Coach Roflgator: "Your job [as coach] is to be the voice of reason, and to make those six players play to their max potential."
A team without a leader is not a team. Robert Roflgator Malecki is coach for North America Overwatch team Fnatic. I had the pleasure of talking with him about what it means to be coach, his history in gaming, and his thoughts on the Korean scene.
How goes today, Robert? Hopefully you all dodged that snowstorm that passed through the midwest recently?
Today is going well, the weather here has actually gone up to the 50's, which is pretty amazing considering we've been in the low 20's the last couple of weeks
Jumping straight into things, what is your history with coaching? Do you come from traditional sports, business management, etc.?
In most games I've played like LoL, WoW arena, and classic FPS games, I've always been a shot caller and leader in whatever I was doing. In every game I would pick up incredibly talented players and use my problem solving skills to help them get along and learn strategies to maximize their potential . When this game came out, I decided to try coaching. At first it was really weird because I was used to being in the game instead of a spectator. It took practice to actually be a really effective force.
Your track record is already quite good in Overwatch. Coaching the original IDDQD Team as well as Rogue for a time. How did your time at Fnatic start and how are you enjoying yourself so far?
Well, when I was invited to IDDQD, it was a learning process, imagine trying to coach a team who literally spawn camps every other team. I think the only thing I contributed was teaching Harry how to taxi dead people back to the point as Lucio, and creating minimaps with our location names. Fnatic I met by being bored and wanting to spectate teams after splitting with rogue. They're a great group of guys. When I'm at events with them we never stop laughing and the current roster all get along super well.
Most, if not all of the Fnatic players have silly nicknames for each other. Do you have one?
My nickname is “Slim”. It all started in a long taxi drive, we were bored and Matt started giving all of us nicknames. Most of them literally have nothing to do with the person at all and were just for laughs.
Fnatic is participating in OGN’s APEX Season 2. How are the boys settling into Korea?
They're doing okay, it can be really stressful being in a very foreign place for a long period of time. They go to some questionable restaurants there that have made them sick more than once instead of taking my advice and going grocery shopping. Nothing funny that can be really appropriate to share unfortunately!
I’ve heard that Vonethil is quite the in game leader. What sets him apart from his peers? Is he your quintessential “leader” or is he like a “micro manager”?
Vonethil was 95% of the calls at one point of our team. However, in Korea meta, the players do a lot of flanks and unpredictable things that require you to have to make individual calls and adjustments on the fly that Vonethil can't do alone. Lately we have changed a ton and kind of hit the "reset" button on everything. He still has a ton of responsibilities, but they are definitely more divided among the other players. What separates him from others is that he is not afraid to make risky calls, and he keeps everything in account (ultimates, team comps, etc.).
You spoke to the aggression of Korea in a recent Reddit thread. How has this changed the how the players view the game, if at all?
Well, a few of our players want to implement a similar playstyle. They want that Genji-Winston nonstop dive playstyle that's so popular in a lot of top Korean teams. I personally try to make our own comps that fit our playstyle, but we have been experimenting with everything.
In my most recent interview, Manetens echoed the point that Korea is quickly growing and improving. Is there any team or any player in particular that has surprised you?
What has surprised me the most is that we can scrim a team who is not even top 10 in Korea, and they punish every mistake we make and take maps off us if we're not on top of our game.
In the most recent Oversight, MonteCristo mentions that Overwatch’s strategies will evolve into a “playbook” model, very similar to American Football. Do you agree, what are your thoughts?
Yes and no. There are already pre-decided plays in many top teams, the difference between this game and football is that you don't always know where the defenders are. In NA this was actually how we played and it worked really well for us. In Korea there are too many on the fly adjustments that need to be made, and team fights do not always end quickly. Teams have always had 'playbook plays' since beta, but it will never be American Football style because half of the decisions have to be made on the fly.
Staying on that subject, Monte gave you the accolade as one of the more organized and disciplined teams in the scene. How much do you attribute this to Fnatic’s success?
It has helped tremendously, we did a lot of research before every game, and we are really good strategists. A lot of people give me props for our map draft versus Ninja’s in Pyjamas (NiP) in dreamhack in particular. I don't think they noticed that we just picked maps that allowed us to have high ground and abuse their 4 tank comp. It was our strongest point, that we are trying to re-accomplish with our new playstyle.
It’s always nice to talk with a coach or an analyst because they have varying opinions on the meta and what is and is not viable. Would you rather the meta be more fixed or do you, and the boys, enjoy the creativity of the current state of the game?
I think the meta right now is probably the most versatile it’s ever been. Teams are running triple tank, double dps, dive comps, and even sniper comps. I do think that CP is horrible, and I would fix it by fixing the absolutely horrible contesting mechanic. I think if offense has more players on the point than defense, then the defenders should slow the progress on the cap, but not completely hold it back. The point should take longer to get in order to adjust the gameplay and makes the games not end too soon. This way, a mei can slow down the other team from taking the point, but not completely stop the other team for making progress for so long, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
Are there any coaches you look up too for inspiration or advice?
Unfortunately not. I do try to look up some motivational quotes from time to time though.
To all the future coaches of Overwatch, do you have any tips or advice for them?
Make yourself part of the team, not just a support staff. You need to be as important as any player. If your team does not respect you, then you've already failed your job as a coach. Your job is to be the voice of reason, and to make those 6 players play to their max potential. Be vocal. Don't wait till after the match is over to talk, let your team know right away. My team thinks I'm a broken record because of how many times I've said "guys, you forgot to do an ult check before the fight" but repetition is the only way to engrave it into your player's heads
A quick message for the fans and any sponsor plugs?
I'm so sorry to the stream viewers who wish I would start streaming again. My dad [is] terminally ill, and I havn't been able to do much outside of my current jobs. During the day, I am taking care of him, and all night I am doing scrims with the boys who are in Korea. Plugs: I am working on a site where i will be making articles about strategies and tier lists and things to teach people. (http://www.nerfthis.pro ) It will be released very soon (I am not an expert website designer :P) I would also like to thank my sponsors. Monster, http://gg.bet Ballistix, Fnatic Gear, Quersus, MSI, and Twitch.
Written by: @Volamel
Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and Fnatic.