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Heading into the LEC 2023 Winter Split Finals, there was a sense of agreement that G2 Esports were the best team in the LEC. However, there was a sense of mystery in how close this series would be. For G2 Esports, they would be up against MAD Lions. For MAD Lions, they finished the LEC 2023 Winter Split regular season in second before showing strong form in their playoff series’ against SK Gaming and KOI. While they were viewed as underdogs once more, there was a speculation that this series could be closer than people had initially expected.

It wasn’t close at all. Instead of the David vs Goliath ultimate underdog victory, viewers spent those three hours watching a team that was head and shoulders above their competitors as G2 Esports claimed their 10th LEC title.

Esports Illustrated’s Sage Datuin had the opportunity to speak to G2 Esports top laner Sergen “Brokenblade” Çelik about what makes this team special as well as his own personal drive to be the best player he can be.

Congratulations on just winning the winter split. This becomes the third split that you win after LEC LCS. 2020. Summer, and then at least see 2022 spring. So I guess just first questions like, what's it like to have number three under your belt?

I mean, it's definitely a great, great feeling right? I feel like the players who are remembered the most are usually the ones who are winning the most. I want to be one of those kinds of players. This brings me one step closer to it so I'm obviously very happy and very grateful that we have won this split.

Even with the team finishing fourth in the regular season, it still felt like G2 Esports was the favorite to win still. That being said, there was a rough week for the team in week 3 that stopped you from getting the first seed. How did the team work through that?

Well, we always knew were the best team just based on practice. Yeah, we dropped a couple of games but that’s the beauty of playing only nine games. You can drop some games and suddenly, you are in fourth place and we were only one game from being in first place. It definitely makes things more interesting so we just played our game, drafted how we wanted to draft, and upped our game. I am really excited to play those kinds of games, especially in the regular season because it feels like every game matters so much more. But yeah, we’re always confident and we are never on the back foot. When it came to draft or gameplay, we always try to innovate new strategies. For example, against KOI, we had that level-one play. These are things we do because we are creative and we are practicing them. We are comfortable and confident in our play.

I'm curious, are you someone that likes the new format? Or do you feel like the previous formats were something that you preferred?

I mean, I definitely feel like the finals feel a bit weird. Honestly, it doesn't feel like the previous finals I've had, and I've played six finals prior to this final. This final didn’t feel as hyped because the split was only three weeks long, at least during the regular season. I'm not really sure I definitely felt a little different so I'm not really sure how to deal with that. I mean, the next split is going to be the same so I'll have to think about that and what to do then. I can't really explain what exactly it was. I would assume it's the span of time we play our games and how the finals just felt like they came by so fast. There was no hype building up. Usually, it’s eight weeks, then playoffs, then finals. Throughout that time, everybody is waiting for a winner. It obviously feels great to win, don’t get me wrong, but it just feels very different. Let me put it that way.

G2 Esports Brokenblade, Yike, and Caps LEC 2023 Winter Split

G2 Esports won their 10th LEC title this past week.

Could you compare the stress of having everything condensed in a three to four-week timespan to maybe 2022, where you were in a similar position but over the course of eight to 10 weeks? What was this split like for you in terms of stress?

It's a very, very fair point. I think people will really get stressed out because you only have nine games to make playoffs. That's why I think teams like Fnatic and Excel really imploded because it can be really dangerous. It’s also really good though because it means that any game matters. I think that that makes it a lot more hype and I think the regular season is a lot more hype, than the other seasons we had. I think it has a lot more stress and a lot more pressure on each game. If you drop a game against the team that you shouldn't drop a game to, it really messes with the standings and it makes it really run. For players, it’s obviously very stressful and we will have to deal with that, adapt to it, and play the best that we can. Teams like Fnatic and Excel did not do that, but I feel we did a really good job of that. I think we have a really great staff holding us accountable, and keeping us calm We are all accountable if we make a mistake and we share the same mentality. I do think we had to deal with some stuff just like any other team, but I think the difference is that we overcame that challenge.

I wanted to ask this next question to get your perspective on this team and what makes it different compared to other teams. Previously, it felt like you were in team environments where the win condition was to play around you or the team just loses. Do you feel less pressure to have to be that star player on G2 Esports? Talk to me about that shift for you yourself.

I mean, it's definitely very different. I do have a new role that I've never had before on other teams. I have very strong players and I have a lot of trust in them carrying the games. To be honest, I don’t feel that I had a very strong season. I wasn’t happy with how I performed. I think I was way happier with how I performed in the LCS because I think that is where I really stepped up my game. I was thinking that one of the reasons was that I took the pressure off myself. We have people winning lanes and sometimes, I will hear my teammates make plays and begin to start snowballing the game for us. I feel that during those moments, I would just tell myself that I’m just gonna chill and not trade so that the game is free. Why would I risk dying when my team can just carry the game? I had to mentally deal with that myself because I feel like I need to pressure myself a bit more to perform. I really like to have the pressure of the game and all of the stress that comes with it all. I feel that I work better when I feel that there is more importance to the game or when there is more on the line. In previous teams, I felt that if I didn’t perform, we were probably going to lose. And you know, that is nothing against my former teammates, but that is how I felt we even played. We played a lot towards topside and that was a known thing for us. With G2, we are not really playing around top a lot. I got used to playing a very resource-heavy style of play and this is obviously a new step for me. This is a new way for me to grow as a player, adapt, and play the most well-rounded League of Legends I can. I think I can do that with this roster and the people around me.

I’m curious, do you feel that your play was also because of the meta that wasn’t great for toplaners that are used to this high-resource style of play? What were your thoughts on being a toplaner throughout this split and do you think part of it was that it wasn’t great for toplaners?

Well, I mean, I do definitely think that toplane is in a weird state. I don't think it's very great. I don't think it's very bad. It's just like it's just weird. You know, I think there are a lot of top lane champions that are not being played that I feel are very strong like Olaf or even Kled for example. Honestly, there are some top laners who go back to their comfort picks. Chasy plays a lot of Jayce because he’s really comfortable with it. I don’t think there is a pick in this meta where it is always going to do good. The same goes for certain things that are deemed bad, it doesn’t have the highest win rate, but it is getting there. Right now, I don't think there’s really much of a reason to put a lot of resources top side because botlane is so strong right now. Maybe Riot is going to change some stuff in top lane so that it will be stronger, but we will just have to wait and see. Until then, I’ll just have to play the game. But when playing through top side comes back again, I’ll be ready and I’m going to be there because I know how to play it. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long, long time. Until then, I’ll just have to be able to play the other way. Right now, it’s really, really hard for me. It’s definitely something that I have to get better at. It’s something that I will continue to work on if I want to be the best. It’s what I have to do.

It’s not even March and you have guaranteed your spot at MSI 2023 in London this year, but you still have an entire split of play with the Spring Split. How does this format change your approach to this first half of the year, especially now that you have already guaranteed a spot at MSI and Finals? Is it extra practice to try new things on the team? How does winning and having that extra split before MSI work to your advantage?

Well, I don't think we have more freedom, right? Just because we secured a spot in MSI, doesn’t mean that we can just mess around. We want to win spring, we want to win the winter we want to win MSI, and we want to win Worlds. That's the mindset we have as a team and if you wouldn't have that mindset then you wouldn’t be able to play how we play right now. It’s very obvious right now that no one was close to how we were playing as a team. And I still think there's a lot more room to grow if you want to be the very best in the world. We need to make it impossible for any team to win against us, at least in Europe. Are we at that level yet, I don't think so? We are really good for Europe, but we also want to be really, really good internationally. What that means is that we have to always stay humble. Even though we have this cocky mindset, you always need to stay humble. I think about what we can do better and I think our staff has really been holding us accountable. We hold ourselves accountable and I myself am trying to talk to all of the players and keep everybody accountable, as well as myself. I'm very happy with how all of that is going. Going into spring, we are not even thinking about what happened last split because we want to be great in the present. We just want to play the best that we can and we are on our way to doing so.

G2 Esports win 10th LEC split title in Winter 2023

G2 Esports defeated MAD Lions 3-0 in the LEC 2023 Winter Grand Final.

I really like that point about you saying like, you're very good for Europe, but then internationally you want to be even better. In 2023, are there certain teams that you watch and want to level up to their play? Are there any teams or even top laners that really impress you? 

The only real top laner I am looking forward to playing right now is Zeus who we obviously played against before and lost so I want to play against him again. I think that he is very good and he would be really nice to play against because I feel he is the best. I want to compete against the best, so I really looking forward to that. We have some unfinished business with T1 from last year, so I am definitely looking forward to getting revenge. As for other teams and trying to copy them, I don’t think that’s necessarily great. Teams can look at stuff and you can use this to enhance their play style, but copying them is just not great. We’re playing a lot of random stuff and playing a style that is really hard to copy. We’re playing a lot of random things that people just can’t copy. It’s not like we are just picking cheese, it doesn’t work like that. I think that one of our strengths as a team right now is that we really understand how to play these unique champion picks. I think other teams from other regions are looking at us thinking that we are crazy. They're playing these crazy picks, what do we do against it? How do we copy it? You know? And I think that's the beauty of it. We want to be that team that other teams look at us and say, oh, we need to look at that. Obviously, that comes with bringing a lot of creative ideas, a lot of innovation creativity, and insanity. We have people like Caps who has been known for that, Hans Sama has his Draven, Mikyx was playing Jarvan support, and today, I was playing Kled top. Is it troll? No, because it actually makes sense for us and it’s actually good. And you can’t just pick those champs and they are good, you actually need to be good in order to make it work.

This offseason has to be very weird considering you only have two weeks before Spring. What are you going to do with that time?

Well, we will have about a week off before we start practicing again. Maybe I’ll do like a short vacation trip. We obviously need to stay on top of the game, but I am not sure about today. I might party with my teammates. My brother’s also here so we might do something cool and spend a little time with him. I’m really happy to do that anyways.

Any final words to G2 fans, as well as people who supported you?

Well, obviously, we're happy that people pull through and that everything is happening to where we are winning. I know last year, at the end of the year, people didn't expect us to win the split, but this year, it just feels different. I hope you stick with us and support us. It's very important for us and I’m thankful for that. G2 has a lot of thoughtful fans and I think for myself, I have a lot of really great fans. I am very happy about that. I think it is important and it means a lot. It helps keep myself and all my teammates sharp.

When does the LEC 2023 Spring Split start?

The LEC 2023 Spring Split will begin on March 11, 2023, as all 10 teams will look to battle for that coveted direct seed into the Midseason Invitational playoffs.

For now, viewers can tune in to the LCS 2023 Spring Split through the LCS Twitch and YouTube channels.