The veil of Korean League of Legends coaching infrastructure has lifted slightly thanks to an OGN caster.
Former professional player and current OGN caster Lee “CloudTemplar” Hyun-woo spoke in detail in his stream about coaching in Korean LoL using his expertise and knowledge of the teams. CloudTemplar breaks down the structure of Korean teams as containing the head coach on top, a sub-coaching staff, and managers. The coaching staff is then broken down to play-coaches and sub-coaches. The play-coach’s role is obvious, as they are in charge of in-game things such as drafting, player mental management and feedback after games. For teams that have sub-coaches, they are assigned to do everything that the play-coach can’t do himself such as research, setting scrim schedules and experimentation.
What becomes interesting for League of Legends head coaches is that they are traditionally tasked to take care of things outside the game. Signing documents, allocating funds, and managing the organization efficiently, but according to CloudTemplar, the play-coaching role has bled over.
“The head coaches also know the game pretty well,” he said. “There is a feeling that the coaches and the head coaches are mixed, because the head coaches are knowledgable about the game…They all have a level of understanding. They study, they research, they take an active part in drafting — all of those things together.”
Contributions like talent discovery are often delegated to the coaches, but there have been cases of head coaches being active in that manner as well, and CloudTemplar went as far to say that he knows almost no head coaches that are hands-off with the team completely, with the divide being the ratio of their attention to the different aspects of the team.
As a byproduct of an active head coach, the expertise of the play-coach and sub-coach then becomes more focused. CloudTemplar makes the argument the play-coach is thus tasked with maintaining the mental condition of their players, which is, in his view, the most important.
“They need to know every tiny detail, and this is normally filled by former players,” he said. “Keeping the player’s mentality in check is also their role. I think the mental maintenance and the drafting are the most important. It’s kind of similar to casting, in a sense. We both watch international games and analyze them. We keep track of solo queue games of Korean players. Coaches do these as well, as a foundation.”
Coaching has been a cornerstone of League of Legends teams, and is becoming more so in other regions as well, with effective coaches in high demand regardless of their home region. Success of a team comes down to not just talented players or talented coaches, but more the healthy partnership of the two.
“The drafting, play, analysis and interpretation of the meta, the direction of the team, the decision of what champions to practice, maintenance of the players at a crucial point where you have to make a winning play, all of these are impacted by the coaches,” he said. “On top of that, no matter how good the coaches are, there are times when players play like crap. That’s the nature of things. On the flip side, the players could be really good but if the coach takes them in the wrong direction, nothing can be done. When the two come together, a strong team is born.”