Teams rise and fall all the time in League of Legends, but it’s rare a new team makes much impact in the scene. Royal Bandits of the TCL is seeking to break this mold with their standout performance this split. The team currently sits second with an 8-4 record. While we know of the standout talent on the roster (HolyPhoenix, Cepted, etc.), it’s the man behind the scenes who is driving this insane performance: head coach Marcus “Blumigan” Blom.
A former support sub and analyst for Fnatic, Marcus has shaken up the traditional state of the league with his strong drafts and focus on coordinated team play. We sat down with him to get his take on the TCL, his thoughts on imports and what led him to this point.
Recently you were an analyst on Fnatic. How did your work for them help prepare you for coaching Royal Bandits?
Marcus: It gave me a lot of good experience to see how an organisation that’s known worldwide works. Their playstyle was pretty unique back then (the infamous “animal style”) with way less macro than other teams but it was a really interesting split overall. It didn’t really help me to improve my knowledge in particular but I was really amazed how much authority their Academy Team coach (Kubz) had, and I’m really surprised he hasn’t found a home in NA yet.
If there was anything that prepared me for this split, it was being Head Coach (HC) for Dark Passage during the Summer Split. I went there for Worlds and came home ashamed of our performance. There was a lot of ups and downs during Summer Split, but I don’t regret going to DP a single moment. I became a much better coach/person during that short time.
You went from player to a Head Coaching position fairly quickly in your career. What attracted you to coaching, and what was that transition like?
Marcus: I was never really attracted to playing the game itself. I enjoyed trolling people in SoloQ and I never had good mechanics. The only reason I even hit master in SoloQ was because of pure macro/game knowledge and that interested me way more than going for outplays. I never planned to work with esports at all, it just happens that a friend of mine knew I had really good game knowledge and asked me to come help coach his team.
Coaching was a pretty new concept back then in 2015. There were coaches, but the infrastructure was no where near where it is today.
When I played in teams before I always thought coaches were a meme and that I could do it 1000 times better myself. There was not really a transition because I can assure you I am probably one of the worst players to have ever played in TCL and I never considered myself a pro/semi pro player in the EU Scene either even when I got paid – just saw it as a hobby back then.
We saw a large number of Korean imports coming into the league this year, with some very high profile signings such as KaKAO, Chaser, and CoCo among others, including your own Cepted and Malrang. How do you feel this has impacted the competitiveness of the region moving forward?
Marcus: Their work ethic is completely different to western players and they have a lot of game knowledge that they’re bringing to the region. Before this year, Turkey was a lot of “clown fiestas” and people fighting for nothing. This year with improved coaching staffs, players and overall infrastructure with organisations investing more to mimic FB last year success it’s way more macro based which helps the Turkish players improve a lot as well.
What do you think is the strength of the region in comparison to others internationally?
Marcus: Fast phased games. We scrim a lot of LCS teams and they are all really impressed at how fast we are able to snowball games and want to continue to scrim us. Turkey have a really low game average compared to other regions. We happen to have the shortest average times of all teams in the world – obviously for better or worse. We win really quick and lose really quick. I’m sure Turkey is the best wildcard region by far right now, but MSI will tell.
Turkey is almost a world away from Korea, how has it been for Cepted and Malrang adjusting to living there, and how do they get along with the team? Have there been any struggles (linguistic, culture, etc.) in helping them ease into it?
Marcus: I would say that Royal Bandits have done everything to make them feel comfortable. I know for a fact Malrang loves Turkey and wants to stay here for a long time. We instantly hired a translator who gives them a lot of English lessons. From the very start they have been included with team activities and participate in conversations just like any other player. I know they miss the food sometimes, but there are Korean restaurants in Istanbul too. I know this has been a problem for other teams, but for our part the transition to another region been really smooth.
With its quadruple round-robin format this year, the TCL has the longest regular season of any of the leagues, playing 27 games in a split. How has it been adjusting to three games a week, both for yourself and the players?
Marcus: I don’t think it matters too much. I prefer Bo2/Bo3s, but it’s understandable from a viewers perspective. I really don’t think we would lose to any team in a Bo2/Bo3/Bo5, but time will tell when playoffs comes around. Only problem is lack of scrims at times, because we are already +2 GMT and we almost always have played first game off the day so we can’t get warm up scrims all the time.
What do you think it will take for Royal Bandits to win the split and make MSI?
Hard-work and dedication to our goal. If any team can beat SuperMassive its us. We know our problems and we know how to fix them. We’ve still got five more weeks to go of the regular split, and we’ll make sure we come into playoffs prepared to take them down.
As a closing thought, what would you tell to League of Legends fans across the world that are new or unfamiliar with the Turkish scene?
Tired of seeing SPY, SKT or TSM playing their 65 minute games? Want to see insane flex-picks and unique champions? Check out TCL.
The TCL 2018 Winter Split continues this Saturday, February 24th. Be sure to stay tuned here for all the exciting coverage, and check out The Game Haus on Twitter and Facebook for more esports news. Don’t forget to also follow myself on Twitter for more news on the TCL.
~Isaac “Raptearer’ Chandler
Featured image courtesy of Marcus’ Twitter