Within the past two years, the emphasis on coaching and analyzing has increased significantly in League of Legends. Through Season 3, each team had an in-game leader, and players discussed picks and bans among each other. Now, professional teams all over the world look for coaches and analysts to help support the players and teach them to make the correct in-game decisions. It’s not easy, and my own path has been littered with plenty of ups, downs and confusion, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Here’s some of that story and what I learned along the way.
My start was a lucky one. In 2014, Season 4, a man posted to the Riot Games Internships Linkedin page that he needed analysts for his website, Goacast.com, to write articles. I was thrilled to find out I got the position, considering my lack of experience, but I began writing about the League of Legends Championship Series and later the world championships.
Just as quick as the job came, however, the website was taken down. The next year, the Alphadraft Challenger League began, and after reaching out to every team I could find, I was brought aboard by Dreamek. The coach mentioned they were looking for assistance, and I dove into work immediately. It was a great learning experience because I made huge mistakes in my first game working with the team during pick and ban.
I learned to be much more flexible when predicting picks and strategies to employ, and to always have multiple backup plans ready. Unfortunately, the team disbanded, which was sad but unsurprising. Before leaving, the coach told me he hired me because of the one publication — that didn’t last long — on my resume, which separated me from “a scrub on Reddit.”
I was taken aback by how frank his statement was, but I understood.
The message? It will be difficult to get your start, but once you do, things get easier. No matter what experience you have it will be valuable, and you should work hard to get as much as possible. Approach small Challenger teams and tell them your passion for the game; send an application to an esports news website and explain how you want to cover League of Legends. Every little bit helps.
After leaving Dreamek, I attempted to coach individual players through Victorious Gaming, which was littered with behind-the-scenes drama. When I planned on leaving VG, I was told about an opportunity to coach players for money. Tenured coaches explained that they would join a new organization and take us with them. After agreeing to coach for the other website, I never heard from those coaches again.
Even my dream job came with caveats. In May of 2015, my favorite team, Counter Logic Gaming, sent out a request for volunteer analysts. CLG was my end goal, and I sent an application immediately, emphasizing in my cover letter my passion for the team and esports. Then-coach Chris “Blurred Limes” Ehrenreich said that he was interested in me.
I was more than elated, it was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I waited patiently for a follow up. It took a while, but by July, our small team of analysts got to work. Determined, excited, and ready, we all wrote reports, pick/ban analysis, ward placement analysis, and more each and every week in preparation for CLG’s next opponents. I had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t always rosy behind the scenes.
My time with CLG was marred with the miscommunication that many have cited for the organization’s current troubles. (I didn’t help my cause by accidentally saying that to Devin “Mylixia” Nash in a chance meeting, but the lack of feeling like a part of the team was upsetting.)
In preparing for worlds the group worked hard, but it was difficult to contact Chris at a time where he and the team of analysts were both awake. We were confident that our efforts were ultimately futile when we realized we never got feedback from Tony “Zikz” Gray, or anyone but Chris. CLG ultimately failed at worlds, and my first reaction was “What happens to us?” I sent e-mails to the entire staff, all to no avail, and any time I asked on Reddit I was ignored.
Once Chris was released, we realized we were also fired, and that ultimately the organization didn’t really care about us. The final nail in the coffin was the infamous “Twisted Treeline” analyst application/prize, and I didn’t feel anything but extreme disappointment. The team that I and the other analysts passionately worked for and put our blood, sweat, and tears into did not give a single damn about us. That was a soul-crushing experience.
But the experience was worth it, and I’d do it again. The time I spent with CLG was valuable and I learned a lot about being an analyst from my peers. It also taught me about the professional scene, and the amount of work necessary to help a team reach the top. I learned that not everything that glitters is gold, and that I need to be more realistic when thinking about my future. With CLG I thought my road to the LCS stage was already paved, but it came crashing down around me in moments.
Of course I still dream of bringing a team into the LCS, and I need to keep working hard to get to the point where I can. CLG is still my favorite team, though as most people from outside can already tell, they have some issues. I was able to hone my skills through the help of the other analysts over those few months, and I’m happy that I have that experience under my belt.
Currently, I am employed by two organizations: Astral Authority and Evolve Esports. Astral is currently without a team and we hope to pick one up soon; Evolve is my first paid position with a team. I am thrilled to be working with both, having met a lot of great people. Because we are in no tournaments, we scrim against teams in the Challenger ladder and push the ranked 5s team into Masters. I mostly do picks and bans while the head coach yells at the players for not warding.
The most important lesson of all this is to be persistent, and though the road is sketchy, uncertain and largely unpaved (and unpaid), it’s invigorating. My road ahead is still bumpy, I’m sure, but I won’t stop until I can attain my goal of standing on the LCS stage.