It's been a great year and a half for the CIS region. From being one of the worst wildcard regions, they became champions of IWCA and finally got to the final stage of IWCI. After the first season of the LCL, I sat down with two of the finest guys behind the teams to talk about a wide variety of topics. Enjoy!
Genes1s and Sharkz
Hello, can you please introduce yourself, because neither of you is Diamondprox or BARDGODLIKKRIT. *laughs*
Genesis: I’m Genesis, and I’m getting paid for screaming at my computer. Sometimes there is League of Legends on the screen; sometimes there are my players. I worked for Virtus Pro and Natus Vincere, and now I’m on Starladder.tv. So basically I’m a shout caster, writer, and an LCL coach. Yay for that!
Sharkz: Hi! I’m Alex Taranda aka Sharkz, and I’m just 21. Right now I’m the head coach of Vega Squadron, and I’m studying in Riga Technical University. Also, I love streaming and doing sports in my spare time.
The first LCL Split was just recently completed. Have you enjoyed it more than during Starladder’s days of CIS League of Legends?
Genesis: It definitely got better. With the introduction of Riot salaries, it was obvious that teams are going to try harder, and the level of play will go up. Because of the general league level growth, viewership is growing as well, so people pay more attention, and try to get into competitive gaming. The wheel is spinning, so I’m hoping for even more development. Also, my team has lost to Sharkz's team in the 3rd place match, so I’m still tilted from it. *laughs*
Jokes aside, the players are getting taken care of, there are contracts, so it kind of feels that we’re professional. Hooray for a step forward!
Sharkz: The difference between LCL and Starladder is large! The dream of everyone involved in teams is CIS team winning Wildcard tournament and after just one split LCL team finished second at IWCI, which is a success. Right now Riot Games Russia are doing an admirable job of trying to improve our region’s level and conditions for all players, teams and organizations. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make another step forward in summer and finally, win that coveted IWC!
So in my playoffs preview I was predicting Vincent to take over series against Empire, and then Na’Vi taking game or two against Hard Random in finals. Instead, you got reverse swept by Empire and then lost to Vega Squadron in the third place match. What happened there? And Sharkz, could you ever imagine your team beating HR? *laughs*
Genesis: *sighs* Well, in the third game team got complacent and basically lost by making a bunch of questionable decisions, but the fourth and fifth game were 100% on me because our drafts were horrendous there. It’s not easy when you’re losing your advantage in the series, because you’re already mentally in the finals, signing fangirls shirts, etc., etc. To be fair, I’m a pretty big fan of an even series, when you don’t really have a big advantage like we had, way easier to keep your concentration level in check without going to the seventh sky. *winks*
Also, I was really surprised by Empire losing first two maps in such fashion. They probably had underrated us; I don't know? I wish I’ll never witness getting reverse swept, though. *laughs*
Sharkz: In my opinion, we were in a pretty good form coming into semi-finals, and no one knows how that best-of-five could turn if we won the first map where we had a pretty solid chance of doing it. Overall, HR was stronger than us, they rotated better, controlled minion waves better and always seemed to be a step ahead of us in macro decision making. But we probably could have a chance if we won the first map and got hyphy! *laughs*
You two are head coaches of pretty decent LCL teams. What do you think about those positions and coaching staffs in general? How important is it, does everyone really need it, how was the first season for you?
Genesis: Aww yiss, my favourite question. *laughs* To be fair, it’s not really that important right now, but eventually people will become better at doing it. Before getting invited to Na’Vi, I was literally screaming at my computer as I have already said. Wasn’t challenger, never played in the high elo, so nearly everything was new for me, sometimes I was feeling like I’m learning more than my players.
Are coaching staff necessary? 100%. It’s always great to have a guy, who could provide a fresh view from the outside. Information layers from analysts are necessary as well, simply because it’s nearly impossible to force a player to watch LCK, LPL or let alone, LMS. That’s why, while your players are playing solo queue, grinding elo and trying hard to polish their item builds, you’re learning the details of the ROX Tigers lane swapping and telling your team, which you can’t afford to make Duke-esque TPs. So that’s one more reason why you need to have a dedicated group of people, even if it’s a single guy. *laughs* To improve.
A good coach is half of the team, like in traditional sports. In the ideal world, he should use the information provided by the analysts in making his team better and patch all holes in the gameplay. A good coach is a leader, strategist, and an elder brother. It's Pretty hard task and in my opinion, I’m still pretty far from reaching that point. But I’m really interested in improving during this intense road full of quests and challenges.
Sharkz: I’ve made a lot of mistakes but in my honest opinion, I did a pretty good job in making proper conclusions as well, so I can use that experience in developing further. Coaching staff should be 100% mandatory, I agree with Genes1s in terms of having the guy, who can comment on your mistakes after looking from the side, however, guys who’re good at LoL are much more trustworthy. *laughs* Also I highly respect psychologists. Hopefully, our region will feature them more in the team staffs alongside coaches and analysts!
Sick city, gentlemen, wishing you all luck possible. Let’s move on and talk about two teams in LCL Summer, which
Empire - was it a fluke performance or not? Seeing how Saetia has bailed out to Gambit and assuming that team has peaked last season, can they repeat their performance? Plus the meta shifts for junglers might be really game ending.
Gambit - with Diamondprox could be a contender for #2 if not for #1, but seeing how Fomko usually performs against Kira and Diamondprox leaving to North American pastures, what can we really expect?
Genesis: Uhh, Empire. I think they shouldn’t fall lower than top-4 if Memento’s sub is going to be a decent one. Gambit...even without Diamondprox they have pretty solid group of players, so at worst should be top-5 and top-2 if they hit their ceiling.
Sharkz: Hard to really say anything about Empire because no one really knows what’s happening inside of the squad plus we don’t know who they are going to recruit over the Most Valuable Coach of the LCL Spring. I, for one, didn’t think that Gambit with Diamondprox are top-2. However, he probably was able to share experience with the team, and they’re going to perform well in LCL Summer with a different jungler.
Nice one. Let’s talk about the IWCI a bit. Hard Random weren’t able to win the title, but on paper, were pretty close to doing that. Was it really that close or are HR are still far away from the number one? Is CIS a one team region or could other LCL teams play well against the wildcard teams?
Genesis: LCL isn’t C9’s era NA LCS, it’s more like last summer NA LCS one. I think, during the next IWCI the battle will be pretty hard but traditionally, between the same regions. Alas, Latin America and Japan are still a bit behind. Also, I don’t think LCL is really far behind the top wildcard regions, and it’s shrinking from tournament to tournament, especially considering that allowance Brazil and Turkey had. This way by the time of IWC the only problem will be TCL. *laughs*
Sharkz: HR came really close, but some players didn’t show up for the final while Supermassive have performed very solid overall. Also, I don’t think that Hard Random were that much stronger than other LCL teams and Empire, Natus Vincere, and Vega Squadron could really battle against top-2/4 of CBLoL and TCL.
Do you agree that changing the format to bo2/bo3 will help Europe/North America and if LCL was bo2/bo3, we could be higher than TCL?
Genesis: Bo3 is an ideal format. The only problem is that Korea is playing over 9000 games during the season, so we probably should optimize it a bit. I like the LPL approach this season with two groups, but besides that best-of-three is bae, and I love it. Best-of-one joy casino has no place in the world. *laughs*
Sharkz: Yea, I agree with that. Both bo2/bo3 help you adapt to the opponent in draft and strategy, so both Europe and North America could improve and get enough experience in BoX series before the international competitions. Both TCL and LCL have the same format right now, but if CIS is going to have bo2/bo3 and Turkey is going to keep bo1, then CIS is going to run away.
Damn, you optimists. *laughs* Do you watch a lot of premier regions?
Genesis: Europe, North America, Korea, China, welp, only highlights, or else it’s nearly impossible.
Sharkz: Same. Hadn’t missed an LCK game this season! *laughs*
Tfw Taiwan isn’t even a region, are you the UN now?
Genesis: Watching LMS is like running during mornings. Few people do it, and they’re kings of the world while everyone else promises to themselves that they’re going to start on Monday. *laughs*
Sharkz: I watched only key games. ._. But sadly, they were pretty special for us.
I saw that tweet where Genesis claimed that SKT T1 won’t win MSI. Who and why?. Sharkz, easy 16-0 for T1?
Genesis:RNG, because they’re better than Qiao Gu. *laughs*
But to be fair, SKT will probably win, but I kinda want their spring “from zero to hero” fumble again like the last time.
Sharkz: CLG are going to win MSI, you heard it here first. Faith is my main reason. *winks*. Also, I think that their coaching staff is doing a great job and team atmosphere is pretty solid as well, so CLG might perform better than most expect.
On paper MSI should be a great and important tournament, but looking at how G2 are on holidays 1.5 weeks before the tournament and the lack of general hype, something probably should’ve changed, at least in format?
Genesis: This is a problem of those mid-season tournaments, where you have this random hype story going on instead of the actual mid-season window. It’s pretty reasonable by Riot, who can’t afford to drop a ball in terms of hyping their own game, but holy moly, it’s time to step up. In the ideal world - a parallel universe where girls aren't interested in Apdo and Forg1ven has hair; MSI should happen the week after the regional finals. Then it could be hyphy.
After MSI we’re going to have patch 6.9, which is pretty much a Season 6.5. Do you like this amount of game changes during the season, even if we don’t remember the famous 3.14, 5.15, etc., etc.
Genesis: Ah, Mordekaiser, what a champion. *laughs* To be fair, adaption is pretty important in terms of competitive League of Legends; it has crushed so many hopes and broken so many dreams. Of course, everyone wants changes not to be as radical as they usually are, so they wouldn’t need to change their polished playstyles, but meh, I enjoy those meta shifts, pretty fun and exciting.
Sharkz: Honestly, I’m yet to read all the 6.9 changes, but elemental dragons are so cool! I like a changing game, but I don’t think that it really helps the competitive scene. Teams barely can adapt to one patch while Riot are completely changing the game, so you need to start from scratch again. Basically, the game is all about who can adapt faster instead of being straight up better and stronger. Imagine ATP changing the tennis court’s size every three months? *laughs*
Okay, enough torturing. Any shoutouts?
Genesis: Shoutout to our tournament in Kiev, come visit the football stadium, will be fun. Shoutout to Sharkz, he’s great and Wonderful, who is Nomen est omen. *laughs*. Also shoutout to my new team, Tornado.ROX, I’m going to try my best!
Sharkz: I wanna wish the great year to anyone and shoutout to every Vega Squadron fan. Oh, and my sharks from the stream! *laughs*. Only Vega, only Pobeda. P.S. Sharkzlove.