Interview with NRG Coach Brandon “Juves” Defina: LCO Alumni at Worlds
Published on Oct 27, 2023
League Manager Tim “Carbon” Wendel recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon “Juves” Defina, a prominent figure in the Oceanic League of Legends scene. The former OPL player and LCO caster discusses his experiences at the World Championship, his thoughts on the tournament’s format, and his advice for Oceanic players.
How’s everything going so far?
Juves: “We’re 2-1 at the moment. It’s going pretty good. We have G2 this weekend, and if you look at it on a regional level, they’re the team you want when you’re in a pool of Korean and Chinese teams. But.. G2 is pretty good.
In saying that, I think we can beat them; we play like a Chinese team.”
Carbon: “Yeah, balls to the wall.”
Juves: “Yeah, it just brings variance into the game, and if you’re comfortable in those games, then you can win. Bro, it’s so funny, like I played in OCE, I coached academy, now I’m at Worlds and Faker is in the elevator. Like, I’ve grown up always wanting Faker to win worlds, but this is the first time I’ve come out of an elevator and I’m like, ‘hey, f**k you, I want to win worlds’.”
Niship “Dhokla” Doshi and Victor “FBI” Huang at Worlds 2023
Juves: “It was crazy, when I signed the academy team I knew what Dhokla’s attitude was like, he’s got a really good attitude. He was high LP at the time, and his goal was to get back to the LCS, so it made sense to sign him. He had a phenomenal split and got promoted to LCS. Then FBI joined the team after the EG thing, and it was like… What? We’re all working on the same team again?
The worst part is though, now that they’re good players, I get teased so much. They’re like, ‘how did you lose with this team (The SIN 2017 roster).. how bad were you?!’ I’m like, are you guys kidding me? Vic (FBI) was like the 4th best ADC, Lost was better than him, Raes was better than him at the time… I’m like come on guys Dhokla wasn’t that good back then. Put a little bit of respect on me. People see Ry0ma on that lineup as well, and they’re like ‘come on, man…’. No, no, no, they have it all twisted. I’m a victim.”
Juves and Victor “FBI” Huang celebrating (Riot Games, 2017)
Carbon: “It’s funny that they make fun of you, I mean it’s not funny but it is a bit funny.”
Juves: “I mean it is hilarious, and it’s funny how many OPL VODs we’ve reviewed as a team this year. We were so bad.”
Carbon: “Yeah, I mean the average skill level is always going up. I remember you were on like LoLEsports top 5 plays of the week for a flash predict with Gragas, but if you showed that to someone now… It’s so standard.”
Juves: “Yeah, haha, I would expect a D1 Gragas to be able to do that now.”
JUVES FEATURES IN “THE PENTA”. A GLOBAL LOLESPORTS HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE (2017)
2-1 With wins against TL and MAD and a loss to WBG. What do you think of the format?
Juves: “I like the format; it’s exciting. It keeps you engaged through the whole broadcast. Even while we’re scrimming, we have one eye on the broadcast. A) You need to watch every team because we’re all in one group, but B) you wanna watch the draw right? I know people were a little bit upset when it was NA vs. NA and EU vs. EU, but early on in the tournament, if you’re playing teams from your own region, it won’t happen later on.”
Carbon: “I saw on Reddit that the likelihood of that draw was super low % odds.”
Juves: “Even then I was very nervous vsing NA. It becomes a pressure of you beat them during the year and then losing to them at Worlds. Yeah, it delegitimizes your win at home a bit. Well yeah but like, what did their coaches do? What did they do? How did they improve so quickly, and we didn’t? I was really happy with our convincing win over TL. If you look back at the games we played against them in Playoffs (in the LCS), the game we had against them at Worlds was cleaner and even more one sided, so it’s like, I guess we’re on the right track, you know.”
What was it like meeting GAM Levi again?
NRG Juves and GAM Levi meet again 6 years after their match at Rift Rivals 2017.
Juves: “I didn’t even plan to meet him, I was on the phone to my family, and he came down into the lobby. We were talking a little bit and he dropped ‘did you see my game? Did you see me outsmite Pyosik? Does that mean I’m the king now?’ and I was like, yeah alright, you’re the king. You’re still playing 10 years later.”
Carbon: “Hahah how good, so funny.”
Juves: “I just thought it was funny that was the first thing he brought up but I guess that makes sense when it’s all I’ve been talking about for the last 8 years.”
Carbon: “Hahah, you didn’t win that game though, right?”
Juves: “Nah, I got flatlined, I was probably 2-3 levels down by the time Baron spawned.”
Carbon: “Ah well, you still outsmited him.”
Do you have any advice for Oceanic players back home?
Juves: “I think… First things first, getting more people to play the game just makes it better right. I think our location is what makes it tough. I’ve seen a lot on social media about the state of the server, win traders, etc., but first and foremost is to get high ELO on OCE. I think every great player that has ever left Australia has hit rank 1 at some point, and as much as the server can be frustrating, annoying, and players will say the skill is low… If it’s low and the server’s not good, then you should be able to get rank 1. If you can afford to go to Korea to bootcamp, that’s good too. I think the biggest thing is being intentional with your practice. So many people, including myself when I played, you queue up but you have no idea why you’re queueing up. You’re queueing up just to play. But when I look at OCE players and I see the gap between them and even players in academy, there is such a fundamental difference between them and us. And like, fundamentals for me are not something that you need to learn from the best players in the world. To apply it is one thing; you can get lazy playing bad players, but I think there’s a significant lack of fundamental knowledge. Match up knowledge, champion pool issues, how you play the first few waves… I think there’s a lot of things we blow off as ‘ahh, we can’t do anything because of the server we’re on,’ but we definitely can improve these things. I think the onus falls back on the players. If you think back to the players that get exported Vic (FBI), k1ng, etc. They all had better fundamentals than the rest of the OCE players. I guess I’m putting the responsibility on the players a little bit. If you want it, you can make it happen. I think it starts with intentional practice and how you use your time.”
Carbon: “Appreciate it, man, best of luck for the rest of Worlds.”
Juves: “No worries, time to play some Korean solo queue, haha.”
JUVES IS CURRENTLY 150LP MASTERS IN KOREA
Catch NRG’s next match against G2 on the 27th of October at 5PM AEST at lolesports.com.
Follow Juves at https://twitter.com/SINJuves