In League of Legends, coaching is largely shrouded in mystery. While players have to be in the spotlight where every move they make is scrutinized by viewers and casters alike, coaches spend most of their time in the shadows. And unless you know the inner workings of esports teams, it’s hard to tell what professional coaches bring to the table.
But every rule has exceptions.
There is a handful of sculpting coaches, whose influence is so palpable, it’s as if they bend their teams to their will. One of these coaches is Nick "LS" De Cesare.
When BBQ Olivers stepped onto the 2018 KeSPA Cup stage, no one knew what to expect of them. A team of five rookies, they were moldable to any form imaginable. However, the moment BBQ Olivers played their first game against ES Sharks, it was instantly clear they were operating under the system created by LS.
Despite the widespread notion that the game revolves around tempo and lane dominance, BBQ drafted scaling picks, froze minion waves, and gave up Cloud and Ocean Drakes—all philosophies that LS advocated in his VOD reviews and public coaching sessions. They defeated ES Sharks with a 2-0 score, and while they fell in the following series against SK Telecom T1, there was a moment when it seemed like LS’s system would let them take a game off the Korean powerhouse.
LS isn’t the only sculpting coach, nor is he the most notable.
In North America, Tony "Zikz" Gray adopts a different approach to the same trade. Instead of enforcing a singular gameplay model, he uses lighter touches to direct his players towards his preferred playstyle. With that, his teams frequently come with creative drafts, crafty level ones, and practiced early game rotations. They also tend to focus on teamwork and synergy as opposed to individual skill and mechanical outplays.