After Team Liquid's win over Dignitas on day 2 of week 4 of the 2022 LCS Spring Split, mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg spoke to Inven Global about his teammates on TL, the LCS mid lane talent pool, and his upcoming first career match against his former team TSM.
Eyla has returned to the LCS lineup for week 4. How have things gone this weekend compared to your expectations?
Obviously, yesterday's game was pretty tough. I think we picked a composition with a slightly narrower win condition and we weren't able to execute it, so today, we picked a team comp that had a bit more flexibility and more comfort in the specific champions we were playing. We've gone from playing with Eyla, to playing with Core and Eyla, to playing with Core, and now back to playing with Eyla, so that's a little bit all over the place.
Of course, that has an effect on the team because Eyla and CoreJJ communicate differently. People have to pick up and drop different roles within the team depending on who we are starting, but I also think that having to adapt like this makes all of us better players. You don't get comfortable in these situations, so everyone has moments where they can step up and show leadership.
As a veteran player who has shotcalled in the past, do you end up picking up a lot of that leading communication that CoreJJ would do when Eyla is subbing in for him?
Slightly, yeah. I would say that the biggest change is probably in the support-jungle synergy. CoreJJ really knows what he wants to do and he has a lot of experience playing with Santorin from last year. He really leads in that area, whereas Eyla has a really strong laning phase, but he's less experienced in leadership, vision control, and map play.
These are pretty complicated aspects of the game, so that's where I think the biggest adjustment is for me. I have to communicate a little bit more and communicate things a little bit more clearly. A lot of the time, Core just does his own thing and he knows exactly what he wants to do, but when we're playing with Eyla, we try to be very clear on how we want to play as a team what areas we of the map we want to control. That's also good practice for everyone else.
Like many 'super teams', Team Liquid has three strong laners with carry potential. We've seen teams like Team Vitality win all three lanes this year, but not transfer it to a meaningful lead and a victory. How do you end up deviating the resources to find success throughout multiple phases of the game? Are you trying to focus more on scaling and playing more of a facilitation role?
If anything, the person who gets the least resources is probably Santorin because we have three fairly demanding laners. It's a good dynamic because if your laners are demanding it means they have a good idea of what they want and need, and then you can balance that between the jungler communicating when he can help and when he needs to do things for himself instead.
I've been in teams where there are players who are advocating very strongly but there are other players who are more quiet, so the team is naturally playing to the more vocal player even if it's not the best play in every situation.
However, I think our three vocal lanes gives us a really good balance and allows us to figure out with Santorin which lane we want to prioritize. It's based on who is talking the most because we have the information and the calls coming out of all three lanes, which I think is a really big asset for our team.
This is the first time you and Santorin have played together in the LCS since TSM in 2015. How has he changed as a player since then?
I think he's a lot smarter about the game now, and so am I. It's been six, almost seven years, and we didn't really know the game very well back then. I don't think people in general knew how to play the game very well at that time.
Santorin now knows a lot more about what he wants in the game as a jungler, what kind of plays he can look for, and when to be sacrifical or greedy. I think we've seen both sacrifical and a bit more greedy out of him— he was ganking bot lane at lvl 2 last week and just demolishing CLG's bot lane, but we've also seen him play a more slow, controlled pace in other games.
It just shows that he's gained a lot of experience and he's not set on one style of jungling. A lot of junglers in the LCS have this clear identity of how they play, but I think Santorin is one of the most adaptable junglers.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that you feel TL, for the most part, has pretty calculated players, but then Bwipo is in the top lane ready to pull the trigger on any play. Have the significant changes to the top lane meta in the past few months, and even now, changed how you communicate as a team?
I think the Top Smite strategy kind of died after the changes on Patch 12.4. I haven't seen it since, and I don't think that was a very enjoyable strategy to play or play against. Bwipo was actually one of the early adopters of Hullbreaker, and I'm not going to lie, I was not convinced at the time when he was first telling me about it.
However, he walked me through exactly how it works and he showed me some games where he wasn't just sinking gold into this item.
He was building it and consistently and getting more gold,more turret plates, and out-farming the enemy top laner to that point that he would come into team fights stronger than the enemy top laner. Because you have more gold due to buying Hullbreaker, it's not actually a money sink at all.
Still, I think a lot of players just build it and don't really get any advantages with it. They just farm and sometimes even still lose their lane. In that case, I think they kind of missed the point of Hullbreaker, but Bwipo is one of the few players who actually understands its purpose and knows how to push his advantages around the item. I'm happy to see it in the meta because Bwipo really knows what to do with that item since he was an early adopter of it.
Hans sama joined Team Liquid with a lot of hype, but he's had to essentially play with a support platoon so far in 2022. How do you think he's doing with this, especially while acclimating to a new team and region?
I really like Hans because he just feels like a pure competitor. He takes losses and his own misplays really hard, which is what I like to see as a teammate. If someone makes a mistake and something doesn't go well, he's not happy with himself, and that's really how we get better rather than just brushing off a mistake. He's really thinking about why he made that mistake, what led to it, and how he can change things or fix it.
He's also a player who wants to smash his opponent. He doesn't have the mindset of just farming and showing up for the late-game teamfights, he wants to crush his opponents. That's something I really enjoy in a teammate.
I think it's obviously been a bit tough for Hans sama with switching supports so much because Core is an extremely vocal support in lane. With Core, I don't even know if the AD carry has to talk much, whereas with Eyla, Hans needs to bring a little bit more leadership. He's going between how much he should be communicating with both supports, and I think we saw evidence of that in our loss to Golden Guardians yesterday where our bot lane wasn't really in sync while playing Caitlyn and Lux.
We talked a lot about that yesterday and how to improve it, and I think today, we came in a bit more improved regarding this roster's bot lane and jungle dynamics. I think that really showed today. Dignitas picked Ezreal and Karma, which is one of the strongest bot lane duos in the game, and our bot lane was still playing miles better than they were the previous day
You said after winning the LCS Lock In that you still didn't feel like you were back to your true form. It's been about a month since then, so how do you feel you're playing now?
I think there's a lot to improve on still, honestly. I'm not super happy with my current play. I think I'm participating in the games and I'm not having a negative impact, but I wouldn't say I'm having a huge positive impact either. I'm not really putting my team on my back, which is how I like to play and what makes me feel good.
I think I can also add a lot more in terms of how we play as a team and the macro decisions in the mid game, which is one of my strengths that I'm not doing as well at right now. My play is fine, but I think there is still a lot more I can do and that makes me really motivated to keep practicing.
Who would you say are the best mid laners in the LCS right now?
All around I feel like no one is really playing that well. No one is really impressing me. I would say jojopyun and Palafox are the most impressive laners to me.
I think their laning is very good and I definitely learn the most when I lane against them, but I think they both have some inconsistencies outside of lane and playing with their respective teams in general. That kind of stops them from being able to carry the game, but every other player is just not really doing things that are impressing me. Once I'm back in form, I will absolutely be the best.
It will be time to smurf.
Speaking of LCS mid laners, you played against your old Academy mid laner Nick "Ablazeolive" Abbott yesterday. What was it like laning with him after being his mentor and practice partner for years?
Ablazeolive kind of slipped my mind on the last question, but I do think he is one of the most overall solid mid laners in the LCS right now. He's kind of similar to Abbedagge where I'd say his laning phase isn't crushing, but it's good and then he will consistently play well throughout the game.
If you were to plug Ablazeolive into a top team, he would probably look even better — not that Golden Guardians is a bad team. I actually think they're playing pretty well as a team right now in terms of fundamentals. I think Ablazeolive is playing really well and was even playing well last year. In summer I put him as a top 3 mid laner on my LCS All-Pro voting and I think he really deserved it.
I think he's still performing to that level...but I'm not going to take any credit for that. *laughs* He did play under me and practice with me, but he's made a lot of improvements on his own. It's good to see an NA mid laner who has been around the Academy scene for a while come into the LCS and perform better than people give him credit for right now.
Tomorrow is your first career match against TSM. I know you expressed excitement in playing them early on in the year, but they're struggling mightily right now. Does that put a damper on your excitement for the matchup?
I still give every opponent a lot of respect because when you come in underestimating someone is when you lose, and I especially don't want to lose against TSM. *laughs* I don't think TSM has been performing very well — they do a lot of very questionable things in game, in the draft phase, and...everything.
There's a lot of things I think are not making a lot of sense over there, but I know that Spica and Huni can step it up and have games where they'll just pop off and carry. I think those players should never be underestimated. They were the core of TSM's roster last year and so many of our wins were won of the back of their leadership, level of play, and in-game synergy. I still really want to beat them and put those guys in the ground.
Even with their AD carry Edward "Tactical" Ra playing well recently, it seems that top/jungle duo is still TSM's largest point of strength, just like the roster you coached last year. Do you think your familiarity in that regard gives you an extra advantage against TSM now that you're playing against them instead of coaching?
I think it would help me if they were actually playing to those strengths. I think their biggest strength is Spica and Huni, but they've been playing Smite Top every single game and funneling every single resource into Tactical, which is why he's been looking good. TSM is just drafting for only him to carry, and I don't think he's done amazingly with that. He's been doing okay, but they have five people bottom literally every single game.
This week, I don't think they can play Smite Top anymore, or if they do, it will be a significantly nerfed version. Maybe that puts them outside of their comfort zone because they were playing that so much and now they actually have to play the game normally again.
We saw yesterday that they did not go very well for them, so I'm interested to see what they can pull out because they were very formulaic around their drafts and play recently. They draft a support early and end up flexxing it to a Smite Top laner in an effort to get a good support matchup because Shenyi and Yursan are more of engage support players.
I know Spica and Huni very well. I know what champions they're good at, which ones they're not, and I know what situations they don't like to pick certain champions because I've spent hundreds of hours talking to them about drafts. I think that's definitely an advantage for us going into the game.
Thanks for your time, Bjergsen. Is there anything you want to say to the Team Liquid fans?
I hope I can start crushing some mid laners soon. I feel like a lot of our wins have been through just crushing bot lane or Bwipo crushing top. I think it's my turn to have some games where I'm crushing mid and we're putting resources into me for me to carry. However, the first step is setting up a situation where my team can come mid and have a high chance of getting an advantage. Right now, I feel like I'm not consistently playing to a level where I can do that, but I'm working towards it.