A day in the life of a full-time StarCraft 2 coach

You wonder how is it like to be a full-time StarCraft 2 coach? Find out!

As many of the top players in StarCraft gain their fame through playing in online cups or tournaments around the globe, coaches stay in relative obscurity. Sometimes you’ll see players like Stork evolve into a coaching position, however most of the time the best players don’t make the best coaches. Some of the best coaches in the business are great players in their own right, but most of all they are excellent students of the game. They’ll study each race, try out builds and refine them, pass information and knowledge through to the players they’re coaching and adapt to those players. This doesn’t only take the skill to teach, but requires social skills, motivation and determination and last but not least, the skill to adapt to new players as they continue to coach new players or teams throughout their careers.

One of those people working tirelessly behind the scenes is Felipe ‘Bombs’ Malta Prado. A multiple time Grandmaster player, top level player currently playing for Team Ascension and full-time coach in Starcraft 2. Bombs plays competitively as a Terran, but has extensive knowledge about Protoss and Zerg too and has reached the rank of Master in those races too. As a student of his, I started to think about the difficulties he has had to face while starting as a coach. Follow me as I took some time to interview one of the game’s most experienced coaches.

 

-Hi Felipe! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me and hopefully you can tell us some stuff about how life is as a full time coach.

Hey Tom! It’s my pleasure to talk to you today.

-First of all, let’s start out with you introducing yourself to the people.

Like you said I’m a full time Starcraft 2 coach. I have been coaching since 2013. I hit Master League in 2011 and in 2014 I was finally able to break into Grandmaster League during Heart of The Swarm. I have been a Grandmaster player ever since. Before I started coaching, I worked 2 years for VIU Studio as a caster. I mainly casted the Copa America and many other tournaments.

– How did you pick up Starcraft 2 ? Did you have experience playing RTS games before?

My first RTS-experience was playing Warcraft 2 – Tides of Darkness. I never played it competitively, but in 2010 I decided to download Broodwar and started to compete. I competed in ICCUP and man, did I get beaten up there! A couple months later I bought Starcraft 2 and I fell in love with the game, that was definitely the beginning of my e-sports career.

– What made you decide to start out as a full-time coach ?

During the Wings of Liberty era, I saw a lot of players like Idra coaching people. I observed them and I felt like I could do the same thing, even better in some cases! That was when I started to create my own brand through casting. I chose to do it through casting because I felt that I could explain the intricate plays ingame to the audience in a simple yet effective way. I think it was because of this people could trusted in my game knowledge and understood the game better and they started to contact me for coaching.

– Weren’t you scared to take such a big step ? I mean, things might go wrong or maybe you wouldn’t find enough students. How did you think about that at the time?

I was very scared. I started on this path in early 2012 and at that time my life wasn’t that great. I was working for a company and had a minimum wage and my parents weren’t supportive of my goals in e-sports because they didn’t see any future in it. I didn’t see any future for me in the company I was working for, I really didn’t want to live life in that way so I decided to go for it. I was already working for VIU Studio at the time and I felt that I had to commit myself 100% to my goals. I started to work the second I got up until I would go back to sleep again. I was relentless in my pursuit for success and wanted to keep working. I was starving to see results of my coaching and to secure my future in e-sports.

– You are currently still a Grandmaster player, meaning you are one of the top players in the world playing the game. Do you still compete a lot?

At the end of 2014 I developed Tendonitis in my left hand. This crippled my competitive status so hard, that I would only be able to play 1 to 3 games a day and no more. Sometimes I’d have to take days, if not weeks out from playing Starcraft 2. During this time I tried to play competitively, but I just wasn’t able to prepare. Now since June 2016 I have healed completely and I am coming back and preparing to compete. At this time in the game it isn’t enough to be a Grandmaster anymore to be competitive. You need to be really aware of the actual meta game, prepare builds for each map separately, be able to execute those builds flawlessly and scout and react well versus each race. Starcraft 2 is merciless in that way, you’ll never reach the top just being good.. you need to be excellent.

– What do you think about LOTV in it’s current state?

I feel that the metagame has been pretty much figured out. At this time it mostly comes down to execution. We’ll see some new builds here and there, but it’s becoming more limited to a certain set of proven builds. New patches might shake up some things here and there, but I feel like the LOTV meta is close to figured out.

– Recently several teams in Korea disbanded and David Kim stated that some of the players on those teams found LOTV to be too hard to play. What do you think of that?

First of all, I’m not an expert in game development, so take my answer with a grain of salt. Secondly, I feel like the transition from Heart of The Swarm to Legacy of The Void
as been most invasive in terms of the game being around 30% faster. Not the game itself, but everything you research, build or train is faster compared to Heart of The Swarm. This change means you must be very aware of your production and this is intensive that lower level players really struggle with it. It’s proving to be hard to high level players, so you can imagine the trouble for newcomers. Another problem for those new players and players at the lower level, is that they tend to be focused on winning instead of learning. The game is so difficult at this time that you don’t see immediate results. I feel like this discourages some of the new players and causes them to quit.

– Following on that question, Neeb recently won the Kespa Cup. He 4-0’d trap. Do you think this could be due to Koreans not being able to adapt as well to the new expansion or because of Neeb’s play style?

That’s hard to say because it’s a mirror matchup. On the other hand a 4-0 score isn’t something that happens a lot… At this time I’d say Neeb is just a better player, Neeb has a 72% win rate on the Korean ladder compared to Trap’s 65% win rate.

– Back to you and your coaching. You are currently coaching full time, would you look to expand into things like casting or maybe writing yourself?

Yes, I would love to get back into casting and maybe writing. I’m working on getting my name out there. I’m mostly know in Latin America right now, but I want to get into the scene on a global scale. I’m starting a Youtube channel where I give advices about the metagame, builds, maps, etc. You can find it here.

– Any things you would like to say or do a shout-out to someone?
First of all I’d like to thank you for the interview. It’s been a big pleasure. Also if anyone is looking for coaching they can get in touch with me through Skype and add me felipe_malta. You can also follow me on my social media:

Bombs’ Facebook page
Bombs’ Twitter page
Thanks for the interview and all the success on your journey in the e-sports scene.


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