Let’s start off with an introduction- who is the man behind Vector’s League team?
So my name’s Tony- people know me online as Reflect, and I’m the League team manager of Vector Gaming. I’ve always dabbled around in the industry, in some more amateur gold/platinum teams, and I’ve worked in a couple of other titles aside from League (mainly Overwatch), but all in a very amateur context. When looking online, I saw Vector enquiring about a League team manager to work with them, and I just thought ‘Why not? I’ll shoot my shot, you never know’. I had a chat with the org owner, a guy named Griff, and we were very much on the same page on where we want Vector to go and where we are currently at. Vector’s a very new organisation, only eight or nine months old, and we’re constantly looking at growing and expanding as we get more experience.
How did you go about scouting your UKEL roster? Are there any tips you’d give to either players looking to get scouted, or managerial staff looking to work for an organisation like Vector?
When I joined, there was nothing of the League team- the only thing that was really present was the management, so myself and one other person. Within even the first week we were working as hard as we could to get as much as we could done, and we managed to find two coaches and got an opportunity to work with both to see which one would be a better fit for the team. We also scouted around 15-20 players (thankfully) to trial with the team. We were scouting everywhere, particularly looking at UK proving grounds, and after around a three month process we were able to whittle it down to our five-man starting roster.
As for people looking to work for an org, I’d say watching the grassroots scene is absolutely essential. You can’t always go and watch the LEC, the UKLC, the LPL to look for players, but the grassroots scene has plenty to offer: tournaments like the UKEL or Square 1, events like Forge of Champions or Insomnia- these places are some of the best to find aspiring pro players. Obviously knowing people in the industry also helps a lot- get networking, get socialising, and most importantly get on Twitter looking for teams that are scouting for both managerial staff and players. I’d say honestly around 70% of the ways in which people find staff for up and coming organisations is through Twitter and word of mouth.
Speaking of social media and online communication- what are some of the struggles of managing an org remotely as opposed to through something like a gaming house?
The biggest struggles are obviously making sure everybody shows up to scrims on time- if someone’s not answering their messages, we have no other way to get hold of them. Sleep schedules are also really important to us at Vector, as well as other peripheral things like diet and general mental wellbeing. It’s all very difficult to monitor remotely, as you’ve pretty much just got to work on a trust basis with your players. I’ve had players message me at 2-3am, and the next morning I’ll have to remind them how important good sleep is, and that if they’re gonna stick to our scrim schedules then they have to try and be getting to sleep at reasonable times.
If you oversleep, that’s gonna damage your performance and the performance of the team as a whole- it’s all about taking responsibility not only for yourself but for the effect you can have on other people.
What are your thoughts on the team’s performance so far in the split?
Obviously we’re 1-3; everyone at the org is pretty disappointed with how we’ve been performing. With only 7 games over the course of the split, we know we can’t afford to be dropping those three games early on, and we feel like some of those losses were games that we could easily have won. A lot of it can be put down to player nerves, as obviously it’s nerve wracking playing in a streamed tournament when you’re so new to the scene, but we’ve been working a lot on our performance and we’re hoping to get the godlike gauntlet run!
On the subject of player nerves, I know a lot of players can get anxious at the idea that their games are being commentated on stream- do you think that kind of casting/streaming infrastructure in the UKEL is helping players in the long run?
It’s definitely a good thing to have infrastructure at this kind of level- if a player is able to move up the tiers and end up in something like the LEC, it’s really beneficial to have that experience of being watched and commentated. It makes the transition to higher leagues so much easier, and I definitely think it’s better to have the nerves now, in a smaller league, and get used to playing in a tournament at the early stages of a potential career. That being said, I do think nerves are important- it shows the players care about what they’re doing.
Slightly more lighthearted: Who is your favourite champion and why?
That’s a pretty tough question… I think I’d have to go back to the first champion I ever played, way back in Season 2, which would be Veigar. I think it’s just because he was my first ever champ, and it’s always been a niche pick that I’ve been able to fall back on- especially good now that teams like Fnatic are starting to pick him up in the LEC.