Bjergsen or sOAZ: Veterans that will define the Player to Coach transition
Coaching is a common career for ex-professional players who want to stay in the game but don’t want to be in the spotlight. While this can happen in any esports game, two players-turned-coaches that made headlines recently are League of Legends pros Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.
The question is, which one is likely to be a better coach, and why their transition is important for the entire player-to-coach path in the future? Let’s look at both veterans and see why this is important.
Why veteran League of Legends coaches matter?
Much like in traditional sports and esports in general, a League of Legends coach is responsible for ensuring the team plays their best. They keep the players’ confidence in check and help them perform consistently and as effective as possible. Ex-players turned coaches allows them to relate to how the players feel in-game. It also allows them to impart valuable game knowledge that someone who had never been in the player role themselves would know.
Additionally, veteran players are no strangers to the grind and the serious mental stress a pro athlete endures during a competitive season. They fully grasp the natural curve of ups and downs during a season and how to cope with it.
Finally, when it comes to these two veterans in question, they have managed to maintain an aura of consistency and stability in their roles and teams, and their transition into the coaching roles is now important for the entire ecosystem and future player-to-coach moves.
How has Bjergsen performed as a player?
One of the most popular coaches that used to be a player is the great Dane Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. Prior to coaching, Bjergsen spent six years as TSM’s mid laner. Prior to playing for TSM, he also played for Ninjas in Pyjamas, Copenhagen Wolves, Team-LDLC, and Western Wolves in a career that spans back to 2012. He has been hailed as one of the best mid laners ever to play in the LCS and one of the top midlaners in the world.
Bjergsen won six total LCS titles in his playing career and attended the World Championship five times as part of the TSM roster. During the 2016 season, he received the Most Valuable Player award for the summer split.
His stats are equally as impressive. According to Games of Legends, Bjergsen has a 61.1% win rate across more than 600 total games. That is split into 368 wins and 234 losses. On average, Bjergsen achieved a 5.4 KDA and 72.2% kill participation. In layman’s terms, he got five times as many kills as deaths and more than half of his team’s kills per game. Taking all those stats into perspective, it’s easy to see why he was crowned as one of the best mid lakers in NA LCS. On October 24th, 2020, he retired as a player to pursue a new career as head coach of TSM.
The most important aspect is that Bjergsen was considered the anchor around TSM’s identify for most of his career. Only a handful of players in the entire scene are that essential to a team’s identity and performance. And we only found two that are now vying to become coaches.
How has SOAZ performed as a player?
Another player-turned-coach is Paul “sOAZ” Boyer. Most recently, sOAZ played for Immortals Academy after leaving the main Immortals roster. He and three other players left Immortals academy at the end of August. Prior to coming to NA to play for Immortals, sOAZ played for many EU teams like Fnatic, Origen, against All authority, Absolute Legends, and Millenium. His career in League of Legends spans all the way back to 2010.
Stats-wise, sOAZ was also a very impressive player. Across 448 games, sOAZ has a 56.3% win rate with 252 wins and 196 losses. On average, he achieved a 3.0 KDA and a 59.8% kill participation. Much like Bjergsen, he also got more than half of his team’s kills per game on average.
Earlier this month, French esports journalist Paul Arrivé reported that sOAZ had joined the French team LDCL OL as a coach for the 2021 LFL season. This would be sOAZ’s first time coaching in his 10 year career. If the report turns out to be true, sOAZ would be reunited with Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, the player who first introduced him to the competitive League of Legends scene back in 2010.
Up until this season, Paul was one of the most active veteran players on the scene. He played in the first ever Worlds Championship finals back in 2010 and managed to maintain his level of play for almost a decade. His stability and intelligent play in the top lane have re-defined the role and meta on several occasions.
Much like Bjergsen, hes been the anchor for Fnatic for several years almost to the point that he was taken for granted.
Who will have more impact and why it is important
It’s hard to say exactly which one of these two pros will have the best player to coach transition in 2021. Looking solely at their player stats, it would be easy to say that Bjergsen will be better simply based on his accolades. However, player stats don’t necessarily mean that a player will be good as a coach as well. Playing and coaching are very different positions that require different sets of skills.
Bjergsen has more games under his belt, which translates to more experience observing how players perform. SOAZ has more years of experience, so he has been around the game as a whole for longer. Both of these could turn the two players into good coaches.
sOAZ has an edge in mental stability and winning from behind methods. He deeply understands the nature of the game and player’s mental booms during matches. If he can convey his vast experience effectively he is likely going to bring LDLC a masters title in 2021.
If these moves do turn out to be good ones for TSM and LDLC OL respectively, it could inspire an entire generation of veteran players to move and try out for coaches in the future. Down the pipeline we have Aphromoo, Nukeduck, Perkz and Rekkles who all have a season or two left before they consider retirement.
The performance of Bjergsen and sOAZ in their roles are likely going to be considered a case study for player-to-coach transitions in the future and if the decision is worthwhile.