Ahead of the 2021 season, Team Liquid announced a couple of new staff members to their team to accompany the team's roster upgrades. Among those changes was the addition of Jonas "Kold" Andersen to the LCS squad as the new Liquid strategic coach. Before joining for the 2021 season, Kold had a short stint with Liquid at Worlds 2020, acting as a positional coach for former TL jungler, Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen.
Kold has had a storied career as a professional jungler through both NA and Europe, playing for a number of different teams - most notably Splyce, Unicorns Of Love, and Origen. He is beginning his coaching career with Team Liquid, but he already has the stamp of approval from Joshua "Jatt" Leesman. Kold spoke with us about his time with Liquid at Worlds and how he hopes to power up the team in 2021.
First off, I know you were working with Team Liquid during Worlds, so how did that happen? And was that a direct transition for you getting this job?
So it was pretty simple honestly, I announced that I was looking for coaching opportunities for 2021, and out of nowhere, Jatt kind of reached out to me and he told me they had some things they’d like some expertise on regarding jungle. And I was interested in working with them - or helping them out during Worlds - so that’s what I did.
But it kind of just happened, it wasn’t preplanned. It was just, “We need some help! Can you help?” And I just said I’d love to do that. I feel like when you get to watch games, both official games, but also scrims and practice, that’s where the best competition is. So if you have any desire to be at that level then that’s just a bonus, getting to work with people and see how they work as a team. So I couldn’t resist the offer.
Of course! And was that something that was always supposed to lead into you becoming the strategic coach, or was that an afterthought?
Initially, I did not have any… It was kind of like maybe if I do well there it could lead into something afterward. But at the time it didn’t cross my mind at all. And I also had no clue what TL would want to do in 2021, how they’d want to do things, etc. So it didn’t cross my mind at all, and also, after this Worlds run with TL, it was not apparent that it would lead to me being an assistant coach - or strategic coach - in 2021.
But after it all ended, I had a chat with Jatt about what I was looking for and how he wanted to run things going into next year, and right off the bat, it was pretty apparent that we shared how we wanted to run things. We perceive coaching League similarly. So I was very excited and I felt like when I was looking at my various opportunities, I wanted to be at a place where I could see myself grow and work with people that had different expertise than I have. And I think Jatt has qualities that I don’t have that he brings in a good way, and I have qualities that he can’t compete with. So hopefully we will work really well together in that sense and both bring things to the table.
And how much did you work with the team at Worlds? Or were you only working with Broxah?
So I was not working with the team at all, I was only working with Broxah. So it was very much just a one on one coaching situation. So he would do reviews with the team and then I’d have discussions with him. So yeah, I did not interact with the team at all.
Gotcha! What was it like for you when you and TL went 3-3 but you didn't advance? We got to see TL’s response through the content they did, but what about for you? You were all off by yourself kind of loosely connected with them.
Obviously it really sucked, but one thing that sucked the most from the whole experience was I knew how much it meant to Broxah personally, and after working with him very closely for those few weeks I got to know him a lot better. And I could feel how much it mattered and how disappointed he was. And I think that was probably where I felt the worst about the 3-3. I think they at least deserved to get one more game where they could showcase whether they deserved to get to quarters.
But that’s competition. Sometimes you need to win a game to progress, but also if they went 2-4, nobody would care. That’s the tough part of competition - but also the beautiful part about it. You get the 3-3 scoreline and you get a tiebreaker and you win that to move forward. But that is the beautiful - but also sometimes ugly - part of competition.
I know something Jatt said was that a lot of times players who become coaches are often looking for a short break or just didn’t get some offer that they wanted, so sometimes they aren’t super committed or they don’t work very hard. But Jatt said that you were very hardworking and committed. How did you convince him of that?
Hahaha! That’s a good question, and I’m not sure if I’m the one to answer that, you may have to ask Jatt about that. But one thing I always value very highly is that whatever you do in life you do at 100%, so whenever I got the gig at TL doing the Worlds coaching job, I was maybe doing more than what [was expected]. I was also having discussions with Jatt after, and I was trying to help as much as I could. And I think that is the way I approach whatever I work in to give it my all.
And I think regarding the discussion about going from player to coach, I had already decided - for now at least - I am not going to go back to being a player. So my idea is doing whatever I can to be the best coach that I can be, and that shined through when I talked with Jatt.
So can you expand on the end of your career as a player and what made you take the step into coaching?
So yeah, it’s been about 15 months since I played a competitive game. But there were a lot of things that went into it, a lot of personal things. And I already spoke a lot about it in previous interviews. But I think there’s a price to being a player in the sense that you have to commit your entire life to being a player and there are a lot of reasons for that that I won’t go into. And there’s a lot of stress that goes into being a player, like performance, the stress of constantly keeping up with things, social media pressure, etc.
And so when I was debating with myself if I should keep playing or do something else, there were just more positives on the side of doing something else. That’s how I decided. And it’s a big leap, it’s not easy to change your profession, but I felt like this was the right time.
Can you explain a bit of your duties? I think I’ve heard a couple different titles for you, so what will your specific role be within the staff?
It’s a little bit crazy, but normally when a player goes into coaching in other sports, they’ll go out and take some courses [on coaching]. But because of the youth of the League of Legends scene, there’s not any of that for League of Legends. There are just competent players who fit into that role and you kinda have to learn on the go.
So as of right now I’ll be working very closely with Jatt as a strategic coach. But what does that mean? It means in a very simple way that Jatt and I have to make sure the team is functioning both in and out of game, and I have more responsibilities for the in-game and Jatt has more responsibilities for the out-of-game.
So I think that puts it very simply, it’s a lot more complex than that, but we are here to make sure the team is functioning. And if the team is functioning, the players are going to show their skills. If you as a coach can make a player shine, then you’re doing something well. That’s one of the big things I’m going to look to do.
Was the off-season as a coach less stressful than the off-seasons you spent as a player?
I mean for me, this off-season has been less stressful, I can tell you that for sure. But also I had no idea where I was going if you asked me a month or so ago. For staff, the off-season just starts a bit earlier. But I remember being in the players’ shoes, where you get into off-season thinking, “What the hell is going to happen with me?” And trust me, you don’t want to be there. Some players have a ton of offers and they can just choose. Others have to wait for others to make their decision, they just have to take what is left over. So it’s very stressful for players. I just hope they’re happy with their decisions wherever they go.
So let’s talk about the items, have you gotten to study up on those much?
I watched the changes, I’ve played the game with the new changes. I know a little bit, sure, but as a player, I like to feel out the items more and see what is OP and what is not and feel that out. I don’t think I have enough good information yet, plus I believe there will be some hotfixes soon since some of it is really OP. But it’s been fun to get some new items in the game, that’s for sure.
Do you think it will change much for pro play? There are a lot of new mechanics from items, like new mobility and more.
Yeah of course, of course the new items will change the game regardless of how big the changes are. It just depends on how fast people recognize where the changes are and how they affect the game. Thats a given thing at all stages in League, whenever there’s a new patch, things change. And with how many changes there are [with the new items] I for sure think it will change the meta a lot, especially on pick and ban, like which champions are actually good that can utilize the new items.
But one thing I’ve noticed is there are usually changes each year that impact the strategy, like how dragons work, how heralds work, huge changes to jungle, other changes to items… But here there are less changes to the game - it’s mostly changes to items with small changes to jungle and scuttles, but they don’t impact the strategic part at least from what I see so far. So that will be interesting to see how much impact the items have compared to some of the bigger changes that happened in the previous year like the herald and drake changes. So I actually think the changes are smaller than in previous years.
I know you were in NA five or six years ago, what is it like coming back?
Yeah so funnily enough I had some time playing in amateur teams in Europe before NA, but NA in 2015 was my first time playing as a pro. So that’s always been a special experience in my heart. And when I was there I really enjoyed the environment and the vibe around LA. And I really hate when it's cold, windy, and rainy. And I look outside the window right now and that’s all that I see. I have always had a good vibe around the thought of 2015, so that’s what is exciting for me - to go back there and start a new chapter in my life. When I thought back about it I’ve felt a bit nostalgic in that sense.
When you look through back on your career, what are you most proud of and what are you still hoping to achieve in esports?
I think in whatever setting I’ve been in I’ve always given my 100% for the team, and that is something I’ll bring with me into coaching as well. I know for a fact you can have five great players and still be a shitty team. But what matters is how well you play as a team in the end. You can win games off individual performances but that’s not going to take you anywhere. So I’m very excited to be in a position where I can have a better overview of everything that happens within a team and bring direction in the right places. That was one thing.
Second, when I look back on my player career, in my second year as a pro I went to Worlds, which I think was a huge accomplishment at that time. And the two finals I played in EU LCS and LEC in 2019. Plus meeting all the people as a player. I think most players recognize this, that when you go on the stage and play, that is when you feel as fulfilled as possible. So those moments are what I cherish the most, or at least remember the most.
Anything you REALLY want to accomplish? Is it just “Win Worlds?”
I’m very ambitious, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had the ambition to go to NA and win NA and go to Worlds and help TL do better than they have in the past. They are an organization that wants to win, and I very much follow along on that path. But obviously, there’s more to it than just saying we’ll do everything we can to win, there’s more between the lines that’s important. But yeah, I'm coming here to win, that’s for sure.
All photos via Riot Games
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