Babip: “I think that we heavily underperformed... we were a lot better than what we showed and I think we can compete with every one of these teams.”

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Published  3 Oct, 20:04
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The journey to the Worlds 2022 Main Event has ended in Mexico for Chiefs Esports Club, the League of Legends Oceania Circuit Champions. They end their campaign at a disappointing 0-5, not managing to pick up a single win in the Play-ins group stages.

Head coach Leo "Babip" Romer Before has been with the team since spring and has prior experience from past World Championship attendances. He spoke to us after their defeat against LOUD about the Chief’s run at Worlds so far, his own journey as a coach and Oceania’s biggest issues at the moment.

***

First and foremost, thank you so much for joining me for this interview. Rather than talk about the games, talk to me about the team's mood coming into today's game, knowing that you guys have been eliminated from contention.

Babip: I think everyone was quite disappointed. I wouldn't say the mood was good, I wouldn't say it was like super bad or super good. It was just kind of everyone feeling a bit down obviously, a bit embarrassed. I think everyone was just feeling disappointed, so the mood wasn't very good.

I know results have not been ideal, how has the Chiefs been keeping up your team spirits? What has been the team's mindset going through Worlds Play-ins so far?

Babip: During the first few games, in the first few losses, no one was really like giving up anything. We still knew up until yesterday that there was a chance that we can still make a tiebreaker in our group. So during the day, during scrims, we just kind of kept pushing forwards.

We did our best to keep the team spirit, the team environment alive and good. We did things together like getting food, going to the pool together, going to the gym and stuff like that. So yeah, we were trying…but I think it just snowballed.

The management was doing a good job of trying to keep the team spirit alive. Setting up like activities for us to do. But sometimes there really just isn't an answer to how someone's feeling, and you kind of just have to just push forwards and fight until the end.

I know Fnatic have been mentioning this quite a bit on lacking scrims and there’s the COVID situation as well. Have there been any such difficulties for the Chiefs in Mexico? How have you guys been dealing with it?

Babip: We had scrims but we didn't have a very big variation of scrims, which I would say could be a bit problematic. Just because there's a lot of different meta reads so getting as many different opponents as possible is quite important. We had to cancel one scrim because of something happening with the internet, like the servers to Chicago.

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I don't think we have very good scrims and that's something that I, as a coach, can reflect upon. I think our scrim usage and time usage was quite poor. I think that had a big impact on how we actually went into this tournament.

You’ve been to Worlds several times now, both as a player and now as a coach. What would you say are your main takeaways or lessons from this outing?

Babip: I think it's kind of easy to as a minor region team to take Worlds as a little holiday kind of thing. Like, “okay, no one expects anything out of all of us. So we're just gonna chill out and just do the best we can.” But I think if you actually really want to do well, there is a lot of hard work that you need to put in. That goes from in the game and out of the game. So I think that's my biggest takeaway, is that if you actually want to do well, you need to work really, really hard. Because it's very, very competitive so if you're not giving like your 110%, then obviously the result you want is not going to be the one that you get.

I understand that this is your first competitive year of coaching after transitioning from playing. How would you say coaching has been so far after almost a full year?

Babip: At the start of the year, I wasn't planning on becoming a coach, I just wanted to take one split off. But during that split, halfway through it, I just wanted to get back into being involved in a team. So in Split 1, I was just involved with scrims and stuff, and I just took a liking to leading a team.

I kind of always thought about coaching and I thought I'd be good at it because I think I'm good at dealing with relationships, but I think it's a lot harder than what I expected, looking back. But yeah, I didn’t like it at the start because I was just watching scrims. It was really boring because I just came from being a player. But then I started just enjoying it when I started to realize the impact I was having and the results we were getting, and then I just started enjoying it. That felt quite rewarding.

Fun question for you, do you think junglers make the best coaches?

Babip: I feel like having a smart jungler is obviously a lot better than having a smart bot laner, right? Because the jungle and support are kind of the motor of the team, so having those two players be very knowledgeable about the game, and what to do in every different situation is like the most important thing. So I would say jungle and support probably would be the best best roles for transitioning to be a coach.

Do you ever plan on going back to playing and if you do, would you ever consider a role swap?

Babip: I did consider role swapping to support during that period of where I didn't really know what I was doing. I don't think I've completely retired in my mind yet from playing and I'll have to see what the future holds for me. I don't know, I like doing both things. I still have this off-season to decide on what I want to do. That's basically what I can say right now.

That's no problem. Moving to the last few questions, I just want to touch on Worlds again. Now that you've played through your entire group, what do you think of the level of play of the minor regions compared to past trips to Worlds?

Babip: [pause] To be honest, I think that we heavily underperformed and obviously it's like, it’s just normal for any coach to say. I think we were a lot better than what we showed and I think we can compete with every one of these teams, even Fnatic and Evil Geniuses. I think minor regions can compete with them.

"We were definitely outclassed this Worlds and we were lacking in a lot of places. No specifics, it was just everything. And yeah, I think minor regions are always getting closer and closer to major regions every year and since it’s best-of-ones, anyone can take games." - Babip.

When I say major regions, I'm talking about the LCS and LEC. I think we're not really at the LPL or LCK level yet. They will still win all the best-of-ones, generally. But yeah, the minor regions can definitely take games off EU and NA teams.

Who do you think will be making it out of your group as first and second seed?

Babip: It's very highly likely that it will be Fnatic and EG, and I think DetonatioN FocusME is a dark horse.

I don't want to keep beating Oceania while it’s down, but I believe this is one of Oceania's worst international outings in total in a year (MSI + Worlds). I know it's harsh to say and this a ‘million dollar question’: What are Ocenia’s biggest issues and what do you think Riot can do to help it?

Babip: I mean, the reasons why we're a weak region are quite obvious. First of all, our talent is taken by NA. If we had all of our talent from NA still in OCE, we'd still be quite a strong region among wildcards/minor regions. I feel like just because Australia and New Zealand are quite isolated, it's just hard. There's no real answer and everyone's been asking this question for a long time.

Fixing solo queue would be the first thing. One of the reasons why I didn't like being a pro player anymore is because I felt like solo queue was just so pointless. I would just scrim and I would not know what to do with my time. I would just scrim and that's it. I think solo queue is the worst thing ever because it's not regulated at all. You have 20 minute queues in high ELO, you have people trolling or dodging every second game, and you just can't play the game as a high ELO solo queue player in OCE. It's worse than any other region.

We just don't have a way to practice properly besides bootcamping so there's no answer. Those are the reasons. Our talent gets taken and we have no way to practice against better players.

This is a big conjecture from myself, but do you think it would help if Riot somehow partnered the LCO with the PCS? Since geographically, that’s the closest league to Oceania.

Babip: It would definitely help, yes. Though I'm not sure how that would work, because like I said Australia and New Zealand are very isolated, so unless you literally moved the location of LCO, that would be the only way.

And also, it's just like the infrastructure, right? We just don't have the money to make like careers for upcoming players worthwhile and it's much more worth just going to university. Only the top two teams are actually getting paid. It's always been like this and I think it will stay like this. I just think solo queue being fixed would help a lot. Give Champions Queue for OCE or something like that.

Alright then, we've come to the end of the interview. Do you have anything else you’d like to say or any shoutouts you’d like to give?

Babip: Even though we had zero wins this Worlds, I hope people can recognise that we're still a region that can perform at Worlds. In my previous years, we always exceeded expectations but this year just wasn't our year.

I hope everyone can keep supporting us and we can keep our spot at Worlds. That's like the worst case, right (laughs)? Thank you to everyone that supports OCE and our teams.

Raise your Koalas ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ ?

Babip: Yeah, raise your Koalas ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ . Keep raising them!

***

Thank you, Babip and best of luck going forward. The World Championship continues today and you can catch it on Riot Games’ channel.

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