After a year of retirement in the position of head coach of TSM, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg has secured 1st place in his first split after returning to the LCS. However, that doesn't mean the Team Liquid mid laner is satisfied with this result alone, especially with the post-season looming on the horizon with a round 1 match against 4th seed Evil Geniuses this coming weekend.
Following the conclusion of the 2022 LCS Spring Split, Bjergsen spoke to Inven Global about Team Liquid's victory over TSM, his own improvements in recent weeks, and the LCS Spring Playoffs picture.
I'm here with Bjergsen at the end of the 2022 LCS Spring Split. Team Liquid just locked in sole possession of 1st place with a win over TSM. How are you feeling?
Honestly, not much, really. The team I coached last year was 1st place in the regular season and then we ended up in 4th place in the post-season. Of course, 1st place is nice, and it does help us a little bit for playoffs, but in reality, the level that you show in playoffs is most important. This weekend was kind of just another weekend to me. What's most important is how we do next week.
The first time you played TSM was against a different roster than this one, and I feel like this time around, they put up a bit more of a fight against you. Do you think that was more related to TL's level of execution or TSM's genuine improvements in recent weeks?
I think TSM were really down in the dumps mentally. I know that the players took some days off and did some other things to try and reset themselves mentally, in addition to bringing Takeover into the starting roster. It seems like everyone on TSM is playing better now, especially Spica and Huni.
Also, TSM have been playing online for the past two weeks, which might have an effect to some degree. I know some players are a lot more nervous than they may be at home, so maybe some of their players feel more comfortable playing from home. That might be part of why they're racking up some wins, but I guess we'll see when they're back in the studio for the Summer Split.
Last time you played against TSM, you laned against Zhu "Keaiduo" Xiong. How do you think Ji "Takeover" Cha Hyeun-min did today by comparison?
It's kind of hard to judge because they made a good dive early on and you don't know whether it was Takeover or Spica setting them up. I don't feel like Takeover did too much with his advantage that his jungle and support gave to him, but I mean, he played okay.
I spoke to Vulcan earlier today and he said he felt like TL was the only team that was a bit worrying as an opponent for EG. Would you say that Cloud9 is stagnating a bit based on their performance this weekend, or do you think it's just a small hiccup?
I would say C9 generally doesn't perform very well in scrims, or at least, that's true for certain players on their team. However, it seems like they've still been able to go on stage and have good games in the past month. I think that those scrim performances are now bleeding onto the stage and you see Cloud9 playing a bit closer to how they sometimes play in scrims. There are games where they get snowballed on really fast, make more mistakes, and seem like they might be tilting.
If I was on C9, I would probably start realizing that stage games are not completely different from scrims. I think they're on a bit of a downswing because of that, but they could easily turn it around in a week or two. I think Blaber is still a really good player and a really consistent performer on that team. I don't think anyone is going to take C9 lightly even though they have been looking a bit weaker recently.
In our last interview, you told me that you wanted to have a bit more of a chance to shine and play a focal point in TL's success on stage, and while TSM got the dive on you in the early game, your teamfighting on Corki was a linchpin to TL's eventual win. Do you think you've progressed individually since we last spoke?
I would say so, yeah. If you just look at the impact I was bringing in the games from the first half of the split, I feel like I've been consistently bringing a lot more impact through mid lane, through roaming, or even just playing better in teamfights and being more on point.
I've been better at helping snowball my teammates, too, but obviously, I think I can still continue to improve. I want to show an even better form in playoffs, but I'm definitely happy with my progression from early spring to now. I feel more confident in my individual abilities now.
We've seen almost exclusively AP-heavy Corki item builds in the past few patches, but you made a big difference in teamfights with a build that indexed heavily into physical damage with the Divine Sunderer Mythic Item purchase. Can you explain the methodology behind this build in this match against TSM?
For rune keystones, I went Electrocute over First Strike. First Strike can sometimes be a little bit wasted against LeBlanc because she is jumping in and out. It's easier to proc your First Strike, but she can just disengage. The idea around the Electrocute is that I can proce it very quickly when she jumps in and since we both have Electrocute, I'm generally going to come out even or ahead in those trades.
I was a bit behind in this game so I couldn't really utilize the rune as First Strike in this game. I fell so far behind, but Electrocute allows me to contest the laning phase much more, especially after level 6. It's kind of old school Corki technology from back in 2017-2018 when Corki was really considered a counter to LeBlanc because of it. You'd just contest her in lane with Electrocute, come out pretty evenly, and then start to beat her after you build one or two items.
I think TSM's entire composition in this game was about diving in and killing our backline, so I obviously got a lot of HP from Divine Sunderer. They had a lot of high HP targets so the shred from the Mythic passive was really nice. This build has different powerspikes than other Corki builds. At four items, which is where we ended the game, it's a bit weaker than the poke build or building Immortal Shieldbow.
However, at full build, it comes back online, and before that, the 1-2 item powerspike is pretty strong. I don't know if it's the best build, but it felt like the right play for this game.
Aside from Corki, we've seen you on more proactive picks like Ahri in the second half of the Spring Split. Do you feel like playing champions more focused on roaming and playmaking in recent weeks has allowed you to shine more in an individual context?
I think so, yeah. In the second half of 2020, I feel like I was playing really well and a lot of it was on these picks where we're playing through mid lane like Twisted Fate, Zilean, and Syndra. I had a lot of agency to start fights, CC, pick potential, and overall, the ability to control the game with my character rather than farming up and maximizing my DPS in teamfights.
The latter is still a style I have played a lot throughout the years, but I feel very confident in making the right calls and decisions to carry the game once I have a small advantage or even if I just feel my champion is good in the draft in terms of personal agency to make plays.
In our game against FlyQuest, it was good until we threw a 10k gold lead because of our lack of discipline, but I felt really comfortable playing my champion in that draft and I was able to give a lot of advantages to Bwipo.
I think I can play multiple styles, but in the early part of the Spring Split, we weren't really playing mid lane champions that you would use to play through mid, gain early leads or snowball. We played a lot of mid laners that would sit back and we would just play through bottom. That's still a really good playstyle of ours, but we don't want to be predictable in terms of what we play going into playoffs.
When TLA support Bill "Eyla" Nguyen was in the starting LCS lineup before CoreJJ got his green card, you said you had to take a bigger role on in the communication and Eyla himself admitted to me that talked less than CoreJJ. Now that CoreJJ is back in the starting roster full time, how has that changed your role?
I think it really depends on my individual agency in a game. There are some games where I have a lot of agency and I will communicate a lot more in terms of how I visualize the game being played out.
In this game like today against TSM, however, where I'm behind on Corki or playing a champion where I should just focus on farming up, then Core really takes over and I don't have to worry as much about the map overall. He will make a lot of decisions for the team. He is a really civil communicator that is always adding to the mix, while for me as a carry, it just kind of depends on the game.
Some games I have a lot more to add and a lot more control and say in what we should do, and in other games, I focus more on my own role in context of the team and listen to his calls.
Earlier in this interview, you said that no one should take C9 lightly even with their relatively weaker performance this week. Would you say that they're still TL's primary competition for the LCS title, or are 100 Thieves a real finals contender as well?
Right now, I see C9 and 100 Thieves at a pretty similar level. 100 Thieves have been on the rise a lot recently, and honestly, have shown some pretty good games. C9 has been looking pretty shaky. I don't remember the last time we played 100 Thieves, but I think they're definitely a team to look out for. I know that in securing the 1st playoffs seed, we don't have to play them in the first round at least. I do think 100 Thieves is a team that is going to continue to go further in playoffs.
Thanks for all of your insights, Bjergsen. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans or the TL fanbase at large?
I think a lot of people expected us to be the 1st place team, so it feels good to secure 1st place in the regular season. However, we are all aware that this is just one little stepping stone towards winning the entire split. Right now, our main goal is making to Houston and securing the ability to play there in front of an audience because that is something we all really want.
Once we are there, I think we have so much veterancy compared to all of these other teams. I think we have a wealth of experience in terms of playing on the big stage compared to these other teams. 100 Thieves won a championship last year playing at home or at the studio with no fans. Playing in front of thousands of fans is a very different experience and I don't know if a lot of these young players are going to be ready for it.