G2 Nelson: Players are “receptive, even though most of them are veterans”
For Sng “Nelson” Yi-Wei, coaching a European League of Legends team is new territory. The veteran analyst embarked on journeys before with Singaporean teams, Hong Kong teams, and even a Brazilian team. After parting ways with LPL’s LNG Esports and taking a break during the Spring Split, Nelson’s next team is one of Europe’s most prestigious ones: G2 Esports.
One month after officially joining the team, Nelson sat down to talk about his impressions of the team so far. He touched on the level of play he has seen from G2 and how he’s helping the team get into shape to reclaim the LEC title. Nelson also spoke about the team environment, and how working with G2 differs from his previous experiences.
Hotspawn: Welcome, Nelson! Before we get into you joining G2 and your role as a coach there: the team just won a very tense match against Rogue. What are your thoughts on the team’s performance?
G2 Nelson: I mean, I don’t think we are playing very well. I think we are not even close to where I think G2 should be, at least while we are playing in the LEC. But of course, I’m happy to get the two wins this week. So, overall, I’m fine with the results, but I’m not very happy with the play that we’ve had in the five games so far.
Hotspawn: G2 is generally a team that takes it easier during the regular Split and then ramps it up for the Playoffs. But it sounds like, even when considering that, you think the team is behind on schedule.
G2 Nelson: Well firstly, as you say right, G2 is a team that takes the regular season easy in the past. But I think it’s not the same anymore. It’s not the same since I joined, and it’s not the same since they lost in Spring. I think the overall level is just not good at all. If we play at a similar level at the end of the Split and we are going to Worlds, then it’s not very good for the LEC.
“I definitely think we can do a lot more to reach the level I expect them to be at”
Hotspawn: Is that mindset of ‘taking the regular Split seriously’ something they wanted to do and therefore they hired you, or did they hire you and you told them to take the regular Split seriously?
G2 Nelson: Ehm, I think it’s more like… Well, of course, I was interviewing for several different LEC teams and G2 was one of them. I joined G2 because it was the most interesting project. There were other interesting projects as well.
With G2 it’s more that, when I review the games with them and especially with the older players in G2, so everyone except Rekkles, they realized they are very, very far behind compared to the rest of the world. Especially when we watched the games which they played during Worlds last year. So we just made the decision to try hard throughout the Summer Split.
Hotspawn: You were announced to join the team one month ago. Can you tell me a bit more about the work you’ve been doing with them since?
G2 Nelson: It’s very in-depth one-on-one reviews with the players when the scrims are over. So at 9 PM, 10 PM, 11 PM, I have to go through their POVs or matches or scrims. I just tell them exactly what they need to do, why they need to do it, and what they have to be thinking about so that they can make these decisions in-game.
Hotspawn: Without revealing too much of the team’s strategy, can you give an example of what you saw them consistently do wrong? Perhaps what stood out to you as a priority to get fixed with the team?
G2 Nelson: I mean, I don’t want to leak any strategies, right? But basically, G2 was not playing as a team. Even last year. Even in 2020, with Perkz, they were not playing as a team, which is why they could not beat the very best teams and why they were not consistent enough. They weren’t playing together as a team.
I wouldn’t say that they didn’t know, but they didn’t think about how the top lane might affect the bottom side jungle, or how the top lane affects the bot lane. Stuff like that. It’s just that every member of the team has to be on the same page, but most of them weren’t on the same page for the entirety of 2020 and in Spring 2021.
Hotspawn: During the post-game interview Laure did with Mikyx, Mikyx said you told him things like “you need to roam earlier” and that that’s something he started doing. So that’s the gist of the coaching you do with them?
G2 Nelson: Yeah. I did the most coaching with jungle and support especially. I wouldn’t say I give them new ideas. Those things existed already. It’s just that EU doesn’t know about it, or the West doesn’t know about it, or the West doesn’t do it well enough.
Hotspawn: Have the players been receptive to the feedback you’ve given them?
G2 Nelson: I think we are improving, but very slowly. I definitely think we can do a lot more to reach the level I expect them to be at. At least for me, I think I have the most experience throughout the West watching high-level teams scrim and practice because I’ve been spending many years in the LPL region. There are many things we don’t consciously think about in the game, which the Chinese and Korean teams do. This is what I’m trying to bring to G2.
Hotspawn: Has it been easy to fit in with the team, after coaching LPL teams for such a long time?
G2 Nelson: I wouldn’t say that there’s a huge difference. They are very receptive, even though all of them are veterans. They’ve played for so long, but they’re very receptive to the new things I’ve taught them, which is not something you hear very often. Usually, veterans are stuck in their way, they want to do stuff their own way. The attitude in G2 is pretty good now.
Hotspawn: So in the past, when you worked with veterans, they weren’t receptive to your feedback?
G2 Nelson: Oh no, that’s not what I meant. What I mean is that, compared to what I hear about veterans in the West, they are very receptive. From what I know and from my own experience as well, the veterans in China are very receptive as long as what you say is correct.
“Having two best-of-ones on two different days is a waste of time”
Hotspawn: What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in the work culture between coaching G2 and coaching LPL teams?
G2 Nelson: The practice culture is definitely hugely different. Over here, we play twice a week, most of the time. In the LPL it’s the same, but the thing is that we play a best-of-three twice a week. Here, it’s a best-of-one twice a week. It’s kind of a waste of time because I can’t scrim before or after and get too tired before the match, and maybe the players are already tired after the match. So, having two best-of-ones on two different days is a waste of time. Technically, we actually practice less.
Also, I’m sure that every team has an off-day each week, but that might not be the case if you’re in the LPL. Sometimes they have a break once every two or three weeks, but here you have a break every week.
Hotspawn: Despite being critical of the team, I’ve also heard you say positive things about the team’s attitude. To round up the interview: what do you think the rest of the Summer Split will look like for G2?
G2 Nelson: I don’t have any crazy expectations. For me, our priority is to qualify for Worlds and do our best to win the LEC. Anything else is not realistic to talk about, I think. Right now, even if we improve by 20%, 30%, we are still not gonna get out of Worlds groups. We’ll be in third place or fourth place.
Hotspawn: That’s very strict.
G2 Nelson: It’s about the scrims, right? In scrims, when teams are playing properly, you are able to hear what the players are thinking about. How specific they think about certain things and how well they plan the game in their mind. After hearing voice comms from the play in G2, it’s just not as good as what I have heard before when I coached Playoffs teams in China.
G2 Esports plays their next match in the LEC against Team Vitality on Friday, June 25th, at 10 PM CEST. You can watch the games live on the official LoL Esports website.