"I believe we were always a super team." H2K Lead Analyst Veteran
H2K may have not been the top seed in their region, but they came out swinging and did the best amongst their peers. Today, Amanda Stevens was able to get a peak inside one of the great minds of the organization, Veteran.
Interview conducted by Amanda Stevens
Amanda Stevens: So you guys just played against Albus Nox, which was obviously not a competitive game for you guys but when you have to prep for a team like that, what is scrim culture like? You don’t have to give particulars but how do you keep the team focused on “this is still games that matter”
Veteran: I mean, one of the advantages of having a team like this who has played for years is that they take every single game as improvement anyway, so you don’t really have to reinforce that they still need improving in scrims. These guys wouldn’t have the tendency to start messing around anyway and they have immense respect for Prolly in general, so if they were to ever veer off i guess Prolly always had ways to steer them back on track.
In terms of overall prep for Albus Nox, what I found is that these guys have far more games post [patch] 6.15 than literally any other team i scouted so far coming up to the tournament because they had the whole LCL playoffs and then they had IWCQ where they went up to the full 5 games and the entire group stage as well. So they had 27 games in total. That’s actually more games than any other team that I scouted, so when people are saying that they are difficult to scout, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m not entirely sure about this, yeah.”
A: Alright, and now you guys are facing against Samsung Galaxy in the bracket. It’s really interesting talking to their coach because they said one of the ways they have been prepping for some of the more aggressive midlaners in the tournament was that they were forcing Kuro to build a larger champion pool. Is there anything in particular that you guys have been doing, and have you guys even started prepping for Samsung yet?
V: I mean, I’ve got a lot of preliminary stuff out of the way but I didn’t want to divert my attention too far from the immediate prep which was Albus Nox, I didn’t want to make the mistake of disrespecting them like other teams did. When it comes to [the upcoming matches], I actually feel a lot more comfortable going against Samsung than against Albus Nox, because with Albus Nox everything was like, I know nothing about these guys, blah blah blah and then everything is up in the air, I don’t know how surprising they get. When it comes to Samsung the team will be scrimming more or less how they were scrimming Albus Nox’s set, my job just gets.. I’m more comfortable with it even though it’s technically harder, I’m much more comfortable because these guys are a known quantity I’ve watched them over and over again. I’m obviously not going to say if we are trying to expand Ryu’s champion pool like Kuro’s. I guess that’s what I have to say about that.
A: It’s just very interesting because talking to their coach, the second they saw the group draw, they were like, ‘We were already going to start prepping for H2k,’ not that he was saying he was going to disrespect our current opponent but they were like, ‘We were pretty sure that we were going to be facing H2k next’, so it’s interesting to hear other analysts and coaches’ perspectives of when they start prepping for their next team.
V: I’ve done preliminary stuff for them already, just mostly data mining stuff, but in terms of a proper strategical stuff, I do it now and we introduce the team to it now, which is the most important thing the team hasn’t been introduced to Samsung per se, and it is probably best that we were always focusing on the ANX threat. We never thought that Albus Nox were going to be easy and we can just skip this and just start prep for the next, and then get humiliated or something. No way we were going to miss that whatsoever. Also, Samsung’s mid is Crown, not Kuro.
A: I’m so good at my job. I’m glad that you let me say it three times!
Veteran responds with more jokes.
A: What do you think of the community’s perception of what a league analyst does? Do you ever think of the meme, “what you think I do?” What do you think is the difference between what the community thinks your job is and what you actually do, and do you think the community has a good grasp of what a league analyst does?
V: Okay, so the first issue that I see with what the community perceives from analysts is analysis. They look at the stats that the game already provides you -- kda,scoreboards, gpm -- stuff like that, and they presume that [they are], therefore, logically the stats by which you should be basing your analysis on. So that’s why i stopped with all the oracle’s elixir analysis. These are stats that the game uses -- very nice for a scoreboard but it doesn’t actually tell you too much.
At the most, it can tell you what to look out for when you do vod reviews, etc. but the actual next leg up and the type of analysis that purely as an analyst I’m interested in is stuff like, if you’ve ever heard of Brendan Shilling, he did a lot of articles last year on this or NRG had an analyst -- his name now escapes me -- but he was very good. He did a warding heat map.
The stuff that these guys are doing are looking at strategical concepts and trying to apply some sort of empirical, difficult to describe... they are trying to explain strategical tendencies mathematically. Empirically, that is the thing I’m interested in; it requires you to be more creative, but crucially, it requires you to have an actual understanding of the macro game.
And so the type of stats that i would provide to Prolly that would actually be useful would actually rarely be like, ‘This guy has x amount of damage versus how much damage he receives. You get gold for all sorts of reasons. You do damage for all sorts of reasons. There are way too many factors and I don’t want to start narrowing them down; they are potentially useless. So these broader concepts and trying to ‘empiricalize’ them is what i try to focus on. No one really looks at analysis that way. When I look at Reddit, they put out some useless stats all the time. They don’t take decision making into account.
A: So what is your interaction level with the players? Do you interact with any of them on a 1-on-1 basis or how does sort of the “tiers” work in the team setup?
V: Okay, so the tiers of... let’s see... So Prolly is my immediate boss and Prolly is the boss of the entire team. I report to Prolly and sometimes i will do personal 1-on-1 things with players and sometimes Prolly will ask me to 1-on-1 things with players, but that is all on Prolly’s discretion; I’m actually in a pretty unique position.
I think I’m the only analyst that’s been in house for two splits. I know there have been some analysts that have been in house for one split maybe, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in Europe -- specifically in Europe, by the way, as North America [is] full of them -- so my interaction with the team will be more than anybody elses. I’m in every scrim, I see every post scrim discussion, I participate in them sometimes, I do 1-on-1 with players and a lot of this helps me to know what is and what isn’t going to be useful for preparation in the immediate weeks, and that’s the key thing.
Not all analysis is useful; information for the sake of info is not going to help you tailor your strategy. If your team is comfortable playing a certain way, you don’t necessarily want to change for every single individual opponent, and team members always have really good suggestions, and in the end, everything is going to come down to a discussion anyway. It’s not going to be like, just because Prolly has final say that we will necessarily do what Prolly says 100%. Like, everybody has to have input, and if you’re not inhouse, it’s very, very difficult to tailor properly.
A: Totally makes sense! Last question: What’s the difference between, like say, prepping for a region for interregional play and EU teams? Are there different challenges prepping interregionally, like say, Korean teams or North American teams, or is it all sort of the same to you?
V: It’s definitely not the same; there are regional methods to take into account. You can’t really study teams in a vacuum ever, but in Europe, it’s a lot to keep up with because obviously we are playing every single team. Scrims are a huge deal, i have much more information on European teams than i will ever have on any Korean or [Chinese] teams, but that works both ways, so it’s a difference, but it’s not a disadvantage or anything.
Every single region does behave differently. What we figured out what it comes to EDG is something that nobody tried in the LPL for whatever reason. Equally, what people did to G2, for example, was something that people just didn’t pick up on because we were used to [playing] in certain ways, tunneling in certain ways in Europe. That’s why you see a lot of these upsets when it comes to the international stage. People are coming in from a completely different method to seeing it a different way and they are going to come out with a strategy you’ve never faced before. But a lot of that the reason that i think we have managed to endure so well was that our players... I believe we were always a super team, that our players have always been the strongest individually and that we have had... that we have been better situated to understand the game within a vacuum. Regardless if we are caught off guard we know how to play the game anyways. We don’t really trade that many weaknesses on our roster, if that makes sense. So we are actually pretty hard to prep against because, theoretically, we are triple threat; you can’t really hone in on anything, and i think that works in a vacuum better than a lot of teams like G2 and Splyce that have certain styles.