Interview: Splyce's UK coach James 'Mac' MacCormack on the org's LoL roster, their position in the LEC and thoughts on the UK scene

With the final few weeks looming of regular LEC Spring play, ENUK’s Craig Robinson speaks to Splyce’s British coach James ‘Mac’ MacCormack to talk about the org’s season so far, growth, challenges and thoughts on the UK scene.
 

How has rebuilding the team around ADC Kasper ‘Kobbe’ Kobberup and adding support player Tore ‘Norskeren’ Hoel Eilertsen worked out for Splyce this season?

I would say that on balance, the rebuild has been a success, and that we have a good mix of experienced players and promising young talents on our squad. Not only are they performing well inside the game and meshing well as a team, but they are also a lovely group to work with, and we rarely (actually, so far, never) have any interpersonal problems within the team.
Honestly, Norskeren has been the biggest surprise; he’s a really funny person (big memer) and brings so much more to the team than any of us could have guessed in terms of morale inside of the game.
He’s always the first one to reassure the team if someone messes up dies, or the first one to call out a great play from one of his teammates and it makes a massive difference to the overall atmosphere.
 
 

“I think the UK league still has a long way to go to catch up with the other European regional leagues. But by next year or the one after, I think it will start to truly compete with them.”

 
 

How important is the synergy between Andre ‘Xerxe’ Dragomir and Tamás ‘Vizicsacsi’ Kiss for the team?

Xerxe and Csacsi are probably the two biggest voices inside the team.
Between the two of them they hold the majority of the shot calling responsibility at all stages of the game: Xerxe during the early game and Csacsi post lane phase, so I’d say that the synergy between them is really important.
Thankfully they get on really well, and I would say Csacsi is a very calming influence for the team when things get too chaotic, which is a really big help to Xerxe, as being a shot caller during those moments can be super stressful.
Csacsi is very good at making decisive calls to get everyone acting as one when required.
 

Splyce’s bot-lane duo Kobbe (left) and Norskeren (right)

 

How is the rookie Marek ‘Humanoid’ Brázda adapting to the LEC calibre of play?

I’d say he’s doing a pretty good job so far, especially considering that the competition around him is pretty fierce in terms of mid/jungle duos.
In terms of raw mechanics, there is no question that he can compete with any other mid in Europe (as evidenced by our game versus G2), but he still has a little way to go in terms of adaptation to some of the other parts of the game.
That being said, he’s starting to take a bigger and bigger role inside our shot calling system and his communication has improved a lot, which is a great sign and I think before long we’ll start to see him really shine.
 
 

“Norskeren has been the biggest surprise; he’s a really funny person, a big memer and brings so much more to the team than any of us could have guessed in terms of morale inside of the game.”

 
 

Considering it’s a brand new roster, how do you feel with where you are in the standings?

I can hardly complain about third-place at the moment, however some of the games we lost (the first Vitality game and the G2 game) still sting a little and it’s hard not to think about where we could be in the standings had we been able to close those out.
Still, we have a way to go yet and the strength of schedule for our remaining games looks pretty tough, so we’ll see in a couple of weeks from now.
 

 

Out of your remaining matches, which team do you think will be your most important to beat?

The most important in terms of impact on play-offs contention are definitely SK and Misfits due to the fact that we already have a 1-0 record against those teams, so if we beat those teams it’s very likely we qualify for play-offs (obviously I’d like to do so higher than 6th place, and I’m fairly confident we can, but let’s take it one step at a time).
 

How are EU teams stacking on the final half of the split?

I’d say most teams are more or less where expected them to be, with the obvious exceptions of FNC and SK.
To me, SK are the real dark horse of the split so far: they are playing really really well as a team and I’ve been super impressed by their strategic understanding.
Aside from that, I expected Schalke to be doing slightly better than they currently are as I rated them very highly at the beginning of the season. I still think they are really scary team but now that we’ve seen them play more games they don’t look quite as dominant as before.
 

Splyce’s late game is where the team shines, how is it you’re able to keep the team calm throughout the games?

Honestly it’s all the players, as I said before Csacsi is a really calming influence on the team so he helps a lot, but mostly I think it’s that the players have been in late game situations so many times now that it’s a lot more familiar. Also, everyone trusts Kobbe wholeheartedly in those situations to always pull out monster performances in late game team fights.
 


 

Is improving your early game a key factor in maintaining your position in the top 3 teams of the LEC?

I don’t actually think that early game is the problem, generally speaking we have really strong early games (92%! First blood rate, +863 GD@15, positive in CS and towers at 15).
The problems start at the mid-game: most of what we are training right now in scrims is understanding how to play a faster rotational-based mid-game and make more decisive and aggressive calls around our strongest members when we have major power spikes on carries. If we want to compete to be a top team in Europe, this is definitely the area of the game that we have to fix.
 
 

“The thing that will really separate the good coaches from the not so good ones are their social skills. Leadership, empathy and conflict management are all extremely hard qualities to find in conjunction with good game knowledge.”

 
 

As a UK coach, what are your thoughts on the UKLC and UK talent in League of Legends at the moment?

I think the UK league still has a long way to go to catch up with the other European regional leagues, however it’s amazing to see how quickly things are being brought up to speed: with the broadcast being taken over by LVP and more teams like Excel and FNC willing to invest in infrastructure things can only get better.
In terms of individual UK talent, I think we currently still rely heavily on importing talent from other European countries, but the new region locking rules regarding locally trained representatives will change that pretty quickly. And by next year or the one after, I think the UK league will start to be able to truly compete with the other regional leagues.
 

As a former UK grassroot analyst, what advice can you give for those aspiring to reach the pro level?

In my opinion, the most important skills a coach needs to have to be successful at a professional level are actually not analytical or strategic. These are obviously important and you’re going to have to have a certain level of these to succeed, but the thing that will really separate the good coaches from the not so good ones are their social skills.
Leadership, empathy and conflict management are all extremely hard qualities to find in conjunction with good game knowledge, so try to think about all of the ways you can help your players outside of the game, and the kind of coach they need you to be in order to succeed.
Coaching qualifications, self-help books on leadership and charisma, and performance psychology understanding are all great ways to improve on this and I highly recommend that people pay just as much attention to these skills as they do to their in-game knowledge.
 
You can follow James on Twitter here
Images approved and provided by Splyce’s Instagram

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