Former TSM player and current Longzhu Gaming's coach Lustboy sits down to discuss his thoughts on Korean coaches, foreign teams, and the current trend of competitive League of Legends.
Akshon Esports and Daily eSports have collaborated to bring you this fully translated interview of Lustboy and will doing more pieces like this in the near future.
Q: I'm sure you understand the League of Legends market outside Korea. There has been an influx of Korean coaches being hired abroad, what do you think of this?
First, the coaches who went abroad are all very capable. When it comes to League, Korea has the image of being the best. Therefore, players are more likely to follow the coaches since there's a mindset that, "Koreans are good at League of Legends." That's a part of the reason why I think Korean coaches are showing good results.Q: There should be a risk in terms of communication, so are the rewards enough to justify the risks when it comes to hiring Korean coaches?
There are some language barriers but the in-game lingo is pretty similar. It's a couple of game terms plus do this, or do that. Discussions with the higher brass is different, but talking to the team becomes easier after a while.
The reason why foreign teams try to recruit Korean coaches despite this is due to their leadership. Players tend to follow Korean coaches like some "passive ability." IMay is a good example of this. The ability to bring a team together and keep the players tense is something new teams look for in Korean coaches.Q: Why did prestigious teams like China's EDG or North America's Cloud9 hire Korean coaches?
Starting with jungler Clearlove, EDG was able to recruit many top-level Chinese players. Whoever the rookies are, they respect and follow the coaches very well. But the veterans have a tendency to not necessarily approve the coaches. EDG's RapidStar has both the experience and credentials, so the players on EDG follow him very well.Q: Are there particular characteristics or uniqueness to Korean coaches?
We have a uniqueness within and outside the game. Outside it, we have traditions that are passed through our eSports history, which is to keep the players tense. The foreign coaches lack this. Within the game, we're able to extract more knowledge and information from higher quality of scrims and solo-queue. From 2012 to 2014 the Korean team's practiced a lot more. The 4 years afterwards helped differentiate Korean coaches to others.Q: Locodoco was with you back in your playing days in TSM, but was there any synergistic benefits of having another Korean in your team?
Except for fast adapting, there wasn't much of an advantage. But I'm sure this is different from team to team. When TSM players were gathered we weren't allowed to speak native languages. But some teams they use whatever languages they want. In teams like that I'm sure the synergistic advantages are greater.Q: You started coaching in TSM. Were there any difficulties?
When I entered TSM as a player, the team atmosphere wasn't great. TSM players' knowledge of the game wasn't very good when I entered TSM as a player. They had good physical talents but because of their lack of knowledge the games didn't go well. In my case, since my CJ Blaze days I was focusing on collecting game knowledge. With that background I took 2-3 weeks to teach them about it. Ever since then the players had followed me pretty well. This translated well to me coaching.Q: You said foreign teams are lacking game knowledge in general, but what in particular are the deficiencies?
Basically in terms of game management and patterns. When you take a standardized exam there are recurring patterns. Since the pattern is pretty similar you just need to think a little to find the answers. Games are similar in that sense, but professional gamers aren't very good at recognizing this. Only when you build up your experience and knowledge within the game can you become a veteran.I think in terms of recognizing patterns Korean players are absolutely superior. When it comes to understanding patterns solo queue and scrims play a huge part. This is my opinion, but up to 2014 the Korean teams finished their scrims very quickly. They played up to a certain point and when the game tilted a certain way they'll just give up. But the North American teams will finish until the end. Due to this format, Korean teams were able to collect game patterns a lot more quickly. After 4 years of this, Korean teams collected significantly more in-game patterns. I think North America and Europe solo queue or scrims are much behind in their pool of game pattern knowledge. Q: What was the general reception to Korean coaches?
I once participated in a meeting in TSM between the coaching staff. We were discussing the same game, but the foreign coaches were focusing more on the team's synergy and abstract ideas. But Locodoco at the time was focusing more on the detailed parts within the game. I think Korean coaches are better at capturing in-game factors.Q: Are you watching the World Championships? Cloud9's coach Reapered, IMay's Kezman, and Edward Gaming's RapidStar have yielded great results? Why do you think that is?
I'll explain each team one by one. IMay was EDG's secondary team, and I heard the team atmosphere was pretty hectic. LoL is a team game so your teammates must be able to become one. A hectic team atmosphere will not be able to yield great results. Within this chaos IMay needed a charismatic leader who can bind the team into one, and that turned out to be Kezman. IMay's overall gameplay has improved, but being able to bring the team together was a huge accomplishment.
C9 players are all good in terms of physical abilities. There are some players in C9 who are better physically than even those of TSM, NA's best team. But the players are extremely prideful. Reapered is very prideful as well. So he knows exactly how to deal with players of that ilk. I think C9 was able to find a good leader for their team.
RapidStar is very funny and kind. A part of EDG's growth can also be credited to the coach's personality. He also is the type to be alone and think a lot of the time. He'll think of something by himself, and when the idea is good he'll tell the people around him. EDG's players emphasize on increasing their practice time instead of having time to think on their own. That's why Rapidstar also plays a very important part to the team. EDG's game style puts emphasis on the bottom and jungle, and the coach is a big source of mental fortitude for Deft.Q: What is the impact of recruiting Korean coaches instead of players?
I think there are two types of impact. First type is where the entire color of the team changes, and the second is helping players with strong personalities blend into the team. Foreign teams are preferring Korean coaches that can help the style of their teams change. Coaches who have been with Korean teams for a while will also be able to get the best out of the players.Q: What strong points in Korean leagues or teams do you think foreign teams should learn from?
Korean teams are very clean at game management. Even if their lack of physical prowess or mistakes at the laning phase will put them at an early disadvantage, they'll overcome it with good macro. They're also very good at team fights. Team fights are largely dependent on good communication, and Korean teams are very good at that.Q: Do you think there will be further hiring of Korean coaches to foreign teams?
I don't think they'll try to recruit unknown Korean coaches. The level of League has gotten to the point where they can use their own. But I think the receptions to current Korean coaches in foreign teams will continue to be positive. You can tell that from the situations surrounding Kezman, Reapered, and RapidStar.
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