Interview with a League of Legends Challenger Coach: Morïarty (54bomb99)

Interview with a League of Legends Challenger Coach: Morïarty (54bomb99)

Challenger ranking

This week, we’ll be exploring the mind of our very own Challenger Coach, Adam “Morïarty” Isles. He’s contributed to nearly every article we’ve written and helps devise the advice and conclusions you see within our GPI. He’s also the first coach to utilize Mobalytics as part of coaching curriculum.

Outside of coaching, Isles has been Challenger ranking in Solo Queue every season since Season 3. Over the years as a Mid main, he’s been regarded as one of the best Twisted Fate and Kassadin players in NA.

Our interview dives into how he became one of the top personal coaches in LoL’s history, and how he walked the line between his teaching career and his experiences in the pro scene.

Gamer Sensei Achievements

Moriarty’s Gamer Sensei Achievements

Your coaching resume includes “Solo Killed Faker” as an achievement. Can you expand on that?

Morïarty: “It was when SKT was in NA for Worlds. The matchup was my TF against Faker’s Aurelion Sol on ladder – I killed him at Level 4 completely solo.

[SKT] Bang was actually on my team and asked me if I was better than [SSG] Crown because, if not, they were in trouble for the finals.”

Haha wow, that’s awesome man. When did you first get into coaching and why did you start?

I first started near the end of Season 3. Basically I was trying to join the Challenger series as an amateur looking to become pro.

 I needed the income. I felt my game knowledge was pretty good and I had previous coaching experience from normal sports like hockey so I gave it a shot.”

What was the coaching scene like back then?

There weren’t a lot of coaches and it was fairly rudimentary in terms of what people gave advice on. It was really shallow and people didn’t really have a structure to their lessons.

From the research I did at the time, the only person who seemed like he knew what he was doing in terms of structure was Last Shadow [LS]. Most coaches just loaded up a replay and gave advice without havin consistency or a method.”

How did your coaching style evolve over time? What set you apart?

“Researching to see what the other top coaches were doing, I found that we were all kind of teaching the same things. I realized that maybe if I structured my coaching as a real lesson, like a college class or high school curriculum, it would be a lot easier to digest information.

I was one of the first coaches to properly structure their sessions in terms of giving a lesson plan and then following through on it. As I became more serious about coaching, streamlining the method really made it more efficient for my student’s learning – once I started doing that it really jump-started my following.”

How did you build a following of students?

“At first, I coached for free and worked my way up before I started charging. I gradually marketed myself in terms of asking students for reviews and referrals to their friends. In terms of popularity, that grind was what helped me get to the highest level. I haven’t actually coached on League Coaching for a while but I still have the top spot.”

Moriarty League Coaching

At the top of League Coaching, one of the most popular coaching sites

When you were in the midst of doing your most coaching, what was it like?

There was a spell where I was doing twelve hours a day for three months at the peak. The longest day was for sixteen hours straight. I’m not gonna lie it was pretty absurd – I would wake up and go straight into it. I made sure that the first lesson scheduled was a live session so I could watch the student play without having to worry about camera control. This would let me mute and eat during a lesson.  

It was actually a pretty tough situation, I had to take a break every few months.”

While your coaching name is “Morïarty,” you used to be named “54bomb99”, what was the significance?

“It was the name of my old pro Team Fortress 2 team (Seagull the OW pro was on it). It was a joke in the community that the team, 54bomb99, could never die. Despite it going through many different versions, it was alive through all of the time TF2 was popular for competitive.

We were a bunch of friends who’ve known each other for years, so it was to honor that team.  I needed to keep the meme alive – I’ve even had some TF2 players add me in LoL to see if i was actually a member of the team.”

Can you tell me a bit about your students? Where are they from? What ranks do they tend to be?

I’ve had students from all ranks. I’ve had one Challenger, two Masters, a decent amount of Diamond…most of my students land between Silver and Plat. 

I’ve had some high schoolers, a lot of them are college students. I also had some working professionals that have League, as their hobby – I’ve had wives pop-in and say hi during a lesson.

As far where, I’ve taught people from…a lot of different countries. Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Korea, Japan, China…”

Even Korean players??

“Yeah. Korean players as well, that was definitely a lot of fun. They like memeing.”

Teaching the Azir vs Ahri matchup

What were your best students like? 

“It depends on how you define “best”. I’ve had students that have climbed super fast, others that were great in terms of attitude. In terms of performance, one student went from Bronze to Plat 1 within 4 months or so of coaching, I thought that was a good success story. Another went from D5 to Masters in 3 months.

As far as attitude, I had a Ukrainian student who made some spreadsheets, even better than some Mobalytics. One time I brought Amine [Uthgar] in to one of the coaching sessions – he half-jokingly tried to hire him because he was making really nice charts to help himself improve. Definitely one of my hardest working students.

My German students were always on time, never late by even a minute to their sessions. I would write notes during sessions and give students a post-report (a trend that I feel I started in the coaching scene) – these students would write notes for their own purposes. They really did their best to learn and receive information.”

Do you still keep up with your students? What was the longest tutorship you had with a student?

“The longest I taught a student was two years. Yeah, me and him are good friends. I keep up with many of them. For some of my students, even if I’m not coaching them anymore, I always have them message me when they reach their goal to follow-up.

I also get messages every once in while from old students like, ‘Hey Adam, I just hit Plat, I know you probably don’t remember me but I’d like to thank you for the coaching you did,’ that only had one or a few sessions with me. I get those randomly from time to time and it always feels pretty rewarding.”

Any horror stories?

“I’ve only had one or two bad sessions. If someone is willing to pay a high price for coaching, they generally don’t come in with a bad or negative mentality. 

But the worst one I had was when I was first building my brand – I was at a pretty high price but not my peak. I had a guy saying ‘I’ve tried everything but I can’t get from Plat to Diamond.’ It’s a common story of ‘I’ve done everything right but can’t break through.’

He proceeded to question everything I said…my credentials and why they mattered. Every single time I would say something, he would backtalk me and come up with an excuse about why it didn’t make a difference, blaming his teammates, and all that.

I ended up refunding him and canceling all further sessions. My time was valuable to me because if I was coaching, I wasn’t practicing. If I wasn’t practicing I wasn’t going better so I couldn’t go pro. It just wasn’t worth the effort if he wasn’t willing to be taught or improve.”

Moriarty's GPI

Speaking of pro, you’ve had teammates such as Akaadian, Dardoch, Cody Sun, and Hakuho, tryouts and offers from different teams…could you talk a bit about that aspect of your career? 

“Sure. I had some pro offers – including a tryout for CLG which I didn’t make. My greatest BM moment was solo-killing Pobelter in a TF vs Leblanc matchup when he was on CLG. I paused the game to ask him if he was lagging (knowing fully well that he wasn’t). We ended up winning the game and he was subbed out for Huhi.

Both Hauntzer and LOD mained Mid lane at one point, coincidentally they role swapped soon after losing to me in scrims. Around that time, I was also contacted by Renegades to play for them in the LCS but I decided against it since they were about to be relegated.

Although I declined the [Renegades] offer, we became scrim partners. My Kassadin and Twisted Fate were usually permabanned since I didn’t drop a single set with those champs during that split. The bans ended up leaking into the P&B meta of the LCS.”

What made you decide to go full time into coaching instead pursuing the LCS?

“Joining Mobalytics did. My coaching business had boomed at that time as well and I thought that being a Mid laner in NA was going to be very hard and wouldn’t last long as a career. I chose the option that could lead to careers further down the road.

I felt like if I didn’t take the chance with Mobalytics, even if I went pro, the same opportunities would no longer exist after I was done as someone else who would have expanded personal coaching in esports. I’d be left with few options for the future as I would have delayed school as well.

I mean in my mind, the logic for the decision was sound, but a part of me still wants to know how far I could have gone if I went all-in on going pro.”

Wow, that’s a tough crossroads. Glad you’re on our team though! Could you describe your transition to working with Mobalytics?

“My plan was to build up an infrastructure and expand my own coaching business to other platforms, but I hooked up with Mobalytics through prohibit (he was a coach at the time and we would refer students to each other because we taught different positions), and it seem liked a good fit.

When I first used the tool I was like, holy shit, this is so easy for me to use for coaching. I could track stats, use it in combination with replay reviews to help people see their own improvement in different areas. So I started using it in every one of my sessions.

Students were just blown out of the water, they were extremely impressed with the app and how they could see how they were doing in different areas. I could tell them like, ‘Hey, your Farming score sucks, here’s your score in the Mid game, let’s work on that.’

It made it really easy to create a focus and be able to show that the lessons were working. I could pinpoint each specific areas in the curriculum which was extremely helpful.”

What do you have planned going forward?

“My goal is to be the leading force in terms of the advancement of coaching for League and any esport in general – so what I mainly want to do is start a certification course for coaches.

They would go through training and earn a certificate so students looking to hire someone don’t have to “guess” and take a stab hoping it works out with a new coach.

That was a problem when I was first starting out. Players could see that I had some reviews but at the end of the day, many still had some hesitation about spending money for a lesson – mostly since coaching for esports is fairly new. For newer coaches that don’t have reviews, it’s especially hard for people to trust using their money.

The training would encourage coaches to use proper and effective methods while players would have something trustworthy. I really think it’ll help the industry.

That’s the main thing I’m pushing for right now. Further down the line, I’m hoping to ultimately establish an online coaching university. But the first, more realistic goal is definitely getting the certification program up and running.”

That sounds awesome, maybe some day you’ll be something like a “Dean of Esports”. To finish off, did you want to plug anything or give our readers some things to look forward to?

“We’re going to be doing seminar lessons on our Discord on a regular basis and giving GPI reviews for community members. So look forward to that! I’ll also be streaming sometime soon [schedule will be given soon] so tune in.”

Thanks for reading everyone! Let us know what you thought of our interview and if you’d be interested in having more in the future. You can catch Morïarty on Twitch or pick his brain in our Coaching channel in our Discord.