During Season 2 when League Of Legends was beginning to be recognized as an Esport, many doubted the role of a coach. Back then, it was frequent to have games decided ultimately on individual performance. The depth of strategy was also much simpler back then compared to now, present 2018. In addition to this, not only were players becoming coaches rare but also the few coaches who existed were unable to showcase their ability in the time frame they were given.
League Of Legends Esports is now been around for almost 10 years. In this present day, no one questions the role of a coach. A successful team has a talented coach, and the style of play that a coach wants to see is evident in the game. Many coaches around the world have demonstrated their own talent. Coach kkOma lead SKT T1 to win 3 consecutive World Championship titles, Coach Kezman gave Uzi his first ever 1st place trophy, and Coach cvMax brought up a Challenger team in the LCK to the Summer finals.
If you were to talk about legendary coaches in the NA league, you have to mention these two coaches’ names. In this 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, C9 Reapered and TL Cain have brought their teams all the way up to the finals.
Cain and Reapered’s Days as a Player
-One-Club man/Journeyman, but somewhat lacking
In the past, Cain was considered one of the most prestigious players in the LCK. Sharing the beginning and end with Najin e-Empire, Cain was a one-club man. When the team formed, Cain initially was the ADC for Najin. However, after several changes in his position, Cain eventually settled down as support once PraY had joined the team. At that time, Cain had said to PraY “If you wait a month, Madlife will help you out.”
Cain was a support player who would safeguard his ADC. He was even evaluated to be extraordinary throughout the league. Cain was best on control oriented champions such as Sona and Zyra. No matter which ADC he was matched with, Cain would always display the most optimal play for his ADC.
Despite all this, Cain lacked the ability to play make for his team. As the role of support changed from assisting an ADC to more play making, the assessment for Cain’s ability as a support dropped naturally.
In his time as a pro player, Cain has experienced three 1st place wins. In the 2012-2013 season Olympus Champions Winter, Najin e-Empire was able to win its first trophy. This was one of the best achievements in Cain’s career. After, in the NLB league (Academy League), he scored 2 final wins. In 2015, Cain gave his position away to Pure. In the same year November, Cain left Najin e-Empire and concluded his career as a professional League Of Legends player.
Meanwhile, Reapered is the representative Journeyman of the LCK. He started his career as a player with Azubu Blaze. He later moved to SKT T1 then Jin Air Green Wings Falcons. In total, 3 different teams. Reapered’s position also changed 3 times; top lane to jungle to mid lane. After finishing his player career, Reapered was once a commentator for the LCK and pro Heroes Of The Storm player before becoming coach.
Even when Reapered was a player, he was considered to have the gifted ability in strategy, macro, and shotcalling. In total, he won two finals: Azubu Champions League Spring 2012, IEM Season VII Cologne. At that time, his team won by implementing a strategy called lane-swapping. After, the new strategy of lane-swapping became a meta for quite some time.
Despite all this, Reapered was never considered to have surpassed the highest level of play as a pro player. Although he was talented strategic wise, the hard truth was that he lacked in mechanical prowess. This followed him till the end of his player career. As a player, Reapered’s competitiveness gradually declined as the standardization of mechanical requirement was at an upward trend. In January 2014, Reapered announced his retirement.
The Path of a Leader, Different Beginnings
-Both walking down the best and the worst roads.
During his time as a player, Reapered was thought to fit the role of a leader well. In the end, this was true. In April 2015, Reapered joined EDG, a renowned professional gaming organization in the Chinese LPL league, as a coach and worked for about a year. Reapered also shared EDG’s golden age. Alongside Reapered and Aaron as coach, EDG was able to defeat SKT at MSI 3:2 in the finals. As a result, winning MSI. During the 5th game against SKT, Pawn counter picked Faker’s devastating LeBlanc with Morgana Mid. This was a good example of how good EDG’s picks/bans were.
After leaving EDG, Reapered signed a contract with Cloud9 in May 2016 and began his journey with the North American League. At the time, Cloud9’s performance was not as good as they had hoped. However, with his new arrival, Reapered brought C9 to place 2nd in the NA LCS and qualify for Worlds. In his 2 years in Cloud9, Reapered was able to successfully bring his team to the quarterfinals of Worlds twice. This very feat was the best performance out of all the NA teams in Worlds history.
As a leader, Reapered miracle runs still continues in the 2018 Summer Split. In the Summer Split, Reapered has been motivating/giving opportunities to the academy players. Except for Licorice, the whole C9 roster went under change with the LCS players and the academy players. After, C9, which had been at the bottom of the ladder until halfway through the split, had successfully incorporated both LCS and academy players onto their roster. As a result, C9 was able to make the miracle run and qualify for the Summer Split finals. Because of this, Reapered is currently considered the best coach in the NA LCS.
On the other hand, ever since he started his career as coach, Cain was considered the worst coach in the LCK. In December 2015, for around a year, Cain made his debut as coach for CJ Entus. Although at the time CJ performed relatively well considering an all rookie roster, CJ received harsh criticism after being unable to qualify for the Summer finals due to lack of shotcalling and macro. With the decline of CJ Entus, the coaches received what was probably the worst criticism anyone could give for a coach’s incompetence. Amongst these comments, a majority of the criticisms were towards the coach who was responsible for draft and feedback, Cain. With this, Cain leaves Korea to start a new challenge in the NA LCS.
What’s funny is that, when Cain decided to challenge himself in NA after experiencing what’s possibly the hardest moment of his career, Cain elected to work alongside Reapered. Employed as a coach in December of 2016, Cain worked with C9 for approximately 4 months. Afterward, Cain was acknowledged for his skills in player managing and was hired by TeamLiquid to be the team’s head coach. Cain mentioned in a past interview that joining TL was a gamble that he risked everything for.
Life in Team Liquid was not easy either. TL was put under the risk of being relegated in both the Summer and Spring of 2017. Despite this, they avoided being demoted till the very end. In 2018, through a complete overhaul of the roster, TL was able to recruit talented players. There was merit to these changes as TL won the following 2018 Spring Split. It was one of Cain’s biggest and proudest achievements to endure two long hard years after pursuing the path of coach.
Two Different Coaching Styles
-Highly strategic, putting importance in the basics
Reapered is a coach that specializes in in-game strategy and ‘picks and bans’. With his high understanding of the game, when a new patch hits League of Legends, Reapered is quick to find the most suitable champions for his players. He’s also talented in finding specific counters to certain matchups.
During the Azubu Blaze era, Reapered developed and popularized the ‘lane swap meta’. During the 5th set of the MSI Finals against SKT T1, Reapered drafted Morgana to counter Faker’s LeBlanc. And most recently, Reapered and C9 drafted Zilean to limit TSM Bjergsen’s Akali. All of these examples show just how outstanding Reapered is in strategy and drafting.
On top of that, Reapered was highly praised recently for giving C9 another weapon to work with. The Blaber-Jensen and Svenskeren-GoldenGlue comps added a whole new side to the team. C9’s most recent victory against TL was a product of Reapered fully utilizing this new weapon.
Cain is a kind, warm coach that puts priority in teamwork and gameplay basics. He’s a coach that’s well-known for maintaining a good relationship with his players. Having been a player himself in the past, Cain specializes in helping the players psychologically, making sure they are at their best condition before every game. It’s also worth noting that Cain was with Liquid when it overcame its crises of having to play in multiple relegation matches.
It is also worth noting that the game’s most basic macro and lane control is strong for TL. TeamLiquid is considered the most stable team in 2018 for lane control and macro amongst the NA teams. Thanks to Cain’s talent in macro, Team Liquid was able to end the Summer Split with a 12-6 record and solidified their 1st place in the league. It’s fair to say that Cain played an important role in Team Liquid winning two splits in a row.
The Meaning of Winning the 2018 NA LCS
-Winning his first LCS title, becoming the best in NA
No one questions Reapered’s ability to coach, but there is a title that he hasn’t acquired yet; the NA LCS. From 2014 Spring tol now, throughout the duration of a total of 8 splits, Cloud9 has not won a title. Even after hiring Reapered, the team finished 2nd at best throughout the years.
This LCS Finals is the perfect stage for Reapered to redeem himself for his hard work of 3 years. Winning the LCS title will get rid of Reapered’s only flaw, the fact that he hasn’t won it before.
On the other hand, the Finals is the perfect opportunity for TeamLiquid to become the best esports organization in NA, and for Cain to further upraise and prove his values as a head coach.
Both coaches walked two different paths. Now, the paths met at a crossroad. Which coach will come out on top at the 2018 NA LCS Summer Finals? Who will claim the title of ‘strongest in NA’?
"C9’s vigor is extremely fierce. The finals won’t be easy.
Everyday, I’m just thinking of ways to beat C9."
- The Head Coach of Team Liquid Cain
"I think I really deserve the coach of the split award. Because I’m f***ing smart.
Whoever comes up in the finals, I’ll make sure we win easily."
- The Head Coach of Cloud9 Repeard