I had the opportunity to interview Matt Schmieder, head coach of professional League of Legends lineup Team 8 who competed in the League of Legends Championship Series.

Q: Hey Matt, for those who don’t know much about you, how about you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I’m Matthew Schmieder, the head coach of Team 8. I’m from New Jersey and I’m 19 years old. I took a break from studying at Rutgers University to live the esports life. In my free time lately I’ve been listening to music, playing solo queue or 5s with friends, and watching Starcraft.

Q: How did you get involved with Team 8?

A: I became a big fan of Team 8 during NACL Season 2, when they came from out of nowhere and started taking games off LMQ, when no other team was, and I followed them in other tourneys like NACS and Black Monster Cup. Sometime around last April/May I messaged Maple on Twitter, asking if the team was looking for analysts. I showed them some samples of my work and they decided to trial me. Eventually they said I could stay in their team house during the summer, then we made LCS and now I’m here.

Q: What’s the team training routine in the house? In other words, how does the team’s daily schedule look like?

A: We typically have two scrim blocks a day, the first usually starting at 12pm. Blocks can be anywhere from 2-4 hours, and I usually schedule at least an hour break between both blocks. After the second block, we do replay review. Other than that, there isn’t that much structure to our schedule. We tried to implement set sleep/wake-up times, but I think we are all reasonable enough about it that we don’t need it to be set it stone. Additionally, some of us have different sleep schedules so setting us all to the same time might throw some people off.

Q: As the coach, do you advise the players on strategies or play styles?

A: Yes I do advise on strategy. I see my main job as getting the players to be more mindful of overall strategy, as applied to every phase of the game. As for play-styles, every team undoubtedly has a play-style but I also see my job as trying to move our team away from a predictable “style” and instead toward being able to play a multitude of styles as necessary. That’s is a lofty goal which not many teams really achieve, but it’s good to have that final goal in mind.

Q: It’s been a bit of a rocky start so far for Team 8, do you expect that to change for the rest of the split?

A: I do expect it to change. In scrims, I think there’s tangible progress being made in our team-play which doesn’t always manifest itself in LCS games. We obviously aim to place as high as possible, but I think keeping focused on improvement just as much as LCS results will benefit us more in the long run.

Q: How is your relationship with the team? Is it strictly professional?

A: I wouldn’t call it strictly professional. I’ve lived with the team for about half a year now, and it’s hard to be strictly professional when you go through everything together for that long, not that that’s a bad thing necessarily. It’s also important to note that my relation to them previously was as an analyst rather than a coach, so I wasn’t expecting the same level of respect or authority that I do now. And transitioning to a different role has had its own unique challenges.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody that wants get involved in Esports, whether as a player or a coach/manager?

A: It is maybe true that in esports, you need a bit of luck to break into the scene, but that’s not something you can control. What you can control is that you work hard and have a mind toward improving yourself, always. I feel as if Thorin might have said the same once, and that’s because it’s applicable to anything you do.

Q: There is a lot of controversy regarding player imports from outside of the region. Do you think that there is fresh talent in North America?

A: Undoubtedly. I think it’s really on the orgs to give challenger/amateur players the environment to grow, and the right people to guide young talent in the right direction attitude-wise. At the same time, I don’t blame teams for looking overseas for talent .The LCS format is unforgiving in that it doesn’t allow much time for players to learn on the job, whether you’re looking to either compete for worlds or avoid relegation. If you have to choose between an NA player who needs time to learn to play competitive, or a seasoned foreign player (ignoring language issues), isn’t the answer obvious? By that I don’t mean that every imported player is necessarily more seasoned or always the better move, but that it’s important to consider a team’s motivations and needs before criticizing a roster decision.

Q: Thanks for your time Matt. Before we end this interview, do you have anything to say to all your fans?

A: Thanks to everyone who supports Team 8 in a positive way! We appreciate you for sticking with us through everything. Also shout out to my best friend Mike who has always been there for me.

I would like to thank Matt for taking the time to sit down and answer those questions. I wish him and his team the best of luck in the NA LCS!

For more tips to get better at league, enter your email for the free Summoner School course.