VIT Noodlez: “The biggest misconception about analysts is that we are just data robots”
We caught up with Noodlez to talk about the details of his role at Vitality, what being an analyst really involves and if he misses working on the PG Nationals’ broadcast team.
Dimitri “Noodlez” Zografos has been around the European scene as an analyst for a while now, starting from the European Regional League (ERL) of his native Italy to G2 Esports, and finally now at Team Vitality where he is the Head Analyst. He oversees the LEC superteam and also helps their academy team Vitality.Bee in the French LFL.
First and foremost, thank you so much for accepting this interview Noodlez. Please introduce yourself to our audience and give us a bit of your background.
Noodlez: I’m Noodlez and I’m the Head Analyst for Team Vitality. I joined Vitality at the beginning of this season but before, I was working as an analyst for G2 Esports for the last two years, where I worked under Duffman and helped him with the data analysis part of the job. Now, I moved to a more complete position where I take care of both of the data and helping Mephisto with everything concerning the analyst part.
My background comes from statistics, where I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematical Statistics and Data Management as well as two Masters, a Master of Science in statistics, and one Masters of Philosophy in statistics. Overall, my background comes from my studies and from the way I know how to use statistics, and the type of models I want to develop in the future for Vitality to give more insights on the performance and why some things might or might not happen.
BSc in Mathematical Statistics and Data Management, MSc in Statistics and MPhil in Machine Learning.
Turns out 18yo Dimitri did choose well against all odds 🧐 https://t.co/W8ZhQ7y58Q
— Dimitri Zografos (@Noodlez_Lol) October 6, 2020
That’s a very complicated study pathway so I won’t delve into that. What does your day to day with Vitality look like? What are your roles and responsibilities within the team?
Noodlez: My day to day is pretty much scheduled around scrims. So before scrims, I sometimes work on new tools we want to develop. I start working on them before scrims and start giving them structure.
During scrims, I mainly take care of all the related things which might be stuff like creating the lobbies, recording the games, downloading the data from the servers that provide us with it, and pre-process this base data so that it is usable at the end of the scrims block for Mephisto. At the end of the scrim block, if he wants to see how the scrim block went in terms of stats, if he wants to see highlights of the games, we have tools that allow him to use and see all those things.
Afterwards, I work on finishing what I started working on before scrims. So my day to day is divided into three big chunks, I would say the pre scrim, the scrim part and the post scrim. Though work wise, pre scrim and post scrim are very similar, I would say.
You came from G2 where you had much success and even went to Worlds too. Talk to me a little bit about some lessons and experiences you bring from G2 into Team Vitality.
Noodlez: For me the biggest lesson came from last year, because I had the chance to work on site with the team. I had the chance to spend every day with the players and the rest of the coaching staff. That taught me a lot because last year, let’s not kid anyone, it was not a nice year for us as a team because we didn’t achieve any of the goals we set. Even though it was a very tough year in that regard, because of course one would like to win every tournament they participate in, it taught me a lot of things especially when it comes to how to handle the pressure around a superteam, how to handle your expectation and how to handle the growth process behind it.
Last year, we started very well in scrims and in LEC, we had a very convincing spring regular season and we were doing very well in scrims for the first couple of months. But then the lack of growth is what didn’t allow us to do better in the remainder of the season and in that regard, that’s what I wanted to bring to Vitality. I’ve talked to Mephisto about my experiences from G2 last year and I want to help in preventing those issues from happening again.
Of course, you can say, “I am the Head Analyst, and I will make sure it doesn’t happen” but it’s the work of multiple people together. We need to make sure that we have a leading voice in the team, which helps the team to keep growing, and this helps the team to have a clear path they can follow. Because if you don’t have a path, if you don’t know where you want to arrive and how you want to arrive at it, it becomes insanely hard to achieve anything.
I’d like to ask a slightly odd question because I’m not sure if you’ve experienced it. I understand that for League of Legends analysts or maybe esports analysts in general, perhaps not too many fans get a very thorough insight on the role. What is the biggest misconception you’ve gotten about your role?
Noodlez: Hmmm… I mean, it’s hard to bring it all down to one specific misconception, because the misconceptions about the analyst role are as many as the responsibilities that an analyst role brings with them. This is because the analyst role can basically do everything or one single thing depending on the needs of the team.
I do feel like the biggest misconception is that most people have literally no idea what we are doing, so they think that we just collect data, present it on one table with data and that’s it. But that’s not really what the job of an analyst is. The job of an analyst is being very open minded when it comes to data treatment and data analysis, which means that you have to be good at doing maybe some more statistical heavy and statistically savvy type of analysis.
As an example, sometimes you need to know what the items do from a game point of view, you need to know a bit of how drafting works, why some things are happening in drafts, so that the info you give is pre-processed along with your experience in League of Legends. While this might not seem so important because you might think the coach can deal with those things, if you’re not careful with the information you pass to the team, you can create negative situations in-game.
So the biggest misconception is that we are just, let’s say, ‘data robots’, when we are actually having conversations with the coaching staff and the players multiple times a day, so that the information that comes through me is also passed to them in a sensible and right way.
When you mentioned passing things to players, I know that you are quite famous on Twitter for posting pictures of pesto. I believe your mom makes them for you. And I think you mentioned that Jankos threw them away too. Have you passed on this pesto to any of the Vitality players and how have they reacted?
Noodlez: Not yet! I have to say that my faith in the players when it comes to pesto has been, for now, irredeemably damaged after what Jankos did. I still have to recover, it’s a long grieving process, and I still need some time to find myself again. And once I will find myself I will be able to bring the fantastic pesto that my mother makes to the players… .
Jokes aside, no, it’s because I didn’t manage to bring enough to Berlin this time. I would feel bad to only give it to one of the players so I’m just waiting to be able to bring like two kilos of pesto to the gaming house and say, “okay, let’s have a huge pasta meeting!”
The mistery of my homemade pesto disappearing in G2 house explained in one gif https://t.co/urOeDTWO0z
— Dimitri Zografos (@Noodlez_Lol) November 21, 2020
I would like to try that! And speaking of pesto, which is of course tied to Italy, you are also known for your role in the PG Nationals broadcast. You mentioned that you were stepping away from the PG Nationals this year to focus on LEC. Could you walk me through a little bit about your decision why you decided to do that, since you split time for it while you were with G2?
Noodlez: It comes from the fact I’m not only helping the LEC team but I’m also helping the LFL team. Of course, it’s not to the same extent or with the same degree of work that I do for the LEC. However, I’m still trying to provide them with every information possible, and make sure that I’m available to help them if their Head Coach Realistik needs something on game day or if something needs to be fixed an hour before the game, I want to make sure that I am free to do so. I’m also making sure that I’m also able to follow the games because at the end of the day, it’s my job as an analyst to watch the LFL games.
It so happens that the LFL and PG Nats have an overlapping day during the week, which is Wednesday I believe, which made it very hard for me to guarantee to PG that I would be on the analyst desk every day. Also, the type of work here at Vitality has really changed compared to what I was doing in G2. Being an analyst and being a Head Analyst has a lot of differences in terms of the responsibilities put on your shoulders. The work might be similar but you have to think of a lot of more things that I wasn’t thinking of before.
At least for this first season and for this first year, I didn’t want to feel pressured into doing too many things with the risk of not doing any of them in the best way possible.
I understand where you’re coming from. Do you still keep up with the PG Nationals and do you miss being on the desk so far?
Noodlez: I miss being part of the analyst desk with my boys Moonboy, Terenas, KenRhen, EddieNoise etc. I miss all of them so much. And I also miss being part of the PG community, talking to the players, flaming them as well, but I’m still following the games as much as I can.
Every Tuesday when our scrims are over, I immediately tune in on PG Nats just to see how the games are going. I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the other teams so far, so that’s kind of the regular PG Nats Spring Season, because that’s what always happens! I’m glad to see that they’re still on the same track, that they’re still giving bangers and the opposite of bangers. I don’t know what they’re called, but they provide them as well!
I think ‘siestas’ would work.
Noodlez: Yeah, I agree.
I’ll give you only one chance on this: Who wins PG Nationals this spring?
Noodlez: I think it’s pretty easy, it’s Macko Esports. Maybe the Head Coach Cristo wakes up on the finals day and decides to draft the completely opposite to what they usually do, but I just feel like the identity that they have as a roster is very hard to beat, at least from the PG Nats point of view.
I believe that this game identity that Cristo brings to the table might, not definitely, but might be a liability once they go to EU Masters because the skill ceiling of teams becomes much higher. The type of plays that they want to force might be disrupted much easier than in Italy. But when it comes to PG Nats, I don’t feel that they are going to have a big fight in the season.
— PG Esports (@PGEsportsIT) February 9, 2022
No problem for Macko then, straight to EU Masters!
Noodlez: Well, I’m also well known in Italy as the ‘Macko Jinxer’ because every time I say Macko wins…they don’t. So this answer is kind of a double-edged sword. If they win, I’m like, “hey, I guessed it right!” but if they don’t win well, I’m a jinx again. I’m happy either way.
Final question then. Usually at this point, I’d ask if you have any shoutouts and the like. But since you’ve done this job for a while now, I’d like to ask if you have any tips or advice for people who are looking to become analysts in esports or in LoL to cap off the interview.
Noodlez: Hmm…I can definitely give tips but I feel like the role of an analyst and basically every role in League of Legends so far, I feel like it comes from your specific set of expertise. So to someone who wants to be an analyst, I would ask, “what are you doing right now? What’s your main skill?”. Are they good at reporting data? Are they good at looking at the games and understanding it more like a sort of strategic analyst? What are your strengths? Go all-in on that.
If you’re good at reporting data from a more statistical point of view, just start doing tables, such as tables with which teams played the game, who won, how much time they took to win etc. just very basic tables, so that you start getting into the mindset of analysing the information you report and if it’s useful.
Also, try to have conversations with coaches from your ERLs. I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t reach out because they’re afraid of being treated badly or not receiving an answer. But most of the time, coaches from ERLs are looking for people to have these kinds of discussions with. Talk to one of them, get their feedback, understand what a coach thinks is useful because at the end of the day, it starts with what you’re good at but it ends with what is useful for the team. You can give the best stats, you can give the best of everything, but if it doesn’t have a use in-game then the job you’re doing is useless.
Start with finding what you’re good at and find a way to make it work into the League of Legends environment, to make it useful for the coach and team.
Thank you Noodlez and best of luck!
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