DETROIT --- Cloud9 mid laner Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer is tired.
No, it's not because his team had a tough win in the fourth game of its League of Legends Championship Series semifinal over Counter Logic Gaming to book its ticket to the final.
He's tired because he keeps getting compared to Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, the player he replaced in the starting five of C9 during the offseason, and that narrative has been nearly exhausted ahead of the LCS Summer Split final Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
"TL has a lot of strong individual players, so he doesn't have to do much to win the game usually," Nisqy said of Jensen. "Also, I don't think he's playing really well. I think laning-wise, I'm probably better, I say."
After Cloud9 had possibly the greatest triumph in franchise history, making it all the way to the world semifinals last year in South Korea, Jensen went to the front office with a stunning request: He wanted out. Not only did he want to be transferred, but he wanted to be moved to the team that beat C9 in the most recent domestic final, Team Liquid, who are now the holders of the past three North American titles.
Cloud9 and their owner, Jack Etienne, obliged the star player's request, sending him to Team Liquid in the first major transaction of free agency after four years with C9. Cloud9 decided on Nisqy, a rangy and confident Belgian player from the European circuit as Jensen's replacement.
Nisqy said he'd never quite felt the pressure that came with the LCS stage in his career, but he's proved himself throughout his time with C9 and has confidence that matches his gameplay. Throughout the summer and leading up to Sunday, he's frequently reiterated that he's not scared of Jensen. When talking about the former C9 mid laner, he shows respect, but zero fear, saying that while G2 Esports ace and Mid-Season Invitational MVP Rasmus "Caps" Winther is the undisputed best mid laner at the moment in the Western region, Nisqy doesn't feel anyone else is ahead of him.
Jensen, awaiting Nisqy in Detroit at the league finals, isn't having it. He believes his laning opponent's summer split is playing so well in part thanks to Nisqy's jungler, LCS Summer Split MVP Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen.
"I think winning against CLG really got to his head," Jensen said. "I don't think Nisqy is anywhere near up there. I think he's a good player and he looks good because Svenskeren is having the best split of his life. I really think Svenskeren is carrying him a lot, and yeah, I'm sure after this week we'll see who is the best mid laner."
Inside the game, Nisqy's fearlessness translates into a risky style that promotes early knockouts and sometimes disastrous results. If there is a chance to take Jensen out of the final in the opening minutes, Nisqy is going to take it, disregarding the fact that if things go south it might have the opposite effect. He's aware of how his instincts can get the better of him at times, and he's OK with it, his gunslinger attitude netting him the most eliminations in the LCS during the regular season.
The Cloud9 mid laner's loose play is admittedly thanks in part to his jungler. Although Svenskeren didn't start in four of his team's regular-season games (out of 18), he was still awarded the league's top honors this split. The duo's combination in the mid lane, with Svenskeren acting as a funnel for Nisqy to rack up eliminations, has become Cloud9's backbone en route to the franchise's seventh domestic final.
Jensen was a part of three of those finals, and each one ended with him congratulating the opposing team. The deciding factor in his decision to ask for a request from C9 to Liquid was just that: He wanted to win a trophy. C9 might have made it to the semifinals of the world championship, but Riot Games doesn't give trophies for coming in fourth place.
Jensen wanted his legacy to be more than having fun on a team he got along with; he needed hardware.
In his first year on Team Liquid, Jensen has already met that goal. In the spring split final, his team marched back from a 2-0 deficit to reverse-sweep Team SoloMid and give Jensen his first championship in almost five years of playing professional League of Legends.
"Throughout my entire career, I was almost always second-best," Jensen said. "I think [this final] is just another chance to solidify myself as the best and creating a new legacy for myself."
As Jensen muses over his future, Nisqy stays in the moment. He isn't thinking about laying a foundation upon which to build the remainder of his career. All he wants is to bring a trophy home. If he can beat Jensen, he'll bring C9 their first North American championship since 2014, something Jensen couldn't do throughout the entirety of his run on the team.
"I do think Jensen left C9 because couldn't win any finals or any trophies," Nisqy said. "I think we can do it."