As first reported by the Washington Post
, TSM has re-signed their prestigious mid laner, Bjergsen, in a two-year contract deal which includes a package of owning a portion of TSM. While we do not know the percentage Bjergsen obtained in this deal, even something as small as 1% in partial ownership means that he would get a value of $2.5M according to a Forbes article released in 2018
which showed the valuation of organizations in esports. If you include the most recent valuation done by Forbes
in October of 2019, TSM went up to $400M, which means (if he owns 1%) Bjergsen would now own an asset worth $4M, a 62.5% increase in the span of just one year.
Bjergsen being partial owner of TSM also means that he seemingly cannot be on another team until he divests ownership within TSM. The speculation from the community sees TSM as Bjergsen’s retirement home. The language of the deal is striking though, as there are policies in place from Riot that inhibit players from being owners.
The LCS rulebook states
in title 2 “Team Member Eligibility”, section 2.5, “The GM, Head Coach, Strategic Coach, LACS Coach and any Owner of the Team may not be on the Full Team Roster”.
Under the LEC rulebook
, title 2.2 “Recognition of Ownership”, section 2.2.1 states:
“The League shall have the right to make final and binding determinations regarding team ownership, issues relating to the multiple Team restriction and other relationships that may otherwise have an adverse impact on the competitive integrity of the LEC”.
Both of these statements contradict each other given how the LEC rules essentially state that the LEC can make any ruling related to team ownership, whereas the LCS rulebook states that an owner cannot be on the team roster.
However, LCS title 15 “Spirit of the Rules”, section 15.3 states:
“League Officials at all times may act with the necessary authority to preserve the best interest of the LCS. This power is not constrained by the lack of any specific language in this document. League Officials may use any form of punitive actions at their disposal against any entity whose conduct is not within the confines of the best interest of the LCS”.
This is certainly a backdoor rule which allows Riot to make any arbitrary decision at their discretion, along with having another rule stating that the rules can be changed at any time. The comparison can also be drawn to TOS agreements, where companies often state that they can change them at any time.
In previous years, we have had owners play on the starting roster. Xpeke played on Origen to act as a band-aid during the reshuffling of their roster during 2016. In 2018, Wang Sicong played on Invictus Gaming in the LPL, somewhat as a show match, as he was subbed in against a very weak Vici Gaming. So while it’s not unheard of for an owner to play on a team, the line blurs with the language presented by the LCS rule book.
However, ESPN’s reporter Jacob Wolf received a statement from the LCS Commissioner
stating that they have updated the rulebook for players to be eligible for ownership after playing competitively for three consecutive years on a team. While the rules will be changed for the 2020 season, it’s difficult to determine whether the chicken (Bjergsen gaining ownership) or the egg (Riot planning to change the rules) came first.
Bjergsen made one of the smartest moves in his career by gaining partial ownership in TSM, but one cannot help be perturbed by how this can affect his relationship with future and current teammates. Although it should be safe to assume that Bjergsen probably isn’t on a board of directors (those ultimately in charge of listening to owners and holding the CEO accountable for goals), shareholders still have votes on how a company operates
. As such, it’s unknown how much power Bjergsen has when it comes to roster decisions or overall team structure in the LoL division of TSM. This might come into play when a new teammate joins the TSM roster, as Bjergsen might have more influence on who he wants to play with, possibly making complications with their general manager Parth.
While people might allude this to how the young TSM Reginald made things difficult by challenging Xpecial during a heated argument about in-game mistakes
, the scene and the TSM environment have most certainly changed. Both TSM and Bjergsen have intelligently played a great card to grow both of their brands and I don’t see this as a large hurdle to overcome based upon partial ownership, also considering that Bjergsen most certainly doesn’t have as many shares as other stockholders. If TSM have the power to move Riot and change policy, and if Bjergsen is able to capitalize on that, more power to ‘em.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Image courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
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