The League of Legends European Championship's 2020 Spring Split has finally kicked off. Among the ten teams battling for the trophy is Rogue, led by Head Coach Simon "Fredy122" Payne. After many lessons were learned in a bumpy 2019, the Brit stuck with four of his five Summer Split players heading into the 2020 Spring Split.
We spoke to Fredy about the lessons learned during the 2019 season, how Rogue is tackling the new LEC year. He also explained why Rogue chose to keep a large part of its roster, and what the advantages of that decision are compared to bringing in rookies.
Welcome Fredy! Let's start by reflecting on Rogue's 2019. It seems like you guys learned a lot as the Split progressed. What are you carrying over from that year into 2020?
2019 was quite a difficult year for Rogue. The Spring Split was quite disastrous, obviously. I think the main thing we learned from Spring Split was on the scouting side, and how we want to build a roster. We went into the Summer Split completely differently. We had learned a lot, and our rookies had grown. All that experience is going to stick with them now, in the new season. I think it's a big headstart compared to other teams that have rookies now. Our 'rookies' have played for half a Split now.
During the offseason, what did you focus most on training with this roster?
Recently we've been looking more at how to play around the map. Things like tempo, those kind of things. And getting back into it—we had a big break during the offseason. The past couple of weeks it's mainly been trying to get back into things, renewing the basics and improving fundamentals.
The roster you have starting in 2020 is very similar to the one you ended the 2019 Summer Split with. Only one change was made. What was the reason you kept such a large part of the roster?
We saw a lot of potential, especially in our top side. While Finn didn't have much playtime, we thought he could develop into a very good player, which is why we kept him. Obviously Larssen and Inspired showed great performances. We weren't gonna let them go. Vander has been a great leader, outside of the game especially, so we decided to stick with him. Strategically, keeping those four people together gives us a headstart when it comes to practice. Keeping those four guys was a bit of a no-brainer for us.
G2 is another team that stuck with their core roster. Could you expand on the advantages it has for you, to keep this many players?
I've worked with a lot of teams, and you always have to start from the bottom, when you have a new lineup. You don't really understand how everyone plays, you have to build the communication et cetera. When you keep the same four people, or five people, there are no such issues. You can start practicing a bit later than other teams, and you'll still be at a higher level than them. It's very beneficial to keep the same roster, as long as you keep improving as the Split goes on. Obviously if you have five new guys in a team, you can improve a lot more. There's a steeper learning curve.
Some teams in the LEC have chosen to bring a bunch of rookies on board for the 2020 Spring Split. In what way do they have an advantage?
They come in with this fire, this passion to prove themselves. They're usually not scared, after a couple of games on stage. You also don't know how they will perform, whereas if you stick with the older guys, you know exactly what to expect. I think it's great to see other teams taking that risk. It's gonna improve the region as a whole.
Would it ever be an option for you, as a coach, to just bring in five rookies to see how it will work out?
I actually really enjoy working with rookies. If the best option for Rogue, or any other team, was to take five rookies, I'd like to work with that. You can build them up from the bottom, teach them fundamentales that are cracked. Sometimes these players who have already been on different teams don't have the right understanding of the game, or not the understanding that you want them to have. You can really mold rookies, as a coach. For those teams that have brought on rookies, it's going to be really important how their coaches will train them.
Let's talk a bit about how you have developed as a coach, compared to last year. How have you grown through 2019?
I've learned that my role as a coach really depends on the team I'm in. I've had some teams in the past where I have to be very game-focused, and teach the fundamentals. Now, coming into the second Split for these players, they have a really good grasp of the game. So your role as a coach changes a bit, and you don't have to always focus on teaching the fundamentals. You might have to put more effort into scouting, learning other teams' habits. Drafting especially. You need to find your role as a coach. That's one thing I'm still learning to do, depending on the team I'm in.
Are you comfortable with learning those new aspects?
I'm getting comfortable with it. You can always improve as a coach, you know? You can always learn, and it's different depending on who you're working with at the moment.
What's something you want to grow in, in 2020?
Hm, that's a tricky one. There's nothing specific I can think of. Right now I'd just like to continue as it is with this lineup. We'll see as the Split continues—maybe something will come up.
Photo via Riot Games.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.