Evil Geniuses have gone 2-1 during Week 3 of the LCS. This team has been a dark horse since the LCS began, and under no undue stipulations due to their erratic mid laner Jiizuke.
Esports Heaven spoke with assistant coach Artemis to talk about global ultimates, Jiizuke's proview, benching star players, coaching hubris, and removing Academy in LCS.
There’s been this tendency to pick global champions in this meta. We’re looking at picks like Nocturne and Galio. First of all, why do you think that is? Second, maybe this was thought previously before when we were thinking of teams like 100 Thieves in how they were using Damonte and global champions like TF to try and split push or separate the map. So, why are we seeing global champions more? I would say you could view Nocturne as this OP pick stats-wise, but I feel like it’s more than that.
I know that you mentioned Galio, but I wouldn’t consider him a meta pick. It’s something that CLG is using to good success, and I know we picked it for support against Cloud9. I don’t really see the meta as a global champion meta. I think that there are champions inside the meta that do have globals that are strong, like Nocturne, Senna, Tahm Kench. I’m sure you’re thinking of our game against C9 where we have 4 globals where we had Nocturne, Senna, Ryze and Tahm Kench, but C9 is a team that bluffs a lot. They’re a team that will walk in aggressively to control space on the board, they’re a team that will look to fight you even in odd-numbered situations if they feel like they have a good enough “jump”. Against a team that plays like C9, globals are very punishing, with engage tools where you can actually capitalize on the timers where they are bluffing or when they’re walking where they shouldn’t be. Both of those things will make it easier against a team like C9. We like the situations for those champions that game, and that’s why we picked them.
As far as the general strength of Nocturne, one of his biggest strengths is that he can push in almost every matchup and then he can attack the enemy jungler. That is something only Nocturne can do with that level of efficacy. Other champions can do this top side, where they can push, they move towards mid, threaten, move towards the jungle and threaten, but not to the same speed that Nocturne can. He basically instantly clears top wave and can instantly join the skirmish in the jungle from two screens away. The global champion that, if we were to qualify this meta as a global meta, we would be seeing TF, but we currently aren’t. I’m not saying that TF can’t be picked, we see it pop up a couple of times, especially in China where that pick has arguably more value in that region than other picks. I think the strength of Nocturne is in the fast easy priority and to affect the enemy jungler, and it’s less about trading globals and map movement; although these things are important, the strength of Nocturne is similar, but a bit different, and something like Senna and Tahm Kench are a different beast. So, this isn’t quite a global meta, but I think against specific teams, it’s an effective strategy to stack globals.
So I thought Jiizuke looked pretty good against Golden Guardians. I think he had something like a 25 CS lead, but there’s one thing I gotta know. Jiizuke has been heavily criticized from a lot of co-streamers, we’re basically talking IWDominate, Doublelift, Sneaky, Meteos, in that, when watching Jiizuke’s proview, he has not been looking at the map. When I was watching part of his proview, I could actually see this as well. With that said, do you think teams are using proview to gain an advantage against certain players? What are your thoughts on the criticism of Jiizuke?
I would hope teams use proview. I can’t speak about other teams, but we use proview a lot. I hope other LCS teams are scouting us too; for the sanctity of my mental, let’s hope other teams use proview. Do I think some other teams are getting an advantage by watching Jiizuke’s proview compared to what I would get watching Jensen’s proview? Not really.
As far as the criticism that was levied against Jiizuke after his Ryze game, I’m not going to say all of it was unjustified, because I think of course Jiizuke made some mistakes in that game, but a lot of what was being said on that co-stream was just bullshit, let’s not mince words. After seeing the reactions, which I typically stay away from that kind of stuff, especially during the season, but I went back and watched because I wanted to know what was being said, and a lot of it was just bullshit. It was just people looking at information that fits the narrative that they have in their head, and then running with it.
I think that if you’re someone that watched the Doublelift/Sneaky/Meteos proview stream and had a good time laughing at Jiizuke playing Ryze, I would encourage you to watch IWDominate’s proview where he had Nisqy as a guest. Nisqy understands mid lane, but more than that, he understands how to play Ryze. His perspective when he’s watching Jiizuke take camps, he’s not flaming Jiizuke for taking camps, he’s actually flaming Jiizuke for not taking enough camps! There’s a point in that game where Nisqy is like, “what the hell is he doing?! He should be taking raptors, but instead he’s doing something for his team! He needs to play greedy and farming himself up! That’s how you play Ryze”!
So I hope that there were no ill intentions during that co-stream, but I do think that they were really missing the perspective of a mid laner and more than that, a mid laner that understands how to play Ryze, because within that context, a lot of what they thought were mistakes from Jiizuke, or greedy plays, they were actually just the correct plays in that moment.
If we’re attacking one side of the map as four, that’s our strong side. If Jiizuke is playing weakside on Ryze, he has two options, he can go kill himself under the tower and try and play on that wave, or he can try and farm our entire bot side jungle.
One, that’s not our jungle, that’s technically the enemy’s jungle, because they should be controlling that side of the map and farming those camps themselves. So he’s actually denying the enemy our own jungle. It’s not Svenskeren’s camps at that point. I don’t want to get too into the weeds with this, but I think that a lot of what was levied at Jiizuke as criticism was just people misunderstand how to play Ryze and misunderstanding how to play mid lane and I think that it’s a shame that they didn’t have someone on that co-stream with a different perspective to push back against the narrative.
I want to get your thoughts on the player benchings that we’ve seen recently, because it’s been happening almost every week. It seems like none of these benchings have taken place because of performance issues, at least from the outset. When I’m watching the games of Dardoch, Alphari or Zven, it doesn’t seem like it is performanced based, so I can only go towards the attitude speculations. So with that said, what are your thoughts in general about benching a player too soon as far as attitude is concerned?
I think it’s impossible for me to speculate why these players have been benched. I think it’s safe to say that in some of these cases it wasn’t strictly due to performance because, Alphari is the easy example, being one of the best performing top laners in Spring Split, arguably the best top laner of that split, as statistically I’m sure that probably checks out. Again, I have no idea what goes on in those teams.
Situations where I would justify benching a player, the first thing that comes to mind is when the practice environment becomes unfair to the other players in the team or the staff. People use the word toxic as a catch-all, but there’s so many types of toxicity. A player could have a really big ego and that could manifest itself in ways that probably makes it difficult to have conversations about mistakes they make and that’s not something that’s a problem. You don’t think that professional players don’t have egos? I got a news flash for you, please don’t go into an NBA locker room at halftime. A lot of people have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to pro sports. They’re pro athletes, they can take a lot, we’re professional staff, we can take a lot, but there comes a point where this toxicity becomes a problem and it's when it becomes unfair to the players and staff on the team and becomes disruptive to practice or damaging to their mental health.
I think there are cases where these benchings are justified and it’s where the externalities of this person is affecting the group at large, and at that point, you have to make a decision based on the collective good of these individuals, not even the collective good of the group. There are times when you would be justified sacrificing short term performance for long term culture, and that’s how you build culture, you sacrifice short term results for long term values and you make decisions based on those values and you don’t shy away from that, and eventually you’ve built something pretty awesome, where you have players and staff that fit the vision of whoever is putting it all together.
So hopefully the decision makers in these cases really understood what they were doing and I can only hope that things were ethical and intelligently operated. Do I believe that to be the case in every situation? I don’t know, I’m not there, I can’t speak to the efficacy of the other staff, I just hope it was made for the right reasons.
I say this, and talk about preemptive benching because usually there’s an outspoken player, someone who talks back a little bit or is sarcastic in nature, so what are your thoughts on a coach’s interactions with this type of player? Should certain players get better treatment, or rather, exemptions, simply different ways of interacting with them?
To be clear, benching is not a motivational tool, it is not a punishment either. This isn’t your peewee soccer team where if you swear too much you’re going to sit for the second half; that’s not a thing. This is professional sports, these teams are trying to win games. I hope to god that...the situation that you’re suggesting is that a coach is having a hard time dealing with a star player, the player is speaking out too much, the coach doesn’t know how to discipline him, he doesn’t know how to motivate him, so he just benches him because he can’t handle it. TOTAL INCOMPETENCE. In that situation you’re describing, I would view that as total incompetence, and it’s not what I had described where benching is in fact justified. In that instance, it would be a management failure and you should look to discipline the player in other ways because you’re affecting the entire company, you’re affecting stakeholders, you’re affecting players to CEO, and if you’re doing it because you can’t handle a player, you’re incompetent. Do I think this is what happened in these cases? Most likely not. I just want to make it crystal clear that I have no idea what’s going on in these other teams, I just hope the staff know what they’re doing.
Speaking along these lines, I’ve heard more people within the community talk about the hubris of coaches within NA and that they are cocky. What’s your take on this narrative? That maybe a coach gets a little too cocky when dealing with their players, or getting hubris maybe in draft, maybe picking what they want rather than what their players want. How would you judge when a coach gets too full of themselves so to speak?
I know it’s easy for people to paint these pictures of what they think is happening, with gross incompetence across all of NA coaching staff. This certainly isn’t the case with EG. This is the best coaching staff I’ve had the privilege of working inside. Peter Dun as head coach, me as strategic coach, Turtle and Mash (previously known as DontMashMe) which are our specialist coaches, handling a lot of one-on-one coachings with jungle and bot lane. We also have Empyre who is our head of scouting and analysis. We have a fully fleshed-out coaching staff and I think it’s a big comparative advantage because a lot of these teams that claim they have good coaching staff, I would dispute that.
Man, I dunno if coaching staffs have big egos (laughs)!
I know these people in personal settings, not professional settings. I don’t get to see them coach. I get to draft against them on-stage. Do I think that NA has the best drafters? Absolutely not! I can answer questions based on how they draft because I see three drafts from them a week, and that’s all I see! As far as how they handle their players, as far as their egos are concerned, frankly, I think that’s all BS narrative because people at home don’t know either.
I know that the subtext of this question is likely the Thorin piece
that was put out, the hit piece that was put out on Jatt. I didn’t watch it frankly because I’m just not interested in it. Maybe Jatt is (a bully), maybe he isn’t. This doesn’t affect me at all, I’m focused on this weekend, I’m focused on my guys and staff. I couldn’t care less what’s happening in Team Liquid, and if there’s any instability, it’s only good for us!
**(Laughs)**That’s what I like to hear.
I’m really not worried about it. I hope that Team Liquid knew what they were doing when they hired Jatt and I hope they know what they were doing in supporting him through this decision...and these decisions don’t come lightly! That’s what I’ll say. Again, I don’t know how TL works, but it’s not like Jatt is making unilateral decisions and he’s benching people left and right. He’s accountable to the stakeholders at that company, and from what I understand, that is all fleshed-out as far as decision making levels. I don’t think Jatt is autonomous as far as LoL is concerned, and even if that were true, he’s going to be consulting his staff, so of course this was a group decision...I would hope. I can’t speak to TL’s situation or if Jatt has too big of an ego, all of that is BS. Ego can even be helpful in certain situations for a coach. I’m just focused on EG and I try and block out all that noise.
Let me get your final thoughts on, what may have to do with EG, because you guys are great advocates of it, which is Academy, and that LCS owners aren’t satisfied with Academy, or at least that’s the rumor. What are your thoughts on that whole take, that Academy isn’t satisfying orgs?
I could see the perspective of “a team” that is unwilling to continually invest money into Academy because they don’t have the correct systems in place, or the right personnel to make it valuable.
As far as EG, again, that’s one of our big advantages, we have this staff and this system in place to actually use this AMAZING infrastructure in our first year. We have Academy, we have amateur, all combined in this beautiful tournament structure where these amateur and Academy players are playing 5-7x the amount of games LCS players are. They’re making huge improvements week after week. If I’m a team that is operating on a lighter budget, even if I’m a team that has a heavy-handed budget, but I just have the right staff...the staff who can not only teach your players the right tactics, but also help develop them as human beings at that young level, that’s few and far between! That’s a scarce resource! I don’t think that all 10 LCS teams have the staff in place to correctly utilize their Academy and amateur teams at all; you can definitely count on one hand, the teams that do correctly do this. Again, I can only speak for EG and the reason why EG has such a successful development program is because of the people employed, namely, Peter, Kelsey Moser, Matt (Academy head coach), Ido our amateur head coach, all of our coaches are actually working with Academy and amateur. Because of this infrastructure, we’re able to leverage this cool system, but if teams don’t have the infrastructure in place, they can’t leverage this, and they’re just burning through money they otherwise wouldn’t have to, so from that perspective I think it makes sense for those teams to advocate against Academy, because for them it’s useless, they can’t use it, they don’t have the infrastructure to leverage it correctly. Would I be surprised that there’s a group of teams that are advocating against it? I wouldn’t be surprised. Also, there’s business concerns at a high level that I think would add a lot of context and scope to the conversation that really hasn’t been addressed and is frankly outside the bounds of what we’re all interested in when it comes to LCS.
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.
Photo courtest of Paul de Leon/Riot Games
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