Coaches are common in a lot of esports. In fact, several Charlotte Phoenix teams compete with the instruction of coaches. But not World of Warcraft (WoW) and not Charlotte Phoenix’s WoW team.
“WoW doesn’t have coaches,” Jahmili said. “Because if you’re good enough to coach somebody, you’re probably like, good enough to compete in WoW.”
That means that everything that may be delegated to coaches in some esports — such as giving feedback, working on teamwork and communication, scheduling practices, adapting to changes, and figuring out playtime — is handled by the players on the Charlotte Phoenix’s WoW squad.
The players are typically able to identify and address what went wrong in a match immediately after it happens. They discuss it amongst each other and work out a fix at that very moment.
“I think we generally have a decent idea of what went wrong when we lose a series or something,” Korlic said.
In some cases, they may even look back over the replay of a streamed match to see the mistakes again. Jahmili will watch it over and over again to burn the mistake into his head to make sure it never happens again.
The team doesn’t typically focus their energy on getting better at one aspect of playing over any other, they just practice as a unit and try to get better holistically. This applies to their communication, which they think just gets better naturally over time. Of course, that’s something the team never thought they would struggle with.
“I wouldn’t want to be on this team if I thought there was gonna be an issue,” Jahmili said before explaining that it’s one of those things he has a sense for when joining a team.
The players who talk the most over the course of a WoW match change based on the situation. Nick, who plays a melee class, takes over in offensive situations telling the team who he thinks they can take out. Jahmili will add what he can do to help the team close out the kill. In defensive situations, it’s Korlic taking the lead. Burn will take Jahmili’s role communication-wise while he’s playing.
Charlotte Phoenix’s WoW team practices much the same way our other players practice — through scrimmages with the other team. However, the team also gets practice from queueing ladder matches together.
Sometimes, when preparing for a specific opponent, they’ll ask their practice partners to play the same comps that opponent would play.
That practice time is valuable. The meta in WoW can change not only based on changes made to specific classes, but also changes made to gear. So the players have a lot to keep track of when trying to keep with the meta.
While our team may get along well and agree on a lot of things, one thing they don’t agree on is how quickly it takes to adapt to the meta.
“I think it takes a while, honestly, because gear is constantly changing all the time,” Jahmili said. “There’s so many factors on live that will determine the meta. It’s really obvious which classes are really powerful but then, like certain matchups and metas constantly shift just because of how often people’s gear is changing. So it’s really hard to determine — the best way to determine it is queueing on tournament realm when everyone has the same gear.”
“I feel like we figure it out pretty quick. It doesn’t take us a while to figure out the meta,” Korlic said soon afterwards.
Their experience on their respective roles helps them figure out and adapt to the new meta quicker. Korlic used Nick as an example: because he already plays all of the melee classes, he knows what the best melee option will be once changes are made.
Meta — as well as specific matchups — will determine which three of the Charlotte Phoenix’s four players will play in any given match. And even though only three get to play at one time, there’s a good reason why the Charlotte Phoenix have four players rather than just three.
“When you have three players you’re kind of limited [to what comps you can play],” Korlic said. “Because there’s a few classes in this game that can only be played to their full potential if you’re like a main at it, right?” He explained with an example of a meta where Warlock is good, the team who has someone who actually mains Warlock will likely have the better Warlock.
“And then in a tournament, if they watch the game on the stream or whatever — when you’re watching from that point of view, I feel like you kind of see more of what’s going on,” Korlic continued.
Jahmili explained that the fourth player can talk to the team while they play. So the fourth player may see that his teammates are out of position when they don’t realize it. He might also be able to see other mistakes made by his teammates over the course of the match and point them out before the next game in the series.
All of this is possible because the Charlotte Phoenix squad like and get along well with each other. They sometimes play WoW’s PvE content, such as raids, together and make jokes between themselves often. You’d think this roster was built this way from the start, but that’s not the case. Jahmili joined the other three after they had begun playing together.
Korlic said Jahmili has helped the team stay calm and focused in tournament matches where they want to get hype and could possibly lose focus. Jahmili himself gets the impulse, he says sometimes over the course of a match really exciting things happen that make you want to get hype, but he plays best when he remains calm and his emotions don’t get the best of him. Those feelings plus his experience competing in the game and forcing himself to stay laser-focused has helped him make sure his teammates can do the same and stay on top of their game throughout a series.
And the team can only come up from here. Jahmili talked about how much he enjoys playing WoW with his teammates, a feeling that he hasn’t always had with other teams. Since he and his teammates are enjoying the game, they’re motivated to play and practice more. They like spending time together and because of it they’re also all getting better together.
That’s a promising sign given their confidence is already high.
“We have the tools to beat everyone,” Korlic said.
It won’t be long before they can prove it. The North America BFA Arena World Championship Circuit, which the Phoenix will be competing in, starts August 22.
Guest article written by Terry Spry Jr.