The Chiefs have kicked off the OPL season with a surprising 10-0 to shake up the power rankings, and MSI is now in their sights. While Chris “SeeEl” Lee is obviously chuffed, the coach says it’s got nothing to do with him, and everything to do with his “geniuses.”
The story of SeeEl doesn’t begin with his League accolades. It starts from when he was kicked out of home as a baby-faced 17-year-old fresh out of high school.
“I got kicked out of home when I was 17 and I didn’t have a good relationship with either of my parents,” he said. “Even though we were relatively well-off, I was basically homeless, so I went out and took whatever jobs I could get.
“I was a removalist, a cleaner, a waiter, a kitchen-hand — which is why I cut onions so well. I was going to uni full-time but I really wanted money so I was like ‘f**k it, I’ll ditch it and work full time.’ I was at uni, working three jobs, doing 90-100 weeks.”
While the 23-year-old coach of the Chiefs has no notable results to his name, and no competitive experience as a pro, he’s got the work ethic to prove that his players are the best in the region.
He’s transformed — what was on paper — a relatively unremarkable Chiefs roster on paper to one of the dominant forces of Oceanic League. If you asked him about it though, he’d tell you that it’s almost got nothing to do with him.
“On paper, we were the underdogs for a reason,” he said. “We have one veteran mid, but we have a fifth place AD carry, Croc had to take the entirety of 2018 off because of wrist issues, KoreaCK hasn’t played a stage game once, and Thien was a sixth-man.”
While SeeEl doesn’t have much coaching experience in the top flight, he’s been trying to instill into his roster of misfits the idea of not just playing for next week, but playing for next year. He’s got direction, he’s put in the effort, and he’s being a role model for the rest of his team.
“No one on the team is actually cocky. No one is arrogant enough to think that it’ll be a free run, and I drill it through them every day that ‘today is a fresh start,’ have that fresh mindset when you come to practice, and make sure to stay humble.
“I’m trying to instill a championship mentality into the entire team, as well as prepare them for stage games. Not just the best of ones, which I think a lot of games could have gone both ways, but best of threes and fives.”
SeeEl’s long term focus with the Chiefs has been noticeable with their performances throughout OPL 2020. They haven’t had some of the cleanest games early, but once late-game rolls around, they look unstoppable.
Having every role filled with mechanical prodigies, the next step isn’t just getting them through the OPL, but giving them the skills, and the work ethic, to try and make it internationally — either as a team, or as individuals.
“We need to take that mindset where we do what we can as players and as coaches to take a step forward and be willing to learn certain concepts about the game that’s 100% required for international that might not be the best for the upcoming week.
“I’ll teach them how to play the game instead of playing against certain teams, and I think that’s been instrumental to our success.”
However, working together a mixed roster has proven to be difficult. Croc and KoreaCK’s mother tongue isn’t English, so team communication has been a struggle. However, SeeEl has tried to make it work, thinking outside the box of what OCE teams would normally do.
“One of the reasons why we have so many Koreans in the house is to instill the Korean League environment. We have me, KoreaCK, Croc, and PADO — so that the house atmosphere is different.
“When I speak, Croc and CK are in full respect mode. They’ll talk back when they think my feedback is wrong and I encourage that kind of environment. I want players to tell me I’m wrong, but we have that Korean atmosphere, so because of that, the others just naturally mold into that.”
“When I came to the Chiefs, I thought these guys would all be lazy gamers and they wouldn’t keep up with me, but they all work bloody hard and I’m pretty impressed.”
The Korean-style of League of Legends tutelage is a far cry from what most players, like Thien, Katsurii, and Claire would expect from Oceania. It took some time for the team to adjust to the work ethic SeeEl asked his players for.
“Claire got to where he was through pure talent,” he said. “He’s a genius. However, the [OCE] environment is awful. Players just want a chill environment, and no one can imagine the environment that I instill upon the players.
“Thien, Katsurii, and Claire had spouts of disrespect at one point, which is reasonable because they were like ‘who is SeeEl? What is this guy? He’s never had a pro split, he’s like Diamond 2 peak in League, he came ninth place in the OCS, who is this guy? Why do I have to listen to him?’
Counting my players out of rookies to watch…— Chris Lee (SeeEl) (@coachseeel) January 30, 2020
Watch out for world class jungle and support plays.
With his band of geniuses on his side, the Chiefs don’t have their sights set on a perfect 21-0. In fact, they are ready to drop games to everyone in the OPL.
“I think Dire Wolves and Legacy are our biggest rivals, but it’s not that simple. Any of these teams can upset us — Order and Avant can beat us at any time, and I think against Gravitas we could have lost, and Mammoth had a pretty good draft against us but just executed it wrong.”
However, where SeeEl does see this team is on the MSI stage, wherever in the world that may be come May, and ready to show that his Chiefs roster aren’t the pushovers like teams gone by.
“This team isn’t meant to be where it is, but it isn’t here because I’m amazing as a coach — these players were swept under the rug and put on terrible rosters, or they were hidden gems. They’re all honestly geniuses, they all take feedback very well, they improve very efficiently, and quite honestly, these players will without a doubt go international.
“CvMax said this once: ‘a lot of coaching is just luck,’ and I was like: I have geniuses in Croc and Thien, the gigahard worker in Robert, and the older voices of CK and Claire who add a nice balance to the team, and now we’ve just gotta produce the results.”
The Chiefs will look to continue their undefeated streak against Mammoth and Dire Wolves in Week 6 of the OPL from 5pm on Saturday March 8.