SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik's first notable League of Legends Championship Series play came 11 minutes into the 19-year-old's North American debut. It wasn't a flashy solo kill or 1-vs.-1 duel, but a simple Unstoppable Onslaught that barreled his Sion down from the top side river into a skirmish just below the middle lane.
The newest member of Team SoloMid crashed into 100 Thieves jungler Andy "AnDa" Hoang's Olaf just in time to snag the second kill of Saturday's fight.
Broken Blade's next highlight came three minutes later, when he teleported into the bottom side river into an ongoing teamfight, zoning out four members of 100 Thieves. The end result was a triple kill for Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen's Ezreal and an Infernal Drake to TSM.
"Honestly, we had really good preparation days and scrim days, and then we had some really bad days where we didn't feel like we improved at all," Broken Blade said after his team's victory over 100 Thieves. "Because we had that strong of a bonding I think we can always keep a cool head and perform."
Broken Blade embodied confidence onstage and in the LCS media room. A smile never left his face. After his first week in the LCS, Broken Blade is statistically one of the best top laners in the region. Statistics are a bit fast and loose after only one week and two total games played, but a 547 gold difference at 10 minutes (best of all NA top laners), 926 experience difference at 10 minutes (best of all NA top laners), and a 4.7 KDA (third among all NA top laners) are nothing to scoff at. He also holds the third-best kill participation percentage at 73.7 and is tied for the second-highest creep score difference at 10 minutes, with former TSM top laner Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell at 4.5.
Despite the small sample size of two games, TSM made it clear this past week that it will be relying on the much-touted flexibility that made Broken Blade one of the best top laners in the Turkish Champions League last year, during his time with Royal Bandits.
Of all starting TCL tops last summer, Broken Blade had the highest KDA (3.7), the highest First Blood ratio (33 percent), the highest creep score difference at 10 minutes (4.4), and was tied with 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports' Berke "Thaldrin" Demir for the highest experience difference at 10 minutes (140).
"I bring a lot of flexibility when it comes to playstyle and I think I'm easy to work with when it comes to taking criticism, giving criticism, accepting my mistakes," Broken Blade said. "I think I'm really easygoing with that."
He played 15 different champions during the 2018 TCL Winter season and 12 that summer. Broken Blade's performances in Turkey earned him a spot at the 2018 all-star event in Las Vegas and an unexpected call from TSM to be its new top laner.
"I was surprised," he said. "I think I did really good that I would get offers from a bigger region but I wouldn't think that TSM would notice me, but I'm happy they did." He laughed and shrugged sheepishly. "There was no way to practice from EU. There was a time that they wanted to fly me in to meet the staff and the team so I guess they were certain."
TSM fans didn't share their team's certainty. Prior to Broken Blade's arrival in North America, they were doubtful of of the Turkish top laner. TSM kicked off the 2017-18 offseason with the announcement of the European bot lane duo Zven and Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez, then known as "best in the west" and former Immortals head coach Kim "SSONG" Sang-soo. By the end of the competitive season, TSM missed the League of Legends World Championship for the first time in the team's history, making TSM's large and dedicated fan base highly skeptical of future signings.
This doubt was compounded by the fact that League of Legends esports has very little regional audience crossover, even among the four major regions of China, Europe, North America and South Korea. The majority of the Western fanbase did not watch Broken Blade and Royal Bandits' domination over both TCL splits last year. Since the team unexpectedly failed to qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational and the world championship, Broken Blade's prowess was kept from the international spotlight. Born and raised in Germany, Broken Blade left the German amateur leagues for Turkey to improve. Signing with TSM has given him his largest stage to date.
After two games, it's difficult to say what type of role he'll gravitate toward while on TSM. Last season, Broken Blade played carries, tanks, and everything in between. His statistics this year already look similar to his numbers last season. He has looked surprisingly well-coordinated with his teammates given the short amount of time that they have played together. Broken Blade's Week 1 success has already caused a slight shift in his own personal goals as a player.
"Before, I think I gave an interview and I said that I would show that I'm capable of being in a major region," Broken Blade said. "But now that's changed. I want to show that I can be one of the best."