An in-depth Q&A with one of the best professional LoL teams
With an astounding 32 million registered players and one billion hours of collective playtime each month, League of Legends (LoL) is the most-played videogame in the world. The free-to-play title pits two teams of five players against each other and has them destroying enemy bases: think team-based tower defense gameplay where players have different designated positions. The deep, complex game is just as competitive as it is popular and features unprecedented lucrative tournaments that have multi-million dollar prize pools. Throughout the process, LoL has created several gaming rockstars in the burgeoning eSports world.
One such rockstar team is top-10-world ranked Team Curse. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the American team currently has a record of 9-2 this season and has garnered sponsorships from such companies as Cooler Master. Team Curse is so well-respected in the community that its players charge up to $250 an hour for gameplay lessons. While this fee sounds astronomically high for what is nothing more than a videogame practice session, Team Curse tells us that requests for lessons can be at times overwhelming.
Maximum PC had the opportunity to conduct an in-depth interview with the beloved team where they talk about their insane practice regimen, discuss what it's like to recieve so much attention from fans, share tips on how to become a better player, and much more. Read on for the full interview.
From left to right (with played positions): Cop (AD), Nyjacky (AP), Elementz (support), Voyboy (top), Saintvicious (jungler)
Maximum PC: While you guys have done well in the past, Team Curse is currently destroying the competition this season. What changes to your practice regimen have you guys made?
LiQuiD112 (Curse Director of eSports): Preparing for our qualification matches to earn our spot in the League of Legend Championship Series (LCS), we knew that we had to put everything on the line. We adopted a strict scrimming (practicing against an opposing team) and replay [watching] schedule. In addition, we use communication exercises to improve synergy in the game that we have leveraged from the military and other high-stress team environments.
Maximum PC: How many hours do you guys practice a day and what does your practice regimen look like?
Saintvicious (jungler): An average day we typically work 12 to 14 hours. We work six days a week, but sometimes we work seven depending on travel schedule. We normally put in 70-80 hour weeks. We scrim for five to eight hours. We do an additional three to five hours of streaming and self-practice. We strategize, watch replays, and have team meetings where we run drills to improve gameplay. When we travel, our schedule goes a little out of whack depending on our access to internet, flight times, and match schedules.
Maximum PC: Can you guys have fun in pro games or does it mostly feel stressful?
Elementz (support): It is always fun, we have one of the best jobs in the world. When you love what you do, it’s always fun, but fun and stress go hand in hand for us.
Team Curse prepares for Season 3
Maximum PC: What kind of impact does audience reaction in tournaments have on you guys?
Cop (AD carry): The best impact is when we are on stage and there are thousands of live people watching us play. Even though we wear noise-canceling headsets, you can still hear the fans - they are THAT loud - shouting and screaming during big team fights. It feeds me this energy and after the match I love looking out into the audience. You see these people with Curse signs, face paint, and all kinds of stuff that makes you really appreciate what you do.
Maximum PC: Would you say the game is pretty well-balanced? Considering there are over 100 characters to choose from, would you say there are some champions that are underpowered or overpowered?
Saintvicious: The game is balanced; however, from patch to patch, which happens weekly or biweekly, the champions that are more powered than others changes. For example, this week AP Tryndamere has become a common ban (in LoL tournaments, teams can ban three enemy champions) because of how powerful the champion’s heal is. Riot has already nerfed it by 90%! But since the tournaments we play in are always a week or sometimes two weeks behind the [normal] live client, we can abuse these more powered champions. That’s why you’ll see [he] was banned against us in Week 4.
IEM – Grand Championships in Hannover, Germany. League of Legends has become quite the spectacle around the world.
Maximum PC: What are the biggest pitfall newer players make and how would you suggest avoiding them?
Cop: New players will often jump to blame other players instead of trying to improve themselves. They will go into solo-queue games and complain the jungler is not coming (helping) enough or that another lane is feeding (dying) too much. Instead of worrying about those things, just focus on your own game. Read up on how to play your champion. On sites like lolpro.com you can get info on what builds to use, detailed guides on strategy and tactics. When you focus on yourself and improving, you’ll naturally get better at the game.
Maximum PC: Are people too caught up on the "meta" mechanics of the game? Or do all the roles and positions warrant their place?
NyJacky (AP carry): The meta of the game changes when the patch changes. There is always a ‘fad’ or a champion of the week and players adopt to that champion in the tournament weekend. Most champions are viable, it’s just how you use them. When you play a champion, other teams see your builds and copy you - then it becomes the new ‘OP’ or overpowered [setup]. There are a lot of jump-on-the-bandwagon strategies.
Click the next page to hear who Team Curse thinks is their biggest rivals this season, what they consider their biggest comeback moment is, and more.
Maximum PC: What would be the team's biggest comeback moment?
Cop: Our match versus Good Game University (GGU). We had two Inhibitors down and they were hitting our Nexus (last structure) ready to finish the game. We ended up acing them (killing all of them) while they were trying to finish the Nexus and counter pushed for the win.
Maximum PC: Which team is the one to beat this season? And what makes them so difficult?
Elementz: The best team is probably Dignitas. They are a really good team, their communication is excellent and they have Crumbzz who is one of the best junglers in the game.
Team Curse does a meet-and-greet with its passionate fans.
Maximum PC: What’s more important: a great individual player or five solid players?
Elementz: This one is obvious: five solid players. This is a team game, communication is paramount. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Individual skill means nothing if you can’t coordinate and move around the map properly. That is why you see teams that are made up of very high Elo (ranked) players sometimes do horribly in tournaments.
Maximum PC: Do you guys ever troll (mess around) in non-competitive games? If so, what antics have you guys gotten away with?
Elementz: Sometimes when you want to relax after a long day of scrimming, you get to play some fun unorthodox champions that are fun to play. Sometimes those fun games turn into amazing strategies that we use in our professional games. You never know. One of my favorite compositions is Cassopeia support and Singed on bot lane...it's so strong!
Professional gaming at the top level is serious work.
Maximum PC: This is situational, but in general, if you guys kill all members of the enemy team (known as "ace"), is it a better idea to use that time and destroy turrets or kill Baron and go for the Baron buff? I’ve personally felt that going for Baron has cost me many-a-game.
Saint: This is highly situational it depends on so many different things. It depends on oracle control, the health bars, death timers, how many towers you already have, if you have inhibitors or not, the minion lanes and where they are pushed, item builds, and how many players are left after the ace. With all of that being said, if you can get inhibs - typically it is better than Baron. In most solo-queue games, teams will overextend at the enemy base trying to pick up an inhib and over-stay and then they will get re-aced. It’s always best to take small-bite advantages. When you get greedy and overextend, it almost always backfires.
Maximum PC: Let’s say you’re pitted up against an unknown enemy team in a tournament. Which three characters would you ban and why?
Cop: This is way too hard to answer. It depends on the meta, the patch, red or blue side. In this hypothetical imaginary situation, I guess we would ban some of the more overpowered champions. At the moment that would be Tryndamere, Xin Zhao and Kayle. Tryndamere because he can fully heal himself with his Q which is on a four-second cool down. Xin because his ganks are godlike and he can tank tower hits. Kayle because she dishes out so much damage and her ultimate can make or break team fights because you can save someone.
Team Curse shows off it's Cooler Master gear.
Maximum PC: What do you guys think of the other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like Dota 2, HoN, and Smite?
Voyboy: They don’t even compare to League. They will have their own loyal fan bases but League of Legends dominates them all. Riot games has made significant investments in eSports and ensuring that their games have more fans than all of those combined.
Maximum PC: Thanks for the time, guys. We'll certainly be routing for you this season.