Scarra talks about switching roles, coaching and voice acting
Tue 1st Apr 2014 - 8:46pm
A veteran in the scene, William 'Scarra' Li has been with Team Dignitas since it began as Team Rock Solid in 2010. Now he finds himself still with the team but in a new role; coach, and he feels that he wouldn't able to work as well with any other team. Scarra took some time to sit down with me and discuss how things are going in the new position, goldenglue and his future.
When the replacement announcement was made, there was an outpouring of support and well wishes. What was that like for you?
Scarra: It was really kinda surreal. I don't like using that word because I feel like surreal is just a buzz word. It was kind of surreal, I was surprised at all of the help. Like I hit number one of reddit, it was just more than I expected. I expected something kind of big, but I didn't really expect that kind of generosity from my fans and a lot of other people and pro players.
How do you feel about your replacement?
Scarra: I feel like he's accomodating pretty well, at least team synergy-wise he seems to be doing really well. We have some kinks to work out though, like I feel like there's still a lot of stuff in his play that could be improved. Generally I feel pretty confident that he's doing really well, or he's going to do really well.
And how do you feel about you being replaced?
Scarra: Honestly it sucks, I want to be a player. If someone were to ask me if I still wanted to be a player, I wouldn't be able to lie to them. Or I would maybe lie to them and say I wouldn't but in reality playing is and was my passion. And now I just feel like that door is closed right now, I feel like there's no way I'll ever go back to being a player for any team.
In terms of coaching, what have you been able to do so far with the team?
Scarra: Generally just helping them make better decisions, is the biggest thing. I want them to be able to keep up momentum and then find out to get back into the game. It's really hard on the fly to be able to make those decisions, so replay analysis is really big. We tend to fall into this trap, and a lot of lesser teams fall into this trap of not doing something. Like if you're ahead or behind there's periods of lull where it's really boring, and the viewers and pick up on that.
Although it's not very clear why, maybe for them, for me it's 'we should've done something here.' All pro players know that something should've been done, but that something is a little bit hard to find, and that's why I'm here. I'm here to identify that something, and make it into something that we capitolize on or we do, so that there aren't lulls in the game, so that we can keep cleanly pushing a lead or cleanly recovering a game.
Of course you can't be in the headsets of the players during the games, but when you're practicing are you in the same comms as them?
Scarra: Yeah I'm in the same comms. I literally don't do anything different than when I was a player. I wake up, I solo queue, I go to sleep, I do all of the scrims, I'm in the comms I, spectate all the games. After every single game I review with them, potentially what they should've done or could've done. I think suggestions are much better than 'you should've done this,' unless it was really obvious. They incorporate my suggestions into their play and then we continue on with the day. And then at the end of the scrims I wind down with more solo queue.
Generally nothing's changed in terms of my schedule, and that's the funny thing. Switching from coach a lot of people think I have more free time, but really I do the exact same thing as before. For some weird reason I keep up a very similar practice schedule to when I was a player, and I find it is honestly enjoyable for me to do that. At least for now, maybe I'm in limbo where I'm not sure what I should be doing with my time, so in the off time I just end up reverting back to what I did as a player, which was do a lot of solo queue.
Do you think you'll stream more?
Scarra: Yeah definitely. I'll stream in small two hour burst windows when I can, whereas before I didn't really like to stream because after a loss it was really brutal to stream, especially as a player because you don't want to answer the questions. Like you don't want to meet with fans that have watched you lose, and then have to tell them you lost or have them ask you 'why did you lose,' or 'why was that game so bad?' A lot of times that's the reason pro players don't stream after games, because after a loss, especially after they did really poorly, it's just not worth the questions.
I feel like a lot of people and a lot of pro players are influenced by a large part by the community, as well as by their peers, and it just isn't worth it to take that kind of... I'm not going to say punishment, but take that kind of critique. Especially after you play, it's much better to go around with a clear day. Whereas a coach I'm more off-put from the team when it comes to wins and losses, it's a lot more analytical for me. It's like ok we lost because of this, this and this. Once we're at the studio I do nothing. My job at the studio is literally to just sit there and look at the game and maybe interact with some fans. Generally I don't do anything at the studio. Once you accept that as a coach, that there's nothing you can do at that point. I feel a lot less stressed about the win or loss than I did before as a pro player.
Was there anything that you've learned being a part of the team that you can take over to coach them?
Scarra: I feel like coaching, honestly half of it's more like people reading, and that's the biggest thing. I don't think I'd be as effective as a coach on other teams, but because I can read the team really really well on this team, I know what suggestions would work and how to phrase the suggestions to make them work easier, and still be able to keep people focused or motivated. I know what they need to be able to become a better player, or become a more dedicated player.
I wouldn't be able to be like 'you know TSM really needs this, this and this,' because I wouldn't know, not until I'd lived or stayed with them for a while. But with Dignitas I've been with this team for like three years and been with a lot the players for a long period of time, so I know how the arguments work out, I know how they think. And because of that that lets me become a better coach just because I can read them easier.
Earlier you mentioned a bit about goldenglue, could you go into particular about his abilities in mid after seeing him practice?
Scarra: He just needs someone to give him answers to the questions that he has. I don't think he's really ever had a person that he just talks to about mid lane, and what he should build, what he should do. Especially during the early facets of the game, I feel like that's probably his biggest weakness is his early game, and maybe like his late game decision making. I feel like that late game decision making is something that everyone can improve on. I used to be a lane centric player, so it's very easy for me to be like 'this is how the lane plays out, straight up level one to level five, assuming no jungler, this is the lane plays out this way.'
'You should buy this, and this is where you should look for openings.' That's very easy for me to tell him and very easy for me to teach him, so I feel like actually where he's weakest in is the point where I can help him the most. I think that's very fortunate for me. In mid game decision making and team fights he's actually pretty impressive and he's just a more aggro player than I used to be, which is really beneficial for the team in general.
You've said you don't have any plans beyond spring split for being a coach, and although you might not know what you want to do, if you had any option available to you, what would you do?
Scarra: I would... I don't know. I seriously don't know. If Riot were to come to me and be like 'we want you to be a caster, but if you don't want to be a caster, we would want you to be champion design, but if you don't want to be champion design, you can be live balance.' I still don't know which of those three I'd be more passionate about. I don't know if I'd like to be a full time streamer.
The only thing I've realized, is that I don't want to go back to school to finish my econ major. I feel like that part of my life is over, just like playing professionally is pretty much done. I feel like both of those options are closed to me now, and right now I'm in a state where I'm kind of evaluating my options. I'm not even sure which options I would have, so I'm going to give it a couple weeks, end of spring split and we'll see what pops up. Even with all of these hypothetical options available to me I still wouldn't be able to cleanly say 'I would prefer this' because I just don't know.
A while ago you posted a picture of you voice acting, can you speak at all about that?
Scarra: That was something more along the lines of a sponsor thing that I'm doing that I can't really clarify. It wasn't necessarily voice acting a champion, or anything related to Riot Games. Of course that would be something that would be very, very cool, very nice to do, but that's something I literally haven't even thought of. That's a lot of hard work, and I don't know if I'll be necessarily any good at that at all, and I don't know if I'd be passionate about that.
Well I'd be passionate about that, but I don't know if I'd be any good. I respect people who do voice overs and voice acting a lot more after I've done like a page and a half of stuff. It was a struggle for me to repeat the same word or same phrase ten times in a row, twenty times in a row, until they thought it was good.
There has been some speculation that you might be getting involved in voicing over the Gragas rework.
Scarra: I'd love to say that was me, but no. I would never approach a pro player to do that because it's just not beneficial for them. Let's say the pro player does something bad, or the pro player eventually drops out of the scene or any of that. I think skins are fine, but any voice overs are a completely different animal. It's why they rarely have any people talk on PR, like they have to take PR courses to be able to work on social media, and even then they have no one in front of the camera. Because they realize the position of power that they give someone when they put them in front of a camera.
Someone like Nikasuar, someone like Phreak, Rivington, those kind of people are in a position of a lot of power. When you give certain people that kind of power, it's very hard to take it away once you've given it to them. I think there would be no way, although I would like to voice act a champion, that I would ever be contracted to do that.
We've got the All-Stars coming up in May, and you've been tweeting a lot that you want Shiphtur to go. Who else are you voting for?
Scarra: I think that I value certain types of players more than others, but I guess that would be a lie, I just like certain people. I've been really close to Shiphtur this past split, and I think he's performed really well for his team. Probably one of the main reasons why his team is winning is because he performs and carries way more than he should, due to his role, or just as a player. He typically takes the burden of two players, or even three players sometimes.
I feel like that's very admirable, to be able to take your team to where they are, because of how well that you play. You can't really say a lot of other people single-handedly carried their team. So I think that he of all people deserves an All-Star spot. And then maybe my other vote might be Aphro. He honestly improved a ton, if I was going to give the best support it'd probably be Xpecial in terms of mechanics, but in terms of shot-calling I feel like Aphro made CLG a really big threat just because I know how much he communicates with his team. That's something that not a lot of people may realize the importance of, but he can single-handedly make it so the other players on the team don't need decision making, to an extent, because of how well you can shot call from that position.
Outside of Aphromoo, I'm not quite sure who else I would put. Qtpie would be funny, I think Qtpie would actually be insanely funny to send. But I don't really have anyone else in the top of my head, I think those two are pretty good picks and probably who I would vote for for top two.
You know of the famous subreddit r/scarrapics, what do you think is going to happen with that without regular footage and activity from you?
Scarra: I'm hoping it doesn't die, but you know I don't know what will happen. I think it might devolve into something that's just not used anymore, which would be pretty sad, but here's to hoping that something else comes out of it.
Your team are have tomorrow big?
Scarra: No, I'm not even going to answer that.
Scarra: Shoutouts to all of our sponsors, but I think this is a good time to really thank the fans for supporting me. I feel like I wouldn't be here, or the person I am without the fans. And I know a lot of pro players ssay that and a lot of sports people say that, but it's true. The amount of fame that I get, the amount of recognition that I get is nothing without the people supporting me and backing me, and I really appreciate all of the people who've sent me messages.
Even though I don't respond to any of them, or a lot of them, because I just get a lot of messages. I know a lot of people have sent me really heartfelt messages like 'you're the reason why I played the game,' 'you've really supported me through hard times in my life.' And it's really heartwarming to read that kind of stuff. I really hope that everything I've done in my career has helped someone somewhere improve their life to an extent.
Thanks again for the interview Scarra, and best of luck to you in the rest of the split and beyond! Be sure to follow Scarra on Twitter @dscarra, check out his Twitch stream at twitch.tv/scarra and follow me for more League of Legends content @robertwery.