Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, the apple of every Team SoloMid fan’s eye. Since joining the North American heavyweights in 2013, the Danish mid laner has been consistently framed as the poster boy of the NA LCS squad, delivering four NA LCS championships. Despite his domestic success however, Bjergsen has consistently struggled to translate his regional dominance onto the international stage, causing some fans to question whether the mid laner hides from the spotlight at the moments when his team need him most.
Team SoloMid have crashed out of an international event in the group stages once again, it’s an all too familiar storyline for North American League of Legends fans. For all the promise the team may have shown in the NA LCS and the lessons they claimed to have learned from the previous tournament failure, in the end every member of the TSM roster underperforms and it is back to square one.
The drafts of Head Coach Parth “Parth” Naid, the performances of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and the positioning of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran have shouldered much of the blame for Team SoloMid’s Mid-Season Invitational failings. Bjergsen has typically escaped the scorn of the TSM fanbase, with many citing the mid laner’s general consistency at the tournament, crying out for a stronger roster to be built around the Dane.
Bjergsen’s MSI statistics portray the mid laner as a solid performer, positioned in the middle of the pack for the majority of stats, but topping the charts for team kill participation, boasting an impressive figure of 72.9%.
The same could be said of his 2016 World Championship numbers. Bjergsen tallied the highest number of kills from his six Worlds 2016 matches with an astonishing 34 kills, surpassing even players who had played an additional tie breaker. His KDA was 6.2, the best of any mid laner and his kill participation was 77%.
Whilst the numbers from Bjergsen’s two most recent international appearance may reflect positively on the mid laner, is North America’s star talent doing enough to lead the region’s best team to international glory?
Consistency is relative. It certainly isn’t false to describe Bjergsen as Team SoloMid’s most consistent performer, provided you are describing him in comparison to his teammates. If you are weighing up the value of the mid laner in comparison to his rivals at MSI 2017 however, ‘consistent’ could very well be replaced by ‘average’.
The Bjergsen that steps foot onto an international stage is not the same player that dominates the NA LCS with such authority. Aside from the occasional game in which Bjerg steps up to the mark, too often the mid laner will simply hold his own in lane, a well-farmed damage threat undoubtedly, but risk-averse and poignantly afraid to pull the trigger.
So many of Team SoloMid’s game leads at MSI 2017 were squandered due to a chronically passive approach to closing out the game. His KDA’s might look clean, but as TSM’s primary shot-caller Bjergsen will have to accept that his cowardice to make decisive plays cost the team dearly.
That’s it for us, sorry for disappointing you guys again. I had multiple chances of getting us out of groups if I had played/called better.
— Søren Bjerg (@Bjergsen) 15 May 2017
The closest fans came to seeing the true carry potential of Bjergsen, was during TSM’s penultimate group stage fixture vs Flash Wolves. Shunning the support mid lane option of Karma, the Dane opted for the playmaking Ahri. Though his aggressive plays were certainly not the cleanest, his confidence to lead from the front (rather than hide in the back) provided the pivotal moments upon which Team SoloMid swung the game in their favour:
— lolesports (@lolesports) 14 May 2017
For the ‘Best Mid Laner in the West’, these moments should not be so scarce. Where other mid laners at the tournament – such as Team WE’s Su “Xiye” Han-Wei – have the confidence to play Lucian against SK Telecom T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and dominate, when was the last time Bjergsen similarly took a game by the scruff of the neck and carried his team from start to finish?
Whether he cares too much about dying or simply plays to go even in lane, Bjergsen does not sufficiently fulfil the role as Team SoloMid’s playmaker at international events. The TSM roster look to Bjerg as their star player, but in reality, he shines no brighter than his teammates – a non-factor.
Whether sharing the spotlight with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng will ease the pressure and allow Bjergsen to showcase his carry potential, North American fans will now have to wait until the NA LCS squad enter the World Championship as a second-tier seed to find out.