The Next Step - An Interview With Guild Esports
Throughout 2020 we’ve had bags of shocks, to say the least, one of which was Guild Esports’ entry as a brand-new organisation - and into Rocket League. Signed from Team Singularity, the duo of Joseph ‘noly’ Kidd and Thomas ‘ThO’ Binkhorst confirmed their third with former world champion Kyle ‘Scrub Killa’ Robertson, alongside the addition of Scrub’s former coach, Mike ‘Gregan’ Ellis. “At first when they [Guild] came to us, they told us that we were going to be the main priority which not a lot of orgs do.” said noly when asked what attracted the team to Guild, adding “Then obviously David Beckham [was] behind them too.”
Together as teammates for over a year now, noly and ThO began looking for a new teammate following the departure of Leon ‘Godsmilla’ Mares back in April, whilst still remaining as members of Team Singularity. First trying Joonas ‘Mognus’ Salo, the duo then set their sights on Scrub Killa, a teenage prodigy and former world champion, who took home the title in RLCS Season 7 with Team Vitality. Gregan stated “Scrub has a lot of benefits in the sense that he’s experienced, he’s been to the top, he’s played on big stages and everything, and that’s something he can help teach noly and ThO. I think for Scrub, having worked with him in the past, I think this is the most comfortable he’s ever seemed in a team before. I think that just goes to show how important it is having a team environment for the long term success of a team.
“I think he’s really set with noly and ThO, and this is the team that he’s going to get back to the top with. They all get on so well, especially on bootcamp, [and] it’s been great for them to chat and hang out in person and they get much closer. Everything’s looking really good for the team in that sense and scrub being a part of it has definitely improved the environment.“
With Scrub on board, it’s been a long process for Guild in adapting as a three, Noly expressed “We definitely had to adapt, like he’s [Scrub] a lot more aggressive than Godsmilla was, so we kind of changed the way we played by switching up rotations, and how we think of the game. Like Gregan said - Scrub’s got the experience and when in tournaments he brings up the energy.”
There was not only one addition to the team, of course. Gregan joined as coach, originally working as a scout with Guild in helping them find a team. On the addition, ThO expressed “He has another view as a coach from a coaching perspective, like he really knows how to explain how we need to play. So it’s really easy to know what to do.” noly added “Since Gregans came into the team we’ve become a lot more organised as a trio, like we understand how to play the game with each other and at first it was quite chaotic since we didn’t really gel well.“
Together officially for just over a month now, the team has gathered some decent results. Finishing in the quarter-finals of the first regional event, and finishing in the exact same place in week three of The Grid. In order to take the next step, Gregan stated “I think we can all agree that when we’re playing our best we look really good, and when we’re not playing our best we’re not as confident in the way we’re playing. So the main thing is how can we reach that top performance as often as possible, so consistency is pretty much the word that describes it. I think that’s RLCS X as a whole. There are so many matches, so many chances to win and lose that we need to be as consistent as possible.
“That’s why in North America right now Spacestation are doing so well because they have a repeatable playstyle and we’re just trying to work out what our playstyle is and how we can make it repeatable and I think we’re getting close and bootcamp has really helped us to talk it through, look back together in person and talk things out and we’re really hoping for the minor too to show what our repeatable style looks like.”
As Gregan alluded to, in the current climate of the world Guild are still bootcamping in London, and they’re using it to their advantage. “The main thing with this bootcamp was this was the first time the guys and myself get to meet in person so it was about forming that friendship and getting to know each other. I think that’s been a great success. We’re feeling much better than we ever have. So that when we go home and play from home you’ll imagine the smile of the person next to you rather than hearing the voice and not knowing what’s going on.
“The next one was to try and improve performance, which we are already seeing with the way we’re playing, so that’s another big tick in the box.“
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Not only was there a shift in the climate of the world, but a shift in format for the RLCS. Season X brought with it many changes, including scrapping the league format, opting for multiple splits, and regional events within those. Also added was ‘The Grid’, a weekly tournament involving all the top teams to play for a wildcard spot come the split finals. With this, teams are playing a considerable amount of games, from one or two a week, to possibly five in a day over two or even three days.
Noly stated “It’s a lot more Rocket League which is what I’ve been wanting more, it used to [the old format] force pros to be more lazy, [and now] to play the game more. That’s all I wanted because we’ve got a dream job. We get paid to play games, even if I wasn’t paid I’d still play the game, it’s definitely better to play in tournaments every week, and cash prizes is a bonus.”
Gregan then added “It’s increasing the intensity of these players, because they have to play much more in one competing day than they ever did before. Whereas RLCS preparation before preparing for one series and then you’re done for the day, then you had the occasional regional finals, the occasional LAN where it was a bit more intense. Every single week of the grid is potentially six hours, every single weekend with the swiss bracket is potentially five games so you have to be prepared to play for a longer period of time. It’s a lot more of a marathon now when you’re competing on a matchday rather than a short sprint.”
We’re only a month into this new format and there’s still a whole year to go until its completion, and Guild are aiming high this season. Gregan stated “We want to be the best and each split is a chance for you to have a go at it and see if you can get better and better and we don’t need to worry about winning everything right now and being able to take each tournament as it comes and ignore what happened in the previous one to perform better in the next one, that’s what’s key in this format. You are going to lose, you are going to have rough days but they can’t affect your long term performance like they have in the past, you can't just give up and shake a teammate out of the three and get someone else in and hope it works better next season. You have to stick with it for a long period of time and work on it and push to the next level. Being able to fight through losses is going to be the toughest challenge with all of these new pros.“
You can keep up with more of the RLCS action here at GGRecon, and on our Rocket League Twitter.
Images via Guild Esports, ZeeboDesigns, and Dreamhack.