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Creator spotlight: CDK

03.07.2022, 19:33

Previously in the creator spotlight section, we have covered the already established names in the LoL aficionado community: CoachCurtis, LoLDobby, and others. This time around, we’ll have something way more interesting – a story of an upcoming elite-rank player on a coaching odyssey!

This June, CDK has departed on an incredible quest: 100 coaching sessions absolutely free of charge! Double quest, actually, as the player in highlight is rapidly approaching the Grand Master rank on his “100 days to GM challenge”.

I’ve managed to be one of the few lucky ones to get some valuable advice from CDK. He was also kind enough to give us some insights on what it takes to be a League of Legends coach.

A Tryndamere one-trick hailing from France, CDK is a Masters-tier player and an upcoming content creator. What sets him apart from many others is the method he chose to get his name heard: whopping one-hundred live coaching sessions free of charge. The free sessions don’t mean they’re unprofessional – quite the opposite. I can assure you personally! You can find his Twitch here.

This is a transcript of my dialogue with CDK. A bit of background info, a bit of gameplay, and mental advice ahead, so stay strapped:

You were my fifteenth student, and now [on 22nd of June, -Ed.] I’m at my 28th session.

Wow! And how long has it been?

Maybe a week?

You’re putting in some work, for sure! As a lazy person, I can’t comprehend ever doing anything like this.

:laughs: But I am a madman. When I used to play League of Legends only, I’d regularly go on 40-hour Solo Queue sessions.

I wanted to ask you about other games you play. Are you as passionate about them as you are about League, or is League the only game you’ve been this passionate about?

I’ve always been a gamer. My godfather gifted me a Nintendo Gamecube at six years old, and my father hated him for it! :laughs: I’m pretty sure this Gamecube my sister and I got when we were six is the sole reason I’m trying to make a living out of video games. From Gamecube to Playstation 2, I’ve been playing consoles a lot. I was really into FIFA – the franchise is massive in France.

Already back then, I was a madman about gaming: my parents would rarely leave the house unattended, but on the rare times they would, I’d bring my console to the big TV in their bedroom and play all night and go to school without having slept at all!

But when I discovered League, my gaming career became League only. The biggest reason is: I had a pretty crappy PC, so it would pretty much only run League. After I got a new gaming machine, I started playing many different games. However, nothing has that taste of League of Legends! All the other games I play, I play to get a break from League.

Tryndamere League of Legends

One of the oldest champions in League of Legends, Tryndamere still has a loyal fanbase.

Why’d you become a Tryndamere one-trick? Is there any particular story behind this pick, or do you simply like the champion?

When I was introduced to League, it was in its infancy back in 2010. I couldn’t get into playing it – if you guys remember these old graphics and everything. Eventually, though, my friends introduced me to League once again in 2017, I think. I instantly fell in love with the updated game, but I had a crappy PC that would tank FPS to 20 any time there’d be more than four people on the screen at once.

So I kind of had to go for champions that would excel at split pushing. I tried Nasus at first but then hopped onto Tryndamere, who I was facing a lot, and look at me now: 5 million mastery points, 4000+ games on Trynda. Hell, at one point, I even wanted to muscle my right arm up more than my left arm!

You’ve talked about how you picked up Tryndamere as your champion of choice – and even tried to become more like Tryndamere IRL. Do you feel like this champion is your trademark now, or would you instead develop a large champion pool and pilot multiple champions on the same level?

Eventually, I’ll end up at the point where I’ll have to. I’m going to play Tryndamere until I reach Challenger, that’s for sure. This is my objective and it is my priority. Even when I’m playing ARAM, I will go for Tryndamere whenever I possibly can just to get more of that training and muscle memory – there’s never enough!

At some point, though, I will probably do a challenge of getting to Masters with some other pick. But for now… I’m playing Tryndamere not just because it’s a champion I’m the best at – I’m playing Tryndamere because League is most enjoyable when I’m on him. Even if I’m 0-5-0, I can still have a smile on my face when I’m playing Tryndamere. I just love the champ, I just love the design.

You have reached Masters, the 0.1% club in League of Legends. Many people reach ranks like Gold or Diamond, and are satisfied with the grind and quit for the season – but you are still very motivated to push towards Grand Master – and perhaps even beyond. What keeps you going?

At some point, I naturally became better in League, and I enjoyed becoming better. League has become an opportunity for me to become competitive in something – while I kinda missed that train in the physical sports. But in League – just yesterday I played against Cabochard, the toplaner for Karmine Corp! And I beat his ass! League is the first time in my life I can compete against the best in the world – in something with a real huge following.

League ranks 2022.

Master-tier is one of the three most-exclusive tiers in League of Legends ranked system. Only 0.12% players can reach it.

If I get to the point where I reach Challenger, I can be confident that I will be able to reach Challenger in something else. Let’s say another game comes out, and I’ve already figured out the patterns of high performance. To get Challenger, you must always think about your own performance, and put your own mistakes before looking at your teammates’. And guess what? The same applies to football, rugby, any other sport, and even some other subject that doesn’t exist yet. Even life!

Some players feel like toplane is the weakest, lowest impact role in the game’s current meta. Even when Tyler1 [a famous North American League of Legends persona, – ed.] was doing his 5 roles to Challenger challenge, the toplane took by far the most amount of games. You seem to love toplane specifically – why?

Basically, how I see League of Legends – it’s a 5v5 – so you could think of your team as five fingers. And whenever you glance on the minimap, you can see these fingers moving – pretty easy to visualize it that way.

At some point, I asked myself the same question – why do I even love Tryndamere so much? Why do I enjoy toplane? It’s because you’re so independent! I, for one, would never be able to play botlane.

Back to the fingers analogy, though: some people would say “toplane is weak, so it’s like the pinky”, but it’s actually the thumb. The entire game is like a thumb fighting round. Check out for yourself: try to move any finger but thumb – you can’t do that without moving them all at once, just like the jungle and mid depend on each other, and so on.

Even if your team loses their early skirmishes, if you win the toplane matchup, the pressure you exert can match the pressure of the entire enemy team. Now move your thumb – it moves on its own alone, it doesn’t need anyone else! Without your thumb, your hand is nothing. Just like your team without a toplane.

If there was a single champion you could remove from League, who would that be?

Let me just pull up a champions list real quick – I’ll know it as soon as I see this face.

It’s Akshan. I really don’t understand his passive, and how it’s possible to make it balanced in the game. I wanted to talk about Karthus, too – because whenever there’s a Karthus in the game, his team has him as their win condition, and it’s just so annoying.

Akshan League of Legends.

One of the polarizing designs we’ve seen released in 2021, Akshan has a loyal fan community – and a hater community that is just as passionate.

But if I were to choose between Akshan and Karthus… You know what? Let’s remove Akshan.

Do you follow League esports?

Not really. Out of my League stream watch time, 95% goes to Solo Queue streamers, and 5% to the competitive pro scene. Usually, I’d just watch the best Tryndamere players – Rangerzx and Ullehzx – as my homework.

So when you watch the pro events, it’s just the big international events?

Well, I do watch a bit of LFL – the French league. It’s super hype! But I would never watch the entirety of the World Championship. Even the Grand Final, I’d just watch one game tops.

Summer 2022France, Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, La Seine Musicale, ESpot
10Teams
MinorTier

Would you ever see yourself in the esports scene? As a player, an analyst, a coach?

It’s not my goal! I see myself in the Solo Queue only, helping out other Solo Queue players.

As you’ve said, the ranked grind is not a sprint but a marathon. So this places a really huge emphasis on your mental. How do you manage it? How do you stave off tilt?

For sure, I have multiple different practices I employ. I’ve been coaching many players on how to employ them, and I’ll try to explain them as clearly as I can. I’ve watched a lot of Coach Curtis, and I’ve seen what works for him and his students.

What works for me:

  1. I love the philosophy of stoicism. It’s not just for League, it’s for your life: whenever something negative occurs, ask yourself – was it in my control? If not, why should I care? Of course, it’s not as easy done as it is said, and reading Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” just for League Solo Queue might be too much for most people!
  2. You get mad because you care about winning: a teammate inting gets you further from winning and that pisses you off. There is a misconception that you climb by winning – but in reality, you climb by learning. Winning LP comes later. If you go into the game with the goal of improving and learning something new, every game will be a win.
  3. “/mute all”. That’s it. Don’t disable chat, though – disabling chat is really bad, you can’t give information that way. League is a complex game, and you can’t have teammates distracting your brain processing power for anything unimportant. Sometimes I /mute all even at the beginning of the game before anyone says anything.
  4. Shift your mindset and consider that you play with bots. The option to turn off Summoner Names over the champions’ heads helps out a lot with this. Think of it like this: would you flame bots? If you’re losing a co-op vs AI game, would you all chat? Would you expect anything from bots? Doing all these things in PvP matches is just as silly.

Another thing I’ve noticed that contributes to tilt: everyone I’ve coached so far has these in-game stat tracking apps like Porofessor, U.GG, or whatever else that gives them useless information. This is actually really bad! My message to the world is – go uninstall that crap right now! The only good part about them is jungle timers – everything else is just pure junk.

I struggled with this myself! If an app like this showed that I’m facing an 80% WR Katarina one-trick, I’d definitely play worse out of fear of being dominated by some Challenger smurf. But after I disabled summoner names and stopped looking at opponent’s stats, I might as well take Faker on and give my best – because I simply wouldn’t know it’s Faker and can’t get scared.

Remember, it’s not Faker, it’s the champion he’s playing – even Faker can’t do more than his champion is capable of. And if Faker somehow ends up in your game, you should be excited – he’ll finally be able to show what his champion is truly capable of. That’s a great learning experience!

The first time I met Potent [the highest-ranked Fiora OTP in the world, – ed.], I was scared to death at first. But after I realized that I shouldn’t care about losing, only learning, I was excited for this improv coaching session he gave me. And guess what? Next 10 Fiora matchups I ended up in, I won 8 of them. Just do your thing, play the game, and don’t be intimidated!

Potent

Recognized by most players on the ladder as the best Fiora in the world, Potent is a well-known Fiora main – and an amazing educational content creator if you’re interested in learning this champion. He’s currently doing the Challenger climb in Korea challenge, so don’t miss out on his stream!

Let’s talk about your coaching quest for a bit now. You’ve coached players of nearly all ranks by now, going as high as Diamond 1. Were all the sessions enjoyable for you?

Oh, for sure! My goal is to help League of Legends players reach their goals. This alone, regardless of their rank, champion, or mentality, makes it all worth it. One player asked me to give him directions as he is a beginner who doesn’t want to always be a burden to his friends in-game. Helping him reach his goals gave me the same feeling of reward and accomplishment as helping a D1 player reach Master would give me.

I don’t create a hierarchy based on the ranks. Yes, I am Master at League of Legends, but there’s so many things I’m terrible at – like relationships that I’ve been sacrificing to play League. :laughs:

You’ve mentioned that coaching comes naturally to you, as you’ve been doing this sorta stuff for your entire professional career. Were there any challenges specific to League coaching?

The biggest challenge was the process itself. I wasn’t expecting this much demand! How do I organize it all… I’ve never even used Google Agenda in my life before! I’ve always loved being free of any plans. But now the main challenge is that I’m not free anymore. Even if it’s free, I try to treat it like a professional career.

When you coached me, I saw results pretty much immediately. Did observing other players – even those who are far below you on the ladder – help you get better at the game?

Man, it’s broken. I’m sure if you were to coach someone below your rank, you’d become better at the game right away. Taking a step back from the game helps against forming bad habits. Whenever I’m in a game right now, I practically have my own voice coaching myself on all the stuff I talked to my students about.

Now, whenever there’s a play on my hands, I’m like “if I were looking at my student do the same, I’d be thinking about this, this, and this.” If I am to be a good coach, I have to play the way I preach. I owe to my students to be following my own advice. I’m basically coaching myself when I coach others.

The next question kinda ties into the previous one. How often do you review your own games?

Depends on my mindset. Usually, I come into games with a focus on a single thing in particular: be it wave management, teamfighting, and even stuff like using Tryndamere’s R at the very last possible moment. I’d be looking at my replays quite often while seeking out these particular aspects of the game.

If you want to get into replay reviewing, don’t dive in headfirst all by your own. Seek out coaching or advice first, and then apply that newfound knowledge while reviewing your games. Just looking at your VODs without looking for anything, in particular, isn’t a miracle solution.

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