Misfits Valkrin · @Valkrin

20th Aug 2019 from TwitLonger

My experiences as a coach for Misfits Gaming this past year

My experiences as a coach for Misfits Gaming this past year
I stayed relatively quiet this year on my socials, but now that the season is over, I wanted to fill you in on my last year and how I went from the Head coach of Misfits Premier, to the assistant coach of the LEC team, to an in-house content creator for Misfits Gaming.

This was my first year of competitive coaching League of Legends. Skip to the summer split section if you’re just interested in my time in LEC, but I recommend reading it all.

Let me preface this by saying that I've developed friendships from my experience with Misfits that I hope will last a lifetime. I never expected to develop deep bonds with so many people so quickly, especially the players. I've felt unbelievable highs when watching the academy players thrive in their roles and as a team through winning EU Masters and in taking wins on the LEC stage. I've felt incredible lows, like when I first heard the LEC spring roster would be benched, and some of my friends would be leaving the org.

𝗠𝘆 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗦𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗽𝗹𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗔𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗺𝘆 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗖𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝗶𝘀𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗲𝗿𝗲:

I stepped off the plane to Berlin in early January, leaving just about everything in my life in America behind. I had only about two weeks to move from the time I got my contract, but I knew this was what I wanted to do so I just made it work. I broke the lease on my apartment, sent my cat Chewy and my dog Belka to live with my parents, and I gave my accumulated belongings away to friends or family. I knew next to nothing about how life would be in the EU, but I knew moving in to coaching was the next step in my life.

In fact, I didn't even really know who I'd be coaching! Before I came, 3/5 original academy prospects ended up changing. This was quite jarring for me because I ended up not having time to establish any form of communication with the finalized roster until I met them all in person in France while we prepared for our first LFL matches. And when I did meet the new players that I would be solo-coaching in academy, I did the worst thing possible for a first time coach - I left a bad first impression.

I came in as a first year coach with only personal success in NA Challenger solo queue, some pro player experience from earlier seasons, and what I learned from private coaching players, streaming / YouTube. To the Academy players I was coaching, it probably looked like I was just a jet lagged North American player who was out of place in the EU. For these players, I would need to work much harder to get earn their respect, and it was a long and arduous experience earning the respect of the team.

After our first LFL (French league) weekend, we were 1-1 in the standings, and the one loss was to Vitality.B in a really close game that we struggled to close out after getting 2 barons and an Elder Dragon. After this frustrating loss, a few of our players left for their own homes, as the LFL only required the first week's games to be played in person. The first impression was the only in-person impression I made on these players for weeks.

There were a lot of unexpected delays on our office being completed / player apartments that led to the full academy roster not being able to live in the gaming house until Playoffs / EU Masters. This means most of the time I spent with Academy was not being physically present with them and having to coach remotely. I did not gain many of the communication and interpersonal skills needed to effectively coach remotely until much later when I worked with David (‘Hermes’, Strategic coaching during summer split) and Robert (Sports Psychologist). Remote coaching is a skill set entirely in and of itself. To do it effectively, it requires the use of many visual aids and concise information to keep the players engaged. It’s hard to judge in remote coaching if the player understands the content and has been kept engaged. The best way to coach is in-person, face-to-face, and not being able to do that for the Academy players early on is something I wish had been different.

As the LFL split went on, I became better at drafting for the players I had, and it became something I depended on for wins. I think it's very important to draft for what your team plays well rather than blindly following the meta. I think in a lot of cases champion mastery and playing to your roster's strengths is better than just hopping on every new meta champion. Of course, there will be exceptions in which the meta champions or compositions are just too good to ignore. Even then though, there are probably counters that could be learned and played to beat it. One example is that our jungler, Obsess, played Nunu extremely well. There weren’t really any other teams playing Nunu and every other team in our region / Europe were playing radically different compositions than us. It was tempting to just follow what the best teams were doing, but I'm glad I didn't because our weaknesses turned into a strength. Most of the other LFL teams were completely caught off guard with our weird team compositions that we practiced. Our team compositions with Nunu in it, ended up being undefeated for most of the split.

At the end of week 6 of LFL, we were in 2nd place after coming out that week 2-0. At that time, the main team was very close to qualifying for the playoffs, and the Academy team was almost guaranteed playoffs from our standings and only two weeks left in the split. At the end of the LFL week 6 and the day before the LEC week 8 weekend, I was approached by the management of Misfits and told that I was going to be moved up to the LEC team as a Player Development Coach. This would mean Jesse would move from his position of LEC Player Development Coach to academy going forward beginning from LFL week 7, and the LFL spring split ends on week 8. There was never an official announcement of the coaching swap happening which led to some outside confusion. In my free time, I had been helping with the main team as much as I could to learn tools to apply to the academy that I was mostly coaching remotely. I ended up developing great working relationships with the veteran players, and the other coaching staff which included Hussain (head coach), Robert (Sports Psychologist), Poohmandu (assistant coach), and Hajinsun (Team translator).

I felt a lot of mixed feelings about the coaching change. It was really frustrating for me to walk away from the academy without finishing the season because I had poured my heart and soul into trying to make it the best it could be. I could feel something special with those academy players, and I left before I was able to see things through playoffs . On the other hand, it was my goal to eventually be a coach in the LEC so it was a big opportunity to step up. Unfortunately, I had roughly a week of working in my new role before the LEC spring split ended, and we just barely didn’t qualify for LEC playoffs even after the upset we pulled with beating G2 in our final match.

𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲 5 𝗔𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗺𝘆 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗜 𝗰𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝗦𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴-

Dan Dan - Dan Dan is the man, man. He was the player I got along with best in academy and is all around a fantastic person. He can speak 5 languages, and has an incredible work ethic. I remember back in January when we bootcamped in France, he was the first to wake up and play solo queue and after a full day of scrims, he would head back to the hotel and study for his managerial accounting final exam until he went to bed. With that kind of work ethic, I knew he was going to one day be in the LEC on a team.

Obsess - Patrick was an unexpected treasure to work with in academy. I had heard he was the 'founder of L9' and it made me nervous to work with him because I associated L9 with really toxic behavior. He was just the opposite. He really helped me during the early points of my coaching with rallying the team. He's also a really funny guy, and helped bring the mood of the team up. I really enjoyed how good he was on a wide range of off-meta picks like Nunu. We had a huge winning streak on Nunu that split.

LlDER - He had the least competitive experience out of all 5 players going into spring, but most of the time, he played with the most confidence in our matches. It didn't always work playing that way, especially early on when everyone was not used to playing with each other, but when it did work out, he would pop off. There were a lot of discussions about play styles and drafting that stemmed from Lider, but in the end, I think his persistence to playing his style of the game really paid off for him in spring. When Irelia and Akali were gutted for a few patches, Lider didn't completely give up on those champions and when Riot rebuffed them, he had a massive head start on everyone else on those champions and that style of play.

Neon - Neon is a very smart bottom lane player with a champion ocean that we tapped into a lot to make our weird compositions work. He had really interesting pocket picks to pull out to counter champions bottom lane in spring. He could play mages and AD carries well. Drafting for him was really fun because he was very consistent with his performance for most of spring regardless of the champion he was playing. My favorite memories of Neon included hearing him theory craft interesting picks bottom lane and then seeing him destroy people with it in scrims. I was always very open minded when it came to his champion picks.

H1iva - H1iva is an absolute animal on the rift in the best possible way. He was a big voice within shot calling on the team and engaging. H1iva was one of the first players to start playing Galio support in spring before it was meta. We hid it for awhile, but H1iva was the one brought it to the team, and it ended up being considered one of the best support picks in all of spring. H1iva is very smart and a man of culture. He would spend free time doing things like playing chess or in some cases, karaoke. I have a lot of good memories with H1iva.

These are the 5 players I coached in spring. I am so happy they won EU Masters. They had a hard journey, and things weren't easy for them. When there were arguments, one thing that would refocus us all was something H1iva said during the French bootcamp back in January and it stuck with me. Later, I would occasionally restate it, and it went something like this (paraphrased):

"We're all here to win EU Masters, right? {everyone says yes} We all want to win EU Masters. So at the end of the day, we all want the same thing. This argument is just getting in the way of that."

They went on to win EU Masters three months later.

𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗽𝗹𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝗶𝘀𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗟𝗘𝗖 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺:

Academy went on to win EU masters after getting 2nd in LFL play offs. No one predicted us to win EU masters, we were the underdogs. It was incredible seeing the players I coached in spring win EU masters. Jesse ‘Jesiz’ is a fantastic coach, and I think he did a great job coaching them going into EU masters and throughout it all. I absolutely would have wanted to be the one to take these players to the EU masters main event, but above everything, I'm glad that this team got the recognition they deserved when they won it all.

Summer split was really difficult for a lot of reasons. I’d say that the biggest reason was trying to do the 10-man roster. That being said, the biggest change I hope to see in eSports one day is doing away with the idea that failure requires an absolute change in coach or players during a split. I think it’s disconnected from how success works in the real world. I think most of the time, everything in life requires you to fail and necessary to succeed. Success is derived from failure. It’s a core aspect. Experiences, good and bad, shape your abilities, capabilities and yourself.

In reflecting on the summer split, the whole MSF coaching staff has spent hours and hours talking and discussing hindsights of the 10-man iteration. From our failure, comes hardened experience and a progression on a learning curve. We know how we should have done it, we know how it doesn’t work and the direction it needed to go in to work. It’s actually incredible how many different iterations can be in a 10 man as well as how much the environment and team synergy can be changed based on just one player swap.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with the other coaches on the Misfits LEC team. Hussain (Head Coach), Robert (Sports Psychologist), and David ‘Hermes’ (Strategic Coach) were all very hard workers, and I learned a tremendous amount from all of them. They are all very talented in different areas, and it’s a shame they didn’t get to show more of what they could do. We tried something. It didn’t work, but a lot was learned.

My role and responsibilities were on the micro side of the game for each player because I was still technically the player development coach. This covered mechanics, laning phases, and generally a lot things outside of macro gameplay. Things for me got dramatically more overwhelming when more players were brought onto the main team from the 10-man. I wish I had been more efficient with my time. For example: By looking to help the incoming players with their specific problems adapting to the stage and at the same time helping the outgoing players stay focused on improving with their specific problems while not actively playing on the stage.

𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 5 𝗠𝗶𝘀𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗟𝗘𝗖 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗿𝘀

The community needs to know that the original 5 players from Misfit's spring season were all exceptional players. As coaches, we fell short in forming this team and keeping this team ready to win each week. I have no idea or input of what the roster will look like next yet, but here are my opinions of the original starting roster of Misfits Gaming.

sOAZ- Paul has an incredible amount of macro knowledge. In reviews, it would blow me away because he not only had great general macro knowledge, but on top of that he knew specifics on how other roles could be played effectively. I learned a lot from talking with Paul about the game, and he could always make me laugh. His mechanics were insane at the start of summer practice. He went to Korea on his own bootcamp and spammed hundreds of Korean solo queue games. Paul was doing exceptionally well in scrims and was by far the best performing player in scrims just before summer split started. I really wish he could have shown that during the season more often, but I think the environment of the 10-man affected every player differently. My favorite memory of Paul was duo queuing and hanging out with him at the gaming house during part of the offseason between spring and summer. We were the only two from the Misfits team that were still in Berlin, and it turned something that normally would have been a really isolating experience for me into a memorable time period with a friend.

Maxlore- Nubar played the most solo queue out of everyone between spring and summer. He also really showed he wanted to step up even more from spring to summer split. His mechanics were on point at the start of summer and was showing signs of coming back to form. I think Nubar can play a lot of things well, but he has a very specific style of jungling that he excels at. He does extremely well when he has lanes that can give him a lot of information. Nubar has exceptional macro knowledge, and he can use it very well in the right circumstances. My favorite game play memories of Nubar was watching him completely take over scrim games on Kha’zix and seeing him hard carry. My favorite memory of Nubar was playing Cosmic Encounter (board game) with him, sOAZ, H1iva and whoever else wanted the last spot. Nubar was also tied for the most wins in that board game, and we all took it very seriously and played frequently during part of the summer split.

Febiven- Fabian was a huge source of positivity, and you could hear it in his voice in the mornings. Fabian played by far the most solo queue in spring split, and I think it really showed in a lot of the games. My favorite game of his on Misfits was the final game in spring split against G2. Fabian played out of his mind and was dominating Caps in that match. In summer split, Fabian had a really great routine of going to the gym every morning and was very disciplined about it. He is the type of person that says he’s going to do something, and you know he’s going to follow through with it. I had a lot of great discussions with Fabian about life in general, and we really connected over the pursuit of self-improvement. My favorite memory of Fabian was playing football (soccer for you Americans) with him and other Misfits players and staff at an indoor complex. Fabian is an absolute smurf in football, and his shot is like a homing missile.

Hans Sama - Steven worked very hard to win his spot back at the end of summer split. He wasn’t exaggerating when he said he played 200 solo queue games in two weeks in his interview. He was motivated and grinding hard every day. Steven is the type of player that truly thrives when his self-confidence is high. My favorite memory of Steven is from the last week of spring split. We had just come off of a 0-2 weekend, and the chances of making play playoffs were slim. Steven’s confidence was drained, but he still wanted to go to the gym with me that week. So we both woke up very early every day that week, and we went to the gym together. One of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever gotten as a coach was watching him play that last weekend and feeling I had played a part in helping Steven rebuild his confidence. Steven is also a talented artist and his drawings are very good.

Gorilla- Beom-hyun is best described as the mother hen of the team. He would look after the other players, and he would never leave anyone behind. His English by summer split was great, and he didn’t need help with translating. He had been taking English classes all throughout spring split. You could tell how quick of a learner he was on how quickly his English was improving. Beom-hyun worked hard, and it was always easy to work with him. He also had a great eye for up and coming champion picks. He was playing Lux support well before it was considered meta, and he also found a lot of things early on like Fiddlesticks into Yuumi. Steven and Beom-hyun were always top ranked in solo queue together, and Beom-hyun was always very high ranked even when he was just solo queueing as a support. I think the story that embodies Gorilla the best was when he invited all of the players, coaches and staff to dinner at a fancy Korean restaurant in Berlin just before he left for Korea. He played the role of host very well and made sure everyone had enough to eat and drink, and he was even helping assist the waitress who served us. Just before dinner was over, Gorilla snuck off to pay the bill for all of us, but of course we didn’t end up letting him do that. There was light hearted squabble over who got to pay for the meals, but in the end, we won out, and we gladly paid for Gorilla’s dinner.

𝗖𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀

So that’s the story of how I went from the Head coach of Misfits Premier, to the assistant coach of the LEC team, to my current role as an in-house content creator for Misfits Gaming. Going forward, I will be a lot more active on my socials again as well as my stream and youtube channel. I’m excited to interact with my fans again.

Competitive failures aside for League this year, Misfits Gaming is actually growing at a rapid rate, and I’m also excited to be apart of the upcoming content that’s planned.

I hope this gave some insight into my previous year of coaching as well as some more insight into the Misfits competitive season.

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