One of the keywords for the 2021 LCK season has been “communication” and for the league’s biggest franchise, T1, it’s been a haunting one. Fans opened up by communicating via a LED truck, appealing for a change in the organization, which led to the signing of coaches Yang “Daeny” Dae-in and Lee "Zefa" Jae-min — the duo that led DAMWON Gaming to the Summoner’s Cup in 2020.
Communication isn’t always verbal. In fact, it’s the proverbial actions that speak louder than words. Saying words is nice but doing stuff is essential and there needs to be a strong link between the two. And as I watched T1 lose to Fredit Brion on Mar. 4, I thought, “The link is impossibly broken.” The actions of T1 went against their verbal messaging.
In essence, professionals communicate by executing their craft. Singers and actors perform. Journalists write articles. And head coaches communicate by winning games — not by giving interviews, which are nothing more than a nice bonus for the fans. Last month, T1’s head coach Daeny vehemently defended the team’s 10-man roster and the standards for its starting line-up,
“After I joined T1, players had a chance to find other teams, but there were players that gave me their trust and decided to stay. What I told them was that in order for T1 to go to Worlds, I firmly believe that the 10-man roster will prove to be beneficial,” Daeny said, adding:
“Before the start of this split, not only did we have a clear understanding of the meta champions, we also played well and felt that we had great synergy. However, it’s regrettable that we went 1-2 early in the split, and if we won just one more match, I feel that the players would’ve been more at ease. Losses definitely hurt, but growth comes from our failures.”
But coaches’ words mean nothing if the fans can’t see their intentions in-game. And as of now, it’s hard to predict or draw conclusions from T1’s games — a team which fielded its eighth different starting line-up in seven weeks, only to be stuck in the middle of the standings. And that’s the problem.
This issue is not exclusive to T1 and applies to all LCK teams (and not just). Oftentimes, team officials will complain, saying, “You don’t know what’s happening within the team”. As a reporter, I would be curious. But as a fan, I would just want to see high-quality games. There’s more than enough showbusiness gossip already, and at the end of the day, good games beat gossip.
The best way for sports coaches to be persuasive is to win but even losses can carry value and communicate something to the fans. That’s the beauty of sports. Player A makes early game snowball better. Player B has good mid/late-game concentration. Even in defeat, takeaways like these mean something, but that’s not how T1 have been losing. And a game that gives you neither victory, nor quality, is pointless.
Six weeks into the Spring Season, T1’s losses have told fans nothing and are yet to convince them that they can actually win. Their losses have been a bottomless vessel that no amount of effort can fill. And that is why T1’s coaching staff is failing the fundamental principle of communication.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.