17-year-old ‘League of Legends’ phenom signs with Team SoloMid

League of Legends pro squad Team SoloMid (TSM) is already the most popular team in the U

Photo via BjergsenLOL/Facebook

League of Legends pro squad Team SoloMid (TSM) is already the most popular team in the U.S. Now a major roster change might tip the scales even further.

League of Legends teams emulate basketball teams in a few ways. It’s a five-versus-five game, and each player has a specific role to play and must work in tandem with their teammates toward a common object. In basketball, it’s scoring points. In League of Legends, it’s killing champions and destroying enemy structures.

For years now, Team SoloMid has been led by founding member Andy “Reginald” Dinh in the middle lane. After no shortage of retirement talk, Dinh announced that he’s stepping back to take on a coaching role for TSM. His replacement will be European sensation Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg of Denmark.

It’s relatively rare for pro players to cross oceans to play for new teams, and Bjergsen joining TSM comes as a big surprise. He’s only 17, and his old team, the Copenhagen Wolves, actually had to wait for him to be eligible to play on the League of Legends circuit due to his age. Once he joined, it was like the Cleveland Cavaliers drafting LeBron James. He turned his team from 0-5 to a respectable 15-13, cementing his status as one of the best mid lane players in the world in the process.

The details of his contract are unclear, but it was a deal that left both TSM and his most recent team, Ninjas in Pajamas, satisfied. Often eSports players can make serious money through contract negotiations with major teams, resulting in solid salaries that bolster their earnings from game streaming, sponsored endorsements and prize money.

TSM was in the top three American teams last year, but it ultimately failed to make an impact on the world stage. Though the U.S.’s Cloud 9 had far better results, TSM’s fanbase is still larger, due to its storied history. (It’s a few years old, which is an eternity in eSports at this point.)

Dinh has been a controversial figure on the team, sometimes kicking out players or making them quit, but it’s hard to deny his incredible talent, and he’ll be tough to replace. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to a coaching role, and if Bjergsen will be able to fill his headset as “shot caller” during games.