End of Era: Bjergsen, Perkz, and Rekkles Left Their Teams
End of Era: Bjergsen, Perkz, and Rekkles Left Their Teams
A month ago, the League of Legends World Championship completed triumphantly, signaling that esports is very much alive and will live no matter what. The tournament was full of failures, successes and expected results, joy, and hasty reactions. Korea took another well-deserved title, China proved that the favorites and underdogs exist just in name only, Europe took a step back, and North America once again was left with nothing. Everyone drew conclusions, and now we await the start of the next season in early 2021.
The window between the end of Worlds and the start of a new split is, as usual, full of transfers and reshuffles. Some are thinking about strengthening their squad or getting rid of ballast, others are struggling to renew the contracts of their stars, and still, others will completely reset their rosters. Total chaos happens every year, but the current offseason is especially rich in high-profile transitions: future superstar Keria became the new support for T1, Deft is the new ADC for Hanwha Life Esports, Broken Blade returned to Europe and signed the contract with Schalke 04, FlyQuest grabbed one of the best toplaners of the LCS in Licorice, as well as Argentine Josedeodo, who showed his prowess at Worlds 2020.
But among all of them, three moves stand out clearly and mark the end of an era. Team SoloMid’s Danish midlaner Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg retired and became the team’s coach, Croatian G2 Esports carry Luka "Perkz" Perkovic crossed the ocean to join Cloud9 and was replaced by Fnatic’s Swedish ADC Martin "Rekkles" Larsson. Each of them spent more than five years for their respective teams and practically became their personifications. Professional League of Legends will never be the same. The sole bastion of stability remains; T1’s own superstar Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok.
Soren Bjerg is twenty-four, and he has achieved everything he could in the North American LCS: six titles, four MVP awards, and he will be remembered as the best player in NA league's history. For the native of Holstebro, Denmark, playing League of Legends was an escapism from the brutal bullying he fell victim to at school. The boy became very good very quickly, and soon he was noticed by his compatriot Martin "Deficio" Lynge, who persuaded his parents to give Soren a chance to become a pro-player. Bjergsen was not even seventeen at the time and had to wait half a split before he could start playing in the league. But everyone immediately realized that he was a superstar material — he got the first victory for the Copenhagen Wolves in the LCS, getting a pentakill with Syndra along the way.
After the transfer of the entire CW lineup to the Ninjas in Pajamas camp, the Dane spent another six months in the European LCS and then changed his team to TSM, which needed a new midlaner. In the North American organization, he grew from a promising youngster into a superstar of the scene, and the name Team SoloMid became in many ways prophetic — he had to carry the roster on his back more than once. A few years ago, the situation was such that the squad was sarcastically called "Bjergsen and four wards." Despite all this, Soren left a significant mark on LCS, not just as a great midlaner — which he, undoubtedly, was until his very last match — but also as a leader who can take responsibility in difficult times. But with all this, it is difficult to say that Bjergsen leaves the pro-scene without regrets: he never managed to show himself on the international stage. Five Worlds appearances, two MSI events and one EM Season 9 World Championship title. Making out of the groups at the Worlds only once is not the result that you expect from a superstar of this magnitude. It's hard to say where Bjergsen would be in the top list of the best Western mid laners. This role had great players both before him in Alex Ich, xPeke, and Froggen, and after him, too, in Perkz and Caps. However, we can definitely say that he was absolutely the best midlaner of his generation. In the future, he will do what he has already done, albeit not directly, over the past two years — be TSM’s coach. Only this time, he will no longer be able to carry the team on his own.
The king is dead...
Few remember that the dominant G2 Esports was once called Gamers2 and was everyone’s laughing stock, as it constantly could not make it into the EULCS. Everything changed when the young and daring Croat Luka Perkovic became the mid-laner of the team. Under his leadership, G2 did the unthinkable — they won both splits immediately after entering the main league of Europe and got to the Worlds. Since then, players, lineups, coaches, meta have changed, but one thing remained eternal — Perkz always led his team to success.
In 2017, he got a rival — Rasmus "Caps" Winther from Fnatic. His aggressive style of play was similar to that of Perkz himself, and the Dane even surpassed the Croat in mechanical prowess. The next year was completely at the mercy of Fnatic — Caps led his team to victory in the EU LCS and silver medal at the World Championships. And then G2 did a big brain move and signed Caps to play with Perkz, who changed his position to that of a botlaner. Many doubted whether anything good would come of this, but Luka proved to everyone that he is not just a good midlaner, but an incredibly talented League player regardless of the position. This tandem stomped across Europe, and then brought the region its first international title in years at MSI 2019. It was there that the story of G2 as kryptonite to Korean teams started. The squad confirmed this status at the World Championships later in the season, but the Europeans were again unlucky in the final — another silver. In the spring of the current year, Perkz and the Caps made a role swap, and the Croat proved once again that he is an incredible player. However, the Dane could not show a good enough level as an ADC, so it was decided to return the players to their previous positions. But deep down, Luca always remained a midlaner, and when he came to G2 Esports owner Carlos "ocelote" Rodriguez Santiago with this question, they decided together that it was time to part ways. It would be inappropriate to let the leader go to the camp of a direct competitor Fnatic, so the Croat was sold to the North American Cloud9 for, according to rumors, a record amount of compensation for esports. LCS has the new alpha dog, a new midlaner after Bjergsen that can bring the whole region to its knees.
…long live the king!
Martin Larsson, a Fnatic graduate who played for the “Oranges” for over seven years in total, has already left them once. It was in the spring of 2015 when the full Alliance roster moved to play under the Elements banner, and he joined them. Froggen, Shook, Wickd, Kev1n, Nyph — a super team that was projected to reach unprecedented heights. However, it turned out to be an unprecedented failure, and Rekkles, scalded, returned to Fnatic. Immediately after that, the team played a record-breaking split — 18: 0. The Swede himself was named the best ADC.
League of Legends wasn't a natural choice for Rekkles — he wanted to be a footballer. He was predicted to have a great future in sports, but a cruciate ligament injury put an end to his dream of playing with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Swedish national team. Instead, Martin became an esports superstar. Year after year he proves that he is able to go toe to toe with absolutely any opponent, and Fnatic's insufficiently good results can rather be attributed to the problems in other roles. This offseason, Fnatic could not solve these problems for him, and only made them worse: Nisqy from Cloud9 was signed to replace Nemesis as the team’s midlaner, and this may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rekkles will start the 2021 season in a black and white G2 Esports jersey. Ocelote's superintelligence has once again shown itself: G2 simultaneously earned a large sum, weakened the direct competitor and remained on the throne with the strongest roster in the region.
Royal dynasties tend to end abruptly, and this year has cut three at once in one fell swoop. It will be incredibly weird to watch TSM without Bjergsen, G2 versus Fnatic with Rekkles donned in the black and white jersey, and Cloud9 sporting the best Western LoL player.
Maybe these roster moves will change the course of history and lead the Western scene to success. It is difficult to say if one can look to the future with optimism. League of Legends will never be the same. The end of an era has come.