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Armut: “I can feel that I am gonna be back”

Tom Matthiesen

Though MAD Lions locked in their spot for the LEC Summer Split Playoffs a while ago already. It may sound like they’re in a comfortable position, but the reigning LEC champions had a tumultuous season with burnouts and quarantines plaguing the squad. In spite of everything, top laner İrfan “Armut” Tükek remains not just hopeful, but very confident.


The regular Summer Split may not have gone well for Armut, but the 'Turkish Stage Beast' is confident he'll step it up when it matters. (Image courtesy of Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Armut sat down with us to talk about his team’s steady improvement over the weeks. He also spoke open-heartedly about his own burnout, how it affected his performance, and why he’s certain that he’ll be in shape again once the Playoffs arrive.

Hotspawn: Welcome Armut and congrats on a 2-0 week! What stood out to me this week is that MAD Lions played a very controlled style, especially against Rogue. How do you look at the games?

Armut: I guess against Astralis, that game was a bit… weird. [Laughs] We won in the end but it was just a really weird game. It was of course fun to watch for some people, so I’m happy about that. I’m not saying it was a clean game because I think we played poorly against Astralis, to be honest. I mean, we managed to win in the end, so it’s ok.

Against Rogue, I think our draft was the main thing. I think we outdrafted them pretty hard. We completely countered their whole draft, I think, with our poke comp. With Trundle, Tahm Kench cannot do anything. I think our draft was pretty good and I think we played how we should play. Even though I made some mistakes in the sidelane, I think it was fine.

Hotspawn: Kaiser has said that the team plays well against good teams and not as well against worse teams. Do you share this perspective?

Armut: I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t feel that it’s like that. I’m just trying hard against everyone. It doesn’t matter which team. Of course, when it’s some better team, you want to show yourself more and you want to be more tryhard, I guess. So actually it might affect us, yeah.

I just wanted to stay alone with myself to think about it and relax about everything.

Hotspawn: It’s good to see MAD Lions back on stage; the team has said multiple times that this improves the performance. You’ve personally gotten the nickname ‘Turkish stage beast’. How has being back on stage been for you?

Armut: Being on the stage just gives me more motivation to play better. The more adrenaline I feel, the better I play. I like to play on stage.

Hotspawn: Still, though most on-stage games were won, they weren’t all very clean. What do you think the reason is that it’s taking some warming up?

Armut: I mean it just took one week man. [Laughs] We just played last week as well and we lost the first game. Well, actually, we lost the first game against SK and I guess we should have lost against Vitality as well. But then our mid and AD made a combination of Orianna/Kai’Sa and we came back. I think we had some draft mistakes in the top lane, that’s my bad. I think in-game, we weren’t so comfortable on stage. I think we just need to play some more and then we’re comfortable again.

Hotspawn: And if I look at the Split as a whole, it seems like there is gradual progress overall.

Armut: Yeah yeah, we were expecting that. For example, me, I wasn’t going fully serious starting from the Split. I had a burnout, so I was just taking it slowly. When the Playoffs come, I told you, I’m gonna come back. And I am gonna come back! [Laughs]

Hotspawn: [Laughs] Well, how do you feel about your performance so far, then?

Armut: So far, it’s bad. I mean, it’s really bad, actually. But it doesn’t matter because I can feel that I am gonna be back.

Hotspawn: What gives you that confidence?

Armut: I don’t know. [Laughs] I just know that, with the work, with the right mindset, I can do it. I already did it before. I know I can do much better. I just trust myself.

Hotspawn: MAD Lions players and staff have been very open about the burnout at the start of the Split. How was it for you?

Armut: Yeah, so, after MSI there are like two weeks, and then there’s LEC again, woohoo! Of course, we are not ready for it then, you know? It was really hard for us to come back into League of Legends and suddenly play like ten, twelve, fourteen weeks again. It’s just hard.

I feel much better and I feel motivated now.

Hotspawn: What did you do with the situation?

Armut: The first four or five weeks, I just wanted to play it chill, not show myself to the cameras, not take so many interviews, not play my solo queue, not stream. I just wanted to stay alone with myself to think about it and relax about everything. I knew: the time will come to show myself again. [Laughs] Yeah I mean, the first four/five weeks I just sacrificed it, to be honest. And now I’m grateful that I did it, actually. I think it was a good decision for me. I feel much better and I feel motivated now. My team helped me a lot. They help me a lot in every situation.

Hotspawn: Is it the first time this has happened to you in your career?

Armut: This is the first time this has happened to me this early in the Split. I’m already burned out in the first week? Like, what?

Hotspawn: Now, looking forward, you guys are locked into the playoffs. Given the team is still ramping up, how important do you feel getting to the upper bracket is?

Armut: I mean, it’s important for everyone, right?

Hotspawn: Well, sometimes players say “Oh it doesn’t matter, if we wanna win we need to beat them all” or something like that.

Armut: Nah, the upper bracket is just better. When you fail, you still have a chance. Why should I not just take that opportunity and say “Ah we need to beat every team anyway”? I don’t know. That’s pointless.

Hotspawn: Rogue, Fnatic, G2, Misfits, and of course MAD Lions are all contesting. Previously, best-of-fives really helped your team. Do you think it’ll be the same now?

Armut: Yes. I was watching every game, and I was thinking that Rogue is the best team in the LEC. And then we beat Rogue just like that. [Laughs] As I said I think there was really a huge gap in draft. But I think we did a good job against them as well. If we can beat Rogue again, we can be the champions again. With best-of-fives there are just more games on stage, so we don’t mind.

Hotspawn: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans to round up the interview?

Armut: I wanna say sorry for the first weeks. Maybe for the first six/seven weeks, maybe. [Laughs] I want to say sorry about that. But let them know: I’m coming back.

MAD Lions play their next game in the LEC against G2 Esports on Friday, July 30th, at 9 PM CEST. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports website.