Once at the bottom of the standings, they have made a full transition to the middle of the pack and into the playoff race. In fact, their record during the second half of the season is the best across the board.
Following their victories, Inven Global sat down with the team’s head coach, Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool. The coach spoke of the weight of expectations placed upon Fnatic, his evolution as a head coach, and Fnatic’s performances.
Below is the full transcript of the interview, slightly edited for clarity.
You've made a transition from team director to head coach, and the team had a pretty rocky start to the season. Caps leaving meant that everyone needed to develop their willingness to carry in a way, and trying to identify someone who's willing to take the mantle. It was tricky overall, but ever since the end of Week 2, things seem to look much better. Can you elaborate on all of these transitions (you back into coaching, and the team into a front runner)?
My father is a very clever man, and he warned me: "No matter what happens this year, it will probably not be as good as last year. Be prepared to get a lot of
Then we have the team's transition: the thing that hurt us the most is that the meta shifted away from a mid to late-game approach. In the past, we got a 2k gold deficit, but we had a really strong team-fighting composition you could get away with. Now, there's a lot of snowballing mechanics like Turret Plating; river control and jungle pathing are really important; getting one or two kills or flashes... All of those things start to add up very quickly when you have Plating. If one
When I came
All in all, we had a big challenge: teaching early-game macro. Now that we're here, it's a good chance of looking back at it: at 0-4, I was really unhappy. But now that I've learned so much about the early-game and the macro surrounding it, losing with a winning team like this, it was a very good challenge. Now that I've overcome it in some way – we haven't made the playoffs yet – I feel like a much more complete coach.
Your father's words are pretty interesting! It's interesting that he saw it coming, even though the meta also decided in that. Of course, people would scrutinize everything when you raise the stakes, and that adds even more pressure.
Yeah. First of all, we set the bar very high by making the Worlds finals, and I felt like our roster didn't change that much. My father told me to keep in mind that there are very high expectations [on us] as a team with a very large fan base, so a lot of people were scrutinizing us last year. It's like the TSM syndrome: if you lose a game, you're almost front page of Reddit. This year pretty much cannot
Of course, this split was very extreme: only 0-4 was not something that we expected. But it was more in the line
Especially since Fnatic dominated EU LCS, and since you have dominated it on G2 as their head coach.
Sure, we dominated the LCS for four splits straight, and we went undefeated domestically for 400 days. Having said that, I don't feel that I was a good coach in G2. The first year in Fnatic was where I developed a lot. I do feel that my last year on G2 is when I learned some principles and the basics of what I wanted my coaching to be around gameplay-related, and I started to implement that in Fnatic. I continued building on what I thought was good, and I learned as time went by.
Now that we're here, going into this year, I considered myself quite a hotshot coach
Now, let's talk about Fnatic itself: something I saw about the team, and maybe the meta demanded it, was bot lane centricity at times during the late game. But now, you look at the situation right now when the game is different on that front. Then you look at Mephisto and go: "What now?"
During the Spring split, there was a crit meta, and playing around bot lane was pretty normal – it was the best way to play League of
It feels like playing around
[Let's say:] we play for this lane first, then we switch to playing for that lane during the game. It's something we usually struggle with; so, usually we go into the game and [decide] that one guy needs to get ahead, then we play in a certain way.
We've talked about a lot of things, but maybe there is something more that you would like to add. I will let you do the part.
We went 0-4 early in the split, but I think a lot of that wasn't because we were worse than the opposing teams. If you look at our Schalke 04 and Team Vitality games, we had insane drafts, but we lost both games falling behind at Level 1 [due to] shenanigans that we didn't discuss before the games. We were not going to do an invade, but I left the stage and saw us doing something level 1 and falling 1k gold behind. I think players should have that creativity: sometimes, it goes well as well. I don't blame them. But it's more: we lose games to opponents that we can easily beat, and you lose at Level 1, so you don't even get to show good League of Legends.
The SK loss: we were just not good enough. I will 100 percent take it. [As for Origen,] if they pick another champion than Vayne, we win the game. We know [about] Vayne into Galio; we're Fnatic, we should know better. Then we go into the Misfits game, and I probably drafted the worst draft of my career, fair and square.
It felt really bad, and it felt like we didn't get to see Fnatic, and everyone was trampling over us and saying we were terrible – worse than we actually were. It's important to say
When it comes down to it, we were a bad team in the early game, but not as we showed on stage. Things were exaggerated, and the
As for my transition to head coach, this is more towards Dylan: even last year, I was grilling him for drafts and not really pushing what is best vs. comfort, but I now realize that it is a very difficult thing to do, so I feel really bad that I was so hard on him sometimes. It's a very difficult job: you always have to weigh if the "right pick" is actually the right pick and not the comfort pick – and the pick you know that the player will be happy with and is going to be really motivated to win with and put his best effort into.
(Photo Credits by Riot Games)