100 Thieves went 1-1 during Week 2, with a loss against Team Liquid where they drafted Yorick top and Viktor bottom, receiving heavy criticism from analysts.
Esports Heaven were kindly given an interview from coach Pr0lly to discuss the draft against TL, using Band-aids for poor team situations, Huhi, flex picks and changing coaching philosophy.
Against your game against Team Liquid, why didn't you guys choose Ezreal? Bang is one of the best Eazreals in the world, so I think many found the draft strange with Yorick and Viktor for Bang.
This is the style we were practicing. Without giving away too much, it lends itself to a particular game flow and where we can cover up...not weaknesses but cover up the enemy's strengths. It was more about a push and pull of power and less about Bang being good at Ezreal. I think right now, TL is a much stronger team than us so if we played a very standard game, it would be more advantageous for them. The recent downfall for us has been our early game problems. For instance, in this game, when we died early, we actually were able to hold on better because of this kind of comp instead of a much more standard comp. If bot lane is getting first blood without burning summoners, then when they come back it's going to be kind of catastrophic, but this way we kind of moved out of the hole a bit because Viktor has great wave clear so if things go bad it's acceptable.
I don't think the draft was a big mystery on our part, it was more that execution was off and I think it's a trick we can pull out when it looks good. Losing to TL with it doesn't mean anything (laughs). If it was a best of series and we tried it 3 times, then ok, maybe it just doesn't work against the top teams. So, Ezreal would have been much more standard and I think that's what they were expecting as well. Other than a surprise in the draft, we needed something fresh against TL because we've been a slow roll building up for the past couple of weeks.
Keeps them on their toes, that's good. Talking about unorthodox play, a coach philosophy is whether to put a Band-aid on a situation right now or powering through that and playing the “proper way” of what you would expect when building a team. Previously Veteran had said this before with Youngbuck and how they’re doing poorly right now, it’s that he wants to play standard and kind of have a ruleset in place instead of putting a Band-aid on the situation. What’s your idea on this?
I agree with it also. I don’t think this is a Band-aid , it seems really goofy with Viktor bottom but this has been played before and I think it’s kind of normal. I’m probably going to sound really dumb in the future with 9.3 and ADCs will completely come back and it’s going to be weird for mages to be played in the bot lane. I think right now with the way the meta is, I think it’s pretty good. I would say I agree with the banning situation and I don’t really see how it applies to playing standard. I could see if you’re failing fundamentals and then you’re like, “alright guys, let’s play full early game since we can’t play late game”. Maybe that’s kind of a Band-aid but that definitely wasn’t our approach to what we did today. I think Band-aids are really dangerous and it’s best to be used in playoffs where you don’t have time to practice something new. At the beginning of the season, we’re kind of hanging dry with all of our mistake open. I definitely see there’s a way we’re trying to build it to where we’re trying to avoid that kind of situation. It could be very dangerous to run from your problems.
How’s the team atmosphere in general?
The atmosphere last year was at a conversational level, whereas I’m used to far higher commhnication, but our current team is still lower than normal teams that I’ve been on but it’s definitely a big step above what it was last year. I hope this is a start to everything going better and it’s kind of the comfort of going in that will make it more natural. Bang’s English is really good and I think when he’s more confident, he’s a very emotional and loud player, and I think he’s still holding it in a bit and doesn’t know how to vocalize it right now, but I expect him to be louder in the future. AnDa is gonna be a lot louder in the future. Aphromoo and Ssumday are always like that and Huhi is pretty high up. Huhi’s usually talking to himself a lot and everyone else is just watching him.
How is Huhi incorporating in the team? Everyone was looking at this roster and saying that Huhi joining this team with Aphromoo was going to be the hotness. Was it everything you were expecting?
Yeah, it’s definitely a double-edged sword. They’re synergistic but it also comes at a cost where one dies, but now it’s both of them will die. They do both go down fighting no matter what, so we’re kind of conditioning them out of that a bit to where it’s more thoughtful. I think in CLG they had the mindset that they must die together. In scrims this would happen sometimes and it’s like, guys, you don’t have to die together, one can die and you have a better chance of winning. There are some funny things, but they’re really close so it makes it really nice when we’re talking about communication because last year I got really close with Aphromoo because we have really similar perspectives with how communication fits on a team and how important it is. Huhi shares this same sentiment and it’s really hard when only Aphromoo was kind of the only one that saw my side of this last year when I said to talk more or do this more. It got kind of hard because four other people didn’t know it or didn’t have the personality for it, so having someone else who agrees with that like Huhi does is really nice.
What are the major difference you’re seeing between Huhi and Ryu? I know Ryu’s still on the team coaching staff, but as far as the player aspect.
They’re kind of similar stylistically. Both of them have funny quirks in their sidelane macro, but I think the biggest thing is their champion pools. Ryu’s is Leblanc, Fizz, and other favorites whereas Huhi has a different style, like Urgot mid. That was a pick we had a lot of trouble at Worlds trying to pick up as a flex pick. Huhi’s ability to pick up something new is better but his proficiency on older assassin picks, he’s not really polished on yet. That’s something where it’s nice to have Ryu around because he can kind of lead that a bit and say, “this is how I play this and my mindset on how I play these champions”. Huhi doesn’t see himself as that player either so he’s very open to that style of coaching.
What do you think about flex picks in the meta currently? It seems like it’s a requirement for mid and top. What are your thoughts in general about this?
I think it’s absolutely required. If you’re a team that doesn’t play every champion in both lanes then you have to be significantly more skilled than the other team. If you have two equally skilled teams, but one team can use flex picks then they’re going to win 9 out of 10 times now. The advantage in draft and comfort, because you kind of know the style and if you can play it, then you’re probably better playing against it, rather than, I don’t know how to play this champion but I know how to play against it. Flex picks just helps with game knowledge in general and vastly improves draft and if you want to dedicate a hard counter lane that doesn’t flex, something like Zoe or Syndra, then you KNOW they’re going mid. Then it’s like, cool, these champions have huge counters, you go mid now buddy and we’re going to counter you. I think for a long time, at least in NA, people were not very comfortable counter picking, the meta was drawn with 5 or 10 champions and you’d play these matchups like Sion and then the Ornn pick. You’d never see a Sion and then a Yorick pick, no one gave a shit about that, it’s like, they have a tank, you pick a tank! So I do like flex picks and it gives more comfort and we can hard counter something and know where it’s going to go. Flex picks are too important right now and there’s too much gold in the early game. The way Riot is tuning everything, the game is very fragile, so it’s even more important that the laning phase goes well and if they can’t fight you back in that phase, it makes the game flow even easier.
During The Heist, you had said that you were going to approach coaching at a different angle with this roster. How is that coming along?
Hard, that’s how it’s coming along (laughs). I’m more comfortable now, but the first couple weeks of January was mentally very rough and it was hard to find my own compass.
Every roster iteration, I’ll tweak how I approach review and draft. Some are responsive to politeness and some respond better with me being a dick. I have to approach it slightly differently but ultimately the core identity is usually the same with what I do. With this roster, I wanted to try something vastly different. So far, I’ve only been able to get to Worlds, but I haven’t lead a team to a championship or a finals. I don’t think it’s all my fault but I would say there’s something to it. If I can’t bring a team there, then maybe I’m doing something wrong. I wanted a different approach to what I was doing. When I started watching this team scrim, after the first week, I felt like I could try something different. I was kind of planning how I was doing review and doing draft over the season break. That was the big reflection time. I wanted to do that, but by the time the season started I was like, I don’t have enough information to make a change, but after scrims I decided that was the perfect environment to make a change. I want to give the players a lot more voice and trying to get them to talk to each other more, rather than me being directive. Now I’m more selectively directive, so when it becomes something that needs to be fixed or changed or they’re not solving it fast enough, that’s when I come in as opposed to doing it first like I did before. I want to keep the player identities louder than our previous teams. This journey has been really hard because I’ve had to delegate or let go of the control I usually have, so that’s been really hard. After a few weeks it’s getting to a better flow and maybe this is the reason why it’s been a slower start for the team. It took me a while to figure out what I need to do to improve this team at the fastest rate.
What was the greatest thing you learned about coaching last year?
The biggest thing I learned was about commraderie and morale. Last year, I didn’t realize how destructive it could be. On my previous teams in EU it was never really a problem. I had attitudes that I had to deal with but I always had players that always wanted to win and once they got into the game, they were no longer individual people. So when I hear, “oh the team was so terrible and the atmosphere was awful”, no, I’ve been around bad atmospheres and it’s not that bad. We can come back because everyone just wants to play video games, right? This wasn’t the case last year because things would get bad, and we would scrim but things wouldn’t get better, so it was very weird for me because I was like, don’t you guys just want to play video games and be good? I hadn’t been in that interaction before where I had such a quiet team and no one was comfortable opening up and talking with each other. When people have problems, instead of saying, “hey, you’re an idiot”, it would be like, “I’m not going to talk to you for a month”. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic version of it (laughs), it never got that bad but that was kind of the responses. In EU, I was used to them using direct responses to each other. There was always a little tension, but the nice thing was when the tension started, then it relieved itself. I haven’t had this indirect approach of feedback towards players, so when issues came up, it was really hard to deal with and solve.
Do you think that is in accordance with the difference between NA and EU personality mindset? Some people say that EU is more direct whereas NA is more passive-aggressive. Do you find this to be the case?
EU is very passive-aggressive; they’ll type smiley faces in chat, they’re really great at it. Maybe it’s more on the nose though, so it’s a bit less destructive because it’s just on the surface. I think maybe the biggest thing and what compounded the culture change was the level of quietness with the players. That was one thing I didn’t value that much on teams either because I’m used to five awkward guys and they enjoy that they’re all awkward together. The former team, they were not only poor at conflict resolution and being able to express themselves, but they were just naturally quiet people, so it made the issues even worse than they actually were. So, I would say the directness that EU has is a little nicer to deal with, and they’ll say a lot of dumb things but, I can work with that, at least I know what you’re thinking. You don’t say anything to me, you can be the smartest man alive, but I have no clue if that’s true.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
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