After a full day of LEC victories to start off Rift Rivals 2019: NA vs. EU, the LCS struck back. Team Liquid won two match-ups against G2 Esports and Origen, and TSM closed out the day by defeating Fnatic. TSM's victory stood out as the first time in the tournament that an LEC team had not 'trolled' by picking strange champions in the draft phase as G2 and OG had against TL.
TSM Top Laner Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik joined Nick Geracie following TSM's victory over Fnatic to talk about his spring to summer growth, playing against LEC Top Laners, and playing with both Jonathan "Grig" Armao and Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham sharing time in the Jungle.
I'm joined by TSM Top Laner Broken Blade at the end of day 2 of Rift Rivals 2019. What was the difference make for your team in this victory?
I'm not sure. The first two games we played, we got stomped. So we got everything back together for this game to find a win. Everyone was pretty motivated, so we tried our best and it paid off.
So there wasn't a specific factor or adjustment you guys made after getting self-admittedly stomped in day 1?
We've definitely been learning from the European teams a lot in terms of how they play, even if they're picking troll champions at times. The way they play is just different, which is nice to see a different perspective of how people play the game. Even if you're not copying their style, you can adapt to new factors much easier. That's going to help us at international tournaments in the future. Even in our losses I feel I have learned a lot.
This was an interesting game because it was pretty even across the map, but the entirety of Fnatic's advantage was on the top side of the map. Does that change how you have to play the game situationally?
The moment Bwipo Teleported to the Bot Lane, he got an advantage, but I got an advantage as well by taking the entire Top Lane tower. Getting all of the plates and the first tower gold is equivalent to about four kills, so I wasn't as far behind as it may have looked. Bwipo had six kills, but I had a 20 CS lead because of his TP.
I didn't have to change the way I played very much because of this, but I still had to respect him. The Neeko vs. Aatrox matchup kind of shifts towards Aatrox after the laning phase, so we switched things up after the laning phase and put Irelia up against the Aatrox. It was especially easy for Bjergsen in that 1v1 because Aatrox had to buy Mercury's Treads into Neeko and Elise Jungle for the Magic Resist, so we had a good plan around the Aatrox.
Because Fnatic's strongest player wasn't winning against our strongest player, we were able to even out the pressure and turn things back in our favor. It was an easy game.
Now that you have a full split under your belt in the LCS, is there anything specific you've learned that you hadn't before in your career?
I'm learning and trying to learn things everyday, but what I've learned the most on is all of the basics. I don't think everyone realizes how important basic fundamentals are in competitive League of Legends. I didn't realize it before I joined the LCS, but you will never be able to play any level of advanced League of Legends if you don't understand every aspect of the basics.
For example, G2 is playing the most random stuff, and they are still winning. Why? Because they know all of the basics. Because they all know the basics and are on the same page, they're able to draft unpredictably. It's really hard to win a draft against G2 because they can execute on whatever they want and it will work. This is only possible because all of those players are on the same page and know all of the basics.
I'm also trying to work on being more of a leader and trying to learn more about leadership from Bjergsen. I'm also trying to change my approach to improvement to learn even more than before about these type of things I mentioned.
Now that you've played against the both LCS and LEC Top Laners, who is the strongest in each region that you've played against?
I think the best EU Top Laner is Wunder. I haven't played against all of the European Top Laners yet, but of the ones I have played, Wunder is atop the rest. After Wunder, I'd say Alphari, and then Bwipo.
It's hard for me to choose the best Top Laner in NA because I think there's a lot of equality in the skill for LCS Top Laners right now in terms of individual skill and game knowledge. I've been playing worse, but even excluding myself, Licorice has been playing worse too, which makes the other Top Laners look better by comparision. Impact is still pretty much the same.
There's not a single player that stands out among the rest in NA right now, but I'd say Licorice, Impact, and Hauntzer are all very close to each other. If there's going to be one player who stands out amongst the rest, it will be someone who innovates or figures out something faster or more effectively than the others in the LCS.
In terms of that next step, is that going to be something like a new champion matchup innovation, or something in more of a team setting?
It can be anything. For example, I think Mordekaiser is a very, very strong champion. The moment one masters Mordekaiser is the moment they will become impossible to play against. You can just 1v1 the Top Laner and then the Jungler if you get ganked. The new champion, Qiyana, might be a new pickup for Top Laners as well.
Whoever masters these champions first, or adapts to a patch quicker in general, that player will have the edge. Really small things like this lead up to the big difference makers. Everyone will think whoever that player ends up being is the best.
TSM has been playing with two Junglers this summer. As a Top Laner, does it change the way you have to play when playing with two different Junglers with different styles?
I definitely agree, but I don't think that's a disadvantage. They both have different styles, so it is harder for me to adapt all the time. It's also harder for both Junglers because they split time with the main roster. The rest of us get to play 100% of the games, and because they don't, they have to train even harder.
It makes it more difficult for the other players as well, because we all have to play differently to adapt to the difference in style. It's a team game, after all. I think both of our Junglers are doing a great job trying to get it to work, and they're also helping each other, so I don't see a reason we shouldn't play both of them.
While these type of platoons can demand more work from the players on the team, they often pay off in the long run.
There are certain champs that Grig plays better than Akaadian and vice-versa. They learn from each other, and that leads to both of them, as well as the team as a whole, being better overall. Grig and Akaadian have a rivalry, which motivates both of them to play better every day. I think it's a good thing, to be honest.
The expectations for you were high when joining the LCS. After your match against Team Liquid in the 2019 LCS Spring Split Final, were you upset that you didn't win, or were you satisfied with 2nd place in your first split?
I was really down after losing that Final. I was only thinking about the loss for two or three weeks afterwards. I was sad and feeling very bad, but if you look at it objectively, it was a good run. We finished in 2nd place and only a single game win from an LCS Championship.
Still, I really want it, you know? Not a day goes by without me thinking that we should have won the LCS Spring Finals. I really think we should have won that day, so I really want to make it happen with my team this time around. Right now, it's fair to say we're definitely not as good as we were in that Final. However, everyone is working really hard, and while it may not be seen outside of the games, we're really trying.
I really want that feeling of being on stage again. I can't describe the feeling I had on stage when people were screaming my name or doing TSM chants. It's a great feeling.