When he returned home to NA after a 0-6 outing at Worlds 2020, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg shocked the scene as he announced his retirement. Bjergsen reigned as the starting mid laner for TSM for seven seasons running and at age 24 he still had plenty left in the tank in terms of both age and ability. But as the inevitability of his retirement dawned on everyone, the conversation naturally moved to who is a worthy replacement of the near-unmatched legacy of the LCS icon.
TSM’s off-season was quite the wild ride. The team ended with five starters who have never once played together and they will take some type to gel but one thing is for certain: There is no one more suited as Bjergsen’s successor than Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. PowerOfEvil’s capabilities as a talent, a teammate, and a competitor make him the ideal candidate for helping lead TSM into a new era of prosperity.
PowerOfEvil had the most successful year of his North American career on FlyQuest in 2020, showcasing impressive flexibility with multiple mid lane styles for his team while simultaneously keeping his individual level of play consistently high throughout the season. PowerOfEvil has long since been known for his prowess on teamfighting control mages, but the innovative spark seen during his time Unicorns of Love was seen again in the form of picks like Rumble and Qiyana.
After leading FlyQuest to its first back-to-back LCS finals and first Worlds qualification, PowerOfEvil squared off against the likes of at-the-time DRX mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon and Top Esports mid laner Zhuo “knight” Ding. While FlyQuest failed to make playoffs, it was a narrow loss of just one win shy of doing so after an impressive upset against tournament favorites TES and a domination against Unicorns of Love with PowerofEvil playing Vayne mid.
A week before the 2021 LCS Lock-In, as he sat with Inven Global to discuss his off-season move, PowerofEvil said what leaving the team meant.
“It was kind of similar to leaving Misfits,” PowerOfEvil recalled. “On FlyQuest, everyone was really nice and I enjoyed time with my teammates, and the players sat down and asked one another if we all wanted to stay on FlyQuest or be on different teams next year.”
Despite the closeness of the FlyQuest squad, all five players ended up on different teams for 2021, but PowerOfEvil already knew this was a possibility. “These things are always hard because every player has different ambitions and different views on certain teams, so it is sometimes really hard to stick together. Even so, you don't know what team you'll end up on and who will leave or stay."
"After the players shared with each other a little bit, I knew FlyQuest wouldn't be the same as it was in 2020, so I decided to look out for other options and teams.”
With a long career behind him, PowerOfEvil is no stranger to getting offers, but no amount of experience could have prepared him for what came knocking.
“To my surprise, TSM approached me saying Bjergsen was going to retire and that they were very interested in looking at me to potentially replace him.”
Their international fumbles notwithstanding, TSM is still one of the most desired destinations for professional players due to the organization’s legacy and the talent that it has produced. And, of course, there’s also the benefit of being the first mid laner to ever be coached by Bjergsen, which PowerofEvil likened to playing under another LoL household name back in Origen.
“I had a similar situation on Origen where I had xPeke as a coach, and I think I learned a lot from having such an experienced mid laner in a position to give feedback,” PowerOfEvil explained, adding:
“I would say TSM is the most serious team when it comes to scrims and vod reviews."
"I don't know if that's the organization or Bjergsen as a coach, but things are really structured and, honestly, pretty efficient," PowerOfEvil continued. "We come in early every day…[laughs] well, we're at least always on time. Sometimes we have a team workout just to bond a bit together before our scrims.”
It’s not just the structure on paper that has PowerOfEvil feeling confident about his new team, though and he highlights the teamwide accountability during post-match review sessions as an integral factor in what he thinks has been a rapid development of synergy between the players on TSM’s new squad.
“In vod reviews, all the players try to take responsibility and not argue about mistakes. I think recognition of one's mistakes, willingness to admit them, and communicate to your teammates that you're going to improve in those areas is a major factor of team improvement.”
PowerOfEvil not only fits into the heavily-structured, focused environment ever-present within TSM, but also backs up a wealth of talent with personal accountability and a priority on teamwide improvement above all else. His familiarity with Bjergsen as an opponent and his experience learning from another peer mid laner turned head coach in xPeke are factors that, on paper, should make Bjergsen’s coaching debut easier.
PowerOfEvil is aware that Bjergsen’s legacy will leave a wake, but just like Lawrence “Lost” Hui taking over for Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng in TSM’s AD Carry position, PowerOfEvil’s goal of winning the first championship of his career hasn’t changed with his jersey.
“I’m going to do my best to fill the shoes of Bjergsen,” PowerOfEvil said. “Obviously he has had a legacy spanning multiple years and brought home many trophies to TSM… My goal is to win it all and get a trophy. I’ve been trying for a really long time now, so hopefully, I can bring one home for the TSM fans.”
PowerOfEvil and the rest of TSM’s League of Legends squad will make their 2021 debut on Friday, January 15 against 100 Thieves to kick off the first-ever LCS Lock-In.
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