When Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg joined Team SoloMid back in the 2014 off-season, he was a young up-and-coming star from Europe being thrown onto the biggest League of Legends stage imaginable, the titular role for Team SoloMid.
While his first few weeks in the NA LCS were marked with questions about whether or not he could replace TSM founder and owner Andy “Reginald” Dihn, he quickly proved more than capable establishing himself in no time as North America’s best player. After that first successful season, it became clear that TSM had found it’s new star.
Just a year later, the organization completely overhauled it’s roster making Bjerg the focal point of the team and building everything around him and the team has been the most dominant in North America ever since. Now, three years later, TSM are once again rebuilding things with Bjerg at the center.
The Rift Herald had a chance to catch up to Bjerg at the 2017 All-Star Event in Los Angeles where he talked about his team’s new roster, what he likes about the preseason and how he would fix Zoe.
Rift Herald: Obviously you guys are going through a big roster change, the last time this happened, to this scale you were pretty new to TSM. Now that you are the most veteran player, what do you feel like your role is in that?
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg: I think the biggest thing, first of all, is getting my team comfortable living in LA, especially Zven and Mithy who haven’t done that. Getting them comfortable living here and with the NA LCS as a whole I guess, and integrating them into our environment. I don’t want to teach them the ‘TSM way’ or anything like that because I want us to come in as five new players and new coaching staff and figure out what kind of team we want to be and how we want to practice. I don’t want tell someone how things are done around here because I want us to find our own team environment.
RH: So, sort of helping everyone get comfortable with a new place and a new team? Do you think that’s going to be easier with a lane that’s already got so much experience playing together?
SB: Of course. Even if it’s a new environment, they know me and they know each other, so I don’t think they will ever feel lonely or out of place because they have friends around them. If anything they have each other because they are so close. And it’s really easy to integrate that, instead of figuring out how the bot lane works with the team and how they work with each other, they already have that down so we just have to learn how to play along with them.
RH: What do you feel like your role is as a veteran voice in helping MikeYeung develop and improve his skills?
SB: I think it’s about just having productive talks. After each game we are both going to make mistakes, it’s inevitable, it’s what you learn from. I criticized him the other day and I told him, anytime I tell you something bad, it’s because I want you to get better and I want me to get better and if I’m ever out of line or I make you feel sad, I’m not trying to shit on you, it’s just that I want you to get better and if you see something I’m doing wrong I want you to tell me the same. Tell me what you saw and what I can do better and we’ll find the middle ground.
I think that’s important especially for rookies. Giving them a voice and making sure you aren’t like, “Oh, you have to listen to me.” It’s important to make sure everyone has their own role and their own voice. Everyone has to play for the team, but if you are sacrificing yourself too much, especially in the jungle you aren’t even really playing your role to suite the team.
RH: So, really open communication, so not only can you help him develop, but he can help the team develop as a whole?
SB: Yeah, that’s pretty much the — I don’t want to say the TSM way, but it’s pretty much the best way. Being able to have heated discussion and tell each other things they don’t like about each other as a teammate, or maybe as a person. If you are just holding all that in, eventually it’s going to become a bigger and bigger problem. I think it’s better to just tackle it.
RH: The biggest change to the NA LCS next season if franchising, do you see that as something that will really affect players or is it something you won’t really think about week to week?
SB: I don’t think it will be something I will think about. I think it will just mean I’m playing against better opponents because teams have more money and they buy better players and a better coaching staff. I think that’s the best thing for me and my team as well is that we have better opponents this year, so I hope that will mean the overall level of NA is higher.
RH: Another week to week question, do you think new runes will change the way you prepare for games week to week or do you think it will just be more of the same?
SB: I don’t think runes will change much. Riot’s end goal is a rune page that you can change depending on team comps and stuff and I think there are some small choices, but in the end, there’s going to be a best rune set up for every single champion and you can maybe change one or two things. It’s never going to be a dynamic system unless Riot finds some kind of godly way of balancing it.
Eventually I think the runes will just be figured out, unless they keep changing it, and people will be like, “Do I need stopwatch, yes? No? Do I need this or that?”
RH: Maybe one or two small variations, at most?
SB: I think in the beginning there will be more because it takes — I mean, the game is always evolving and people are always figuring things out, but it was that way with the old masteries. But I think at the beginning we will see some differences.
RH: Zoe is a champion you seem to enjoy and have played quite a bit of here. She’s going to get nerfed, do you think once she does she will still be viable and a champion that Riot can keep strong without letting her get too OP?
SB: I have played her a bit after the nerf and she still seems really powerful. I think it’s good that they — lessened the bullshit of the E staying on the ground. And they nerfed the radius of it and the distance the E can travel after it goes through walls. I think those are good healthy changes because the most annoying is the E that can come out of nowhere into the Q poke, which they haven’t affected. Actually — even her W is really annoying. Damn, she is just a lot of annoying abilities.
But they touched on the W and they touched on the E, so as long as the Q does that much damage and is that hard to dodge — because you can do the Q Q into R, whereas people thought at first you had to use your R then the Q — it basically leaves no counterplay, you either have to dash or walk to one side and pray. There’s no way you can react and dodge it. As long as that’s still a thing I think she’ll still be played in LCS ...
RH: Do you want that to still be a thing?
SB: Ehhhh, I want it to be a thing as long as I’m playing Zoe. If I’m playing against Zoe it’s not as fun. But I really like being one of the few people who can play against a certain champion. Like, I have a way to play against Zoe or my team has a way to play against Zoe and the other teams don’t I feel like that’s a big advantage, so I guess I don’t really mind it.
RH: What would you do to her W to make it better or feel better?
SB: It’s hard to say. Because the design as a whole, like the RNG, is just hard to balance. When I played against Uzi in the 1v1 and it was against Kalista, I picked up Ghost and Cleanse, probably the two worst things you could. Then I go into solo queue and my first two are Redemption and Gunblade, it completely changes the lane. If they are not willing to remove the RNG it is just going to be that, and ability that’s all RNG ... I think Riot already sort of made a mistake with the RNG and I’m not sure they will go back on it.
RH: Is there a champion you think are underplayed in the preseason so far?
SB: For mid lane, I think we might see — if Comet and Scorch remain the same — I think champions like Xerath will get more popular just because the poke is so strong. Similarly you could play something like Vel’Koz who’s very poke based, obviously Zoe is poke based. So if Xerath is banned we might see some more strong poke champions come up.
RH: Is there a rune you wish were better?
SB: That’s hard. I really enjoy playing Lucian and initially it seemed like Press the Attack made him even stronger, like, “Wow, Lucian’s so strong,” but in reality Lucian used to have so much early laning strength that he could bully any lane. Now mages trade so much better than they did with Scorch and with Comet so you can’t just be that guy who dashes in and destroys a trade because everybody does 40 more damage in the early game per ability. So I’d like to see Lucian come back somehow because he’s really fun and you can play him for like 500 games and still improve.