LCS Spring Playoffs?
I don't think you can compare the two teams because even changing a single player can make the entire team change its playstyle. I think our playstyle has shifted a lot. Last split we played very heavily towards my side of the map a lot of the time, and it was mostly working out. Now, we have found something that works out for us now, which is playing both sides of the map.
I don't think we can compare our team to TSM last split. We still have three of the same players on the starting roster, but we were a pretty bad team in week 1 of this split. We were really behind on the meta and really behind on how to play the game, but I think we are slowly catching up now. Even though this week's practice wasn't the greatest, getting away with a 2-0 week is really big for us. We had a pretty good showing in week 2; our game against Evil Geniuses was especially very clean.
"I don't think we can compare our team to TSM last split."
We had really good practice heading into our matches in week 2, so hopefully, we'll be able to pull that off again against Cloud9 next week. It's going to be a really big challenge for us, but if we manage to win against C9, I think it will be a really big motivational factor. Beating C9 is the next milestone for us, so we're going to test how good we actually are as a team.
The concern for TSM this summer was balancing resources between the roster, but you have shown that you are the only team in the LCS aside from Cloud9 who can play through multiple lanes in some capacity. Does that versatility come from the team's identity or from the individual players themselves?
I think there are definitely a lot of things that end up being important. Even the personalities of the players are very important in terms of how the team plays the game and how much you can put a player on the weak side or strong side of the map. It depends on every single detail of every single player's character, and in this team, all of our personalitiies are meshing really well together.
The bottom side of our map — Bjergsen, Doublelift, and Biofrost — are all really experienced players, and they're kind of the adults of the team.
Our Jungler Mingyi "Spica" Lu and I are kind of the young bloods; we make more jokes and stuff. I think the personalities mesh really well on this team and I'm really happy to play on such a roster. Playing has been really fun, and I really enjoy playing with this team right now so it's been inspiring me to continue to get better.
This is your first split in the LCS playing on the same team as Doublelift. What's it been like playing with him?
I think Doublelift has a really strong voice and a lot of strong opinions, but just because he has played longer than me doesn't mean that everything he is saying is correct. If that was the default in terms of why I would have to listen to them, that would just be wrong, but I've already learned things from him.
Doublelift is very good at preparing stuff, looking at other VoDs and just in terms of watching things. Sometimes he would even message me and talk about what he thought was strong and would suggest us trying it out, and I think you can just see that he really wants to win even after playing for so long.
"Beating C9 is the next milestone for us, so we're going to test how good we actually are as a team."
Bjergsen is the same way; seeing that both of them still trying to win after playing for so long makes me want to be like them once I've had as much experience as they've had in their respective careers. It's very heartwarming to see and be a part of five players who want to win and be the best team in the region.
In addition to roster swaps, the team has also swapped its coaching staff out. What's it like to work with Parth "Parth" Naidu as Head Coach of TSM?
It's definitely different because he used to be our Manager. We used to be asking him about manager-related stuff, but we had the idea of Parth coaching this roster because it didn't really work with our former coach Peter Zhang.
I think this stemmed from a similar issue with what he had on the roster before where the personalities didn't mesh well, but I think Parth had an idea of how he wanted to coach this team even before we played, which is why I think things are working out pretty well right now. Obviously, no one is perfect, but everyone on the team is trying. There's not much more to say than that I really enjoy playing on this team right now. Everyone is trying their hardest and it just feels good.
Even before tying for 2nd place TSM and TL were being looked at Cloud9's potential challengers for the LCS throne. Can you give some more of your thoughts on that matchup in the top lane against Licorice?'
I have played pretty well statistically against Licorice since I debuted in the LCS. I've had a lot of good games against Licorice, but obviously I think he is a very good player. I think Licorice is one of the best in the region, and it's always fun to play against players like him because there is always so much to learn.
More often than not, the winningest team is always looked at as the team with the best players, so that motivates me to outperform Licorice. Being able to show that I can do better than him is a great motivation for me, and I think I can do it for sure because I've already done it many times. I'll try my best to perform well, not just against Licorice, but against C9 as a whole team. It's very important that we all show up on that day to do our best against C9.
"Being able to show that I can do better than [Licorice] is a great motivation for me."
Now that you've been in the LCS for a while, is there anything you think you've learned here in your career that you wouldn't have learned in Turkey?
I don't really know how it is in Turkey now. They have changed a lot of things — they have a stage 2 now and I think they are a lot more professional than they were when I played in the Turkish Championship League. Regardless of that, I think I've learned so much here — not just as a player, but as a person. I've experienced individual growth as a human being and I have tried to be the best version of myself.
TSM is one of the best, if not the best, organizations in North America in terms of providing support to their players to become their best versions of themselves. Overall, I've been a lot more professional and mature about how to talk to my teammates and to fans since coming to NA. We didn't have a lot of fan interaction in Turkey because there was no stage, so I think I've grown a lot in terms of simple things like that from playing here.
Congratulations on your progress, and good luck against C9. Is there anything you want to say to the TSM fans?
There have been a lot of chaotic games, so a lot of people might get scared or think we are going to give them a heart attack or something. I think that regardless of what will happen, we are always trying our best, and at the end, a win is a win.
Obviously, we're not trying to make these games chaotic by making as many mistakes, but this split is a very good split for TSM fans. If the games are chaotic, but we are still winning, it's just a plus because the games are enjoyable, and your favorite team is winning. I hope our fans will support us even if we might drop some of these chaotic games because in the end, all that matters who plays better at the moment.
I really hope they are behind us for the whole split, and I'm really grateful for all of the support I've gotten from the fans since joining TSM. They have been a really big part of my career.