Interview with dignitas EU analyst Froskurinn on coaching, casting LPL and her prospects of the Challenger Series
Wed 29th Apr 2015 - 6:26pm
With Team Dignitas revamping its European Challenger scene into an all Danish line up, and after winning two tournaments this weekend, Froskurinn joined us for an interview discussing the European Challenger scene, casting the WellPlayed series, and Chinese League of Legends.
Hey Everybody, I'm DigNightsend. I'm here with Froskurinn, the new assistant coach for our challenger series EU team, how are you doing today?
Froskurinn: I'm pretty good, it's a wordy title.
So you've done a lot of work in league e-sports fow a while, such as Incoming Agression, you've been on the support staff for a couple of teams, why don't you give us a quick summary of your history in e-sports?
Froskurinn: I've been working, I don't know, professionally/semi-professionally in e-sports for almost a year. I started out as a streamer doing commentary for my viewers, and I guess you could call it coaching but at the time I called it commentary. I thought I'd be really good as a caster so I applied to ESL, the North American branch, and I got picked up by ESL and there I worked on things like Go4LoL and EPS which is their challenger circuit.
From there I got picked up by Games in Asia and I transtioned into the big thing that most people know me for, which is the LPL casting. We took the Games in Asia stream, which at the time was owned by Games in Asia and GosuGamers, from like 8 viewers to like 50,000 over the course of the LPL split. It was then partnered with Twitch and now Riot's taken over the broadcast. I've worked in tandem on a couple of projects with them, and now I'm just working more on content creation and working alongside other groups and creating professional teams I like, like Team Dignitas.
So what lead to the transition of you starting as a coach, and then moving into casting, and coming back into coaching. How did that transition happen, was it a concious desicion or was it just going with whatever was open at the time?
Froskurinn: Well at the time when I first started I would just add anyone who wanted to be a part of it because I was just trying to get practice for it, and so various ELOs from Bronze to Diamond, so many different lanes, so I started creating this huge library for live commentary because I would give live commentary on stream for entertainment for the stream. Then what I would do is I would cut the video and send it to the viewers themselves so they can then look back over their play and the things I was talking about. So I created this catalog almost of every single different champion matchup and every single role. What I specialize in is how champions specifically match up, and just like really bizzare ones, because I had like hundreds and hundreds of videos of this, and then I thought, you know, I might be decent as a caster.
I had no casting experience, like the technique, the cadence, all that thing I had never studied it, I just went and tried out for ESL but they were impressed with my basic knowledge to carry a color cast. You know there's two different types of casters: the play-by-play like Rivington and theres the color caster like Jatt, and so when I worked for ESL where I really started to get my casting training and experience, kind of through working with mentors. They have a mentor program and things like that. So that was the first transition, and when I was established it was mostly people approaching me and, they were like 'hey, I think what you say is pretty smart,' sometimes maybe not so much and offered me the coaching position.
I think what most people know you for is your content in the Chinese scene, what draws you to the LPL so much and enjoy and follow the teams so much there?
Froskurinn: Well in my circle of friends even before I was casting the Chinese scene, they were all involved in the Chinese scene, so it was kind of by association that I really got involved with it. My favorite team of all time, other than Team Dignitas of course, was Moscow 5. If you think about how Moscow 5 played, it was see hero; kill hero, that really raw aggressive style and I always call it the gateway drug to Chinese League of Legends. Because, if you think about Chinese League of Legends, what it's stereotypically known for was that raw agression, in your face, track you down and kill you rather than trade objectives, so when I saw the Chinese finally play I was like, yes this is what I want, the blood the gore and the guts.
So do you think that affects how you coach, do you encourage more aggressive plays, or matchups or teamcomps just because that's what you like, or do you think you're a little bit more moderate when it comes to coaching?
Froskurinn: I definitely have a philosophy about about how I think the game should be played, and I obviously don't try to force this onto the players because I think it's important not to try to fit them into a box, that you should try to amplify their own natural skillset and what they're good at. My core philosophy is I think that you should play so fast and so aggressive that you force the other team to respond to you, and you force the other team to make mistakes, and then you efficiently punish those mistakes to the fullest extent. That's if I could get the Dig EU team to play like that I would, but sometimes it's just not the caliber player you have, it's really important that, well I'll probably get into that later but that's the basics.
So your philosophy of coaching and the way the game should be played has evolved from that love of the LPL?
Froskurinn: Definitely. The LPL, people look at it and think, oh god what are they doing this is so awful and they're just fighting for no reason, what's the purpose? The only thing you need to know about the LPL is that they will always trade. If they think they can get a better objective off of something they will fight you and 50-50 it's looking for a mechanical outplay, brute force win which they're very talented mechanical players. So do they fight for no reason, it can appear like that but to them it's because they think if we win here we can trade for something better than we already have.
Moving from China to where you'll be coaching, the EU Challenger Scene, what do you think of the state of the EU Challenger scene right now? We saw Origen move on, we've seen the Challenger scene expand as a professional circuit, before it was kinda just feeding into the LCS, but now it's getting more publicized by Riot, so what do you think of it, just the general state of the players and how Riot's publicizing it, and its position as a pro league?
Froskurinn: Well obviously the more involvement that organizations not just like Riot doing a great job with the Coke League, but League One, and other third party organizations getting involved and doing more tournaments just adds to the strength and validity of the Challenger scene in Europe, but also in North America. Because if these teams have more platforms to practice on, that is just going to increase the strength of the region as a whole.
I'm a firm believer that to grow talent domestically you have to start at the bottom up, and that's especially important in Europe because so many of our players are being transferred to North America. I don't think that there's any dispute that Europe has a ton of talent that's untapped. I think there is an issue of consolidating a lot of Europe's talent on one roster, just due to the size and the culture lines and the language barriers. If you think about North America, everyone's going to primarily speak English, they're going to come from similar cultural backgrounds. But in Europe you're dealing with so many different countries, there's a lot of barriers and loops you jump over just to make sure you can get the right pieces for the right team just because of how many variables and factors you're dealing with.
As your role as an assistant coach and analyst, where do you play into that meshing the team together and getting us to that top caliber that you think we could be?
Froskurinn: Obviously the head coach is Brokenshard, and he's described our relationship as him micro and I do macro. As far as just basic generalizations of strategy, I help mostly with draft phase and identifying macro problems as far as rotations, movements, prioritization of objectives and things like that. Like I will tell Broken what I see what's wrong, with something as vague as like warding or composition, stye, and Broken's job is to feed that back to the players in pieces they can understand. So he's like the main focal point and contact point of their growth of their understanding and learning, and he helps more on the mechanics basis because obviously he was a professional player in the LCS.
Okay, so you'll say our warding at 15 minutes is bad, and he'll say okay the top laner should be coming down and warding here and he'll tell the toplaner that they should be doing that kind of thing.
Froskurinn: I'll say if they ever go near Baron again I'll murder them, and he'll say okay guys this is the only circumstance that you're ever able to go near Baron.
Well they're a Team Dignitas team now, it's kind of our job to attempt Baron at bad times.
Froskurinn: I have no idea how that was inhereted, but they're getting much better at it.
It's the name. So then what do you think of, well especially in the last couple of weeks in playoffs the meta has kind of been completely destroyed, we're seeing Urgot mid, Smite TP top. Would you say this is meta breaking stuff, or has the meta just opened up to the point where there's so many viable options in a lot of roles.
Froskurinn: I actually think it's really similar. Do you remember when Shyvanna and Mundo were really big top lane? It was all about what they did, all about pushing the lane as hard as possible, and they would go and take a jungle camp and build up their gold and experience lead, getting a surplus from the jungle camps as well as the lane creeps. The Smite top is effectively the same thing, so it looks like 'oh we've got all these Smites,' this plays into that this is League of Dragons and everyone is using the fifth dragon as a crutch because they don't understand how to siege a tower, but it's still kind of that core similar idea, and obviously you're getting superior itemization off of Cinderhulk and tank stats and the tank items, but I don't think it's necesarilly 'oh my god this is so wacky whoever thought we'd see Smite top.'
So it's more just an adaptation, it's just that we've also seen stuff like Urgot mid, Cho'Gath Mid, we've seen just about every AD carry getting played, do you think as a whole the balance is getting better, so that a lot more options are viable also?
Froskurinn: I think that there are too many power picks right now actually, I think this gives a bonus too. Like if someone asks what side we want we're purple side and why are we purple side? Because first rotation gets two picks and there's just so many power picks that it's easy to abuse blue side, ban out Hecarim, ban our Urgot, and okay what you got? Going to pick Gragas totally fine you can have him.
That's interesting. Coming into the European Challenger scene which is a little while away, where do you think Team Dignitas EU will stand with Origen gone from the EU challenger scene and knowing that we did get fourth in the first spring series.
Froskurinn: We had a rough series last year. I mean no bullshit, this is the best chance we're going to get, especially with the new lineup we've got. It's considered very strong just because the individual talent we've been able to retain on the roster is of excellent caliber, very exciting caliber, and I haven't gotten a great look at all the other teams. I've seen Code, I've seen some of the other ones that have been playing around in the League draft tournament, but it's just so hard to judge where you're really going to stand because so many of these teams are just going to pop up right before the EUCS qualifiers because of the ladder grinding, and so many of the rosters getting shuffled.
So it's hard to predict, and it sounds weird it's only a month out how can you not see these teams coming, but it's very true for the Challenger series just because there's not a ton of structure in place, especially when you're qualifying on the ladder, and teams will just come out of nowhere and you can't see them coming yet.
Do you have any remarks or shoutouts that you'd like to give to the viewers?
Froskurinn: Of course I want to thank the Team Dignitas sponsors for everything they do, I mean obviously, just straight up working with Dig has been a great experience. I know Dig has a bizzare reputation in the western scene, but I've experienced nothing but awesomeness and a lot of fun loving guys, so I was very relieved to get involved with Team Dignitas and work with all the people, not just the primary roster but all the support staff and the extended staff.
Alright well thank you for your time and thank you everyone for watching!