We had the pleasure to talk with David "OWN3R" Rodriguez de la Torre, assistant coach of SK Gaming in the LEC.
OWN3R has been one of the new additions to the SK coaching staff this year. SK Gaming has been one of the pleasant surprises of this winter split in the LEC, finishing third in the regular phase with a score of 6-3 and fourth in the playoffs, losing 2-3 in the semifinals against MAD Lions.
We took advantage of this interview to know a little more about the Spanish coach's career, know how his adaptation in Berlin was, and his feelings after a more than remarkable split.
Marián "Eros" Stoica, BLIX.GG: What do you think have been the keys to the success of this split despite having a roster with several changes and players promoted from ERL?
David "OWN3R" Rodriguez de la Torre: I would say that the first key to success is that we are all very young and new and the whole staff has fit together very well and we all listen to each other, we have new ideas. I am working more individually with all the players and the Head Coach is focusing more on group management, we usually do group reviews and then we reinforce individually.
Then on the other hand, something that is quite surprising is that all the players listen to everything and they listen to you and you tell them something and they apply it to the day. From the beginning we have always opted for coaching of giving more power to the players by telling them not to be afraid to make mistakes, to make plays 2vs2, 1vs1, or to look for the mechanical outplay and so far it is working for us.
BLIX: Just this last point I would like to link it to the next question, do you think that the ideal scenario when promoting as a coach is an environment with a large number of young players/rookies who are more likely to listen to your opinion or do you think it would work the same way in a team of veterans?
OWN3R: I wouldn't know, at the moment with the experience I have it's very good because all the players you tell them something and they listen to you directly, you discuss with them and obviously you have different opinions but if you know how to make your points, you know how to handle them and take them to your field as a coach they almost always listen. With more senior players maybe it can be more difficult but I still believe that if you show the player that what you say is correct by example I think it could also go well.
BLIX: In what way have you noticed the change from ERL to LEC and if you consider that it has been very drastic or not?
OWN3R: Not for me, because since I arrived the first day both players and staff have been very open-minded and there has never been discord, whenever I have given an idea or I have proposed something it has been well accepted, there has never been that stigma for coming from ERL or for having been relegated with MAD Lions. An example I can give you is wave management in bot lane, where Swiffer and I spent 3-4 days discussing the issue in the end it was 50-50 for both of us and for me it has been very easy to adapt.
The difference I could tell you between ERL and LEC is that the players work a lot more, also something to highlight is that in ERL we had a gaming house and here we have offices and apartments and we can disconnect and have more personal space.
BLIX: Do you think that the patch between the regular split and playoffs has affected your teams a lot? And how has it affected you in particular?
OWN3R: I think the meta hasn't changed that much since we are really seeing the same champions, the only thing from one patch to another is that some bot lanes have been nerfed so to speak. For me the patch has not been so much change, it is more that each team has had a different reading and I think the teams that have reached the top have simply had a better reading and I think that each team in the top 4 has its own style. For example, G2 has more champion pools in the jungle and they go to carry junglers.
For us especially I think it hasn't changed much, in the series against KOI I think it didn't affect anything but we tried to change our style a bit but I think we just crashed that series and the approach of that series was bad on our part but today I think we have improved a lot.
BLIX: I'd like to know a team that has impressed and disappointed you and the same with a player.
OWN3R: Well, a disappointing team for me has been Fnatic, I think with the players they had they could have done a better job, and a disappointing player I would say Humanoid. I saw him in MAD Lions for me he was the best mid-laner and this split has not shown it, but in his best spot he is the best mid-laner of the LEC and this split has not shown it, I think if they put the right pieces we could see again that Humanoid.
I saw him in MAD Lions for me he was the best mid-laner and this split has not shown it, but in his best spot he is the best mid-laner of the LEC and this split has not shown it, I think if they put the right pieces we could see again that Humanoid.
My bot lane has impressed me a lot, they come from ERL and they are the two that should cost you more to adapt them and so on and I think that today they are competing to be the best bot lane and from other teams as Chasy from MAD Lions, I think I personally did not know much about him and I think he is doing very well.
BLIX: Do you think that G2 is the rival to beat and why do you think they are so superior?
OWN3R: Yes, for me G2 is the opponent to beat and especially because of how they read the meta, they can play carry junglers or dog junglers and they adapt very well in the jungle and in the series against KOI, for example, the bot lane adapts very well and I think that the adaptation they have in BO3 or BO5 series make them the clear opponent to beat.
BLIX: Going back to the roots, do you still watch the Superliga? If so, I would like to know which are your favorite teams.
OWN3R: Yes, I still watch it and the truth is that I have 3 favorite teams. Heretics, Riders, and Rebels are doing very well.
BLIX: And any player in particular?
OWN3R: Let's see *laughs* because I have shared a team with him and so on, the truth is that Flakked I don't even know what he does in Superliga that is not in LEC but apart from Flakked I would say Alvaro, I think he has an impressive projection for LEC and then so loose players like Oscarinin could be another one to take into account.
BLIX: Continuing with the remembers I wanted to ask you your best and worst memory of MAD Lions Madrid after having spent 2 years there.
OWN3R: My best memory I would say the split that we were third in the regular season with Flakked I think it was Summer 2021, both that split and the Iberian Cup I think it was the bomb, we had a great time together and I had a great time.
And then I can't tell you a bad memory but I would say that the relegations, going to the relegations, and losing them I think that left us all a little touched. I think everyone involved in that team was at fault because things were done wrong from the beginning. From my point of view, the management that was done was horrible because we went from being third in the split and second in the Iberian Cup, you change the staff and almost everything to the roster and you go to be ninth twice uffff, I think the way everything was managed was pretty bad and that made certain players look bad.
BLIX: In your early stage you were Head Coach in the amateur, do you still have that curiosity to return to be HC or do you think Assistant is what best suits your role?
OWN3R: Right now I think Assistant is what I fit best, mostly because what I like is to do individual sessions with the players, talk to them and I think that as Head Coach I could not do that much but in a future of 2-3 years maybe I could think about it.