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From Player to Coach: An Interview with Araneae
In the midst of Super Week, I found time to sit down with Fnaticlogo std.pngFnatic’s amicable coach, Araneae, to talk about how he came to coaching, his role on the team, and future prospects for coaching in League of Legends.

First off, as always, could you give some background on yourself for anyone who still might not know you?

Araneae: Sure! Hello everyone, I’m Alvar Martin, more known as Araneae, ex jungler of SK Gaminglogo std.pngSK Gaming, ALTERNATE aTTaXlogo std.pngALTERNATE aTTaX, Milllogo std.pngMillenium and other teams, and now coaching Team Fnatic.

Today I'd like to focus more on your time in Millenium and transitioning into your coaching role. As a player in Millenium, what made you think it was the right time to step from the roster?

We had some problems on Millenium, and even though I didn't feel I was the main problem, I thought that if I left the team, I could try to solve some of the problems from outside. And that's exactly what I did.

So to fix these problems on Millenium, I'm guessing this led you to pursue coaching as your future in LoL?

Well, I could have kept playing LoL, but I was more focused on ending my engineering degree over playing League, and had offers from teams or even gaming companies, but coaching a group of friends and helping them to perform at their best level was a good challenge for me.

Going from being a player to being a coach - especially for a group of friends - how did you style your coaching? Was it more authoritative like "You have to do level 1s like this." Or more of a suggestive role like "These are the picks that are common today, maybe you can do something like this for your next games?"

It depends. In terms of level 1, bans, and jungle/mid synergy I tend to be more authoritative. But for some picks, especially top/bot I just suggest ideas, and they can decide from them.

Did your experience as a player shape how you would want to be coached, especially in such a new game (in terms of coaching) like LoL?

Well, I've been competitive in any other sport I practiced (Basketball, Football, Handball, Volleyball...) so I kind of guessed how would be the best way to coach in League as well. I'm still far from that "best way" but working to get there as soon as I can.

I was into basketball for a long time too, and a big part of that coaching was drills, just running up and down the court and practicing shots. Have you developed any ways inside LoL to be able to reinforce those basic skills? Or are you just waiting for Riot to develop tools like those to help pro teams, and right now you're just focusing on getting as many scrims as you can?

There are different ways to work as a coach. You can tell your players to train 1v1 between each other to see how the matchup, without jungle presence, works.

Sure, that makes sense. Have you talked to other coaches about their coaching strategies? Or are all the coaches very secretive when it comes to how best to teach players? Do you share knowledge with other coaches about other regions or teams perhaps to get different perspectives?

I only talked with Alliancelogo std.pngAlliance Coach, Jordan, about coaching. I guess every coach has their way to work.

Now that you're higher up in an organization and you've seen both perspectives of a player and management, would you risk taking in new talent not as players but as assistant analysts or coaches?

Well, if I really need another guy to work with the Fnatic team I will take my time to take the best possible addition for the team. And since there is no place to form those guys (as a player, you can always train in solo queue), I guess we are the people who need to help them.

Would a high solo queue rank still factor into your decision for a person for such a role? What would you generally be looking out for?

I would prefer having a guy with team experience over a solo queue star. But obviously is harder to rate "team experience" over solo queue Elo. And it depends on the troubles of a team. If the team were struggling on a specific role, I would look into someone good in that role to help us.

How is your relationship with the players from a coaching standpoint? Do they always follow what you say? Or agree with your opinions/coaching?

They tend to follow what I say but not always agree with me. Even myself, I don’t have I have the definitive truth on every argument, so many times is better to discuss and talk about their point of views, more than being over-authoritarian.

Are you enjoying your time as coach? How has your day-to-day life changed since moving to the coaching role? Before joining the house I was just focused on exams. Nowadays I work a couple of hours in the morning on analysis, then we have 1 or 2 hours of team talk to watch replays or discuss past/future matches, and then I watch every single scrim with a notebook to take notes from every single bad rotation/bad call/bad move.

Any final thoughts or shoutouts?

I would like to thank all my fans and all the Fnatic fans, and also a big thanks to Fnatic team to give me this opportunity.

Thank you very much for your time and insights, Araneae! It is much appreciated in a time where I know you’re really busy. Best of luck in playoffs and hopefully Season 4 World Championship!


Published on 04. Aug 2014
Written by Kenneth Hui.
Edited by RheingoldRiver.