Andy "Crazycaps" Walda, 22, is a name few League of Legends fans will recognize immediately, but the young Dutch has been around the block for years. His long tenure in the semi-professional League of Legends scene — including stints with Millenium and Ex Nihilo in 2015 — didn't bring him any accolades but prepared him for a job he'd have much more success with.
In June 2016, Walda joined Misfits as their manager and it's all been uphill since. Walda helped the "rabbits" out of Challenger, into the EU LCS Summer Playoffs finals, and all the way to the Worlds quarterfinal stage, where they almost ended the legendary SK Telecom T1.
Last month, we caught up with Walda to talk his team's trip to Worlds and his single fondest memory of 2017.
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Are there any hidden angles to managing a team, that you wish the world knew about? (Or journalists knew about, so they stopped asking you stupid questions?)
Not that I can think of, I think being a manager is pretty straight-forward.
What’s been the greatest challenge in taking a challenger team, and preparing them not just for the LCS, but for worlds?
Personally, I think you need a good setup between the coach and other staff members, including the manager, even though being a manager doesn’t directly influence their gameplay but just small details or extras you do for the players will make them sometimes more eager to do something for you faster.
Getting the team, analysts and whatever support staff is needed to China [where 2017 Worlds was held — Ed.] sounds like a bit of a logistical nightmare. What hoops do you, as a manager, have to jump through to make a puzzle like that add up?
First off, we had the analyst and our mental psychologist work remote from their homes, writing the players daily about their specific things that they wanted them to do for the day. But otherwise I’d have to get their visas sorted and travelling tickets.
Which part of your journey as a team, would you say was the hardest?
I think everything between Challenger and end of Spring Split was really hard to go through, but it was also my first time as a manager which made it extra hard for me.
What’s your role in the mental well-being of your players? Where do you see Hussain’s role ending, and your beginning?
We both have sort of different roles for the players’ mental well-being. It’s up to me to make them able to focus as much as possible on the game and not anything in their surroundings. And in-game, he prepares them for whatever challenges we have. Also, our mental psychologist started with us in Summer Split which also helped in the long run.
Do you, as a manager, get involved in the doings of the team itself? Misfits are fairly unique squad at the moment. Do you see your own fingerprints on there, somewhere?
I think I’m a unique manager since I’m so young and was a semi-professional player so I know how they feel and when I shouldn’t press them to do something.
Normally, when people become managers, they have some sort of leadership or administrative role, behind them. At 22, I’m hard pressed to see a long track record there, but whatever you’re doing it’s clearly working. What’s your secret?
If I told my secret it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! But it’s important to have a good structure between coach and manager since they’ll see each other every day and work off each other.
Who decides if a player needs to be replaced? And how do you deal with eventualities like that, without impacting the morale of the squad?
It’s mainly a whole team decision and sometimes there is no other way but to cut a player loose for underperforming or anything social wise.
Misfits were one of the teams who openly talked about looking to the NA LCS if things in Europe didn’t pick up. Without talking about upcoming changes for 2018, what do you feel was lacking, from a team perspective, in 2017 and prior?
It’s really hard for someone in Europe to stand out to the world in personality, it’s mostly just on skill that they get recognized. I think it was lacking to make those personalities shine.
What’s your single fondest moment of 2017?
I think the Paris stage when everybody was singing for Hans Sama’s birthday, it made me tear up seeing the whole crowd singing for him.