Here’s something new – in addition to our usual strategy content, we’ll be featuring weekly interviews with top coaches on Gamer Sensei. We’re proud to work with pro gamers around the globe… so we sat down with League of Legends Sensei Devatva to hear how he made it into the world of esports!
Thanks for doing this interview! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me here! I’m Eleftherios ‘Devatva’ Melikidis. I am 29 years old, my nationality is Greek, and I currently live in the United Kingdom with my wife and two children. My hobbies include PC-games, travel, and philosophy! I’ve been playing League of Legends since Season 1.
What motivated you to become a professional coach, and how did you start teaching with Gamer Sensei?
I’ve been playing video games as long as I can remember! But the turning point for my career was just a few weeks after I started streaming, when Rioters Ravenworld and Panic nominated me to be a Greek Featured Streamer for Riot. Being advertised by the creators of the game I love definitely boosted my motivation, and I worked hard to become a professional in the esports industry. The next big moment was when I joined Gamer Sensei. I was introduced to the site by my friend Faraz ‘FKIShadow’ Barbar – he’s one of the most successful coaches on the platform. Gamer Sensei really helped me improve as a coach and get in touch with more students!
What is your “coaching style?” What do you do in a typical lesson?
While my student and I are having our first conversation and getting to know each other, I try to learn more about his or her gaming history. Based on that, we define the goal of the lesson. Many people want to improve with a specific champion, while others just want to climb the ladder. Depending on the goal and student, my methods include watching and commenting during a replay or live game, playing 1 vs. 1, and providing theoretical analysis of the subject. Finally, I identify my students’ strengths and weaknesses. Subsequent lessons can focus on learning a new champion or mastering a favorite, and how to go from winning the lane to winning the game.
Tell us about the biggest success you’ve had with a student. Or your proudest moment as a coach?
A few years ago I started teaching some friends, which started to have a clear positive effect on their progress. One of my greatest successes (which contributed to my decision to become a coach) was a close friend reaching Diamond from Silver after about a year and a half of casual tutoring and watching my stream. We can finally duo together and it’s so much fun!
What is your opinion on the future of esports coaching?
Esports are here to stay. It’s a rapidly growing industry that gets more attention and more fans every year. The USA has been giving sports visas to professional players for some years now, just like professional athletes. There are even people suggesting that esports will be part of the Olympic Games one day, like chess (which could be included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo). Considering that universities are starting to offer scholarships to competitive gamers, I think it’s a fair assumption that esports are just going to grow!
What are some tips about your coaching specialty? (e.g. favorite role, champion, etc.)
Identifying win conditions is really the key to victory. My expertise is in Top Lane; it fits my style perfectly! You can play a lone wolf and split push all game long, or teleport and roam to make plays around the map. It all depends on a few basic variables like champion choice, the composition of the teams, and runes and masteries. I love the flexibility that this role offers, and I like the Top Laner’s role in teamfights too. You’re usually on the front line, either peeling for your team or focusing down the priority enemies. Once you can identify your team’s win conditions and apply that understanding, you’re unstoppable!
Editor’s note: for more on identifying win conditions, see Sensei Tutor’s article on that subject here.
What advice would you give to players stuck on the low end of the ladder?
The most common mistake that I see in low ELO is players blaming everybody but themselves. I always advise my students that they can only control their champion, and they should focus on self-improvement. For example: after losing a teamfight, pointing out the obvious mistakes of your teammates is not going to make you a better player. Figuring out what you could have done better is the best way of improving in future teamfights!
What are the qualities that let a pro player consistently progress towards the top?
Respect is essential. You have to respect yourself and train to be better, while at the same time respecting the opponent. Underestimating the opponent can lead to critical fails! When playing against a better opponent, you should still play to win. The game always starts at 0 kills and 500 gold each… If your opponent is more skilled than you, make him prove it. Try to play with respect for your opponent and your own hero’s strengths, and you’ll have a good chance of winning. Even if you lose, try to see the loss as practice that will lead to victory in the near future!
Any advice on how to handle in-game pressure?
“Demystifying” the environment is essential. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it doesn’t matter which team has the lead, and it doesn’t matter what mistakes were made. From time to time, do a “consciousness check.” Just be in the present. Accept that the past is the past and set a course for the future. If you do your best and still lose the game, then the only thing to do is see what you can do better in the future. The pressure’s always going to be there, especially when the stakes are high. Consequently, handling pressure is important… and its value extends far beyond any game! I actually think gamers get tons of experience in dealing with pressure. Apply it to real life and you can react a lot better than our ancestors!
Thanks for joining us! Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thank you very much for having me here! Have fun playing League, and practice if you want to get better. Good luck climbing the ladder and enjoy the rest of the summer!