TL Jatt sat down with ESTNN to discuss narratives, playoffs and first-year coaching.
For many fans, Jatt is probably a household name, or at least a memorable one from his time as a caster. Ten months into his new coaching career however Jatt is looking to make Team Liquid a team to be feared. After their series against TSM, it feels like the team could be set up to make a stand as potential LCS Champions. ESTNN sat down with Team Liquid’s Head Coach to review his first year as a coach and talk about some perceived problems by fans and media.
Recapping the TSM series
How are you and how do you feel after your strong victory against TSM?
You can feel the stress just moving away because we managed to close them out in Game Four. We had this massive advantage but there was definitely the six-minute where we had triple Inhib and had to reset and do it again. You wonder if it's going to be some kind of weird miracle comeback, but it wasn’t, so we’re really happy to be locked into the Winner’s Final now, which is good.
You started off that series at the opposite end, you kind of came back [in the first game]. What can you tell us about that game? How did the team feel and how did you prepare for it? Do you feel like this was a fumble from TSM that you were lucky enough to capitalize on to come back from that?
I thought Game One was probably the hardest game of the series. It's one of those games that we feel like we kind of stole. I think even if we lose that game we still would’ve been ready to bounce back with something better. As you saw, once we had the choice we did switch to blue side in this series so maybe we would’ve seen the TF+Gnar in Game Two and the series would’ve gone on from there. But Game One definitely feels like we stole one and we were hoping for a sweep after that but couldn’t quite get it.
An expected victory
Everyone felt that this was going to be a close series. Did you guys think it was going to be a close series or was a 3-1 or 3-0 more what you were expecting?
We definitely expected to win. When you look at these two teams in the regular season, both of us ending with 12-6 records, you can expect it to be competitive, so I didn’t expect it to be a cakewalk. But I think 3-1 is by no means a surprising result for us. It's what we wanted to have happened.
First year review
It's creeping up to your one-year anniversary as Head Coach for TL. How are you feeling after a full year, have you learned a lot and how do you feel after all the previous struggles?
It's been a really whirlwindy 10 months, about 11 months at this point. And even the offseason is no real break. Then we kind of had our own first championship in a sense with Lock-in, even though it was still a preseason tournament and we’re hoping to get the second one here too. I’m feeling pretty confident and pretty good. The dopamine is way higher after a win, so let's stay focused. We’re two best-of-five victories away from a Mid-Season Showdown/Spring Split Championship. So that’s where my focus is right now.
So, is Team Liquid the favorites to win the whole thing?
I would hope so, that’s the plan. But, like throughout the whole season, we need to be sure we’re respecting all of our opponents. I think we have a high amount of respect for TSM and it was a very competitive series. I could have gone all five games if that Game One had gone any differently. And we had that very competitive series against Cloud9 in the Finals for Lock-in, so its going to be a battle. I’m really looking forward to it.
Burnt out on narratives
Talking about burnout, we’ve seen Tactical look a lot more hit and miss lately during his stage games. You’ve talked about it in the past but is it something that has ever concerned you and are monitoring and taking care of?
Yeah, absolutely. We pay very close attention to make sure our practice schedule is as efficient as it can be for maximum performance. I would also say, in particular, even the word burnout in this conversation has been one of the big echo chambers that I’ve heard. Because that was a post-game interview with Tactical back in like Week Two and I heard it repeated by like 15 different journalists. Personally, I’m a little annoyed at the conversation because performance is one thing but the number of times I’ve heard it is surprising to me.
Overall, what’s really nice about this is we do get to take two off days. We’re going to Sunday and Monday off and have two weeks to prep for our next opponent, that’s a number of scrims. It's going to be really nice to refocus on practice because, I do agree, the season for every team is going to be a bit different when we’re doing three stage matches a week.
With the format change, if we consider last split, teams did four scrim days per week across nine weeks and this year, most teams are doing three scrim days per week across six weeks, scrims are actually cut in half. So the split is really short. From a development standpoint and from a narrative standpoint. So what is going to be nice is having this extended period of practice where we can be as rested as possible and perform at our highest level in the Winner’s Final and Final’s weekend.
Fresh-faced and ready to smurf
You mentioning this is very important because within our league, and esports in general, we rarely harp onto narratives and certain people will always be upset. So I’m glad you mentioned being tired of that constant burnout talk.
Absolutely. It was a comment in an interview six weeks ago and it's been asked in many other interviews so its sounds like it keeps coming up. But in terms of our level of freshness and efficiency of practice, I think it's been good… It's not something that’s currently an issue with us and we’re feeling really good going into the next match.
People might’ve been wondering if Tactical has lost his edge. But I think it's one of those things where you have to adapt and people have to know to respect you. Once you’re at the top, you have to adapt, right?
Of course, and I’m really proud of the way Tactical has dealt with all of the community criticism and improved some of the areas where he was struggling earlier. I think it was overblown, but it has to start from something, right? He definitely has things to improve and I think he played a great series today. I’m looking forward to him getting back to smurfing. He’s currently the highest-ranked AD Carry on NA solo queue, he had a good series, Tactical is going to be back for playoffs. I’m looking forward to it.
Fans will have to wait one more week before seeing TL take on Cloud9 in the Winner’s finals of the Mid-Season Showdown.