Broken Blade: “I perform the best in the Playoffs”
Yet again, Schalke 04 have clutched a spot in the LEC Playoffs. With a 9-9 record, and based on tiebreakers, the Royal Blues finished fourth in the regular Spring Split. Now the real test begins, however, as Schalke 04 stares into the eyes of the LEC’s reigning champions: G2 Esports.
Schalke 04 top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik spoke to us ahead of the first LEC Playoffs weekend. He looked back at the regular Split’s hectic final week and told us how the do-or-die scenario affected him. Broken Blade also walked us through the past two weeks of preparation, sharing how he and his teammates have done everything they can to take on G2 on Saturday’s Playoffs game.
Hotspawn: Welcome Broken Blade! Heading into the final weekend of the regular Split, Schalke had to win everything. It’s a similar situation to your Summer Split with TSM, where you had to clutch the championship through a lower bracket run. Did this feel similar?
Broken Blade: I definitely felt the similarities because I was in such a situation before. Even though, most of the time, we were the favorites when I was still at TSM. Being at Schalke, we were kind of the underdogs. But the storyline was kind of the same, which was kind of nice. I always had the belief, the trust in everyone, that we could make it. And we did, so that’s a really nice feeling.
Hotspawn: Did having that experience with TSM help you with being in such a high-pressure situation again?
Broken Blade: Yeah, definitely. Having experiences like that always helps, right? I just know that I have lost series where I was up 2-0, and I have won series where I was down 0-2. I just know that everything is possible when you truly give it your all.
Hotspawn: I imagine the relief must’ve been huge after qualifying. How do you look back on that weekend and at the regular season overall?
Broken Blade: I think, other than the 0-7 losing streak, we all had pretty good games, actually. [Laughs] Overall, individually, I think I played a pretty decent first Split. I think I performed really well in some games. Obviously, in the seven losses we all played poorly. But that is just what it is. We came back from that slump, which makes it even more exciting for me. I just want to play the Playoffs, you know? Usually, I perform the best in the Playoffs because the pressure is the highest there. But we’ll see.
Hotspawn: Did you notice that you started to perform better too then, once that pressure was on in the final weekend?
Broken Blade: Kind of, yeah. Because you know that, if you lose, you might be out, the pressure was definitely high. But it’s not like I didn’t feel any pressure in the other weeks, like on the first day, you know? I try to pressure myself, give myself more pressure. When I wake up in the morning, I tell myself I have to perform today, that everyone is looking at me. Just to motivate myself to do better. It’s just something that helps me.
Hotspawn: And how was the mood within the team in general?
Broken Blade: The mood was usually very chill, actually. We knew that that week actually mattered a lot, but our coach always tells us to be zen about things. And we kind of were, during that week. We clutched it out in the end.
Hotspawn: I imagine you had a few days of a break afterward to wind down before resuming practice. Did you notice you needed that break?
Broken Blade: It was definitely a huge relief, for me at least. I felt like I could really rest for two days. I didn’t really play a lot because I kind of needed the time off to come back to practice again. After eight weeks of playing and having so much stress, in the last week especially… I think everyone else just took their time off as well in one way or the other.
Hotspawn: What does time off look like for you?
Broken Blade: I still do play League, but sometimes I just play ARAMs or whatever. [Laughs] I usually watch some shows to relax. Some nights we are all together with the team and we have a few drinks. I really like to play the piano as well, it de-stresses me as well, it relaxes me. We can’t go out, so that’s all I can do.
Hotspawn: Oh piano! What piece are you learning at the moment?
Broken Blade: I’m playing a classical piece. If people know Haydn—it’s a piece by him. It’s a sonata.
Hotspawn: Back to League: after the break you began your Playoffs preparation. Is that something you guys gradually ramp up, or do you maintain a consistent pace?
Broken Blade: We had two weeks of practice, and in the first week we were more open to trying out stuff again. We had that time. But coming to the end, we’re almost going to be playing. I think we almost have all of the picks ready that we want to play, and that we are certain of what we’re good at. Now we are finalizing our drafts, we are finalizing our strategies to beat G2. That’s pretty much it.
Hotspawn: Generally, teams don’t heavily target opponents during the regular Split. Have you switched your practice regime a lot now that you can target a specific opponent?
Broken Blade: In the Playoffs, I think every team has a targeted strategy. Every team has a weakness, and I’m sure G2 is trying to find our weaknesses as well. They’re probably trying to see how they could win the games in the easiest way by targeting a specific lane, or with a team composition, whatever. We have the same thing. We believe that we have found our winning recipe, and we will do our best to win against G2, obviously.
Hotspawn: Schalke 04 had trouble with finding a comfortable spot in the meta during the regular Split, leading to that losing streak. How do you feel about your feel of the meta now, since you’ll play the Playoffs on patch 11.6?
Broken Blade: I think we have found our footing already. Even during the seven-game losing streak, we knew what we are good at. But we were trying new things still, trying to expand our strategies and stuff like that. It just didn’t work out. So we just went back to what we were really good at and we picked up some wins.
Spicy picks are something we’ve come to expect from G2, but your team also showed some great drafts this Split. Did you find some niche picks to whip out against G2?
Broken Blade: Personally, I really like to play various champions in the top lane. I think almost every Split that I’ve played, not only here in the LEC, I played so many champions. [Laughs] It might not always have worked out, but I definitely have some picks in the pocket. that have to be respected, or we might get some free wins. I’m excited.
G2 is considered the strongest team in the league, and the toughest opponent you could face. Is that something that motivates you extra, or are they just another opponent?
Broken Blade: The way I see it is, if you want to win everything, you have to win against everyone that is in your way. Winning against G2 would obviously be a really nice feeling because they are the number one seed. After that, I think it’s Rogue who would be the toughest opponents. We just have to see it from there, you know? It’s never going to be easy to beat the best teams in the league, but I think we can definitely do it.
Schalke 04 has been a weakness for G2 before during regular Splits, always giving them a tough time and often winning. How do you think this will change when it’s a best-of-five scenario?
Broken Blade: I think, against G2… Yes, they are a good team obviously. But they are not immortal. They have lost four games, you know? They do make mistakes as well. Even if they don’t take the game too seriously or whatever people want to call it. They are always this kind of a troll team during the Split. But we can beat them. I believe that every one of our players is capable of at least holding their own against the likes of G2. I think I performed very well against G2 in both games. So I’m really excited for that match, actually.
Is it going to be a five-game series?
Broken Blade: [Laughs] I can’t really tell you. You never know. Everything can happen in the Playoffs. It could be a 3-0 for us, it could be a 3-0 for G2. It could be a five-game series.
Heading into the weekend, is there something you would like to say to the Schalke 04 fans?
Broken Blade: Making the Playoffs in the Spring Split is probably a really nice feeling. Not just for the players, but also for the fans. They have something to cheer on in the Playoffs as well, they have their team to support. I’m gonna try my best to perform and make them happy as well. I hope you will all support us.