Recently, Dignitas brought on a new coach for the Rocket League team in Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs. After playing in the RLCS competitively for many years, ViolentPanda decided to try his hand at coaching, with Dignitas giving him an opportunity. We were able to sit down for a quick chat with ViolentPanda about his new path as an RLCS coach!
Hey, ViolentPanda! So, when you decided to leave pro play and retire, that was surely a difficult decision. What made you feel you were ready to step away as a player?
ViolentPanda: I felt like my skill just wasn’t up to par anymore, especially with the thumb injuries I had. The injury did start to get better, but overall, my skill had already gone downhill during the time I wasn’t able to play as much. To get back to the top, I would have had to grind a whole lot, and mentally, I just felt like it was a good time to call it.
You had a couple of coaches during your time as a player. What are some lessons you took from them?
ViolentPanda: So, I had two coaches – Snaski and Virge. Snaski is a tough-minded guy, he taught me some pretty good lessons that I used on several occasions. And for Virge, he was really great to work with. He was someone I could talk about my ideas with. Most of the ideas I had for the team, I could talk with him about it and then we’d relay it to the rest of the team. He was a very good working partner!
Are there any differences in your weekly schedule between being a coach and being a player?
ViolentPanda: As a coach, I would say it’s almost the same. I get ready for scrims and go over replays still, right? But, the thing is, I don’t have to play the game as much to be a coach. But, I still do. I still want to play and keep up with the meta. I still feel like I can play at a fairly high level and the game is still fun for me. So, I don’t play as much as the players, but I still do all of the other stuff.
When it gets to gameday, what’s the main focus for you? Is it getting the players ready, is it making a plan for specific opponents, or something else?
ViolentPanda: Oh yeah, I’m definitely doing all of those things. We may not have gotten the results for the events this split [Spring], but we felt like a lot of the series could have been ours. It really is trying to see what opponents we have and getting a gameplan going. Then, I make sure to get the guys in a good mood because mentality really is the biggest thing in Rocket League. So, they’ve got to be in the right mental space.
What’s the long-term outlook for you as a coach in the RLCS?
ViolentPanda: As a player, or as a coach, it’s no different – you want to have the best results possible. And of course, as a coach, you want to have the right players working with you. I really hope to stay here at Dignitas and continue to work on something for the future. We want to get back to a World Championship standard. That’s where my ideals are – winning events as a coach.
What is your favorite thing about being a coach, and what do you find the most challenging?
ViolentPanda: So, as a player, I was very methodical. And like I said before, I strategized a lot with my former coach, Virge, when it came to playstyle. I would say my favorite thing is finding playstyles that could work against certain teams, which therefore makes our team better. The most challenging thing is dealing with the mental side. I have to keep the players from becoming demotivated and making sure they stay in the right mentality.
For anyone looking to get into coaching, what’s some advice you’d give them?
ViolentPanda: Work hard. Definitely do as much research as you can. Also, in my opinion, a lot of the best coaches are ex-players because they’ve been there. Not every player is fit to eventually be a coach, but my advice would be to become really good at the game for yourself before anything. Then, you know best about what makes a good player and can work on coaching that to others. Find smart solutions, coach lower-leveled players at first, see how that goes and work your way up!
ViolentPanda, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! Where can people keep up with you?
ViolentPanda: No problem! You can keep up with me on Twitter and Twitch.
While Dignitas’ RLCS season has come to a close, you’ll be able to tune in next season to see what ViolentPanda and the team are cooking up! And, of course, you can tune back in to the website to read more interviews with the team!