Not every coach is allowed Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun’s pardon for being the “aggressive” coach.
After Thursday’s match between Kongdoo Monster and Longzhu Gaming, a video clip surfaced of Longzhu head coach of Kang “Hirai” Dong-hoon seemingly berating Lee “Crash” Dong-woo after a loss. Many criticized Hirai and said he made a poor decision to take such a strong public stance.
And yet, when a clip of SKT’s coach doing the same in between games of an earlier League Champions Korea match against Samsung Galaxy made the same rounds, no such displeasure existed.
The public backlash toward the head coach is hypocritical. KkOma’s tirades are brushed off as a part of his drive for perfection and even celebrated as a positive trait. And whereas kkOma sternly talks about his players after winning a game because they didn’t win properly, Hirai reacted to seeing the last hopes of making it to the playoffs vanish. It shouldn’t be surprising to see his outburst.
Professional League of Legends — and any esport, really — contains professionals who pour hours to make this a career. All the participants are paid professionals, and to presume coaches will forever be mild mannered is absurd.
The human element makes sports so entertaining. The players and coaches have their own emotional responses to situations, and viewers relish in the opportunity to see that humanity. To see elation, frustration, rage or disappointment and then relate to it excites sports fans. OGN caster Lee “CloudTemplar” Hyun-woo said esports shouldn’t be treated any different.
“Players or coaches showing happiness or ceremonies, showing all of that is a natural occurrence,” he said during a stream, discussing the Hirai controversy. “Isn’t this sports? A player can get mad in the middle of the game and react in that way. If that becomes to much, they can get penalized. This is all natural. The same goes to coaches. If they’re not happy with what they’re seeing, they can show that on the surface. If it’s too much, they get penalized. That’s what taking responsibility is.”
As much as some players need the carrot, others need the stick, and a great coach determines the proper use of each. Not every player responds to the same stimulus in the same way, which makes coaches like kkOma, who can seemingly balance the two, so rare. At times fiercely negative feedback can be just what the players need to get back into shape.
“Not everything can get solved by talking nicely,” CloudTemplar continued. “There would be times when the coaches would fly off the handle after losing. If talking to the players yields no results and nothing seems to stick, then you have to (be) angry. That way they can focus and act accordingly.”
At the end of the day, professionals must take charge of their own performances in their own hands. Regardless of how things come across, the passion exists clearly. As such, the actions and real moments the audience sees reflects that passion. In a professional world, each game of each split determines the future of everyone involved, and the teams must bear the ultimate responsibilities.