If you didn’t know Joshua “Jatt” Leesman as a jungler on Dignitas in 2011, you’d have certainly seen him either on the analyst desk for the LCS or as a colour caster during various North American and International games, where he stayed for eight years before a brief stint on Riot’s balance team.
He came back to the LCS broadcast for the Spring Split before leaving again to become Team Liquid’s new coach, where things so far have been going quite well for him. After their win against TSM, we spoke with Jatt all about his new role.
Congratulations on this win! Tell me about the prep and the mindset for this game going into it. Was there any different type of thought process knowing who you were going to be facing, or was it just like any other team?
I mean for me, I don't even know what “any other team means” since this is my first game as coach. I will say that our team practiced longer than the other teams in the off-season for the most part.
The whole team decided that the 9th place finish wasn't acceptable and everyone wanted to start practice early so we’ve done five weeks of scrims whereas a lot of other teams did not.
Then in terms of a specific preparation, I mean, we spent several hours thinking about as many possible draft scenarios as we could to try and make sure we had a team comp we’d be able to win with, and it paid off. We got something we wanted and we were ready to go.
Jatt was previously a caster in the LCS (Picture: lolesports/LCS Twitter)
With COVID-19, are you coaching from afar or has the entire team been able to be together in one place?
Basically with COVID-19 the majority of practice has been, for me, 100 percent remote. We only got back into the Alienware training facility about four days ago and that's with full social distancing measures in effect, so temperature screening at the door, desks six feet apart, all that stuff.
It's definitely not the same as it would have even been pre-COVID, but at least the last four days I have found to be just so much more productive than the full remote stuff, just with all the challenges that had.
I think based on the results today, I’m just really proud of the guys for being able to overcome all of the difficulties with remote practice and still have a really good showing.
Was there any difficulty in doing the social distancing, or it's just kind of the same except they're just unable to really be next to each other?
I think it's definitely better than it was online because even if you’re six feet apart, seeing someone helps a lot more. It’s still obviously not where you would prefer your practice environment to be, but understanding the circumstances, I think it’s important, so it’s been fine.
There was a lot of engage by the team, which last split, it didn’t seem as if there was as much of a willingness to engage in fights. Was there a general consensus to engage more this split?
I think the biggest thing that we stressed before the game was just should not play [scared]. If we just play with confidence and lose it's fine because it's one game of 18. We need practice playing with confidence and I think that's one of the big things they did today.
You guys play Evil Geniuses next Sunday and they just came off of a really good weekend. What's going to be the game plan for prep against them?
It's going to be the same as for any other team. Right now, our focus is 100 percent on Golden Guardians, who we play on Sunday (14th June) and then going into the week, we’ll look at the opponents we have on the weekend and start shifting our practice towards those matchups and just keep running through the process so that we’re prepared for every single team.
We’re not going to do anything specifically unique in our process, but the answers are certainly going to be different.
How different is being a coach versus being an analyst? Do you find that it works better to your strengths, or do you feel there are still ways that you can improve?
There are a ton of ways in which I can improve. I think it does play to my strengths, I think that’s one of the reasons I wanted to take on the responsibility of being a head coach just in terms of how long I’ve thought about League of Legends, how much I feel I know about the game, and then some of my communication skills.
But putting that all into practice is still really hard, so I think overall I’m really happy with how it started and I'm looking forward to continue to get better.
You mentioned that this is something that you’ve wanted to do, so did you reach out to CEO Steve Arhancet or did he reach out to you?
This is one of the best opportunities for me, so being a head coach has always been on my mind, but I wasn’t going to do it unless it was a good situation.
I'd had conversations with Steve, just kind of exploring the idea as early as 2018, so for this specific conversation I think Steve recognized a need and want, and then because we’d had the previous conversation we just picked it back up again and it happened.
Now that you have some time working with Tactical, how is he meshing with the team? I know that he did play a couple of games with the main roster last split, but how do you feel his play-style works with Liquid as a whole?
It works really well. He is a really flexible player, so when he needs to play the hard carry Aphelios, like he did in this game, he can step up and if he needs to play something and our plays on the map need to be made more around the top or midlane he’s totally okay with it.
I couldn’t be happier, especially with the fact that you hear from the outside, “Oh, Doublelift, the next guy is going to be this 19 year old rookie,” but he’s been great. Flexible and skilled.
Last split had a lot of trials and tribulations for Team Liquid as a whole. What are your specific or general goals for the team and for Summer Split?
For me, I think my biggest goals are process and improvement, so not looking too far in the future because sometimes when you do that, you can demotivate yourself for the present, so every day, every week we’re striving towards something.
It's going to be a different thing we’re improving on but that’s, in general, what we will focus on.
Yes, I think the goal is to win Summer Split; the goal is to do very well at Worlds, but we don't talk about that on a day to day basis. We talk about how we're going to get better for the next day of scrims and how we're going to get better for the next week of matches.
It looks like the team has started to find their footing, not only from this game but also from what I'm hearing in regards to how you guys are in scrims. Are there any teams that you're looking forward to playing this split specifically, like Cloud9 or anything like that?
Yeah, I can't wait to play Cloud9, but I also don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Team Liquid finished 9th last split.
There were a large number of reasons why the team finished 9th, but Cloud9 is the defending champs, so they're going to be probably an extra focus but I think the important thing is to take every game seriously. Take it one at a time and that's how we're going to get the best finish.
You can catch more of the LCS Summer Split on 19th June, across YouTube, Twitch, and lolesports.com. Be sure to catch more League content here on GINX Esports TV.