Hey Roflgator. To set the scene, what’s your role within Fnatic, what do you do on a day to day basis and what are your responsibilities?
My goal is to make sure that everyone has a clear role and is able to fulfil their role the best they can. Recording is just one of my jobs. At the start of every scrim I create one or two goals for us to focus on. Something along the lines of “lets work on disengaging today, I want us to focus on disengaging every opportunity we get” or “ID, you haven’t been flanking much, I want you to focus on getting at least one good flank every map” and I consistently remind them of these goals til they are habit and we can move on to new ones.
Unlike most OW coaches, I am incredibly vocal in game, when we started I would ask them after every team fight “Did they use any defensive ults? Do they have zarya ult?” til it became second nature for them to do so without me asking them, and when I see bad habits, I call them out instantly instead of after the team fight. I also get the team to watch replays of our matches and I am also the voice of reason when people disagree.
Do you feel like you’re able to have a noticeable impact with the team’s improvement? Can you see the fruits of your labour?
Yeah absolutely, early on I made sure that every player on this team knew their role and we had a huge emphasis and who calls what and who goes where. I’ve done that with every team I joined and I lay that out as the foundation of the team early on. I also have a perspective of them that no one else has, I watch every game from a top down view and am able to see everything they do, I’ve always been a strategist / shotcaller in every game I ever played so it became second nature to point out what we need to change and how we need to approach things, and they’ve done an amazing job respecting my decisions and following my advice.
That’s something that a lot of coaches struggle with even in well-established games. How did you get into coaching rather than playing in OW and what do you think makes you respected as a coach when others may struggle to get respect without a history as a top player?
Well I actually started off as a player who played tracer way too much. I got really lucky and had an amazing game against reunited when mendokusaii was on the roster, he added me and told me my tracer was awesome and we became good friends, After he joined IDDQD he asked me if I wanted to come and help with coaching, because he respected my view on the game. After trying me out, they decided to keep me.
I think the second the coach loses the respect of the players, his job is done. I think a lot of people think that proper coaching is an easy job where you just record demos and show them to the team, any person in the world can do that. Getting a group of 6 people to be on the same page and get along is one of the hardest jobs.
Do you also mediate between members of the team if tensions are raised or do you leave that to the players to solve?
Yeah, if there are any tensions I am usually the voice of reason to help sort it out. If players need to have a serious discussion with each other, they PM me so I can be there to hear it out and make sure every statement has legitimacy.
Do you think other teams would benefit from having a coach in that capacity and offloading some of the team captain role onto the coach as well?
Absolutely, having a proper coach to help you develop proper habits in game would help any team. There are things a coach can do that players cannot. Plus having a coach would allow players to focus on the game while someone else is focusing on where everything is going wrong.
What were you able to do for Fnatic that didn’t work out with Rogue?
Well Rogue was a really complex issue. There was a lot of stuff with Rogue that happened behind the scenes that caused us to split ways. But I wouldn’t say Rogue was an unsuccessful project. When it started it was 3 French players and 3 Swedish players and they were separated, one group would blame the other group and there was a group of incredible players who couldn’t communicate together. I had to go down to really fundamental stuff with them and I think that even offended them sometimes. By the time I was gone, they all knew their roles and became a real team, instead of 2 teams of 3.
With Fnatic, we all became really good friends really fast and I made sure REALLY fast that we didn’t have this “Swedes vs NA” BS going on within the team. Fnatic is an ongoing project and there are still a ton of things we are working on, but they all take criticism incredibly well and we are growing really fast for such a new team.
Do you think it’s easier for a coach not to receive the praise or be cut than it is for a player of equivalent impact?
Well Rogue had a lot of stuff going on that I don’t want to go into that much due to my respect for the org and the team. But when I started with Rogue, my word came before anything and they considered me even with the players, even the org treated me equal with the players. I think history has shown that Rogue has absolutely no problem removing and replacing anyone in a heartbeat. I don’t think I was treated any differently than any of the players who were removed. I think it’s easy to blame the coach if all the coach does is record matches and be a cheerleader, but otherwise, every team I have worked with has been incredibly respectful and valued me. I’ve had multiple of my previous teams even turn down amazing org deals because the orgs didn’t want coaches this early into OW.
You told me that you’re very active during scrims to make players reflect on what they’ve just done or could do better, how does that then translate into them playing matches?
When we play in online tournaments I am unable to actually see whats going on, so I focus mostly on attitude and communication. If I can hear them lose a fight I can pick up on things, like if target calling was done properly for example. During the gamescom tournament, I made everyone take off their headphones and gather in a circle after every game, and I would go over everything I saw and give them strategies for the next game. They told me I wasn’t able to be behind the team during the tournament and that made me really sad. Coaches are a big part of traditional sports and I would love to see them be a big part of e-sports as well.
Finally, how do you think blizzard should allow coaches to be used?
I hope to god they do or my job will get really limited in blizzard tournaments. I honestly think if were going to take e-sports seriously as a community and want it to be as legit as real sports then we should value the same things. I don’t think a lot of coaches understand what their job is and i don’t think that a lot of people really understand what a valuable coach can bring to a team. I don’t expect blizzard to really value coaches anytime soon, since there are so little of them. But hope that the role will be more respected among the community as pro players start retiring from competitive play and start using their knowledge to coach.