Another year, another team — Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage has donned his fifth LCS jersey in five seasons. The German mid laner crossed the Atlantic Ocean after his first three seasons in the EU LCS to play for OpTic Gaming in 2018, and in 2022, Immortals Progressive became the latest team to employ the services of POE.
Since coming to the LCS, PowerOfEvil has played a pivotal part in any success his teams have enjoyed, but the off-season has always resulted in him opening a new chapter in the book of his career.
In the 2018 NA LCS, PowerOfEvil was the sole bright spot on OpTic Gaming and nearly 1v9'd his way to a spot in the Summer Playoffs.In 2019, PowerOfEvil looked to be in a similar situation — he was far and away the best performer on Counter Logic Gaming, but that didn't stop the team from finishing 7th and missing the Spring Playoffs.
However, things turned around for CLG in the summer. The team enjoyed 3rd place finishes in the Summer Split and Summer Playoffs before narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2019 World Championship. In the two seasons since, CLG has not played a post-season match. After signing POE for the 2020 season, FlyQuest had their best year as an organization. FLY reached the domestic finals in both spring and summer and qualified for the org's first World Championship.
In 2021, TSM missed Worlds by a single game, but PowerOfEvil was the beating heart of the team's playstyle and the undeniable linchpin to their success.
One thing has remained constant throughout these four years, regardless of domestic results, and that's POE joining a new team. This isn't to say it's his fault or his preference, however.
"I think that people assume I've moved on from team to team because I didn't like the team or didn't want to stay on the team, but there are a lot of different factors that lead to these decisions," PowerOfEvil told Inven Global.
"There have definitely been teams where I've tried to keep the roster together and run it back, but you're just one of five players on a starting roster...Everyone has their own goals in life and goals as a player, and if someone gets an insanely good financial deal and wants to move on, I'm not going to be the person to force them to stay."
Initially, it looked like PowerOfEvil would be finding a new team in the off-season due to TSM's head coach Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg's return to competitive play. Bjergsen had played mid lane for TSM from 2014-2020, but when TSM announced that Bjergsen was parting ways with the organization, it looked from the outside as though POE might actually wear the same jersey for two seasons in a row. However, the mid laner had already considered moving on following Bjergsen's departure.
"Obviously I wasn't involved in Bjergsen's discussions with other teams, I only knew about the potential of him looking to play again," PowerOfEvil said. "It was definitely another point for me to move on because I felt like Bjergsen was a really good coach. I feel like I learned a lot, but at the same time, I wasn't sure who TSM was going with to replace Bjergsen.
There are a lot of different factors that play a part in which team you want to join, obviously — staff, team reputation, roster, financials, if you know the players on a personal level regarding synergy — I feel like these factors all play a role."
PowerOfEvil praised TSM for their straightforwardness in his off-season conversations with the org: "They told me quite early on that they were looking at other potential options. There was still the chance that we would stay together, but they wanted to see what was out there, so they gave me permission to do the same.
Both of us looked at what potential offers were out there. At the same time, I was also checking in on what rosters were going to look like on various teams and I decided to join IMT."
Familiarity with members of the Immortals Progressive 2022 roster was a large factor in why PowerOfEvil joined. Top laner Mo "Revenge" Kaddoura began his professional career on FlyQuest Academy during the summer of 2020, which is when PowerOfEvil and IMT AD carry Jason "WildTurtle" Tran played together on the FLY LCS squad.
However, PowerOfEvil was also interested in playing with Immortals jungler Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir. I've heard good things about him and I think mid/jungle synergy is really important," PowerOfEvil said.
It's impossible to call Immortals' start to the 2022 season anything but rough. IMT lost their first 3 games in the 2022 LCS Lock In and was the first team eliminated from the tournament, but the 0-4 start to the year hasn't shaken POE's confidence, and looking back on the last four seasons, why would it?
"I'm obviously really happy about my performance in the past two years," PowerOfEvil said after IMT's 3rd loss of the season. I feel like my time in OpTic Gaming was not as successful team-wise, and I think in CLG I managed to elevate the team from a 7th-8th place team to a 3rd place team. When I left, they kind of went downhill again.
After joining FlyQuest and then TSM, in which I was all-pro for mid laners four times in a row, is obviously something I'm proud of. Hopefully, I can continue to trend upwards on IMT.
PowerOfEvil also had some words for the Immortals fanbase following the team's disappointing Lock In performance regarding where the team stood and what heights they would reach. "I think you could see us as a middle-of-the-pack team that could break into the top teams, and I firmly believe that this team can do this," said the mid laner. "We're just following the Vitality superteam's footsteps and getting the int out early in the season."