Job "CaptCoach" Hilbers is a well-known coach in Smite. He previously coached Titan in Season 1 and mid Season 2, he switched from coaching Titan to coaching Avant Garde, the undefeated team from Smite OCE Pro league. Going into the World Championship, his task is to prepare Avant Garde as they're taking on the world outside Oceania for the first time in the Pro scene of Smite. We had a chat with him on his thoughts going into the SWC, and here is his thoughts.
First of all, congratulations on being the first team to qualify for worlds. You got picked up as a coach for Avant Garde some months ago, when did you start coaching, and how did you figure coaching was something you would do?
CaptCoach: I first got picked up as a coach around March/June 2014. I was practicing with my team at the time, but got asked by Zindurn and Ataraxia to coach Agilitas. Honestly, in the beginning I was really conflicted whether I wanted to become a coach or not, there hadn't been any successful coaches in the Smite competitive scene and I had always aspired to be a professional player. From there on I discussed it with my girlfriend and my father. After those discussions I felt like it would be a good decision for me to become a Smite coach as I had not made much progress as a player in the 18 months I had tried to become a professional player, and on top of that the Agilitas line-up looked really strong.
How was your transition from coaching Titan to coaching Avant Garde?
CaptCoach: The main difference between coaching Titan and coaching Avant Garde is that the guys on Avant Garde were far more open to the input of a coach, and willing to try out innovative and uncommon systems, habits, and strategies. They were far more receptive to my style of coaching than Titan was, and I think that mainly is because Avant Garde was looking for something different in a coach than the players on Titan were. In hindsight, I think the players on Titan were looking for someone to compliment the skills they already had, but had not fully developed. While Avant Garde knew they had what it took to be a top team and were looking for ways to improve their team through strategies, systems, and practice regimes that were uncommon within Smite.
Do you feel Avant Garde is ready and can compete against Europe/North America in Smite World Championship 2016?
CaptCoach: I definitely feel like Avant Garde is ready to, and can compete with Europe and North America. The games at the Smite World Championship are not going to be easy, but it is the World Championship so I expect all teams to bring their A-game. We are preparing well for the European and North American teams, but we are definitely not scared of them.
How do you prepare for the North American meta, as well with European meta, where you also have to prepare them for the lesser known metas in LATAM & China?
CaptCoach: First, what I try to do for the team is heavily analyse the meta in each regions. From there on I look for strategies that work against the meta, and then draft certain comps with Rowe which we think can execute those strategies. Other than that we will try and play our own game as much as we can.
Have you guys planned out a lot of strategies against the different regions due to the different metas?
CaptCoach: We do have a lot of strategies readily available for us that we can use against every team, but they are not necessarily developed with the sole purpose of countering just a single team. Instead, we have several strategies at hand and we know how and when they will work. From there on it is just a matter of adapting to the meta that will develop at the Smite World Championship itself as every major tourney basically serves as a hyperbolic time chamber in which the meta develops much faster than outside of the tournament setting.
Are you confident in Avant Garde in Smite World Championship, and do you think we’ll see something we’ve never seen before in Smite Pro League?
CaptCoach: I am definitely confident that Avant Garde can make it far into the Smite World Championship, and I definitely hope to shake things up again!
How do you feel your addition to the team has been working out for them?
CaptCoach: It is hard to say how exactly my addition has affected Avant Garde. The one thing I do notice is that we have become far better at adapting as fast as we can and that the team is far more consistent in their play.
What mentality is the team taking into the world championship?
CaptCoach: The mentality the team has going into the Smite World Championship can be best described as "cautious confidence". We are confident in our own ability, and our capability to make it far into the Smite World Championship, but we are also cautious of the other teams. The main focus mentally is to not get ahead of yourself. If you consider a game won before it starts, you set yourself up to be defeated.
As a coach, you have a lot to do for your team. But do you have any hobbies besides your job? Something you really enjoy doing to take a break, or clear your mind?
CaptCoach: Honestly, I love practicing sports but it has been quite a while since I have done so. Other than that I enjoy being outside, reading comics, and reading books on coaching.
How would you evaluate each player on the current roster and how does it shape up against your competitors at worlds?
CaptCoach: Individual prowess is less important than the team prowess, but I think the Avant Garde players probably range in the top 30 players in the world. In that sense they should theoretically be able to go toe to toe with the players from European and North American teams in their respective positions at the Smite World Championship.
At last, is there any final shoutouts you want to give before we end this interview?
CaptCoach: I want to give a shout out to everyone on Avant Garde for allowing me to coach them, as well as the Avant Garde organization for picking me up. Other than that a special shout out to Zindurn and Ataraxia for initially having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to develop myself as a coach. Lastly, I want to thank all of my Benchwarmers because they keep my stream fun and are always there whether I am having a great or a rough time.
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