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The Uncoachables or when will my Prince come

So the Uncoachables aka Origen, have made Playoffs. Yay! It’s been a bumpy ride so far. They’ve lost against higher level teams but they’ve been beating the less good ones so they’ve done pretty well so far on the consistency front. It’s good to be consistent. I’m very proud.

They’ve been looking for a Coach all split as well. They’ve had quite a few since the team started. The Coach is a revolving door position in Origen. They like Coaches (because who wouldn’t like someone who helps you get where you want to go) but it’s just that they haven’t found the one that’s right for them yet, the one to fit their needs and help them sort themselves out and keep on track. And after all, we all know you’ve often got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince. We also know that every frog is someone’s Prince which is nice but not really relevant, unless of course Origen is the frog and it’s them being kissed and not turning into Princes at which point the analogy is, probably, being stretched beyond breaking point and I need to stop…

 

Origen Coaching session

Origen Coaching session

 

But anyway they’re grinding their way through trying to find form and as their most impassioned fan; I support them even more than Leyton Orient – I know all their names and where they are in the LCS and everything, I’m behind them all the way. Rar rar Origen!

(it’s actually easier supporting an LCS team than a football team because there’s less people involved to keep track of and only one League with fewer teams. Football is a nightmare)

 

League of Legends: Origen, ups and downs

Well we’re over halfway through the Summer Split in LCS now and it has been a bit of a bumpy journey for Origen supporters, though it could have been worse.

Origen are now hovering in the top 3 in the Standings alongside H2K and Fnatic. Fnatic are ruling pretty much unopposed and remain undefeated (and looking pretty near undefeatable). If I was in to just supporting winners, I’d have stuck with them, but no, I’ve gone with a team still finding it’s way and improving.

The first few weeks were very strong for Origen. I think they struck a bit lucky here, many of the teams they were facing were still sorting out their own roster changes and getting back into the competitive groove. However teams are now shifting into gear and many are starting to put out good performances and becoming serious challenges.

In fact yesterday, Origen lost to Unicorns of Love, a team they beat pretty convincingly the first time around; in a Split each team plays each other twice. UOL are a strong team, if inconsistent, but nevertheless, Origen has generally shown as a stronger team.

The game was agonising. Origen started off fairly well but then fell behind and seemed to fall apart. One thing Origen are not so good at, is playing from behind. What was interesting though, was how the differences in team composition worked out.

At the start of a game (pick and ban phase), the two teams pick champions. Each team can ban three champions. Each champion has different skills which can either compliment or oppose. A team chooses a composition of champions to work, in-game, in a specific way, for instance to skirmish or to take objectives. The trick is, to play your planned strategy and composition, without revealing it to the opposition to counter who in turn are trying to get their planned composition. At the same time, each team chooses bans to either rule out overpowered champions or champions they don’t want to face, or to wreck a perceived strategy.

In last night’s game, Origen seemed to make a serious error during this stage. The strongest AD Carries were banned; so was one of the stronger junglers (junglers move about the map helping their team to get ahead). UOL had first pick and picked the best jungler. Origen went on to pick one of the best supports, Alistar (rather all-in but still good) and then they made their first mistake; they picked Jayce for xPeke, signifying a poke composition. Nothing wrong with that BUT it immediately revealed to UOL with four picks to go, exactly what Origen were planning to run. Indeed, UOL, for their next two picks choose Corki, probably the third best ADC and then, boom boom, Braum as support. Now why Braum as support? Well Braum has a skill where he can bring up a shield to block skill shots to protect his team. And what does Jayce do? Well he fires skill shots. Therefore Braum is the perfect counter. Oh dear. And that is how the game worked out in what was probably one of the most frustrating games xPeke has played for a while, countered at every turn. It also didn’t help that the ADC Origen chose, Vayne, is shorter ranged so couldn’t provide additional poke.

Both teams made strategic errors around the map during the game, but the abiding image I have is of Origen valiantly trying to defend their base; xPeke poking with every shot blocked by Braum, Vayne trying to get in close and failing, Alistair  trying to get in close and failing; everyone trying to get in close and failing. Oh yes, and all the while UOL had their own poke champ, Varus, poking from afar, unimpeded. GG.

League of Legends: Fnatic is looking for a coach (or the moon on a stick)

On 23rd December, Fnatic put the following up on their website:

As the Fnatic League of Legends Team Coach you will be responsible for every sports aspect of our team operations. The Team Coach is expected to optimize performance and the development of Fnatic’s League of Legends division. The successful candidate will:

  • Develop and formulate meaningful practice regimes and methods that stimulates a steady positive development of the team and its members.
  • Stipulate and monitor short and long terms goals for the team, as well as each individual.
  • Manage, lead and inspire a team consisting of five young and highly talented athletes.
  • Frequently evaluating the performance of the individuals in the team and providing them with suitable feedback, balanced criticism and motivating comments.
  • Hiring and managing LoL game analysts and ensure that their work is structured, presentable and comprehensive for the players.
  • Encourage and educate the athletes to perform regular physical exercise, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
  • Analyse upcoming opponents and preparing the team thoroughly prior every match and tournament.
  • Identifying the team’s strength and weaknesses and incorporating this knowledge into the practice and game plan.
  • Study the contemporary trends of the game and ensuring that the athletes are informed about all recent changes, such as new game patches and meta.
  • Cope with possible conflicts and resolve these together with the Team Manager.
  • Exercise and ensure sportsmanship and fair play into the team’s game, practice and mindset. Location: Berlin, Germany. Pay: This is a full-time position, the payment will be based on the applicant’s qualifications

REQUIREMENTS:

Besides sharing our passion and desire for #winning, our ideal Team Coach is someone that:

  • Is at least 23 years old and comes from EU or any other country that has work eligibility in Germany.
  • Writes, reads and speaks at least English and 1337 language. Korean or Klingon is a bonus!
  • Frequently plays, watch and analyse League of Legends. High ELO is a bonus but not a requirement.
  • Comes from background as a player, coach or manager in either professional sports or eSports.
  • Is a genuine team player who loves the prospect of creating something extraordinary out of a group of world-class athletes.
  • Can manage and inspire players and staff both in physical and virtual environments.
  • Has a profound knowledge of sports psychology and can educate people on its fundamental.
  • Understands the value of data and how to present it in a comprehensive way.
  • Gets eSports and feels comfortable about being adaptive in this fast-paced sports and industry. If we just described you, please send us over your CV and a mock up of a coaching case study or game analysis(required) as a work sample. In case you have additional documentation, stats or links you want to share, feel free to add them. Please note that due to the high amount of applications, we may require long time to answer all applicants.

Apply by sending an email to coach@fnatic.com – deadline for applications is 29th December.

Not much time for interested candidates to apply. And it’s over Christmas. It’s a good move though. This last season in League, the issues of coaching and team infrastructure have become topics of increasing debate in the West. Part of it is through the increasing dominance of Korea and the growth of League in China. Much of this has been put down to the prevalent use of Coaches and the strong supportive infrastructure behind teams.

So teams in the West are finally starting to look at infrastructure. However, it’s arguable how serious this is. The application for Fnatic coach seems to be asking for everything; sports psychologist, analyst, coach, it goes on, but with no quoted salary. In my experience of recruiting, the salary offered is a good benchmark for applicants to assess experience wanted and the level of qualification; and a way of us letting them know. They come across as a little confused and vague regarding exactly what they’re looking for or would find acceptable. Fnatic are a big name brand so I suspect they’ll get away with it and will get someone good, but it still gives some indication as to whereabouts the West, generally, is with respect to Coaching and support staff . Next season, Riot will be providing a partial salary for a team Coach which is a step in the right direction. Some teams have already committed to improving the support to their teams, Team Curse has a Head Coach and Head Analyst working with the Team Manager and TSM has three high profile Coaches, so we’re getting there.

But it’s not only because infrastructure wins prizes that this increased support is important. It’s because many of these players are very young, very inexperienced and the pressures on a pro-player are immense; the pressure of competition and practice and the pressure from fans and the e-sports community. These players need support. The subject of player mental health is just starting to come under discussion. The issues are linked and, as e-sports continues to grow, I think it’s about time both started to take increased precedence.

League of Legends LCS: My Life, or 6 months, as a fan

I never thought I’d get into competitive pro League; the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series)

I watch a lot of competitive Team Fortress 2; so I supposed I should have guessed it would become a thing.

At first I wasn’t sure. So many of the players looked so young. They seemed so vulnerable. How could I support something like that? It felt somehow dirty. Like the Hunger Games. Or Battle Royale. Children fighting children. It was a first step. The way down the proverbial slippery slope

I could see a picture, unfolding, in my mind:

Riot: Hey let’s make Summoners Rift real. The teams can fight each other with real weapons, with blood, gore, children killing each other, dying, bodies ripped apart……crying

Berath’s Brain Burps: Rarr. ggwp

No, just a bad thing all round.

However, I slowly began to get to know the teams. Some of the players were actually adults, some even had receding hairlines. The age limit was 17+ so even the youngest looking ones only looked like babies because I’m an old fart.

So yes, I started to follow the matches and I found myself becoming a fan, I think round June or July of this year. This was a first for me and opened up a new world. I’ve never followed football or rugby or anything similar. I’ve never followed a band or singer. Now I found myself with a team to support; Fnatic (chosen because the players seemed jolly and they were some of the first ones I managed to identify consistently). Later I found out they actually won games too.

It was an interesting experience being a fan. It wasn’t exactly comfortable. It gave me an insight into what it must be like to be football fan. I’d always considered them alien, rooting for a team; rejoicing in their triumphs, sorrowing at their defeats, but now I found myself following Fnatic games anxiously and compulsively on my phone when away from my pc. I’d put time aside to watch matches, I’d plan my evenings. I wanted Fnatic to win. And not just win. To crush. To steamroll. To destroy their opponents, to bathe in their tears, to laugh at their suffering and dance on their graves.  As a long time Guardian reader and qualified social worker, I found this disconcerting.

I hadn’t realised the proper nature of the player-fan link either. I’d understood how fans idolise; a player favouring a tweet could send one into thrilled ecstasy, no exaggeration. However what I hadn’t properly gleaned was how players needed their fans in return; how they enjoyed their gifts and tweets. It stood to reason really, we all need approval and to feel accepted.

Then came the chaos of the off-season and, thank goodness, Fnatic fell apart and so I could get off the emotional rollercoaster that I’d found myself on as a Fnatic supporter (I’m sorry Fnatic, I’m writing about me, not you). I’m not going to be a fan again in the same way. I’ve done that. Once burnt. I’m just going to follow the players, not a team, and avoid the stress of games and roster changes. I’m looking forward to the LCS Spring Split now. I can just be casually interested in all the teams and in how various players will perform. It should be good.

(and not even start to think about Origen possibly qualifying in the Summer Split)

E-sports, League of Legends; support the team or the player?

In League of Legends, we’re currently in the middle of the pre-season, after one competitive Season finishes and before the next one starts sometime in January.

This is the time that, theoretically, players can rest and take time off. However, it’s also the time that teams change up their rosters for the forthcoming Season. Since I’ve only been following competitive League since the summer, this was something I hadn’t experienced before. Players I’d grown to like were dropped and teams changed beyond recognition. It was all rather unexpected.

Some of the biggest changes occurred within the team I’d grown to like the most; Fnatic. First, amidst countless rumours and gossip, they lost their prize ADC, Rekkles to their main rival Alliance. Then, following further rumours, they lost their jewel-in-the crown mid-laner xPeke to form his own team Origen, along with their longstanding jungler Cyanide who decided to retire. This left Fnatic with their toplaner, Soaz and support, Yellowstar.

This led to the following question; did I still want to support Fnatic? In mainstream sports, people support the teams without much question; Manchester United, London Irish or the Washington Redskins. They don’t stop  because they change a player. But in e-sports, support  seems to be very player led. There is an argument that this demonstrates the immaturity of the e-sports scene but I don’t agree. In mainstream sport, supporters will often support a team because of a link, perhaps geographical, or a family connection. In League some teams  have tried to build a national identity, C9 is seen as being 100% NA, up to now Roccat players have all been Polish. However, Roccat demonstrates the problem with this; they’ve now run out of Polish players at the standard they want, and are currently looking at fielding a Korean player. Establishing a national identity in this way is not possible for most teams. There is also another issue with e-sports teams; they’re small. Change three players in a football team, not so noticeable, change three in a League team, that’s over half the squad gone and the team is suddenly very different.

So what should an Organisation with a team do? Returning to Fnatic, I’d adopted the team because of the players, the front men. Apart from them, Fnatic as an organisation was just a brand. I’d never seen any management to get interested in, they’d had a coach but he left after Worlds. Fnatic as an organisation meant little. So, I’m following the players, my only remaining interest in Fnatic is supporting those who stayed. From this aspect, it’s interesting to look at xPeke’s new team/organisation that he’s forming. Origen is very much branded with his own identity and that’ll continue above and beyond individual players. It’s what I’m supporting.  This has happened elsewhere. The creator/owner of NA  team CLG is Hotshot, an ex-player who streams and has a very high profile and so, whatever happens, can provide continuity for supporters. TSM, also NA, was formed by Regi who played for them before moving into coaching for the team and similarly has a very strong though somewhat controversial profile. Returning to Roccat, their Manager, Flyy, is appearing on various League talkshows and is becoming known, maybe with a similar outcome.

I think it will happen more, now Riot is encouraging teams to have Coaches and allowing them on-stage. Teams will start to be increasingly identifiable beyond just the players.   Teams and organisations are starting to realise that having constantly changing rosters and players that rapidly come and go, particularly as the competitive lifetime of a player is generally 2 to 3 years tops, does not lend itself to a stable scene from the perspective of retaining supporters.  Raising the profiles of more permanent staff can only help with this as can giving positions e.g. as streamers to ex-players.

Full and updated article appears here: http://www.goldper10.com/article/714.html