TL thread: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=351452
Blue: Hey TL, this is BlueBoxSC, bringing you Infinity Seven coach Thundertoss! Thunder, before we begin, is there anything you'd like to say to introduce yourself?
Thunder: Well I'm a caster as well but since this interview is going to focus on coaching, that is a good enough introduction.
Blue: Jumping straight into it: what's your job as a coach for Infinity Seven?
Thunder: To put in simply, it's my job to make the team as competitive as possible. That means improving each player and honing their in game skill as well as helping them with the mental aspects of competitive gaming.
Blue: Coaching a team can't be easy. What do you work with players on to make sure that they're performing at their absolute best?
Thunder: It depends on the player. But a little bit of everything. Stuff like controlling nerves at LANs, to the philosophy of certain matchups, to micro tips, to in game trivia stuff. I try to help them with everything so it is hard to sum it up in a short amount of time.
Blue: I play in some dailies myself, and lock up during matches - way more so than I would on ladder. As a coach, how do you equip players to deal with nerves?
Thunder: Nerves are fairly specific to the player. Some players are worried about specific opponents, others about the outcome of the match, others just because they get nervous in pressure situations. So if it’s something i can just talk them through then I try to calm them down so they can play their best. If that doesn't work I just remind them of how many hours of practice we've put in. The best thing for nerve issues is a great training base. No matter how affected they are by the atmosphere, they can look back at all the hours we've put in and the visible improvements that were made and reassure themselves of their ability to play well.
Blue: That sounds calming. Do you believe that players attending LANs would do well to have coaches with them? Have you ever attended a major tournament with one of your players?
Thunder: So on one hand, if the coach is familiar with the player and can calm them down and reassure them just as a friend or mentor then of course. But the most calming thing is probably still going to be the hours of training put in beforehand. I've attended all the major LAN events as well as some of the local LANs in SoCal that a few of my players attend. Sometimes just saying "don't worry, just do what we've practiced" is better than anything else and being there in person isn't even a big factor.
Blue: What sort of people do you work with, and what do you do with them? Any favorite players in particular? Do you do work outside of iS?
Thunder: I try to work with all my players but I spend a lot of time with our up and coming players. Part of that is just due to scheduling but it's also because there are diminishing returns in terms of improvement. People like axslav have less holes in their game and when they do they tend to identify and try to improve on them where as it's sometimes easier to improve the younger and less experienced players. I don't have favorite player if you're talking about people on my team. Outside of iS I still work with a few pro players but nothing close to on the level that I do with infinity seven. I also offer lessons (for non pro players) but it's not my primary focus.
Blue: How did you land your position with iS? Who did you talk o? What were you doing before you applied?
Thunder: I have been working with pro players for a very long time. Because I run the Top200Koth I tend to have most of the top players added on my buddy list. I would help GM players find practice partners and often times would observe the custom games. If I saw anything I thought a player could improve on I’d offer them advice. Coaching wasn't really something I was looking to get into from the start. I was/am primarily a caster and just happened to have enough players respect my insights that teams approached me to coach. I didn't really apply to anyone.
Blue: So did iS come to you with an offer?
Thunder: I had been approached by a sponsor interested in a smaller team with a lot of potential so I had actually talked with the management of iS before the idea of coaching was ever really brought up. I had done a bit of research on the players for the potential sponsor so even after it ended up not working out I was still interested in helping out. But yes multiple teams asked me to become the official coach and I ended up joining iS after an official trial period because I respected the management (especially Jingna) that I had been working with previously.
Blue: What advice would you give to players or coaches trying to join the up-and-coming NA scene?
Thunder: You have to be willing to put in the time. Playing, coaching, whatever, there's no substitute for the hours. Too many players just want to win, want to get prize money, or want the e-fame, and aren't devoted to the idea that the main goal is to be the best and improve at the game and that said goal will take hours upon hours of practice. There aren't many coaches in the NA scene but their goals should be the same (make the players the best by learning the game as best you can).
Blue: Out of curiosity, what qualifications and attributes does a good coach have?
Thunder: It's hard to pin down precisely. It's more than just knowing and understanding the game. Lots of pro players know the game but aren't good coaches. As a coach you have to understand that players will know more than you and that to improve your team you have to learn as much as you can from all the players you can. You also need to understand that players will have their own styles and that coaching isn't about making them play a style you think is best, but more about helping them play their style the best that they can. You need to have strong knowledge of every single race/ match up so that you can help everyone on your team. You need to have good knowledge of a wide range of builds/ strategies as well as specific players. It's what you would expect from coaches from other professional sports. You don't have to be better than your players at doing a certain thing but you need to know what you're talking about. A good coach is one who spends his/her time figuring out how to improve others in ways that would be less efficient than the players working on it themselves. So being able to identify mistakes that players have a hard time seeing in their own play or being able to analyze opponents well so that your players don’t have to spend hours watching the replays of the upcoming opponents... all those kinds of things are great things for a coach to be able to do
Blue: Do you have any great stories to share about your experiences coaching?
Thunder: There are a lot of small stories but I think the best thing so far is more of a storyline rather than a story. Right now we are 19-0 in ESEA (team league) waiting to see who we will face in the grand finals. So hopefully the story gets the happy ending and iS becomes the first team to go undefeated in ESEA.
Blue: Good luck! =D Is there anything else you'd like to say before we wrap things up?
Thunder: I'd like to give a shout out to my team of course and all of our sponsors, SteelSeries, DeviantArt, and GGWP Apparel. I'd also encourage people to check out the Top200Koth every Friday at 6:30 pm - 2:30 A.M. PST. And if they're interested in setting up lessons after reading this interview to not hesitate to send me an email.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Here's a write up article that pretty much describes how Ascend and I felt about the new Starcraft2 expansion beta preview (that was demo'd at MLG Anaheim).
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Here's an interesting article (which I am quoted in) that talks a bit about the challenges and effort that goes into trying to be a progamer. Written by my good friend Cassandra Khaw.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Check out this cool video featuring myself, iSanddbox, and Quanticflo. (taken at the recent socal lan)
via Joshua Calixto
via Joshua Calixto
Friday, February 10, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
So those of you who tuned in to the Koth (2/3/2012) might have heard an extra voice commentating. That was LastShadow, a foreigner who's now been in Korea for 7 months and plans to stay indefinitely. I decided to interview him this weekend about his upcoming plans and goals for the future.