Cloud9 released their LCS head coach, Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, from their roster after Cloud9’s first time missing Worlds in seven years. This may be the first of several major changes to Cloud9’s infrastructure heading into the next year.
This change comes while Reapered still held two years left in his Cloud9 contract. The blame also appears to fall mostly on his shoulders. “The practice we get is not the best,” said Yasin “Nisq” Dinçer in an interview with Christian “IWDominate” Rivera.
In the interview, Cloud9 players announced they would stay on the roster heading into 2021. Despite Reapered’s pedigree of victory, the results of a single Summer Split may have been unacceptable for him to stay. For now, it is unknown where he will go next.
Reapered and Cloud9
In Spring 2020, Reapered finally took his first North American trophy. The roster he led was expected to dominate North America in Summer Split and represent the region at Worlds 2020. But towards the second half of the Summer Split, Cloud9 drastically dropped in quality, losing more games than they had all year. This drop continued into Playoffs and the team missed their chance to compete on the international stage.
Reapered joined Cloud9 during the 2016 Summer Split. Since then, they have consistently been a top team in NA. Much of Cloud9’s past success is associated with Reapered’s ability to innovate and grow talent. However, much of this ability is more anecdotal than anything else.
The effects a coach has on a team’s performance is nearly invisible to the outer community. The closest a fan will get to what a coach brings to the table is the drafting phase of a competitive game. But even then, players have the final decision in what champions to pick or ban. This is why the Coach of the Split Award is so contentious. No one knows exactly what a coach ever does for a team other than the players themselves.
Coaches in the LCS and the wider League of Legends ecosystem tend to share this issue. For fans, it is hard to tell what a coach even does. After Riot Games mandated the need for a coach a few years ago, teams were then left to interpret what a coach is meant to do for them. Weldon “Weldon” Green, the former coach for Counter Logic Gaming, is vastly different from a reportedly hands-on coach like Reapered. Weldon specializes in player psychology and management rather than gameplay strategy and talent development. Both approaches are valuable but the LCS is so young that it is difficult to tell which should be focused on, if not both.
Unlike physical sports, esports holds a much lower physical bar of entry. A coach with extensive knowledge and skill in the game should theoretically be playing instead of waiting on the sidelines. Coaches like Weldon and Reapered, whether mentally or strategically focused, provide a value that has yet to be seen concretely. As the LCS grows, so likely will its relationship with coaching.
“The bottom line in professional sports is winning.” said Bill Walsh, former Head Coach of Stanford University Football. “Everything has to focus on that product: winning football games. Other offshoots — the public relations, the merchandising, the high-sounding philosophical approach — mean little compared with being successful on the playing field,”
Written by Devon Huge