With a record of 4-1, Team Liquid is in a three-way tie atop the 2022 LCS Summer Split standings with Counter Logic Gaming and Evil Geniuses. TL was the most dominant team in week 1, but dropped their first game of the summer to TSM before bouncing back against FlyQuest.
After his first career loss to TSM, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg spoke to Inven Global about what he and his teammates worked on after their 3rd place finish in the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs, his thoughts on the Cloud9 roster, and the North American mid lane talent pool.
What were the differences TL's performance today and your week 1 performances?
I think we just weren't executing well in fights, especially on an individual level. It just felt like we were having a bit of an off day. There were a lot of moments where we could have won but got outplayed or, mostly, it felt like we were outplaying ourselves. These days where we are just a little bit off happen, and it's a best-of-one instead of a best-of-three so we don't even have the ability to realize we need to wake up and do better in the next game.
Today, we take the loss, but I still feel pretty good about where our team is headed. It just wasn't our day individually.
I know that you don't like the idea of losing to TSM based on our previous conversations, but Team Liquid has still come into the Summer Split pretty strong overall. What did you work on in your mid-season break to improve as a team?
We worked on a lot of different things. We really worked on finding a team identity and learned on honing it on that, which especially included facilitating Hans sama to be a big carry on our team. I know that he was very vocal on his past teams, and last split, he wasn't because we had a lot of other vocal players which made it hard for him to find his voice.
I think we all really wanted to make his voice a bigger voice in this team because he's such a great player. He's always getting leads in lane and we just want to help him carry the game. This isn't to say that he's the only person that's going to carry games, obviously. Other members of our team have already shown great performances, but I felt like Hans sama was underutilized last split.
Otherwise, we worked on generally seeing the game in the same way, having more conversations, and breaking down barriers to personally get to know each other better. We did a team workshop about an hour drive outside of LA and we stayed for a few days and did a bunch of workshops, and we also worked on opening up to each other.
After that, we went to Korea for a bootcamp for almost three weeks and spent a lot more time with each other than we normally would in our practice environment. We spent a lot more time talking to each other in terms of expressing what was important to each of us in the game, but also, getting to know each other better as people. We worked on a lot of different things. `
It felt like anyone on TL could carry last split because of the talent on the roster, but the team lacked an identity. Is putting Hans sama more forward in the team dynamic part of finding that identity this summer? If so, has that changed the way that you individually play within the TL system?
I don't think it changes how I play the game too much. There are still games where we play strongly around top like when I was on Twisted Fate. I would gank top and get Bwipo ahead and he was popping off on Olaf.
We didn't make any drastic changes because we didn't feel like we needed to despite getting 3-0'd by EG. It's not like we had one enormous thing we needed to change. We were all aware that there were three-five little things that we needed to tweak in certain directions. We're not going to come out and only play around bot, we're just making minor adjustments and tweaks as a team that we think will make a difference this summer.
I spoke to your coaches before the start of the Summer Split and they both agreed that TL vs EG was the true final of the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs with 100 Thieves being the third-best team. Would you say this is still the case now?
Yeah, I would say that's how we feel. We and Evil Geniuses are the strongest teams but I think that 100 Thieves is never a team you should really disrespect. They still have their strengths. Closer is really good on Lee Sin; in playoffs, FBI pulled always out his Aphelios — they're definitely not a team to be underestimated. However, I do think that on average, 100 Thieves is the third strongest team and EG are our main competitor.
We saw you play against Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang today for the first time in an LCS match. How do you think he played, and overall, do you think this iteration of TSM is superior to the roster from last split?
I think we both played fine. I thought he played a little bit passively in the laning phase, but he seemed to hit a lot of skillshots outside of lane, which is kind of what Zoe lives and dies on as a champion. I wasn't paying specific attention to his play, but it seemed like he was connecting spells. I think he's definitely an upgrade from Keaiduo and Takeover.
Maple is a veteran player, he's never going to be bad. He's a consistent player who has won the LMS countless times. I think TSM is definitely stronger in summer. I don't know if I'd put them in the top 3, but I don't think they'll be a super bottom-tier team.
You played against Cloud9 mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen last week for the first time in a long time. You won convincingly as a team, but how do you think he did individually especially given that he didn't compete in the first half of 2022?
I think he definitely has some time to get back to where he was. I noticed some uncharacteristic mistakes from him. It'll just take some time with him playing at a high level, scrimming every day, and working his way into his new team. Obviously, he's played with Blaber before, but picking up your own play while also trying to figure out your role within the team and how the team should be communicating requires a lot of adjustment.
I don't think Jensen's playing at the level we saw him play when he was playing every split consecutively, but I'm sure he'll be there by playoffs.
You were open about feeling like you still needed to ramp up in the Spring Split, but that didn't stop you from securing All-Pro 1st Team mid laner. Would you currently put yourself up towards the top of the mid lane pool for LCS, and who would you put there alongside you?
I think jojopyun and I are the best. So many other players are decent, but I don't really feel like any of them are too much of a threat. Sometimes, I think jojopyun plays really well and it's really impressive. I think toucouille and Abbedagge are decent standouts as well.
I've also had a good amount of respect for Palafox for some time, and CLG is kind of showing up so far this split. We'll see how they continue to do, but I think he's always been a really strong laner and it just depends on how well he can translate his laning into working with his team to kill the enemy nexus. I think there are a handful of decent mid laners but jojopyun is the one that stands out as my best opponent.
Which team do you think is most likely to challenge the top 3 — regardless of order — of TL, EG, and 100 this summer?
It's a bit tough to stay. In terms of C9, Fudge isn't in his best form since he just swapped back to top lane, and Jensen isn't in his best form. In addition, Zven has recently swapped to support, so there are a lot of things that Cloud9 really need to work out. If they can hit their peak, I would say they could be in the top 3, but right now, I think they are definitely not. Two months or so is not a lot of time to go from being rusty to playing your best, but it is entirely possible.
I think if Cloud9 can hit their stride and all of those players get to a strong form, I definitely think they can be a contender because Berserker and Blaber are really good players. We'll just have to see if they get there.
As a former teammate of his, how do you think Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen will be able to acclimate to the support role?
He's one of the teammates I've had that practices the most, so in that way, he's definitely favored in terms of changing his role. He plays a lot of solo queue and a lot of Champions Queue; he just plays a lot. Playing all the time is very good for adjusting to a new role because it takes time to learn all of the matchups.
You could say he knows those matchups from an AD carry perspective but I don't really think it's the same when you're playing support. Playing support in the mid-game and in teamfights is obviously very different than AD carry, but with the amount of time he puts into studying and playing the game, he's definitely one of the players I could see having a successful roleswap in the LCS.
As always, thanks for your insights and your time, Bjergsen. Is there anything you'd like to say to the Team Liquid fans?
Today was a sad game for me to play. I felt very early on in the game that it didn't seem like it was our day. I feel like we weren't crisp in our communication today, and I'm sure that we will go back and talk about what happened going into the game in terms of breaking a routine, setting some kind of routine, or if it was just the fact that you sometimes have an off day. It happens.
Also, there were some technical difficulties as well that we should have paused for and figured out instead of having them in the back of one of my teammates' minds. However, I think mostly we will look at our preparation to make sure we are feeling our best. Last week, it just felt like we were the better team any time we were interacting with the enemy team, and today, we just weren't. I still have a lot of confidence that we will end this week strong.