It’s odd that a player who has gone to the League of Legends World Championship four straight years and was on one of the best teams in Europe the last two years has a lot to prove. But that’s the situation top laner İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek is in after leaving Europe for North America and joining Dignitas in the offseason.
“I’m not a Gnar one-trick,” Armut, who let out a big laugh, told Nerd Street after his first game in the League Championship Series.
That was in response to a question about what he wanted to let North American fans know about him now that he’s competing in the LCS this spring. The fact that he has played Gnar more than any champion in his pro career has led him to acquire the moniker “Gnarmut,” but it sounds like that’s a label he’s trying to shed.
For the record, Armut played Jax and Olaf in his first two games in the LCS.
His new teammate Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen acknowledged in an interview before the season started that he thought Armut has been getting a lot of flak from the community for stupid reasons.
Armut wants to prove that he came to North America to win.
“I would like to show that I came to the LCS not for money or anything or better life or something like that,” he said. “I just talked in the offseason that Dignitas is the best place to show myself, show my worth to everyone else because there’s like some questions about me. I wanted to prove them wrong and, of course, to do that I want to win championships first of all.”
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Of course, Armut would like to keep his Worlds streak alive and compete internationally again, but his first goal is having a successful domestic split.
“I want to taste the LCS trophy,” he said.
Armut lifted the LEC trophy in Europe with MAD Lions in both spring and summer 2021. Prior to that he was a two-time champion in Turkey’s top-flight TCL in summer 2020 and summer 2019.
Photo credit: Riot Games
Why North America and Dignitas?
It would be a historic achievement if Armut & Co. can carry Dignitas to an LCS championship. The organization has never won the LCS or even gone to a final. But their roster this year should give them a fighting chance; Dignitas are loaded with veteran players who have won championships and gone to Worlds many times.
Dig didn’t look great during the opening week of the spring split, but the team’s entire roster hasn’t been able to practice and play together just yet. Dignitas support Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun still isn’t with the team due to visa issues, so Vincent "Biofrost" Wang subbed in last week. When the team took the stage for the first game, Armut said he had only been in North America for five days.
“So we had scrim for like three days,” Armut said laughing. “Scrims are not looking so good right now, but we are going to get better.”
Dignitas were projected by many, including Nerd Street, to be a mid-tier team, so they will likely look better than their 0-2 start in the coming weeks once all five starters have had more time to scrim together.
Armut believes he’s in a situation to succeed with Dignitas. He didn’t have any trepidations about leaving Europe for North America as he doesn’t think there’s an “insane gap” in the top lane between the two regions. The last European top laner to come to NA was Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau who joined Team Liquid last spring after a distinguished career in Europe.
Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games
Armut chose Dig over other LCS and LEC teams because of the roster and coaching staff’s potential. He had played under Dignitas head coach Ilias "Enatron" Theodorou before in Turkey, so that was a big factor in his decision to join Dig.
“I worked with Enatron before in 2019 -- we won championship in Turkey -- so I know how he is as a coach, that’s why I would like to play with him one more time,” Armut said.
There’s plenty of time for Armut to prove himself and for Dignitas to prove that they’re better than what many expect from them this year. Armut and Dignitas will take the LCS stage in Week 2 of the spring split on Thursday against 100 Thieves and Friday against Evil Geniuses.
Lead photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games