“It’s giving it our all while still trying to develop:” Team Liquid’s Jatt talks about Lock In tournament

Jatt is looking to make 2021 TL’s year (Image via Team Liquid and Dotesports)
Jatt is looking to make 2021 TL’s year (Image via Team Liquid and Dotesports)
Austin Roger Ryan

It’s only been six games, but Team Liquid is looking more aggressive now compared to the past six splits. This change comes from the side’s head coach, Joshua “Jatt” Leesman.

While Jatt was head coach in 2020, he inherited the team and its staff and structures.

In 2021, Jatt is looking at a team that is increasingly more his own creation. In this interview, he discusses taking on more agency in the team, creating a versatile squad, and using the Lock In to gather data.

Aside from picking up on some older conversations between this writer and him, Jatt also spoke about basketball and The Last Dance.

Q. I’m curious how much, if anything, do you think the LCS teams are hiding in the Lock In tournament?

A. Oh, interesting. I’d say right now - just if I had to guess - teams aren’t hiding almost any information because they don’t have the information to hide yet. [Laughs] If that makes sense.

Even though we had Barney Barney Morris [Alphari] start scrimmaging with us on the 13th, Lucas Tao Kilmer Larsen [Santorin] started scrimmaging with us on the 18th. So you know we’ve had nine days with Barney and five days with Lucas.

We’re still figuring out exactly what we’re going to be playing and what we think is good, and I think many other teams will be in a similar boat right now. We’re just approaching this as if we don’t need to play our most comfortable thing. We need to get reps with stuff on stage that we want to get data about. And I think that’s kind of what we did today.

Q. It’s giving it your all, but there’s not that much actually yet developed.

A. Yeah, yeah, we’re definitely giving it our all, but it’s not like we’re picking full comfort or something. It’s giving it our all while still trying to develop.


Q. On that same note, what does triumph or not winning at the Lock In mean to a team? The objective is always to win, but to what degree here? How important is growing for the split, and how does that weigh in your mind as a coach?

A. I mean, for me, I think a lot of it is about confidence, and a lot of it is about getting stage games. I feel like these have been stage games in how we play and how the other teams have been playing against us. And no matter how much you try to make scrims the same as stage, there’s always going to be a level of difference. So winning Lock In, I think, would be a good affirmation that we are a good team, and it would give us more confidence to continue doing the stuff that we want to be doing.

And also there is a winner-take-all prize pool, so that’ll be nice too if we win.

Q. I’ve finally managed to carve out some time to watch basketball…

A. Nice.

Q. One thing about the current basketball spread is that if you have multiple playmaking threats open, it opens things up for more feints, tricky plays, and just for a depth of strategy. [...] With TL, do you feel like this lineup is harder to counterstrat and has more depth of strategy available to it than it used to?

A. I think that’s the hope. That’s what we wanted to do when we were approaching this offseason. We wanted to be an incredibly dynamic team. Yeah, I think there are analogies like that in the NBA, but it’s still going to be a challenging balance to make sure we’re identifying the right things. Because you see the same thing in the NBA roster construction, like if you have too many ball-dominant players, they’re not actually distracting threats from anyone.

It would help if you had the right mix of ball-dominant players, shooters, pick-and-roll guy, 3-and-D. It would help if you had all those different combinations. Sometimes putting together superstars, if the superstars don’t also have those supportive qualities, it isn’t going to work.


So I think last split, it was simpler in the [sense of] “hey, this is probably going to be our best chance to win.” We’re still figuring that out with us because we have such dynamic players. I mean, you even got to see (Nicolaj) Jensen play Galio today, which is a champion he hasn’t really played since his C9 days because we’ve played a lot of carry tops super early on. That doesn’t mean we can’t play a defensive topside with a control mage mid and, you know, play for bot prio[rity] or something like we did last split.

I guess I’m talking super generally, but yes, we should be very versatile, but that isn’t just because everyone’s a star it’s because a lot of these guys will need to excel on more supportive stuff when the comp calls for it. Cause you can’t have carries everywhere.

Q. Your first year is done now. It felt like a ‘feeling it out’ year. [...] Now this feels a lot more like it’s your team - and also Jensen’s and ownership and things like that too. Has that changed your experience as a head coach this year?

A. Yeah, I mean at least so far during the season. I’ve had a lot more of a hand in really constructing the coaching staff that I’ll be working with, and I have more confidence in the decisions that I’ll be making.


I also do wanna shout out to Kold (Jonas Anderson). Since we’ve been scrimming on January 4th, even before that, Kold has just been really great with his knowledge of the game, his help with the draft, and his help with the review. So we’re really tag-teaming a lot of this stuff, but yes, it feels a lot better knowing that we have more control and agency in what we do.

Q. How much do you feel like working alongside Cain (Jang Nu-ri), just working in your first year in general, how much do you feel that improved your X’s and O’s for this season?

A. I think it definitely helped. I mean, observing exactly how a team approaches pick and ban and do review and give feedback is always going to be great to inform you for the next year. It lets me know what I liked and lets me know what I didn’t like to keep the former and not do as much of the latter. In the last split, I did consult on draft and participated in reviews, but for the most part, I was trying to facilitate and make sure everyone else was connecting. Whereas this split, I’m still making sure everything is connecting, but I am giving more of my own opinion on these topics


So last year: definitely, definitely very helpful for this year.

Q. I’m curious, is Kold sort of your Tex Winter? Is he the Tex Winter analog to your Phil Jackson here?

A. [Chuckles] I mean, I don’t know if it’s that specific, but he’s been really great.

Q. I did finally manage to watch The Last Dance.

A. Oh, awesome.

Q. Michael Jordan, One of the funniest parts to me was how easily he could be offended at things and how it was almost like a talent for him. Do you have a moment in Worlds, in your coaching career in general, where you took it personally?

A. [Laughs] No, I actually didn’t, but I do love the memes that got generated by Michael Jordan. I feel like my motivation is slightly more intrinsic than trying to prove other people wrong, but for whoever it works for, that’s a great way to go for it.

Q. If I can ask, what’s the source of motivation for you?

A. I think a lot of what I want to do is trying to excel. Suppose I’m really passionate about something. I want to be able to do it and show that I’m capable of being the best. So like, that’s one of the reasons I got into casting. I saw a space, and I had a bunch of ideas about like, “Oh, you know I could do this, I could do that, I could do that.”

I had somewhat similar coaching thoughts, and I hope to get there - I don’t think I’m there yet. But that’s what motivates me. I want to be the best coach, and I want to win the Worlds.

Edited by Srijan Sen


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