According to Riot Games, “The Most Valuable Player award will be given to the most outstanding LCS player in the Regular Season”. The votes are in and for the 2017 Summer Split that title of MVP goes to Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg of Team SoloMid.
This is the fourth time that the Danish veteran has won the MVP title, having previously earned it in Spring 2014, Spring 2015 and Summer 2016.
It is worth noting that these four successes highlight more than initially meets the eye, offering us segmented glimpses into the history of a player who will likely go down in history as one of the best to ever play the game.
— lolesports (@lolesports) September 2, 2017
When Bjergsen won the title in 2014, it marked both the first time that the MVP award introduced to the league and the Danes’ very first split in North America; having moved over from Europe where he had enjoyed mixed success on the Copenhagen Wolves and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Bjergsen was in largely uncharted waters at the time, as he was among the first of the wave of international players who would come across to North America in order to compete in the NA LCS.
This meant a host of challenges off the rift, including illness and visa troubles that led to him missing key matches in the LCS (with TSM’s owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh having to be subbed in).
On the rift, however, Bjergsen was able to shine in an Assassin focused meta-game which allowed his raw mechanical skill and proficiency on champions like LeBlanc and Zed to dominate other players.
This skill carried TSM to second place in both the regular season and the playoffs where they were denied victory by Cloud9 in what would become one of the recurring rivalries of the NA LCS.
Spring 2015 saw Bjergsen continue to cast a long shadow over the mid lane, showing off on assassins like Ahri and Lissandra to propel Team SoloMid to their second LCS Championship, finally beating out Cloud9.
The final marked the first instance that his nearest rival in the mid lane, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, began to exhibit signs of mechanical decline that would see him struggle to keep pace with Bjergsen. Bjergsen would go on to be the first player to win the MVP award twice.
Towards the end of 2015 and the beginning of the 2016 season, Bjergsen would show a different side to his play, being one of the first mid laners to show real proficiency on the new, mechincal-intense champion, Azir.
In addition, Bjergsen brought the then-overpowered runeglaive-Ezreal to the mid lane and picking up supportive champions like Lulu in order to allow his team to excel.
Indeed, adaptability was the name of the game in Summer 2016, when he would become the first player to win three MVP awards, as the NA LCS changed its format from a best-of-one to a best-of-three format.
This split saw Bjergsen widening his champion pool to include Zilean, Ryze and the newly released Taliyah.
This season has seen Bjergsen continue to evolve, trying out a more low-economy, team-oriented playstyle and bringing champions like Galio into his repertoire.
While this means that he has not been posting the kind of eye-catching stats of his contemporaries – like Cloud9’s Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, the runner-up for the MVP award – he is still able to do the lion’s share of damage for Team SoloMid.
This means that Bjergsen is able to command the attention of enemy teams, both on and off the rift. This weekend, in the NA LCS Summer Final, Bjergsen found himself target banned by Immortals who were willing to spend all five of their bans in order to force him off a comfort-pick.
— Gouveia (@misterfgouveia) September 3, 2017
TSM would go on to win the Playoff Final series emphatically, beating Immortals 3-1 and allowing Bjergsen to claim his fifth NA LCS Championship.
There is a clear trajectory here, from mechanical mastery of a few champions to adaptability and the mechanical mastery of many champions, before showcasing a complete game-mastery, demonstrated in shotcalling and leading a team to victory.
Indeed, speaking recently to Riot Games about how he had improved through the four NA LCS victories and over the four years that he had been on TSM, Bjergsen said simply:“Leadership skills, and shotcalling and communication” indicating that he sees this improvement in his own skill-set as well.
As with all great players, analysts now find themselves asking how long Bjergsen’s dominance can continue. Most of us know that the competitive scene, with its many changes and demanding lifestyle, takes a toll on even the most resilient players.
I don't think I've ever felt satisfied with my play in any final but I love my teammates, they're too damn good. GGWP IMT!
— Søren Bjerg (@Bjergsen) September 3, 2017
However, if Bjergsen’s desire to improve and his skills as a leader are any indication, then he should continue to be strong for some time to come.