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Esports: First year wrap-up

The Bombers showed significant improvement throughout their first year at The Hangar.
The Bombers showed significant improvement throughout their first year at The Hangar.

Off the back of Split 1, we had failed to achieve playoffs which was a disappointment to all involved.

However, in spite of all of the unexpected difficulties, we still recognised that we had a team in the league with some of the best individual players, had been in a position to win many of the games we had played in but had failed to do so around the baron.

As a result of this, we believed that the changes that needed to be made were structural and not related to our roster and therefore we decided to keep our belief in our players and set about making big changes to our practice environment to allow our team to improve and achieve playoffs in Split 2. 

The first step in our team’s improvement occurred during the Virgin Australia boot camp to the United States.

One of the core issues we had experienced during Split 1 was that our team had conflicting personalities, which meant the team was not as cohesive as we would have intended it to be.

The objective of the boot camp was for players to develop closer relationships whilst in a new environment and to create a more positive and engaging environment back home.

Gameplay objectives mainly centred around improving the synergy between our mid/jg duo in the early game. The boot camp was an overwhelming success on all counts.

The players became a lot closer to one another during the boot camp and the environment was significantly more positive. This had a noticeably positive impact on the practice environment when we returned to Melbourne.

The gameplay objectives were also met with Seb and Looch learning from their American counterparts and having significantly improved synergy. This allowed us to start executing map breaks in scrims and OPL a lot more effectively. 

The next step was to improve the practice environment in Melbourne. As our training facility is located at Essendon Football Club, we were able to make use of their facilities to add a morning exercise routine to our team’s schedule.

We would play a range of games (soccer, basketball etc.) in the mornings, which provided a light exercise. This improved the energy which players were bringing to the scrims.

We were also able to enlist the support of Essendon's Physical Performance Manager Justin Crow, who ran a range of sessions for the players ranging from intense fitness to improving reaction times.

The players were also making use of the state of the art gym provided to them which improved the health of players and therefore improved their mindset when coming into practice. 

 

The coaching program would also see a significant change between the two splits. In Split 1, it was mainly focused on looking for issues in our gameplay that we could find “fixes” for as a team.

However, from the time of the Bootcamp onwards, our aim was to “build” up how we played the game. The aim was to introduce a structure where, for every team decision made, each individual knew exactly what tasks to complete and what their role was.

We began adding structured decisions to our game starting from the beginning of the game, right until the Nexus dies, for when our team was both got ahead in a game, or for when we were behind.

These structures were aimed primarily at improving our macro play, but had a secondary objective of improving our team fighting. 

The second split would be a much bigger success for our team. We would be competitive against all opponents taking games from every team in the league, including the Chiefs and Dire Wolves.

The main difference between the two splits that allowed for this, was that in the games we got ahead in, we would be able to close out if given an opportunity around the baron due to an improved coordination.

We would often only pick up one game in a series however, as we still had a relatively weak early game and relied heavily on our solo laners to be able to generate advantages, or for an advantageous early skirmish to occur and get us through the weakest point in our game.

Overall, however, we made big improvements and our ability to contest any team allowed us to successfully secure a spot in playoffs with a week to spare on the regular season.

Our gauntlet run would abruptly end with a 3-0 loss in the first match. We attempted to run a strategy that was aimed at targeting Claire and getting Looch ahead on a power pick.

The strategy would prove successful in Game 1 allowing us to achieve a large gold lead and secure baron.

However, we would throw the game on a fight at an inhibitor and Legacy would pick up the first game in this series.

I believe this set a lot of the momentum for the series. As a result of the success we saw in Game 1, we attempted to run the same strategy in both Games 2 and 3 to decreasing levels of success as Legacy became better at dealing with it.

In hindsight, this would prove to be a critical error in judgment and we should have attempted to diversify our strategy beyond the first game.

Overall, I believe our team had a successful year. We took our team from a team that would have faced relegation in Split 1, to a team that all teams in the OPL had to fear losing a game to, and potentially a series.

 

This improvement did not occur through roster change, but through the hard work of the players and staff at the Bombers who pushed themselves to make difficult changes.

The improvement could also not have occurred without the benefits provided by being a part of the Essendon Football club and being allowed access to their expert staff and facilities.