Welcome Michael Schwartz
Counter Logic Gaming would like to officially welcome Michael Schwartz as the League of Legends team’s player development coach! Michael has been working closely with the team and has already made a noticeable impact in the past couple weeks. The players are no longer sleeping in late and wake up at 8 AM everyday (although, it helps that they get to wake up to the smell of ham, eggs, and toast or the occasional blueberry scones baking in the oven). The process has been gradual as both the players and staff learned to work around the new schedule and additional team building activities, but we could not be more happy to have Michael on board with us here at CLG.
“Essentially, my whole professional career has been working to create value in other people.”
Michael knows what it’s like being an athlete: he participated in track and field while an undergraduate, training daily to improve his technique and strength, while working with various coaches. While he relates to the players and helps them improve upon themselves in the physical aspect, what makes Michael interesting is that he doesn’t come from the traditional background you would expect of a personal development coach. His skills and aptitude as a player development coach derive from a wide array of experiences.
Going into undergraduate Michael knew that he wanted to pursue a career as an attorney, and thus, majored in philosophy and political science - common majors for an aspiring lawyer. At the same time, he worked as a Resident Assistant, overseeing the wellbeing of hundreds of students, and eventually as a Lead Resident Assistant. He made sure to reach out to as many students as possible, checking to see if they “were in a healthy environment, doing well in their classes, and providing a one-on-one connection.”
Michael started working at a law firm and investment bank while in his senior year in college. “I had the opportunity to see what it was like to work there and do the typical work in a slightly limited capacity,” said Michael of his experience there.
The experience reinforced his goal of becoming an attorney and specializing in intellectual property. “When I was doing my senior thesis it was on esports and copyright law,” explained Michael. “It was in terms of how fair use affects streamers and game developers, that there are instances when it does not offer enough protection in a world that becomes increasingly reliant on user-generated content.” In addition to his thesis, Michael was able to work with Bryce Blum, now managing partner of IME Law, to co-author an article in August of 2014 in regards to a streaming platform’s new audio copyright detection software.
“My eclectic background led me to want to help a bunch of people and going into it, I realized the impact I could have on other people's lives.”
Getting Involved with Esports and Gaming
Joining CLG was a once in a lifetime opportunity, as gaming had been a part of Michael’s life since he was a child. “My father would play Duke Nukem on his PC every night when he’d come in from work. I’d kind of watch and play...although I probably shouldn’t have in hindsight,” said Michael laughing. “When I was a younger kid I wasn’t very physically active. So video games were just something I could excel at and be proud of playing and playing really well.”
While Michael played a lot of major titles growing up, it was Starcraft: Brood War that opened up a window into the world of esports. It was hard to not know about players like Boxer and Flash, but he still wasn't sure it was something he could get behind. It wasn’t until he started watching Day9 and playing Starcraft 2 that he was able to really jump into the esports scene. Although he started playing less due to the competitive nature of college athletics and preparing for law school, gamers always find a way back.
“One of my buddies got me back into games playing League of Legends and it’s been pretty much following and playing that since Season 2,” explained Michael.
The player development coach positioned opened up while he was sending applications to various law schools. Not having anything to lose from submitting an application of a different kind, Michael decided to see if he could apply his skills to helping the League of Legends players at CLG. Around the same time he was receiving acceptance notices from law schools, Michael was given the opportunity to join CLG as the player development coach and took it.
“When I got here it was the dead of night, it was kind of surreal, because I expected...when you watch the guys streaming you see the environment they're in, their playstyles, and just how the players act. It's a really chill group of people and you kind of hope it's like that when you get here - and it was. I'm used to things being very corporate, and when I got here.. the guys are passionate at what they do, but it's a very chill environment and they know how to enjoy what they're doing.”
Approach to Coaching and Player Development
“A lot of these guys have forgone the more traditional experiences of going to college,” Michael pointed out. “They've really sacrificed a lot between their friends and family to be where they are and have this opportunity, and I want to help them expand beyond just their immediate experiences. I want to focus more on them as individuals and people and create value for them. Like the other day we sat down and came up with our goals, and one of them was to ‘win everything.’ For the guys, that means to become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. And I think that's really great because I can talk to them individually and develop relationships with them and then see exactly how they want to be able to go about that.”
What does it mean to be the best version of yourself? Although some of the team were already working out, Michael now has the team all going to the gym consistently. He works with our chef, Andrew, to make sure meals are ready at the right times and let's Andrew know the nutritional breakdown of each meal. He makes sure that they have set sleep schedules to ensure a full recovery. Throughout the week, Michael works with the team on a variety of exercises to promote team building, mental fortitude and communication, including one-on-one meetings with the players to ensure that their concerns and needs are addressed on a personal basis.
“Just as I expect my players to give 100%, I must dedicate 100% to them. So that's reading up on coaching and psychology,” responded Michael when asked about the five books he’s completed reading since working with the team. “I'm making sure I'm able to provide the most accurate information possible and the best methods. For example I just finished reading Blink from Malcolm Gladwell, and finished up a book from Tony Dungy.”
Tony Dungy is one of his coaching idols. “I love his approach,” said Michael. “Tony Dungy's philosophy is that you can always serve, and that a great leader is one who is willing to serve. A lot of people think of coaching in the traditional sense, whether that be authoritative or yelling, and I understand that it has it's own function in motivation. You want your players to be excited, but at the same time there is a dichotomy with actual sports. That methodology is used in sports to get adrenaline flowing and to get a player's body physically ready. But for esports, it's a lot more of a mental activity and people need to be focused. So being that drill sergeant might not have as strong a place in esports. A lot of people tend to look for that though, where it might not actually be a fit to begin with. I believe that approaching things as a mentor and leader, giving players one-on-one experience, keeping them calm, level-headed, and working through their problems by constructive conflict and then proposing alternate solutions is much more productive.”
"Mike is an all around stand out guy. He promotes the culture of teamwork to a tee and is the perfect guy for the job, couldn't be happier with our pick up for this position."
- Tony "Zikz" Gray, Head Coach of CLG League of Legends
The mornings are no longer quiet. The players are up and early ready to go to the gym, eat breakfast, bond over team-building activities, and are alert for their morning scrim block. There’s a different atmosphere now in the house and it’s all in part due to CLG’s new player development coach.
Welcome Michael Schwartz, to Counter Logic Gaming.