After G2’s win against the Unicorns of Love in the European League of Legends Championship Series spring finals, Slingshot’s Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber got the chance to talk with Weldon Green, one of G2’s coaches, about his work, preparation for the finals and going to Brazil for the Mid-Season Invitational.
Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber: First of all, congratulations on the win of the EU LCS spring split, Weldon. We spoke yesterday and earlier before your match, and you felt very confident going into the games today. You mentioned as well that you have a certain coaching mindset that “you can never do enough,” but did you feel that the team was ready, even if the Unicorns changed their whole play style? How was the general the mentality of the team?
Weldon Green: So we see games on stage like a test, so we train to be the best, not to beat a certain opponent. So when we go on stage, we can see if we are training effectively. In general, for our preparation against the Unicorns, we knew what our champion pools would be, so we practiced the right champions. However, we couldn’t figure out the draft very well until yesterday and today, so we spent about four or five hours talking as a team to figure it out.
So went through every possibility with the team to make sure we had a better draft, and I think you saw that in the first two games. We had the handle on the first red side and blue side draft, but they had a little bit of an adaptation for Game 3, and I really think that we lost more the third draft than they won it. You can see it either way. I think it is hard to play a composition with no engage. You have to be very well coordinated. I think we were very well prepared, I think that the preparation we had for our draft with the players worked extremely well. Anyway, our eyes are always fixed onto the next step, not so much on the game we are preparing. So our mindset while scrimming is to prepare for the ultimate opponent, or in other words, “SKT wouldn’t fall for this,” if you know what I mean.
AW: I can imagine this works well to motivate everyone. However, as Zven mentioned a bit earlier during the press conference your main focus as a coach was helping them improve their practice and efficiency outside of the game. So last split you worked with TSM and obviously this split with G2 Esports. Did your coaching approach change in any way?
WG: In CLG I did a lot of individual work and workshops, while in TSM I was able to move into a coaching role and focus a lot on making their shot-calling more decisive, working in general on their decision making and putting their communication and the coaching infrastructure in place.
So in G2 I had to take a step back from that since I’m not all the time with the team and only work a couple hours a week and not the 16-hour days I worked while being with TSM. I’m still figuring out the right mix of coaching and doing 1-on-1 sessions with the players, and I don’t think I’ve hit it yet. The work that we’ve done has worked out for some people on the roster, but for some of the weaker language speakers on the roster — for an example Expect, naturally Dae-Han’s English isn’t as good as the other players, so it is a bit harder to work with him compared to work with the native speakers in CLG or TSM. That’s a real challenge.
AW: Have you found for yourself a technique to loosen up the language barrier so you are able to work easier with the players?
WG: I’m really used to deal with people that speak English as a second language since I was for seven years a teacher for people learning English as a second language. Obviously I come prepared to sessions, and I have Korean translations of keywords and even entire presentations, which I worked out with the translator. But the reality is it just takes twice as long to build rapport with people that you can’t communicate with verbally, so it makes it harder not being in-house full time.
AW: Now that you guys qualified for MSI, the big question is do you think you are ready to beat the Flash Wolves or SKT?
WG: My plan is to beat SKT in the Semis and TSM in the finals. This is my individual plan.
One of the things that I really liked was Cloud9’s amazing Gauntlet run a few years ago through the regional finals. One of the things that led to that on psychological terms is when you are in a high-stress environment and you are also learning, you learn a lot more. It really cements in your head. And if you noticed C9’s play, they got reverse sweep after reverse sweep, so they played like 18 Games in four days in a high stakes environment. So they had an immense amount of learning that took place in that short time, and they improved their skill level a lot.
I expect the same to happen at MSI. I expect a really high intensity training environment and a lot of growth. My prediction is even if they don’t pan out 100 percent, I think that we will be much better than we were last year, hopefully in terms of results. But I’m not out for results. I’m focused on performance. Our performance has to be better than it was before. So if the teams are amazingly better than us, well sad for us. Anyway, what I am really excited to see is how serious the guys take it and how much we grow due to access to all these metas from around the world.
AW: What is your ultimate goal for the year?
WG: My ultimate goal is to partner with Carlos and make G2 Esports a premier esports brand in the world. My focus right now is League of Legends because I invested the past three years into becoming and expert of League of Legends and League of Legends coaching. This is what I can balance right now, but I want to expand to all of G2’s League of Legends teams — G2 has another League of Legends team in Spain — and expand further to the whole organization.
I really respect Carlos and G2 and I really like what he is doing here. It’s the same kind of respect I had for TSM and what Reginald is doing for North America. It would have been nice to be closer and be able to work with TSM, so here I am in Berlin.
AW: In two Weeks MSI will be starting for you guys, what is the plan for G2 to stay active and in shape for the international competition?
WG: So we are going there already in one week so we can start boot-camping and practicing against the other teams. So I don’t know if you noticed last year right before worlds SKT took a four-day break. It is really important to understand the psychological impact of taking a break at the right time. So that’s exactly what they did: they took a vacation at the right time and they did it also when they came back from MSI last year. They realized after their poor performance at MSI that they were burning out their players. So when you play a final where the preparation and the training period is just intense and you are grinding more than six scrims a day multiple times, it is important to rest and recuperate for a couple of days to refresh.
So why we are flying to Brazil is that we can’t really scrim right now here in Europe now that every other team is gone. Who should we scrim against? So we have to get to Brazil as soon as possible and start lining up training partners.
AW: So Weldon thank you a lot first and congratulations once again. Do you have any shoutouts left to the readers and fans.
WG: Yes, please follow me on YouTube.
Cover photo by Alexandre Weber