Guilhoto: ''NA Players Buyouts Cost 200 Times More Than EU''
Immortals have been a fringe team to the middle of the pack in the standings throughout all of the League of Legends Champion Series’ (LCS) 2021 Spring Split. With seemingly no set in stone playstyle, the team has struggled to break into the middle of the pack, but has been able to make sure that the teams below them remain there.
As of the time of writing, Immortals are just one game behind the sixth-place Evil Geniuses and have one final week to claim the last spot going into the Mid-Season Showdown (MSS).
We had the opportunity to interview head coach, André Guilhoto, after their loss to Counter Logic Gaming last week.
You have players in NA that without any kind of LCS experience cost 200 times more when it comes to buyouts than a European player.
The team has gotten a handful of wins through different ways or players, be it early on in the split when Revenge got his lead versus Team Liquid, or when Insanity had his strong performance versus teams like Golden Guardians last week. Is there a definitive playstyle that Immortals have been working towards polishing, or is there no set in stone way for the team quite yet?
It’s been hard to figure out because we are so inconsistent right now that we still didn’t have an actual full week where everyone is playing at a decent level individually. I think that at the start, at least, our bot lane was struggling, then bot lane stopped struggling, and now top is struggling. It’s very hard to define a style when we still haven’t made it through the first step of just being at the minimum stable on the way we play laning phase. Until we get there, it’s going to be hard to find a style.
You used to coach in the LEC, so you’ve played a part in figuring out what players you’ve wanted to sign. How was that process now that you’re over here in North America? Was it any different knowing that the player pool is not necessarily as big compared to Europe’s, as well as knowing the history of the region and its want to import players?
There was a huge difference, of course. I think it’s not only the player pool, but I also feel like even if you wanted to build a roster of just any talent coming from Academy, I think that most players are ridiculously valued in Academy when it comes to buyouts. At the start, it was hard for me to actually comprehend that, but since NA teams actually don’t necessarily need the money, or the money that is in this scene is so high, players without any kind of LCS experience will just cost — you have players in NA that without any kind of LCS experience cost 200 times more when it comes to buyouts than a European player. And at the start, that was very surprising to me because either you pick them straight up from SoloQ, or you’re literally going to spend a lot of money, like, for example, FlyQuest, and just get rookies that way.
And to be honest, I think that some players in Academy don’t have a spot right now in LCS because of that. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing; at the end of the day, this is also business, and if there is demand for those prizes, then, of course, the prizes will go up. It makes it harder because people talk a lot about the player pool being low, but another issue is also that even if the player pool is low, you can’t, or you don’t, have access to the actual whole player pool that exists. It’s even smaller because of that. So that was one of the main things - because I always wanted to build a roster with a base in American and young talent, or at least talent that still didn’t really have a shot in the LCS.
You are one of the rosters that have players from what was previously the OPL. Were Destiny and Raes always on the radar even before Riot announced the import rule change for their region, or was that rule change a sort of go button for you and the rest of IMT to want to pick these players up?
When we started analysing what roster we wanted to build, the rule was already announced, so there was no “before and after the rule”. It was just, there was the rule, and then we built the roster. Of course, it has an impact, but the main impact is not affected; he’s not an import. It’s more the fact that in my eyes, now he’s an American talent. And of course, this is very hard to assimilate, especially for the American audience, but OPL's competitive server is the American server, so they are part of the player base.
For example, a lot of comments that I saw today with Ryoma playing for 100 Thieves that now they don’t have any Americans. At least, in my eyes, Ryoma is, in a way, an American player because he doesn’t really have a league in his region. The league of his region is now America. And I look at the same eyes for Mitch (Destiny), it’s going to take a while, but I think that at some point, people will also start looking at it that way.
I knew what he [Destiny] could bring to the table and I knew that since it was gonna be very hard once I got the shock of what the buyout values are in America.
How much did your experience with coaching Destiny previously on Origen affect your decision in wanting to coach him again? Was there anything in particular that caught your eye in the past that you used to sign him now?
It was basically that; I knew what he could bring to the table, and I knew that since it was going to be very hard once I got the shock of what the buyout values are in America. And it was similar to Xerxe — since the year at Origen was just tragic — that they would just be overlooked, and I was on a good spot to know exactly what went wrong and what happened and what their true value was. So that was the reason why I specifically wanted both of them. I thought they would help when it comes to also grab a couple of wins here and there while still improving and focusing a bit more on the other three players that don’t have any experience in a major league. Insanity has, but it’s a very weird situation; I wouldn’t really call that experience.
In a Tweet going into Week 2 of Lock In, the organisation stated that they’d give on-stage experience for the Academy roster even though four out of five of the starting roster players had arrived. You guys played with the Academy Roster for essentially all of the LCS Lock In. As a head coach, how did you handle the transition of coaching one set of five players for the tournament, to all of a sudden switch to the starting line up once the Spring Split started?
It wasn’t that big because, to be honest, Jensen and I shared coaching, [Jensen] did more than I did in the Lock In. People think that the way that it worked was Academy was filling in for the players that weren’t here, but actually, our players, Revenge and Insanity, were filling for the Academy players that weren’t here yet. And the plan was always to, once we knew about the arrival dates, play with the Academy roster throughout the whole tournament. I was just doing more individual stuff with the two of them, and once the whole roster except Destiny was here, then we started practising with Joey. That’s when I started coaching the team, but at that point, neither Revenge nor Insanity were playing in the Lock In tournament anymore. I never really coached per se during the Lock In tournament, it was mostly Jensen and I sharing.
With just one week remaining and their playoff hopes still alive, Guilhoto and Immortals look to make one final push for the last playoff spot when they face off against fourth-place 100 Thieves at 1am GMT on Saturday, March 13.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Images via Riot Games