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Our League of Legends national champions, the Nottingham Bears, have been busy since winning their crown. As their prize for winning we sent them packing off to Berlin to see the European LCS live. It wasn’t all relaxation for them though, as national champions they had earned also an invitation to Riot’s Summer Break Collegiate Invitational (which I covered here) which they took part in soon after returning. And currently they are of course competing in our very own Summer Tournament with a new look roster.

I managed to corner Billy ‘Trash Club Billy’ Card, top laner and captain of the Bears and bombarded him with questions about the team’s experiences since winning the championship. All in the name of presenting my findings to you, and here they are.

So we sent you off to LCS in Berlin in July. For people who haven’t been to a regular LCS week (most people I’d imagine) what’s the setup like in the studio?

Honestly, I thought the studio was bigger from seeing it on the stream and housed maybe 1500-2000 people. Getting there had a really nice shock to learn it seated 250-300 people, making it feel more special.

I think the studio is really well set up, with the casters in view of the spectators to add to the whole experience and the seating arrangement allowed for a perfect view of the players no matter where you were sat. Seeing it all in real life makes you see how much work actually goes into the production value of the steam, considering the relatively small space they have to work with.

What goes down in between games?

In between games you can go grab snacks and drinks, and sometimes the winning team/casters/analysts come out to the front entrance to do a photoshoot with people there, which is really nice (I hugged Huni! *faints*).

There is also a “hype man” who is insane. He has an insane amount of energy that he is able to channel into the crowd and make everyone cheer/clap and excited for the upcoming game!

I’m particularly jealous of you getting to hug Huni and I’m sad that the hype man never seems to get on stream. Were there any other pros/community figures you were really happy to get to meet?

Krepo was really awesome to meet because he asked us questions about our NUEL hoodies and appeared to take an interest! PyraTechnics was also a really nice guy who came out back in the break and spoke to a few of us about his job and the NUEL etc. We also got to meet Gambit and Fnatic, both of which were really nice. Huni was the best though because he’s really cute and I’m obsessed with him!

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Did you get to do any other stuff in Berlin while you were there, seeing the sights and such?

We went into, what I assume was, central Berlin and walked around as a large group with a few Rioters showing us around. It was really nice to see some famous sights like the Brandenburg Gate. There was also an insane ice cream shop that sold some incredible ice cream! We traveled a lot on the trains and it was interesting to see the differences in Berlin trains and London trains.

Right, last LCS question. What advice would you give to anyone going to see LCS?

Make sure you find it because it’s a little out of the way, looks like a warehouse and not greatly signposted! Take signs, lots of signs, the cameramen love them! Take something that can take pictures and also something to get autographs on, you’ll get plenty! The Tibbers bear at the merchandise stand is THE softest thing you will ever find, BUY IT!! Lastly, go with a friend or group because you’ll feel more comfortable and be able to GET HYPED! Ah, it’s amazing just go!

P.S. I realise every sentence ended with an exclamation mark, but that’s because it’s so awesome!!!!!!!

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Shortly after LCS you got to place in the Summer Collegiate Invitational. You ended up in 3rd/4th place (though I’d put you 3rd on performance) after coming 2nd in groups. What are your thoughts on the level of competition?

Ukraine was by far the weakest team, they have strong solo players but lacked teamwork. Portugal was clearly the strongest team, not dropping a game, and Turkey was in the middle. We underperformed at the end and I feel that if we played to our full potential we could have had a solid shot at taking first place. But as it stood, our level of play was not on par with Portugal.

What cause would you attribute underperforming to? Nerves? Opponents you weren’t used to playing against?

None of us had time to play more than a few games of practice in the weeks leading up. Our team communications also broke down when tensions got a bit high. I don’t think nerves affected us because we’ve been on plenty of stages and live events before!

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You had a coach (FrozenDawn) leading up to the tournament? How much did that help? What sort of things did he help you with?

FrozenDawn helped us with making sure we had clear and concise calls in teamfights and a plan going into champion select. It was helpful and it improved us, but lack of practice really limited how well we could perform.

I did notice your teamfighting to be on point, in general when you kept up in lane that let you pull ahead afterwards. Coaches in general are likely to get increasingly common in the NUEL. What would you say people aiming to coach teams should focus on helping teams with?

Teamfights, shotcalling, champion select, expanding champion pools, keeping up with the meta, diffusing arguments, sorting out practice and scrims, watching games and working out what went wrong. What they should not do is lecture someone on how to play their lane. FrozenDawn had enough respect for us to know we knew how to play our lanes, making him a really good coach because he worked on synergy and team oriented things. Pointing out over-aggression is fine, but players learn through making mistakes and sometimes it doesn’t help to point all of them out.

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So the Bears are rocking a new look roster for the Summer Tournament. Can you say anything about what triggered the change after the Collegiate Invitational? Are there likely to be further changes for next season?

Simple answer, Ben had his PhD to deal with, Vytautus said he couldn’t guarantee being free every week and Hal wanted to be a sub so he could play any lane and not have to commit every Sunday.

The obvious mid lane step in was the god himself, Artesh! For the jungle role I asked a good friend of mine OGN because he’s the next best jungler I knew and he’s a nice guy to play with. For the ADC role we took on a really promising looking player called The Freeshooter, who has put in really strong performances so far. I’m happy with the Summer Tournament team’s performance, with us only losing games when we had to forfeit due to lack of players which is unfortunate but unavoidable.

For the new season we are likely to mix up a few things depending on new players that come in. Hal won’t be available next year, and Vytautus is spending the first term abroad so we will definitely need a new jungle a mid. The plan is not to change any other role because we have great synergy and hey, why change what isn’t broken! So me, Ben and Lewis will be joined by two new players after tryouts next season!

Well then I’ll be looking forward to seeing that roster. Final question then I’ll let you escape, obviously as the new year starts there will be an influx of freshers wanting to compete. What advice or encouragement would you give them?

Regardless of rank, sign up and compete in the NUEL! It’s such a great and fun experience, you really shouldn’t miss out on it. For those who are in the higher ranks make sure you get involved right away to try and secure a spot on the top team, and give yourself the best chance of holding that NEUL (inside joke hue) trophy at the end of the year! Mainly though, if they don’t get involved then they’ve missed out on a great opportunity.

Well that inside joke went over my head, but I agree with the sentiment. Thanks for talking to me and good luck in the rest of the summer tournament.