It’s already been more than three months since the retirement of one of North America’s greatest League of Legends players, Bjergsen. But it still feels weird for some fans to say he’s now TSM’s head coach instead of seeing him play with the new roster on Summoner’s Rift.
For Bjergsen, however, things are moving fast. This new path he’s chosen has already begun and the 24-year-old star’s coaching skills are being put to the test at the 2021 LCS Lock In tournament. The team recently finished the first week of play with a 2-1 record, tied with both Team Liquid and 100 Thieves in Group A.
In an interview with Dot Esports, Bjergsen opened up about how his first experience as a coach went this past weekend, his thoughts on the Lock In tournament, and how he wants to keep high expectations for himself throughout 2021.
New challenges, same focus
Over the past eight years of his illustrious career, Bjergsen faced many tough situations. But coaching has presented him with challenges that will require him to learn quicker than ever before.
“[My coaching staff] said it would be pretty nerve-wracking and they’re definitely right,” Bjergsen said. “I helped pick the champions, I do the draft and then I just kind of let them go out there and play their best—and we haven’t really been playing our best. I feel like we haven’t really shown how good we can be.”
This past weekend was a bit rough for TSM. Even though they’re still in the running to qualify for the LCS Lock In knockout stage, there were plenty of improvements that could be made. From drafting decisions to overall team coordination, the team will need to put their nose to the grindstone before week two.
He said the team’s 2-1 record “doesn’t feel like a 2-1,” but it’s good that they can take these next few days to analyze where they went wrong and how to fix the lingering issues.
Bjergsen also sees the LCS Lock In as a perfect place to hone his skills as a coach. He can practice his drafting, his preparation for game days, and how to adapt to teams as a tournament rolls forward. It also gives time for this new roster to build synergy together in high-stakes situations.
“I think the tournament is really helpful—especially for me—because it’s like a training grounds for me to really catch up,” Bjergsen said. “It’s still a fairly high-pressure tournament because no one wants to do poorly. No one wants to lose. We put the pressure upon ourselves, but we are happy to, and just getting to adjust with the team [and] with the games—I really enjoy it.”
Leading by example
The LCS Lock In might not affect the Spring Split, MSI, or Worlds, but Bjergsen said early success can help “snowball into confidence in the regular season.” This matters a lot since every game of the year counts toward a team’s eligibility for Worlds, which means squads and coaches can’t make a lot of early mistakes without consequences.
“[For] the Spring Split, the games actually matter throughout the entire year for your record,” he said. “I really liked that because it just means that every team has to shape up early, and there’s no excuses. No, ‘we’re just starting slow.’ You need to do your best from the get-go.”
Bjergsen was adamant on keeping himself at a high standard for the entire year. The roster might be new, there might be a new coaching staff in place, but he believes this TSM squad has plenty of potential and firepower that they shouldn’t be “an extremely slow starting team.”
“I don’t want to ask for too much patience because I don’t think there really is place for me to learn slowly,” Bjergsen said. “I have high expectations upon myself, even now, and if I make mistakes I’m not shrugging it off saying, ‘Oh, I’ve only been a coach for this amount of time, it’s OK if my draft sucks or if I didn’t prepare my players while I’m going into this game.’ That’s not excusable.”
You can catch TSM in action when the second week of the 2021 LCS Lock In tournament begins on Friday, Jan. 22.
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