Turning around a storied franchise is a lot to ask of an 18-year-old, but that's the situation Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik finds himself in.
Following a stint in the Turkish domestic league, the teenager signed a deal with Team SoloMid this offseason to become the team's new starting top laner. His YouTube highlights and Twitch clips have already been posted and shared across the Internet, and TSM fans, starved for a return to glory after a year of disarray, have high expectations for the youngster.
Making the playoffs isn't good enough if you're a part of TSM. Before last year, TSM had made every single North American domestic final and every world championship. But in 2018, both of those streaks were broken.
In 2019, with Broken Blade, TSM want to write the wrongs of last year's failures.
"When I first got the message [to join TSM], I was really shocked," said Broken Blade at the League of Legends All-Star event in December in Las Vegas. "I ran to my brother and say, 'Hey, TSM reached out to me.' He was also going crazy. But I think it's a really good step for me, and I think I can really grow a lot as a player."
A teenager joining any pro team is a challenge. A teenager moving continents to a pro team is even a larger gambit. But when you're a teenager and move continents to play on a team that is known worldwide and has its initials chanted from Los Angeles to Beijing, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If Broken Blade succeeds, the world opens up to him. Everything from sponsorship deals to becoming a household name for esports fans is a possibility.
If he slips ups, there is no hiding. Broken Blade is replacing Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell, a long-time member of the TSM roster. He's expected to outperform the now-Golden Guardians starting top laner. If he doesn't, there's no excuse.
"First of all, I need to adapt to the team," he said. "The team is completely different from my past teams. First, I need to start practice [with them] and see how it goes. I'll see what my role is on the team and I think I'm really adaptive when it comes to playstyle. I can just adapt to what the team needs."
To Broken Blade, the challenge of living up to the TSM name is an exciting one. Coming from Turkey, he wants to blaze a path for the region that has improved year after year, with more money coming into the region over the last few seasons. Top South Korean players are now moving to Turkey to play in their domestic league, like former world champion Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan who joined SuperMassive Esports.
All it takes is one Turkish player breaking through internationally to make it acceptable for other teams to take a second glance at the region. Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan, formerly of the LMS and Flash Wolves, transferred to China's Royal Never Give Up the last offseason and won back-to-back domestic titles. This offseason, his former teammates Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang and support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh followed suit, the Flash Wolves pair signing with up-and-coming Suning Gaming.
Broken Blade wants to be that type of trailblazer for Turkey.
"My goal for 2019 is to prove that I'm capable of playing in a major region," he said. "I just want to fit into the team and show that I'm actually good."