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TL Kold: “I’m sure that if I was to prepare for worlds again, I would be able to do a much better job”

Team Liquid’s head coach Jonas "Kold" Andersen spoke to us after their tiebreaker matches and talked about his thoughts on TL’s run of form at Worlds 2021 and some of his learnings during his first full season as head coach.

Team Liquid have been knocked out of Worlds 2021 by the slimmest of margins, once more finishing 3-3. They were seeded into a four-way tiebreaker, the first ever in Worlds history, and had to defeat the LCK’s second seed Gen.G to advance. Team Liquid were unable to overcome the South Korean giants and have bowed out of the tournament.

First and foremost Kold, thank you so much for accepting this interview and commiserations on the loss to Gen.G I understand it’s not been an easy day, so let’s start right from the top. What are your thoughts on the tiebreaker match against Gen.G?

Kold: When it came down to it, we just made some individual errors in the game that cost us the game. I think in hindsight, maybe our decision in the draft was not right but it always be hindsight. We committed to something and then we stood by that. I think there were moments in the game where we were in a winning position.

I think especially BDD on the two kills, first bubble onto Jensen and around mid lane and then picking up Santorin between the tower and killing Tactical. Those kinds of plays just change the game. So those are my thoughts. I think BDD had a very, very good game. And in games like these, where everything is on the line, great players step up and he stepped up big. I think we should celebrate that kind of performance.

I understand. On positives, Team Liquid actually managed to force a four-way tiebreaker and that was an interesting highlight of the day. I’d just like to get your thoughts generally on Team Liquid at Worlds 2021. How do you think you guys performed at Worlds overall?

Kold: In the first week, we had two ideas that I thought were good in the games and then we had the LNG game where I just messed up the draft phase completely, and that lost us the game. Today we came in with better ideas of what we wanted to do, and we executed on it. How do I value it, how do I judge it… it’s so hard.

These guys especially, Jensen, CoreJJ and also partially Tactical from last year have been in this position like now, three years in a row where they go 3-3 and then they get knocked out of the group stage. It’s heartbreaking. I didn’t even know what to tell them after the game because whatever words I have for them doesn’t really change the results.

I’m just very, very sad after a day like this on behalf of the guys because it matters so much to them. They put in so much work, they devote their life to the game and to the team.

I’m sorry to hear, and I really appreciate you doing this interview. What has been your favourite memory of Worlds 2021?

Kold: Oh, that’s a good question. Favourite moment, hmm…I’m a big fan of good League of Legends so the fact that we have gotten to practice against the best teams in the world, I think it’s just incredible.

As a guy that spent the last like seven or eight years just grinding the game and just thinking a lot about the game itself, it’s just a pleasure to see how well teams and individual players can play the game. So I think that’s the highlight for me at Worlds, getting to practice against the best teams in the world.

What has been the experience been like for you coming to Worlds not as a player but as a coach, considering this your first full season as head coach as well?

Kold: Challenging. I think it’s the right word, especially because the meta shifted in so many ways throughout the boot camp. From where we started, day one of the boot camp to where the meta was like two weeks in, it just kept changing. When we got to practice against the Eastern teams, they would bring stuff that we were just unaware would be good around week two. The Yuumi started kicking in, Graves top and things like that just completely shook up the game for us.

It’s just a lot of learning about what to spend time on in practice and what is valuable, and being open minded to ideas, even though you might initially think that they’re wrong or that they’re not good. It’s an exercise to try to think deeper about why people actually spend time playing these champions and explore counters to it. In the first week, we had an approach that was too safe and we didn’t take risks, whereas today we’re more willing to take some risks in the draft phase.

I’ll have to think a little bit more about it in the coming time, but to take away from it I’m sure that if I was to prepare for worlds again, I would be able to do a much better job.

I appreciate the insight. As your first time at Worlds as a coach, tell me one big lesson that you’ve learned from the experience here.

Kold: One big lesson… I mean, I kind of touched on it a little bit with the importance of being open minded to the meta. I also think just how important the small details are in the games. I remember our game against Gen.G on day three where I could count like five to six small mistakes in the game in the first seven minutes that just added up, and then if you do that against good teams you just lose the game. I think the attention to details in the game really, really showcases who the best teams are.

I’d just like to get your thoughts a little bit on the regional/strength disparity at Worlds, because in the first round robin we saw LCK/LPL teams dominating everyone, but in the second round robin, this doesn’t seem to be the case. What are your thoughts or impressions on that?

Kold: I mean, it’s best-of-ones. It’s so difficult to make clear statements from best-of-ones about who is who is the better team, because a lot of it comes down to the draft and the day and maybe one or two small mistakes in the game, which just kills the game for you.

Based on practice, we always had the feeling throughout the bootcamp and leading up to Worlds that if we play at our best, we are very competitive and we should make it out of groups. Based on strength, I think it’s clear that there are some of the top teams, DWG KIA for example, T1 and EDward Gaming, they are maybe on a different level. But some of the third or fourth seeds from South Korea and China are very beatable as long as you have a good plan and you play to it.

I thought that going into it, we might be challenged more or have a harder time but actually, when we got here and when we started playing them, we recognised that as long as we play well we have a real chance.

Before we end then, Kold, I’ve followed your career for quite a long time. You were a player then you became a coach for Riddle Esports, and then you moved to Team Liquid this year. I have a very simple question for you: Do you miss playing competitively?

Kold: (laughs) That’s a good question. Um…sometimes, sometimes. On one hand, I would love to still play but also I’ve learned a lot about myself the past few years, and I learned that playing is not for me anymore. It was a very tough realisation to reach, at a point. But just the life that it requires I just couldn’t see myself doing anymore.

So there are times, yeah, days like this for example. I think, you know, just being able to have control. You do the draft phase and you send your players off and you’re just sitting there and praying and saying to yourself, “come on boys, bring it home!”. It’s so stressful to be honest. It’s even way more stressful than playing the game, from my experience so far. So yeah, to answer the question, sometimes I miss it, but sadly I won’t be playing again.

We’ve come to the end of the interview. Anything else you’d like to add? Any shoutouts you’d like to give?

Kold: To all the fans reading this interview, send some love to the players. They worked their arses off to give the best possible results at Worlds and again, they couldn’t advance despite being in a position where it just couldn’t get much closer. Send some positive energy their way and I’ll see you guys again in 2022.

Thank you Kold and best of luck in 2022.

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