May 21 2015 - 10:27 pm
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Coaching and Team Dynamics in League of Legends

Thoughts on why the current coaching and staff for North American League of Legends Organizations are incomplete and are holding Players and Organizations from reaching their potential. Organizations should look to hire people trained in Coaching or Spor
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Right now something is within several League of Legends organizations. It hurts the player’s and team dynamics.  It hurts the organizations because the players don't perform up to expectations and therefore hinders performance.  The biggest problem right now in the sport is the lack of organizational infrastructure to successfully maximize a team’s potential as well as a lack of trained and educated coaches.  Even the biggest organizations in the North American League of Legends circuit, Team Solo Mid (TSM) and Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), fall short  here and these organizations need to flesh out their support staffs to help their players succeed and set the tone for the rest of the teams in the North American League Championship Series.  

Montecristo, Scarra, & Locodoco

The head coach in a League of Legends team is vital to a team’s success.  You have someone that can organize team schedules, analyze scrims and games as well as handle the players and their concerns.  Like all sports all individuals in teams sometimes don't get along, but it's how you deal with that lack of chemistry that separates good coaches from great coaches.  Take Counter Logic Gaming for example, their first head coach, Montecristo is regarded by many as the best caster in the world due to his in-game knowledge.  However Montecristo was unable to be in the same region as Counter Logic Gaming and didn't live with the players.  This led him to being unable to fully execute his authority as a head coach. He didn't interact with his team personally day to day and because of that lost control of the team and had his coaching authority undermined.

Montecristo's successor to the Counter Logic Gaming Head Coaching Position Scarra did a better job, because he was able to live with and interact with his players.  Scarra however only lasted 1 split as the coach of Counter Logic Gaming.  People attribute that he was too passive and wasn't strict enough with his players.  I agree with that to a point, but my main concern for Scarra is that Scarra had the potential to be a great League of Legends coach but he had no actual experience or no one trained in coaching to guide him or help him out.  I think if Scarra had someone with coaching experience along with him, giving him advice and if Scarra had stayed more than one split he would have been a great coach for the team, but he didn't give himself long enough of an opportunity to succeed and find his coaching style before leaving Counter Logic Gaming. 

Another interesting coach to look at is Team Solo Mid's Locodoco.  Probably the best head coach in North American League of Legends at the moment.  Loco schedules his players efficiently, has well organized practices and ideas, talks to his players about personal issues, as well as game material to help his players prepare.  However even Locodoco knows he's not complete and in Episode 14 of the TSM Legends vods says at the end, he's trying to become a more mature coach, and one who's an emotional leader instead of always having prepping his players for picks/bans and strategies before games.  I admire Loco's zeal for this improvement but who's going to help him?  Who will take some of his burden so he's not weighed down with all the other duties as the only coach and give him time to improve himself?

These examples show a lack of structure and support in League of Legends organizations.  These organizations need assistant coaches to help take the burden off their coaches as well as having someone with coaching knowledge and experience to help them through coaching and give them all the options and tools they need to be successful as coaches so they can better focus on their players.  

Being a Successful League of Legends Coach/Assistant Coach

As a Sports Management Coaching/Administration major and college graduate, after watching the League of Legends professional scene for 3 years while studying coaching and management, I've come up with traits that you need in order to be a good League of Legends coach.  There are many traits you need in order to be a good coach but the most important are flexibility, passion and using standards instead of rules.

 Passion/Character

You need passion to coach or play at the highest levels in any sport, League of Legends is no exception.  As a coach you need to show passion.  You need to show your fans you’re passionate about winning.  You need to show your players that you care about them and their well-being.  You need to have passion to watch countless hours of video, analyzing opponents as well as critiquing yourself.  Even when winning you have to be able to find your flaws because while winning can mask your deficiencies they will eventually be exposed and you must be able to see those deficiencies and continue to improve on them even as you experience success.  You need both passion and character to be able to work on your problems while having success.  Otherwise you will get complacent and then be exposed by teams of similar caliber.  As the great college basketball coach John Wooden said "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there."  

Flexibility

The most important trait is being Flexible in everything as a coach.  You need to have dynamic habits to get everyone on the same page, you need to be flexible and listen to your support staff and players.  You need to have the flexibility to interaction and coach each individual player differently and get the best results out of them.  You can't coach Pobelter the same way you coach Doublelift.  Pobelter might be someone who's always on top of the meta, knows what's strong and therefore you can give him some room to thrive on his own.  Doublelift on the other hand might not have the awareness and analytical skills of Pobelter so you might have to be stricter on him and specifically tell him what to work on or what champions to practice and play.  However with both players you're doing your best to maximize their potential and get the best out of them.  (These were just examples and have no bearing on the actual players named.)

Standards

Coach Mike Krzyzewski Head Men's basketball coach of Duke University (5 National Championships as well as 4 international play Gold medals) is one of the coaches that I've modeled my own coaching style after.  Coach K doesn't have rules on his team, he has standards.  Rules don't promote teamwork, you can't own them and people follow it or don't.  However standards should be preferred because those standards are the expectations you live with yourself .  Standards are the things you already do and comprise who you are as a person.  I believe having Standards over Rules would benefit greatly a League of Legends organization because it would promote teamwork between the players and coaches to all become the best they can be and with that teamwork forge relationships between each other out of mutual respect.

Support Staffs and Coaching Experience

I've listed what I feel makes a good coach, but a recurring issue in the current League of Legends circuit is these traits are underutilized because most coaches have had little or no prior coaching experience.  Many coaches in the scene were fantastic former players but coaching is far different than playing and these coaches are flying blind without the proper help or support.  It's up to these League of Legends organizations to support their coach and help them succeed, whether hiring analysts to help break down video and team play or figuring out picks and bans, or hiring assistant coaches to lay some burden off the head coach so they don't have to do everything.  Having a coach with no prior experience is fine, don't get me wrong. However you should give them backup in an assistant coach with knowledge of Coaching/Administration and Sports Management for the new coaches to fall back on and help them become better coaches. You don't have to be a great player or a pro player to be a great coach and that's what the League of Legends scene is missing; people who might not be good at the game itself, but know how to run an organization or coach a team efficiently.  It's time that teams and organizations open themselves up to more knowledge and support from qualified people that can help the scene because they are knowledgeable about coaching because they have a passion for the game and want to see it grow and succeed here in North America.

 

Side Note: I would like to thank my friend Jon99867, awesome Stream mod for most Misfit players for helping me with editing. You were a great help.  Also thank you everyone for taking the time to read this article. You have my humble thank you.

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