This past season, XL2 Academy made an impressive run to the Grand Finals of North American Contenders 2018 Season 2. This team was led by their coach, Ridouan “ioStux” Bouzrou. Through this experience with XL2, and many others leading up to it, ioStux has continued to make a name for himself as one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the Overwatch scene – and he has only just begun.
The Game Haus sat down with ioStux for the third official installment of Diamonds in the Rough.
Thanks again for sitting down and chatting with me. For those who may not know you, would you mind giving us some background on how you first entered the Overwatch scene? What was it that drew you to the game most?
I love Blizzard, so trying out Overwatch was a no-brainer. I loved the character personality and art design the most. I first started by posting a little self-assessment spreadsheet to the r/overwatchuniversity subreddit. The reception was very positive since it was very accurate, so I turned it into my first YouTube video. Eventually, I just kept making videos and they were received very well.
People liked what I said and were asking how they could financially support me. I didn’t want to take money like that, so I offered coaching in return. The demand increased and so did my financial stability, or at least the prospects of financial stability, so I quit college. Eventually, coaching platinum players didn’t cut it anymore, so I started coaching teams to develop myself, skill-wise.
That is incredible, and speaks to your knowledge of the game. So, after you quit coaching platinum players, where did you end up next? What were some of the first teams you coached and what were those experiences like?
I trialed for multiple tier 3 teams. I had 6 offers in the end, and decided to go with Lucker Dogs because I liked them the most and they were NA. Coaching from 12-8 AM was kind of rough, but it was worth it to me to start my career in NA. My time with Lucker Dogs was great, not necessarily the most successful, but it taught me a lot.
Would you mind speaking more to some of what you learned working with Lucker Dogs? How did what you learned there prepare you for what was next?
It was the first time I was really coaching a team, so instead of focusing on playing the game in a solo environment where you can’t really coordinate and rely with/on others. The game just became infinitely more complex. What can Winston and D.Va do together? How do Mercy and Pharah synergize? How does a triple support backline change the playstyle for the rest of the team? Hundreds of thousands of questions came up, and players that play on their own in solo queue only get to see 1% of the game.
As a coach, how do you communicate these lessons to players on your teams? With so much of their focus being on mechanics, how do you acquaint them to the more nuanced aspects of the game?
Oh, that’s an interesting perspective that I haven’t heard yet before. In fact, I have never really worked with a player whose main focus has been on their mechanics. That’s something I would have to deal with when privately coaching lower ranked players, not T3 and above. The players I coached in teams already knew about the value of the nuanced aspects of the game. I use presentations, seminars, discussions, and reviews to convey these advanced concepts to the players.
In traditional sports, film is a big part of the coaching process – both watching other teams’ films as scouting and watching your own team’s film to highlight certain things. How much time coaching an Overwatch team is spent looking at VODs? Either of other teams or your own?
The better the team, the more you get out of watching VODs and the less you get out of actually playing the game. For most teams, around 20-30% of their time is spent VOD reviewing at an Academy level. Teams below that spend a lot less time, maybe 10-15%, and teams above can end up spending 50-60% of their time reviewing VODs, spending more time on theory than practice. As the league advances, theory sessions will make up a bigger percentage of teams practice regiments as fundamental skills will become second nature.
That is fascinating. Is this something you began to notice more and more when you started working with XL2? Can you share more what that experience was like?
Definitely, the players on XL2 were much more mechanically confident and learned new concepts a lot faster, so we needed to spend more time reviewing compared to previous teams I was on. It was definitely very fun to coach a team this responsive to feedback, and I think a lot of coaches whom I do not want to name, aren’t capable of feeding their players enough feedback to really sate them.
When further considering his time at XL2, ioStux had good things to say about Goliath and Cloneman’s coachability and seemed positive about the experience as a whole, citing the LAN finals as a highlight that stood out.
“Working with your players in person is a complete game changer.”
Going into those said finals, XL2 was matched up against Fusion University. Both teams looked untouchable up until that point and the game itself received a lot of hype. The result, however, did not go in ioStux or XL2’s favor.
His main regret after the loss? Focus.
“I just chose the wrong strategy, focusing on my enemies weaknesses rather than my team’s strengths.”
Despite this loss to Fusion University, ioStux has still proven his prowess as a coach. When you consider XL2’s dominance over the course of the season and the clear improvement that he helped to bring to the team, ioStux has a lot to be proud of from his time with XL2.
That time, however, has come to an end.
Today, we are parting ways with coach @ioStux_Coaching who’s leaving to focus on getting into OWL.
We wish you all the best in your future endeavors! pic.twitter.com/X8V3AqAdX4
— XL2 Academy (@XL2) September 26, 2018
I am officially LFT as head coach for any OWL/Contenders teams.
-Previously with XL2 Academy (2nd Place NA Contenders).
-2 years of experience.
-Coached both western and KR players.
Resume and Portfolio available on request. Contact email@example.com.
— ioStux (@ioStux_Coaching) September 26, 2018
About three weeks after the final, XL2 announced that ioStux was stepping away to focus on getting into the Overwatch League. ioStux refused to give any more information on his future plans at this time.
Regardless of ioStux’s next step, it is clear that he is a coach we all need to watch very closely. With the new observer tools pending in the PTR, coaches with his level of knowledge, proven history and VOD review skills could be at a higher premium than ever.
Even with all of this experience, when asked what his advice would be to up-and-coming coaches, his response was a simple one: “Learn Korean!”.
The Game Haus would like to thank ioStux for giving us a glimpse into the life of an Overwatch coach. You can keep up with ioStux on Twitter and, if you’re interested in coaching, check out his website!
Follow me on Twitter: @GoopyKnoopy I would love to dialogue with you about anything I’ve written!
You can also shoot me a line on Discord! (GoopyKnoopy#2205)
Featured Image Courtesy of iostux.com
“From our Haus to Yours”