Knowing Your Role

The Schalke coaching staff took a lot of the blame for our underperformance last split. Basically, someone had to step up to take the blame but, obviously, it wasn’t just the coaching staff who were at fault, we, the players, deserved our fair share of the blame too.

As a team, we didn’t perform to the level that we were capable of. We lacked the winning mentality that is required to reach the top, you have to go into each and every game with the intention of destroying your opponent, no mercy.

We didn’t find the right mindset in Spring and as a result, the team atmosphere became increasingly negative as the split wore on.

It was fine in the beginning since we were winning most of our games, but once we faced defeats and our on-stage performances started to decline, I felt like, in the end, things within the team started to get a bit more negative… a lot more negative in fact.

In that kind of environment, I often retreat inwards and keep myself to myself. I try to shut out any negativity around me and focus on my own play because, if I focus too much on what’s going on around me, I worry I’ll end up getting dragged into it and my performances will suffer.

Using this tactic had become a trend for me in recent years, because if I don’t feel like I can solve the issues alone then, usually, I think the best way I can contribute to finding a solution is to make sure I’m still acting as a solid member of the team.

The theory behind it was that: if I can play consistently, maybe it will help the team to get out of the slump, seeing that there is still a member on the team that they can rely on. I realise that this approach never really solves the issue though.

Recently, I changed my mind on what an ideal LCS team should look like. There is no one particular type of player that every roster should have five of, you couldn’t have five star players all on one roster, for example, it’d never work, they’d all want to carry the game and none of them would be willing to give something up to help out the others.

You need someone who is comfortable taking a step back from the spotlight to support their teammates, expecting no personal glory in return.

Ideally, there should be different types of players all working together as a team: leaders, players who are emotionally invested in the game, shining stars and of course, consistent performers. If you can put all of these types of player together and make it work, you’ll have a near perfect team.

Maurice [Amazing] is an out-and-out leader – he’s also an emotional guy who takes the leadership role very seriously – and his thoughts and ideas are helping a lot right now.

I feel very comfortable playing alongside him and I’m looking forward to playing with a consistent style. I believe that our carries are playing at a really high level and generally, there is a lot more trust within the team in each other.

I’m definitely one of the more conservative members of our team. I accept that I’m not what you’d describe as a natural born leader, but I aim to be someone who can always be a positive and reliable member of the roster, someone that is always there to help out and offer support to every teammate.

During the Spring Split, even in the games when we were behind, I ensured that we kept asking the right questions and made an effort to fight back. I’ve been trying to build upon that for the summer by becoming a more vocal member of the team.

As one of the veterans on the roster, I think I was a bit silent when things started to get difficult during the Spring; I didn’t voice my opinion as much as I should have done.

That said, with our new line-up, this team will need someone who can be emotionally stable and reliable. We have more emotional players now, guys who can fluctuate between being either very excited or very down, so it’s definitely important to make sure there is someone with more stability in that regard. That, I believe, will be my role within this new Schalke line-up.

A lot has changed at Schalke ahead of the Summer Split. A greater emphasis has been placed on sports and team building exercises which are things I value highly. Whether it’s swimming or just playing football together, we’re bonding as a team and building synergy as teammates.

When Fabian, Schalke’s 04 Esports’ Sports Psychologist, joined the team in the eighth week of Spring, he brought in a lot of positivity right away. He has shaped our way of thinking a lot over the past couple of months and has been very keen on promoting a healthy lifestyle within the team, whilst making sure we are always focussed on the game.

He’s tried to eliminate anything that could be disruptive and is acting as a middle ground between the coaches and the players, collecting and presenting the ideas from both sides in a balanced way.

For me, this was an important improvement to make and was something we voiced during the long discussions we had at the end of the Spring Split. We felt that we needed to define the roles of our coaches more clearly since there was a lot of overlap between them. At times it felt like they were doing the exact same job and it made certain things, like feedback, difficult to process. Now it’s much more clear, both for them and for us.

A lot of the stricter policies from Spring have also been cut back. ‘You need to be here at exactly this time, scrims start at this time, this amount of time is dedicated to reviewing…’, I felt that the rules were too harsh and too strictly enforced on the players. I think flexibility to suit the needs of the team is also a really important change we’ve made ahead of the Summer Split.

I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of the EU LCS with the Unicorns of Love so I think I’m well prepared to bounce back. With Maurice joining the ranks, three members of the team are above 24 years old and we each have a lot of experience playing in this league; we know what it means to regroup and move forward.

Everything seems to have just clicked together, better than it did before, and I just hope that we can find stability and consistency and maintain it throughout the split.

I won’t lower my expectations for this team just because of what happened in Spring, I’m aiming for us to win the split… that’s the only thing this team should be aiming for.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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