After a near full split in the LCS, Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik has made his mark. TSM's new Top Laner has adjusted to play in North America seamlessly, and has been a big part of why the team has gone 9-1 in its past 10 games. With two games left of regular split play, TSM sits at 11-5 in 3rd place with a spot in the 2019 LCS Spring Playoffs already clinched.
Following a week 8, day 2 victory over Counter Logic Gaming, Broken Blade joined Inven Global to give his thoughts on his Top Lane peers, the TSM coaching staff, and looks ahead towards the playoffs.
I'm joined by TSM Top Laner Broken Blade. Last time we spoke was at All-Star 2018 in Las Vegas. How have you been enjoying life in the United States?
NA is great. I think the people are great, though I can't go out that much because of scrim time. Sometimes, we will go out as a team and go to nice places, and I really enjoy that. The atmosphere is nice.
TSM is a hard-working team, so that's not surprising to hear. Is there anything the team is working on right now?
To be honest, the way we were playing on stage was not the way we were playing in practice earlier in the season. I don't know why it was the case, but now we are able to play like we do in scrims. We play more heavily around the bottom side of the map, and we take less 2v2s on the top side.
Early on, we lost a lot of 2v2s top because we weren't as experienced and weren't focusing enough towards developing our skirmish top side. Now, we've worked on that and learned how to fix them, so we're looking pretty strong. I think our last few games have been pretty clean.
Was it difficult for the team to develop synergy since you had a last minute starter switch from Grig to Akaadian in the Jungle?
No, we had time to get used to playing with Akaadian due to Grig's injury. If Grig hadn't been injured, we would have started him instead, but since things have been going pretty well, we decided to stay with Akaadian. We're looking pretty good and he's shown a lot of improvement, as have I, so I'm pretty happy.
You've done a lot to prove yourself in the LCS this split against other Top Laners, and today, Darshan brought you a new challenge in the form of on-hit Neeko. When you played Neeko earlier in the split, you were building AP. Was it difficult for you to adjust to this matchup?
Playing against split-push Neeko is really really hard since she almost never loses lane. It's similar to AD Kennen or Jayce in they are all champions that simply don't lose lane. However, we had Nocturne, so we had the tools to stop him split-pushing, and that's the only win condition that Neeko has. She's really bad at teamifighting, where on the other hand, Vladimir is really strong in teamfights. Neeko didn't respect Nocturne when pushing bot, and we punished her several times.
When you have a volatile matchup like that, do you think it's better to have more jungle attention or would you rather absorb the pressure?
It's really dependent on what the composition looks like as a whole. For example, there are going to be matches where you will trade what you lose in the Top Lane for what you get in Bot Lane. However, there will also be situations where it's just better to match the pressure top if your 2v2 is better than their Top Laner and Jungler, or if your Mid Laner has priority and he can help.
It's all dependent on the comp and the draft, but if it were to be a complete 1v1 game, there would be many matchups that would be bad. Luckily, that's not the case.
You have many experienced teammates on TSM. Is there anything they've taught you that you didn't know before?
Yeah, I've been learning an insane amount from all of the players. Not just Bjergsen, for example, but all of my players and coaches have taught me so much. Also, I've learned from enemy top laners. They were doing things that I didn't know was good, and after playing against them and getting punished by them, I learned a lot. I'm still in the learning phase, and I'm not even close to my limit yet.
Now that you've had some time to play against the top laners of LCS, who are you impressed with?
That's a good question. I think all the top laners are really good, but I wouldn't say there's one standing at the top above the rest, you know? Licorice is really good, Ssumday is good, Hauntzer's not bad, but you can't say that one person is definitively the best because every Top Laners has their own set of skills and strengths. Each top laner also has flaws, including me.
I've been really impressed with Licorice. I think he's really consistent and never makes mistakes, and even in the event he does, it's minor. He knows how to play his matchups and he knows how to move around the map. Everyone has more or less matched my expectations so far, but some people have been even higher than my expectations. For example, Solo is really impressive mechanically.
The TSM coaching staff is headed by Tony "Zikz" Gray, who used to coach CLG along with Zach Goldman. Did your coaches have any insider info for the match today because of this?
Obviously, I get a lot of insight from my coaches. They're working really hard and for game days, they spend a lot of time analyzing the games our opponents have played before. For example, I know a lot about Darshan because of my coaches because of how long they worked with him. It's really helpful to have this type of Head Coach, analysts, and support staff.
How does Zikz' coaching style compare to other coaches throughout your career?
Tony is a guy that works really, really hard. I've never seen a coach work this hard and be this structured. He also has a fun side, which I really like. He's open to people; we can make fun of him in less serious situations and he won't take it personally. We have a good time together within the team. However, hezcan also also be very serious. He always tells us what we do poorly and what we should be doing better.
Now that TSM has clinched a playoff spot, do you have any specific goals or focus in Week 9?
We have a chance of getting 2nd, but it's unlikely. I don't think Cloud9 is a team that will drop both remaining games. Howeer, we still have things we can learn in the last week. We're going to try to use the time to try more stuff on stage and learn more about our team. We have 3rd place almost guaranteed, so we can focus on preparing for playoffs.
Do you think we are going to see any new strategies develop for the playoffs meta?
It always will depend on what is able to be picked blind. The new patch has some buffs. For example, Urgot is getting changed again, and Ornn is getting some buffs. Stuff can change, but it also may not, so I guess we'll have to see.
Thank you for the interview, Broken Blade, and congratulations on the win today. Is there anything you'd like to say to the TSM fans?
I hope the fans are satisfied with my play so far, but this is not my final form. I'm trying really hard every day to get better. I'm still making mistakes, but I'm trying to improve, so hopefully we'll have a good showing in playoffs.