EG Artemis: “Confused, and honestly, scared” Watching LCS Pro View
Evil Geniuses continued their five-game win streak with a win against Golden Guardians on Sunday, securing themselves a stable fifth place to close out week five of the Summer LCS split. The team continues to show steady improvement, the rookie Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki continuously proving himself a worthy addition to the roster. With the split halfway finished they have four weeks to prepare for playoffs, much of which falls in the hands of Connor “Artemis” Doyle, EG’s strategic coach.
We spoke with Artemis after Evil Geniuses’ win against Golden Guardians to get a taste of what it’s like behind the scenes of an LCS support staff.
Hotspawn: Thanks for joining me, Artemis. I often ask players after a game what the plan was going in, and how they feel the team executed it. What does that look like on your end, as a strategic coach?
EG Artemis: The way that Golden Guardians beats teams, any team, whether it’s a bottom-tier team or a top-tier team, is they snowball early game with really aggressive early game picks. We saw one example of that today where they played Volibear Leblanc, which is a really punishing jungle 2v2 if you’re using Volibear flash correctly around mid. It’s really difficult to play there, and usually, you’ll get some kind of structural advantage just through your mid/jungle. If you give them too much agency in the early game and they can dive your sidelanes and win the game, even against top teams. We saw that in their win against TSM.
Part of the game plan today for us was limiting their early game agency in their ability to dive sidelanes. I was expecting to get a worse botlane matchup than we did, but we were able to get a matchup that we could pretty comfortably push in and they didn’t really have a play on our sidelaners despite their control of mid/jungle. We were able to control them in that way, and even though Leblanc had three early kills that game with an early Ludens and Sorc Shoes, they weren’t able to do all that much. I don’t think they were playing particularly well with their advantage either.
Hotspawn: What does your day-to-day look like when prepping to face a team like Golden Guardians vs, say, 100 Thieves or C9?
EG Artemis: My preparation starts with Pro View. I’ll go back and I’ll watch the Pro View of the players I’m interested in— it’s better because we don’t have replays or anything. You can see how they’re setting up drake or how they’re setting up their waves. You miss a lot of that when it comes to broadcast.
It depends on the team, right? Some teams I might be interested in their jungler’s Pro View, other teams I might be interested in their midlaner’s. You’ll do a fair bit of scouting just by watching player POV’s, and the other half of it is draft scouting and draft prep. I’ll familiarize myself with their recent drafts, the tendencies of their coach, and theory craft and get prepared. Then we’ll come together as a coaching staff and share what we’ve learned through our research that week, talk about what we think the strategy should be, and affirm what we want to do in the game and if there’s anything we want to limit for the enemy team.
Hotspawn: Have you ever seen anything surprising in your Pro View research?
EG Artemis: Without calling out specific players by name— yeah. I see surprising things in Pro View all the time. Mostly with how people play lane. I’m often surprised by sololaners in the LCS, I’m like “what the heck is this guy doing with his wave?” So many times I’m confused, and honestly, scared. All around the LCS, cause I think that there’s many players in the LCS who do not play their lane correctly at all. It’s surprising for sure.
Hotspawn: What’s it like watching EG play from backstage? You’re on a hot streak recently, but the team isn’t exactly known for meticulous, clean wins.
EG Artemis: I think generally watching backstage as a coach is stressful because you have zero control once the game starts. Coaches like to trick ourselves into thinking we have a lot of control– control of practice, control of draft, control of players, control of the room, so many different types of control. But the reality is the game starts [and] you have no control. That loss of control is definitely anxiety-inducing, but you get used to it.
Hotspawn: What does preparation for playoff best-of-fives look like in comparison to the best-of-ones?
EG Artemis: The first thing that comes to mind is the difference in philosophy when it comes to draft. Specifically, your tolerance for variance. In a best of one, for example: if I’m playing a team like Golden Guardians or a team like CLG, in draft what I want to do is remove variance. I want to remove possible ways that we can lose the game in unexpected, or cheese ways. I want to get a stable game state and make sure that the game doesn’t get exploded. This can result in speculative bans, where you’re like “ah, maybe they play this, maybe they don’t, but I don’t want to risk it today, there’s no point in a best of one. Lets just remove the variance and ban it to be safe.”
In a best of five, you’re much more likely to make teams prove something before you react to it in pick/bans. It’s more like “let’s see if they can beat us with this strategy, and if they can, then we adapt.” I much prefer coaching in best of fives versus best of ones. I think it’s much more fun to draft in best of fives because you can feel the other coach— you can feel him making adjustments between games, you can feel how he drafts on red versus blue, and you can see how his priorities change throughout the series.
It’s exciting and fun, and it’s a lot more fun than winning draft in a best-of-one. Once it gets to a best-of-five it’s a lot more rewarding for coaches when it comes to draft, because you can feel the guy on the other side of the stage making adjustments and it becomes more of a chess match.
Hotspawn: You were talking before about scouting players. Do you ever do the same for coaches?
EG Artemis: Definitely. Draft and setups, too. Draft is relative to patch is relative to players, but there’s certain coaches in certain teams that draft in certain ways. I don’t wanna give away too much, so I don’t wanna say specifically what I’ve observed. But Team Liquid is a team that’s very formulaic— that’s a good example. I don’t know if that was Kold or CoreJJ, but they draft in a very formulaic way that’s distinct from other teams.
Teams approach objectives and midgame in different ways, and that can be continuous as coaches go across teams. You can see how coaches set up drakes in the past or how he likes to play, and you should see some carryover when he goes to a new team as well. I’ve familiarized myself with all the coaches in the LCS, but not all of them have strong identities or carryover between teams. The ones that do are the more effective ones, in my opinion.
Hotspawn: Before we talked about reducing variance, which seems like a difficult thing to do in a game like League that’s changing constantly. How do you approach that, when you’ve got patch notes coming out every month?
EG Artemis: You only control what you can control, right? I can’t control the patch. I can’t control the game, but what I can control is what we do in practice, and what we do on stage. Getting stable practice is important because it’s how you learn concepts, and if you can’t work through your early game— if you’re getting major deficits early or miss-executing, you’re not gonna be able to learn concepts that come later in the game.
Similarly, if your opponent is blundering all the time then you can’t learn. If I’m working in scrims on something like how to retake river vision if we lose control around mid, and then the enemy jungler just dies randomly in river, it’s like “oh, I guess we get control back,” but a better team isn’t gonna give us ward control back. They’re gonna make us earn it through priority and transferring pressure correctly from side into mid.
What we [can do] is limit variance in pick/ban and in practice. As an example, if you’re scrimming CLG in the week they were playing their bongo comp, I’m sure teams saw Vi game one and ban Vi the rest of the four games, cause they’re like “screw this, we don’t wanna practice against this, so just remove it.” I think removing variance in practice is important because it helps you learn more effectively. Removing variance on stage in best-of-ones is important so you can achieve the expected outcome and not get a low roll. It’s not super important, it’s just a principle that you can see in different areas, but I’m not meaning to overemphasize its importance. I think it’s like a relatively minor [thing].