I have been a competitive League of Legends player since the beginning. Everything has changed for the better. The client, the competitors, the equipment, the staff, the fans, everything. League of Legends has come a long way. The one thing that I have always felt was lacking in growth was the infrastructure for professional teams. For the majority of my career, I was never really under a strict schedule or felt like the organizations were in control.
The perfect example would be my experience with CLG in Korea for the first season of OGN champions. We were situated in a gaming house with all of the equipment we needed to perform our duties. Our practice schedule was a mess, we had no actual designated time slots for scrims and everyone’s sleeping schedules were out of sync. People would be up late night streaming to the point where there would always be one person awake. We would eat McDonalds every single day. When we scrimmed, there would be no insightful analysis of what went wrong in those games. We would chalk up the games to one or two big problems then go back at it again, no real improvements were made and tempers were also flared. However, nothing was quite like our preparation for the important matches. This has stuck in my mind throughout the years because I can’t understand just how stupid we were to be so irresponsible. One would think a team like CLG who had been in the limelight for so long would have an elaborate planning process to play at a tournament match that we traveled to Korea for. The night before our match, I remember jiji saying “Hahaha. Watch us play tomorrow and we are going to end up randomly picking Chogath.” Truer words have never been spoken. We ended up not talking together as a team and went in full scrim mode against Frost for the biggest match of our lives. No picks, bans, thoughts about the enemy. We also picked Chogath.
Keep in mind these events happened two years ago, and that the infrastructure for many teams has improved. My last season with CLG we had full blown practice regimens with times allotted for gym, scrims, replay analysis, meals. We even had a curfew to make sure that players weren’t up all night and were well rested for practice the next day. I believe that CLG is the first team in NA to take such measures upon themselves to improve as a team, and I believe this is the step that many other NA teams have to mimic if they want to keep up with their international counterparts. People look up to Korean teams; they are considered the best in the world. But most people never really understand why they are so dominant. Are Koreans simply genetically superior? Do Koreans just work harder than their NA counterparts? I would answer no to the previous two questions. I attribute most of their success to the fact that Koreans are able to better manage their teams with the multitude of staff at their disposal.
The biggest barrier to achieving the environment of Korean teams is the players themselves. Personally, I have objected to many things in the past that I thought were a waste of my time even if it could have possibly benefitted one teammate. My teammates have also done the same. This selfishness is circular and will always be there if players are able to decide their fate. Organizations have to enforce rules upon the players and take away their power. When the infrastructure is based around winning at all costs, then the players will automatically be playing in an environment where you must win at all costs. Selfish sentiments don’t even have room at this point, and this is what teams need to strive for if they want a chance to win at Worlds. People are too caught up about world class players and world class teams. Instead of blindly focusing on practicing and acquiring better players we should strive to become better at managing. With Reginald, Saintvicious, and Dan Dinh coming in as coaches for the next season, NA is taking one step forward. We have still have a long way to go before being “world class” in team managing.