Last week I conducted an Interview with Luis “Deilor” Sevilla and we chatted about the current state of the esports scene and how he would like to see it evolve. One of the things we talked a bit more about was the situation on coaching in the current state of League of Legends esports. The LCS and LEC teams are constantly investing more and more into their teams and coaching staffs, however, it’s the amateur scenes that need much more attention.
For an example how do you become a coach in League of Legends, how do you become an analyst or start in any type of managing role in esports. If you aren’t already in the scene as a player or don’t know anyone in the scene yourself, it is very difficult to get the first touch into this world of League of Legends esports. It can be very intimidating at first but most people also got into their jobs in an extremely random way, myself included.
So let me give you a basic introduction of how you can start coaching career today.
Learn to watch
If you want to coach in League of Legends the first step you have to do is, learn how to watch and think about the game. Most of us just watch league of legends out of pure entertainment, watch streams to relax or maybe to find the next trick to climb the ladder in the next SoloQ Game. However, the problem usually is when we watch live streams we are not focused enough on the right thought process to extract the most out of our time when watching a league of legends match. Probably one of the reasons I personally extracted more from watching VODs was my commitment to get more information out of them.
So what do we have to do then to get better information out of League of Legends matches?
Ask the right questions
It doesn’t matter if you start watching a team or a player execute anything if you never question yourself why they could have done it. Sure, often times people play certain champions due to Meta’s that are being played or due personal preference but you can already understand most of a team’s thinking process in the first pics and their bans.
That’s when every team shows most of their preparation, literally their most precious priorities. So ask yourself why they picked a certain pick in a certain composition and why in that rotation. It is the first step to understand drafting and how picks work with each other. Then look at the jungle movement and combine the draft information to understand why the team or player might prioritize a certain path in that setup and move on forward to understand the whole first 15 minutes of the game and so on. By constantly leading you to think about how a player or a team makes a certain decision you’ll force yourself to break it down in baby steps until you have all the tiny little details that add up to execute a play.
Start easy and small by the basics on why certain player ganked a certain lane, set up a ward in a certain spot on to why a certain player died in a situation will teach you a lot about movement, read and communication than you might think.
Master the early game
The early game is the foundation that every coach should be capable of understanding and guiding their players before you learn the depth of the mid to late game. Focus on mastering the first 15 minutes of the game first. If you understand it you will be able to help the vast majority of players when they first join a team and it is something the most players struggle to learn until joining a professional team. It is also the most constant and straight forward aspect of each League of Legends match, while being the one that you can influence the most as a coach with preparation and the pick and ban phase.
This is also the part that the players come the most experienced from SoloQ so use it to develop the good habits early on and guide them in the parts that they are still fresh, like how to communicate and play in a team environment.
The early game is important and young players tend to try to play it like they are used to in SoloQ but it doesn’t always work out. An important thing to keep in mind is to already implement good habits on wave management, pressure allocation, and basic shot calling.
Just keep in mind that this might not be an easy and straight process for each player as breaking bad habits is a difficult task and requires time and discipline.
Coach Friends and low elo teams
Start practicing with whatever you can. You have one friend in the iron tier wanting to reach silver, maybe a couple of friends want to start winning the riot points tournaments and you just want some practice. The thing is if you start with those players and teams you will be forcing yourself to teach the basics and very basic lane and game mechanics to those players, something you will need to know by heart when coaching higher elo players.
Anyways you should focus on basic things first for an example learning how to listen to the player you are coaching and being able to communicate well to his needs.
Because you might be a genius on League of Legends strategical terms but not necessarily will you be able to communicate those concepts in an understandable manner.
So it definitely makes it easier for you to figure this out first before working with better and more experienced players.
As soon as you got some experience, feel comfortable to talk about high-level league of legends it is time for you to start expanding your network and get some better feedback.
You need to create content. With that I don’t mean any gameplay type of thing, I mean a really solid piece of analysis of high-level League of Legends, from the tiniest detail to the biggest macro aspect of the game. The topic is your choice, it is only important that it shows your level of knowledge on the game in the best presentable manner possible. You can do it either with a written piece, any form of data analytical work (preferred if you are aiming to become an analyst) or by video analyzing a certain aspect or a full VOD. Be creative in order to showcase your level of knowledge and reach the people that are more experienced than you to get feedback from. Also, this is a good way for people to get to know you.
One tweet could change your life
When I wanted to enter the Esports scene and especially write about League of Legends I dared myself to interview an Esports personality and challenged myself to “if that person agrees to do it I’ll pursue Esports” and it happened. Most of the times people are too shy to try to reach out to people and ask for feedback or to ask questions. If you are not asking you got a no already and maybe you can get lucky if you reach out and the person you want your feedback from might have some free time to help you out! Be humble and good luck.
Also when teams or any sites are looking for new people they post it openly about it on twitter. It is never a bad thing to follow and interact with teams and professionals from the pro leagues as well as regional leagues.
The first step you’ll need to take is to set up your coaching philosophy. The coaching is important for you as a constant, the one thing you want to always follow when coaching.
For that, you will need to write down your purpose, your leadership style and set your values.
Developing your coaching philosophy means, in the end, identifying the purpose of your coaching.
For an example, my core values during my time coaching were to create the perfect environment at all times that individuals could improve the best way possible as well as establish productive, respectful and constructive training environment. My goal was to focus on helping my players become the best version of themselves and the results will follow.
From interviews, we know a bit of the different coaching styles some of our most prominent coaches follow. For example, the disciplinary and a style focused on dedication towards the practice time and quality would be Griffin’s Coach cvMax or from interviews from several SKT player’s we know that kk0ma follows a very strict but also very father-like coaching style during his time as a coach for SK Telecom T1.
Also, if you are interested in more information about coaching styles and coaching philosophies. Splyce head coach Peter Dun wrote some years ago a Reddit thread explaining the basic concepts.
Do not only read about League of Legends, do not only study the game, study for life.
This sounds like one of those phrases you heard in high school, sure, but it is actually true.
If you want to be a good coach, you’ll need either experience or learn from the experiences of others. Don’t only read the books on coaching but in general, about leadership or psychology, they will teach you a lot of things that you could need as a coach.
Books I read and that helped me
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Leading with Heart - Mike Krzyzewski
Eleven Rings: The Soul of success - Phil Jackson
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson
The Inner Game of Tennis - W. Timothy Gallwey
Remember this is only an idea of how you can start today. Coaching is not something you just do, it is a commitment you decide to take. Every successful coach is successful because they do two things, live their job and learned how to extract the most out of their players. Keep in mind if you are keen to go on that road it is just one of those 24/7 jobs.
You never stop being the coach, the role model and the one pushing people to their limits, but you cannot change someone that doesn’t want to. So good luck and keep grinding
(All the photos from LoLesports Flickr)