YamatoCannon Signs With SANDBOX Gaming as Head Coach
Here’s a bit of news that came out of nowhere: according to Jacob Wolf, former Team ROCCAT, Splyce, and Team Vitality coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi (currently working as a LEC on-broadcast analyst) will be taking on the head coach role for SANDBOX Gaming, of the LCK. This incredible (albeit perplexing) feat will make him the first Western coach to ever make the jump and lead a Korean team. An important, historical moment, that’s for sure.
Heading in a New Direction
Unlike Joshua “Jatt” Leesman (who just became Team Liquid’s new head coach), Yamato has had a slightly different career path. He started as a player (much like Jatt), but soon went into coaching and was eventually able to find a surprising amount of success with Splyce back in 2016. He was a young, promising coach and he showed great potential right from the very get-go.
Ever since then, his teams have been both hot and cold. Most folks will probably remember his now-legendary Worlds 2018 speech (an inspiring couple of minutes that both broke and warmed everyone’s hearts), but the young Swede deserves a lot of praise for his coaching chops as well.
The 2018 Team Vitality line-up fought through thick and thin to represent Europe at the World Championship stage. With Royal Never Give Up, Cloud9, and Gen.G in their group, no one gave Vitality much of a chance and it’s easy to understand why. By the end of the Group Stage, however, Vitality ended their run with a very respectable 3W-3L record, winning over millions of fans in the process for their incredible grit and determination.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yamato will first work remotely with the team and then relocate to South Korea once things fully stabilize.
On the one hand, it’s hard not to be happy for Yamato. He’s a hard-worker, an experienced veteran, and a leader in every sense of the word. On the other hand, he’s a Westerner, and overcoming that language barrier with a roster filled with Korean players will be a gigantic undertaking. Some are already arguing that it’s an insurmountable challenge, and it’s easy to see where they’re coming from.
League of Legends is a team game. How are you supposed to transfer your thoughts and ideas to players who aren’t fluent in your language? Not to mention the cultural differences between Korean and Western teams. Translators can help out but there’s a lot that can be lost in translation. There are so many important nuances, little intricate tidbits of information that require perfect communication. If anything, Yamato is surely aware of the challenge ahead of him, and it’s commendable to see that he’s willing to tackle it head-on.
We often hear of these strange pairings that, for one reason or another, never come to fruition. Players and coaches often flirt with the notion of moving to different regions and competing in foreign land. It rarely pans out (mostly out of logical and logistical reasons) but it’s an enticing notion nonetheless.
YamatoCannon will be the first to make the jump and we wish him nothing but the best over the coming months. If anything, seeing how SANDBOX was nearly relegated, he won’t have an overwhelming amount of pressure. He just needs to shape them into a middle-of-the-pack team, and that’ll already be a huge improvement.