Interview with Team Dignitas EU's coach, Rnglol



Sat 7th Mar 2015 - 3:43pm

Earlier this year, Team Dignitas re-entered the European League of Legends scene by acquiring the roster of SK Gaming Prime, who had qualified for the European Challenger Series. Along with a talented squad came their coach, John "Rnglol" Crichton. I had a chance to sit down with him and talk to him about coaching in LoL and his opinions on the new Challenger Series format.

Let's start with an introduction for some of our fans that might not be familiar with your work. How did you get into League and how did you get into coaching?

Rnglol: I first started playing League with some friends from WoW. The expansion was coming to an end and we had nothing really to do. It was my first MOBA, it took a few months to get used to but after that I was hooked. I first started coaching in Football (Soccer not eggball) around the age of 18. My internet killed any hopes I had of being a top player in League (my excuse) with over 400ms most days, so I decided to start coaching some friends instead. That then transitioned into applying to a small clan to help with the diamond/challenger teams they had and I never looked back.

What do you feel the job of a League of Legends coach is? Is it primarily helping your team with pre-game elements (like pick/ban phase and team composition) or are you as involved when it comes to developing in-game decision making?

Rnglol: I feel like the jobs of coach and analyst are still grey to most people. For me you need to have skills in multiple areas, the key point being taking the information from the analytical view and changing that into a diluted version of information your players can learn from. The key aspect is helping players develop better behaviours and habits in-game. Anyone with decent sense of the meta can run a ban/pick or say ‘this composition does that’. It’s really over valued as a ‘coach’ role and I wouldn’t consider it the main part of things.

There is a lot of criticism over various teams' pick/ban phase by fans, but there isn't a lot of understanding on what preparation goes into the phase by teams. It's obviously not as easy as it looks, so what can you tell people about preparing for picks and bans? 

Rnglol: Make sure you’re playing your own game. Try to stay within the meta and just be aware of pocket/flex picks teams have. Essentially champion select should never be too one sided unless your team has a really one dimensional style or are easily banned out. Just make sure you know your team can play to the win conditions of the comps you take and execute the game plan. It’s not always about ‘the OP power picks’.

In the current pick and ban phase, do believe any champions are over prioritized in the meta?

Rnglol: I feel like Graves is, teams seem to treat it as a first/second rotation priority. He’s solid but really over prioritized.

In qualifying for the Challenger Series, you had to beat two teams (Annihilon Team and ThunderBot SPARTA) that didn't have a whole lot of tape on them. How do you prepare for a team that doesn't have a lot of public matches?

Rnglol: I only joined the team before the TBS game. Generally you don’t get much footage of the team play but you can analyse them as individuals and find weak points that way.

What do you look for when you're going over replays? Do you go into a game to look over a specific facet, or is it a more holistic approach?

Rnglol: Some days will be spent going over individuals specifically, but you can always keep an eye on vision control and objective focus. If something really bad happens or people aren’t doing what they should be it’ll get brought up too.

Let's talk about the Challenger Series in comparison to previous years' Challenger scenes. What do you think of the new auto-promotion format for the top Challenger side?

Rnglol: It’s ok. I don’t have any qualms with it, but I imagine the LCS teams could be salty and I wouldn’t blame them. My main issue was that untested teams could get a free entry into the new CS system and it left a lot of good players with slim chances of being involved.

There was also a major structural change with the CS, changing from a tournament format to a round-robin league for which teams have to qualify. Do you think that this will encourage more investment in the Challenger scene?

Rnglol: It’s pretty much mini-LCS now. I like the design and I think the marketing or investment opportunities for teams is a lot better since they are all protected pretty much. Only two teams can drop out as a worst case scenario and they can still re-qualify anyway.

This split's European Challenger Series is full of well-known names and former LCS players, especially with Origen. What players that haven't been in the LCS should people look out for?

Rnglol: Niels from Origen, Jebus from G2 are probably the next big marksmen. From mid-lane you have Sencux. Top-lane I would say SmittyJ from G2 and Wunderwear [from Dig EU]. Support would probably be Hiiva and I don’t really think the junglers are that special.

What are your expectations for the team this split?

Rnglol: Top four is a must. Anything higher would be great. But we’re not long together and five weeks isn’t a very long time to build the best team synergy.

Looking at the LCS and CS halfway through this split, if you had to make a prediction on what teams would be relegated and what teams will be promoted, what would you guess?

Rnglol: I would guess Origen will take the automatic spot with MYM coming out the other end. After that it would be between Giants and probably CW (though they are having good form right now). After that it would depend on how the CS teams develop, I think us and G2 would have a really good shot at it and if not maybe RG. It’s hard to call how those promotion matches would go right now though.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, do you have any shout-outs?

Rnglol: Just a general thanks to the guys for being such good students, our team sponsors and everyone else who has made my time with Team Dignitas really pleasant so far, including Odee who has been great to chat with.

Again, I'd like to thank John for taking time out of his schedule for speaking with me. If you have a question for him, you can ask him at his or on Twitter. Be sure to catch the European squad this week as they take on the Series leading Origen.