This year has been a momentous one for Rocket League Esports. We’ve seen the rise of coaches in professional play, as well as their introduction into LAN events, first at DreamHack Montreal and now at the RLCS World Championship.
We spoke to a number of teams in Madrid about the benefits of having a coach, as well as how important they’ll be going forward.
Coaches In The RLCS
Generally, coaches can be split into two categories - coaches who are more motivational and coaches who are more tactical. Veloce Esports’ coach David "miztik" Lawrie falls into the latter.
Sandro “Freakii” Holzwarth told us that “more RLCS teams were bringing on coaches who would help them to adapt during games. We thought that coming into RLCS we needed that help.”
Another coach who’s team would describe him as more of a tactical one is Dignitas’ John "Virge" Willis.
Jos "ViolentPanda" van Meurs spoke of how Virge helped them what to change during their RLCS EU Playoff series against FC Barcelona. The former world champions immediately turned the series around, winning in a reverse sweep.
However, many of the teams attending the World Championship have also opted for more motivational coaches.
For example, newly-crowned world champions NRG Esports brought on Emiliano “Sizz” Benny in the middle of the regular season. Sizz himself says that he brings “mostly motivation” to the team, adding that “when the boys are down, I’ll be there to lift their spirits”.
The Pittsburgh Knights surprised everyone by going from RLRS to top six at LAN in just a few months. Their coach, Julian "Moopy" Amador, is a crucial part of that. All three players agreed that “he calms everyone in comms.” Moopy himself added that “Retals told me at [DreamHack] Montreal that he didn’t think that they would’ve won without me. I can’t say how much I contribute to our success, but I know the contribution exists.”
Adding coaches is clearly working for the teams that have them. Of the twelve teams playing at LAN, Renegades and Canberra Havoc were the only sides without a coach. Neither of the Oceanic sides reached the top eight.
But what is it actually like to be the fourth member of the team? Miztik opened up about his transition from playing to coaching, saying that the main difference is “being able to take a step back and take all the pressure off and just focus on the game itself and focusing on players and how they play and learn.”
He also said that the best part of it was “not having any pressure and taking a step back instead of stressing to get results.” One important thing to note when looking at coaches is that the majority of them have been RLCS players at some point in their careers.
While only three out of the ten coaches in Madrid have played in an RLCS LAN themselves, Miztik thinks that being a pro “has helped because I’ve played against all of these teams, and so I know how they play and can see when they’ve changed something up.”
Despite his enthusiasm, he admitted that “at the end of the day it’s three players and the coach can only do so much since the game is so mechanical.” The former Bricks player also said that it’s not the easiest job in the world, adding that “in our series against Vitality I wanted to grab the controller because we were only losing to kickoff goals.”
Although many are still divided on the matter, one thing is for certain - coaches are here to stay and are set to become an integral part of the Rocket League Esports ecosystem.
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