Meet The New Team Dignitas Head Coach: Interview with Raz
Tue 5th Jan 2016 - 3:14pm
After some time as an Analyst, Barento “Raz” Mohammed has been promoted to the Head Coach of Team Dignitas. To introduce you to our new Head Coach and his future plans for Team Dignitas, Elle “Ellektrikk” Lockyer had a chat with him.
Hey guys, what's up? Welcome to our Team Dignitas interview. Today we have Raz, the new Head Coach of Team Dignitas. Say hi to us!
Raz: Hey! How is it going?
We are just going to ask Raz a few questions today about what he thinks of League of Legends right now, his upcoming coaching position and a little bit more about him as a person. Raz, what brought you to the League of Legends as a game and how have you decided that the gaming industry is where you want to build your career around?
Raz: Uh, I guess I would have never thought of myself in this position or at least building a business around it. Even a year ago, honestly. I was kind of doing this as a bit of a hobby, to pass my time. I love watching the game competitively and I definitely love playing the game. I remember it was Graves and Shyvana being the new champions somewhere in the Season 2 when I started playing.
Oh Gosh, and I started playing with Jinx, haha!
Raz: Haha! At first, I actually hated the game. I thought the game was too complicated and too large. I literally just played that little 3v3's on Twisted Treeline. But when I got into it, I started to love it a lot more. I didn't build as many boots anymore, haha.
I've seen videos of those cringe moments in League of Legends but I never experienced that because I came so late in the game.
Raz: Yeah, I just didn't understand the concept of the Unique Passive so I was like "This boots have to stack, I will be faster now! I'm just going to be running around the map."
You also recently moved up as a Head Coach of Team Dignitas. In your opinion, what are your best qualities as a coach and what can you bring to the team for them to get even better?
Raz: I'm thinking about few points. One is being flexible to the surroundings, especially knowing the personalities of the people you're working with and understanding their perspective. Another one is providing structure so that work is always efficient in every scenario - after scrims, before scrims, etc. They must always know what they're doing and you must always have everything previously planned. The biggest point would be authority. It's a five man game and you're going to be in a house with eight people and not everyone is going to agree with each other. It's just how life is. There are some decisions that are going to be made and not everyone is going to be happy with them, due to the different ideologies, so you always have to be decisive when it comes.
I think that's actually really important. A lot of people assume that coaches are buddies with the players and that's something that is a lot more evident. And I think that in this upcoming split companies are searching for more serious coaches and a lot more structure for players. It's been a learning curve for coaches in general for the past year.
Raz: I have very different styles to it. I understand that if you become buddies with the players early, it will be easier to understand their perspective, but when difficult decisions come in your way it's so much harder to make those decisions properly. That's always the issue. I guess it comes out to finding the decent balance but if you can't find that balance, you have to go in the one direction.
I agree. Do you feel like joining Dignitas as a coach is a new opportunity for you?
Raz: Yeah, it's a nice new opportunity. In my previous experiences I have been the Head Coach for the Chiefs and the assistant coach for Team Dignitas EU. But obviously, this is an LCS team; it's a different level altogether. It is a new opportunity and a new experience.
You talked about little earlier about how you're going to be as a coach, but what are your realistic goals for this upcoming season?
To break the barrier, I want to say that top 5 would be nice. But in general, I do think it's realistic to get much further than that. We already are on a current level and we started scriming pretty early. I think that we are a lot better than people think we are. We can easily get top 5 and we can go further than that, but at the same time, we will see how that goes. There are also a lot of new teams now, too, so it is going to be interesting.
When we went to the IEM a few weeks ago, I was genuinely happy and surprised with our showing at IEM. I think people have expected for us to flop. We didn't have our full rolster then and we showed a lot of promise. I'm really excited to see what we can bring to the LCS split. How do you feel about NA LCS currently? You just touched that we're having a lot of new teams and how that's going to change the LCS as a whole. What do you think is going to be the biggest obstacle for Dignitas this season?
Raz: Oh, that's a good one. There really are a lot of new teams and a lot of good talent. There's a proper structure on these teams, too. I think that's a good change because I remember, when I was coming to NA, I wanted to structure team around proper staff and I thought that will be something unique to us, but it isn't, haha. I guess a lot of new teams have decided to buckle down and that is really nice. A lot of those teams are really competitive and I think that's going to be the main obstacle for us.
Since we don't know that much about new teams, that is something that is going to be exciting and difficult at the same time. How will the latest changes that we met in League of Legends affect the competitive games and how do you feel about them?
Raz: A lot has changed about it. For the champions themselves, I really feel like some of them are really too powerful. Honestly, I think the biggest changes are item changes and especially the ward changes. For instance, Malphite and Trundle and even Alistar are running around with so much strength simply because Last Whisper now only takes away bonus armor. It's just a bit much, a bit too powerful. So, there's that. I think the warding changes are now a biggest snowball factor in the game. The first team that gets Sightstone can start moving around faster and a lot more, and the other team will be playing a lot more reactively. Then you have what I call a "Spooky Ghost" (Frost Queen's Claim), I don't even know what it's called, haha. So, Frost Queen's Claim and Blue Trinket are big ones. You can never really set up around Baron with proper vision control because of Blue Trinkets and "Spooky Ghost" which will always be able to cancel the pressure out. Vision snowballing is going to be the big problem. There are a lot of issues to run down and I guess it will be fun to see in what direction the game goes.
We touched a bit earlier how some of the champions are obviously much stronger than others. In the competitive scene, how do you feel the current meta is going to change the scene with all these powerful picks?
Raz: Right now it's pretty much the meta is surrounded around Kindred, Malphite, Mundo... As you said, it's always changing the games so the meta always seems to find a different face. I'm not really worried about certain strong picks right now, but I am worried about certain weak picks. Like, Graves was changed and he is just really awkward in the competitive sense. No one is going to come up with him as an ADC. ADC changes have truffled the deck a bit.
I was playing SoloQ yesterday and was banning champions like Tryndamere, Soraka and Jax, and never once thought about Malphite. The only loses I had yesterday were against Malphite.
Raz: I remember in the beginning of this preseason that Jax or anybody with Guinsoo's Rageblade was just ridiculous. It was like "Oh, you've got one item? We're done." But I guess that later changes of Guinsoo's Rageblade have worked out. It was a painful preseason.
What are you looking forward to the most in this next season?
Raz: I guess I'm looking forward to getting to know the players and the staff a lot. I think the environment in the house will be opened, kind of like a family, and that's what I'm looking forward to. That's the big one. And, of course, just the growth in general. The growth as the season goes on. We're looking to get to Worlds. I guess it's pretty funny because every coach says that his team is going to Worlds, but that's the goal and I think that's very realistic with this current Dignitas rolster.
I'm honestly really excited. But aside League of Legends, what do you do in your free time? Let's get to know Raz a little bit more.
Raz: I used to be really bad with my time. When I found myself not doing anything productive, I would write something, make some content. Not any more, though. I now find myself mostly working or reading a book. I have a large library of books that I've read and I'm planning to take two North Korean books with me (haha) and a book named Little Princess. I love reading in general so I guess that's what I'm going to be doing a bit more often.
Coming to the conclusion of this interview, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans of Team Dignitas?
Raz: Well, if you are fans of Team Dignitas, thank you for your devotion and loyalty in general. And fate, that's the word I'm going for! This season will be great and I think we'll be seeing the most successful Team Dignitas. So, thank you!
Thank you so much to everybody who has watched this video and thank you to all the Team Dignitas sponsors. Other than that, guys, I think this is the end. We'll see you guys later!