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Bjergsen's Final Thoughts at Worlds 2016

It’s a heartbreaking loss for Team SoloMid as they bow out of Worlds this year. The team was considered a favorite to enter out of their group, and there were high expectations, but it was about more than just Worlds.

This had been the culmination of the team’s journey since Spring, where they had fought their way from a sixth-place finish into the finals against CLG. Since then, they had turned into a North American powerhouse, picking up support Biofrost and taking first in North America after a dominant 17-1 split.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this, with the team falling just one game short of leaving their group and heading into the quarterfinals. Team SoloMid may be packing up, but they aren’t giving up. We spoke to mid laner Soren "Bjergsen" Berg about the pressure of the tournament, the pain of the loss and the plan for the future.

Aftermath

"It’s always really tough, I think," Bjergsen says about the loss. It’s an emotional process. "At first we all sat down together and talked about how everyone is feeling. Not about that game; after the loss, it doesn’t matter anymore. The next time we play together will be in like six months, and it’ll be a completely different game. It was about how we feel in general. We all kind of relaxed. We have another meeting tonight before everyone goes home, but everyone let out their initial feelings. We gave everyone time to be sad, be with friend or whatever they needed."

It makes sense that the team would be emotional. The expectations around them as they entered the tournament doubled as pressure. If they won, they would have been the Great North American Hope.

"I think there’s always added pressure when people talk about TSM being this year’s Fnatic, the team that’s gonna go to semifinals and maybe even finals. For me, I always deal with a lot of pressure. Everytime I do poorly, I get a lot of criticism, which I’m sure others do as well, but people have really high expectations of me and Doublelift also."

It makes sense that the two veterans on the team get the most pressure from the fanbase. Bjergsen and Doublelift had been heralded as the two star carries of Team SoloMid, the guiding forces in both shotcalling and in-game mechanics. When it comes to Worlds, however, Bjergsen had a more humble approach. "I feel like it's just an honor to be here, I feel like if I could practice in this environment against these players from all over the world and share information or thoughts about the game with these players all the time, I would be a much better player than I am now."

Playing internationally

While playing internationally is an experience, Bjergsen still finds his time back in NA important. "The mid laners in NA have improved a lot, especially. People still say that I’m way better than all the other mids, but I don’t agree with this. I like to play like any mid is better than me and always go in with the mindset to always learn." He gives shout-outs to two of his local competitors, one of whom is advancing out of groups: "Pobelter and Jensen were really strong players in this last split. I think the only thing that held us back was playing on 60 ping in solo queue."

"I know a lot of pros see the game as work, but I still have a lot of fun playing," he says about burnout. "Sometimes after scrims are over I just think 'There’s this one champion I’ve been thinking about playing since the morning’ and I really want to get games on it because it's fun. Or I have some new theory, build or something random that comes to mind, that I want to try."

One specific champion that caught his interest recently? "Now that our Worlds campaign is over, I can probably talk about it. But most recently I saw Faker playing Ryze and doing super well on it. For the last month or two, people were struggling to figure out how to build or play Ryze. But then I played Faker and it’s like 'I’m just gonna copy what Faker does' and I just played a lot of Ryze games and it was a lot of fun. It was kind of like playing the game as a beginner because you’re picking up a champion as a beginner. So that’s the most recent experience for me."

This mid lane meta adds to his enjoyment of the game. "I think [it’s] pretty good overall. The only champions I kind of dislike are Syndra, although she is kind of my favorite champion, but the champion feels pretty unfair to play against. You make one mistake and you get heavily punished. And she can easily snowball the game. The game I played against Samsung, Crown was actually doing really well against me in the early game and just made one mistake and I killed him. I was like, 'Well, the game is just over.'"

Winners and praise

RNG and Samsung were the teams who came out ahead, and Bjergsen shared his thoughts on the victors: Samsung was just a really well-rounded team. Crown played very well, not outstanding like a solo-carry, but he’s always doing his job and a little bit more, and I think that’s why he does so well on Viktor, if you’re just on point mechanically, he’s the best teamfighter and a solid laner. I really respect Crown, I think he’s really good. Samsung is just really good in teamfights and have pretty good laners. They’re really consistent.

"RNG is a little bit different, just really strong in skirmishes and really strong in teamfighting. In our first game, it was just the freaking Mata show. After the game, we sat down and we talked and we were just like 'Wow, Mata is so good' and he played really well that game. In our next game against RNG, we disrespected them a little bit with our draft. It was really snowbally, but Mata was able to carry that game by himself. It was the Mata show and the Aurelion Sol roaming that gave us two losses against RNG. I felt like we should have got out of this group for sure."

TSM's stumble

When Bjergsen was asked about his performance and what went wrong, he’s not quite certain. "I think it’s all just team based. Individual play is not the biggest part of League of Legends anymore. I had some games where I played well and some games that I didn’t, but ultimately it’s nitpicking problems when they come up and trying to fix them earlier. It feels like similar stuff each year, but its always kind of different problems, it’s just about identifying them quickly."

He’s treating this loss as one step in a greater journey: "I think one important thing is, the more Worlds you go through, the more years, the more teammates, the faster you can identify these problems and the faster you know how to fix them."

I think next year will be a better year for me in terms of a leader. I think I’ll know which direction to lead the team and which direction not to.

Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg

"I’m not like a super leader that tells everyone what to do, Doublelift also shotcalls a lot," he quickly adds. "There’s a lot of game where he communicates much more than me and there are games where I communicate more than him. I mostly just try to keep a clear head and I feel like if someone is being unreasonable, I’m all about facts and analysis, and helping people through that."

One major step TSM made this year toward being Worlds ready was to focus on practice over the lucrative choice of streaming. Bjergsen elaborates on this choice. "There was no banning of streaming or anything, it was something that the players chose. We chose together that we wanted to longer, earlier and more hardworking days. In break, when you're sitting together watching a VOD, we made sure no one was playing a game, being on Twitter or kind of relaxing."

"We chose a high-pressure environment so that means at the end of the day, everyone is just super exhausted. With that exhaustion, a lot of people just didn’t feel like they had the time to stream. That’s something I think I can balance better next year. I definitely want to be streaming a lot more, even as a pro ... I think that’s why we’re so devastated because we really went all-in on this. We put everything aside and really focused on this tournament and this last split."

Love for the fans

"Fan interaction is really important to me. It’s something that I’ve tried to be a lot better at this last Summer Split because I feel like I kind of need to get back to the fans," Bjergsen admits. "I don’t even know how I got such a big following because I felt like I was really inactive on social media and wasn’t really updating as often as all these other pros."

He built his audience regardless. "I would just kind of stream because I like streaming and I liked interacting with my fans. I don’t think I was doing a good job getting back to them, but I think in these last six months, I’ve been really trying hard to tweet and connect with my fans. I feel like I really owe it to them and if I can keep that up and stream, then that would be a great step in the right direction."

When it comes to coming back even stronger next year, Bjergsen has a plan and is trying to keep the right attitude. "I think just taking it as a learning experience. This is Svenskeren’s first full Worlds, Hauntzer’s first Worlds and Biofrost’s first Worlds. I think that they learned a lot and are going to take a lot away from it and I know I will. I think that finally losing, if anyone decides to stay together, I think it’s gonna make us a lot stronger of a team next year. TSM was all about winning this Summer Split and we were always winning and that makes everyone happy, but really losing together and being able to take a loss together, builds a stronger team for the future."

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