During our stay in Marseille for the ggCircuit on Fortnite, we had the chance to meet Romain “Samchaka” Malaye. Present to coach Solary team, he agreed to answer our questions! His journey, how he ended up in esport, his switch to Fortnite… He tells us more about himself!
KYKLOS: Hi Coach Sam! First of all, can you introduce yourself quickly and describe your journey to date?
SAMCHAKA: Hello! So I am SamChaka, my name is Romain Melaye, I am the coach of Solary team for LOL and Fortnite. After this season, I will switch to leave my position as coach of the LOL team with Caelan to focus more intensely on Fortnite.
At first, I was just coaching small LOL teams for fun. Very quickly, I reached the semi-professional scene with Nuit Blanche, a little less than 2 years ago. From there, I managed to break ground and I was recruited by GrosBill. Then I went to Spain, Turkey. And eventually, I was contacted by Solary to join them. It was a great moment, a real meeting, and that’s what made me want to work with them.
K: Can you talk a bit about you before entering esport?
S: At 14 years old I was a player, coach of a young team and referee in handball. I kept studying as well. After graduating from high school, I went to an engineering school, while doing some animation on the side. I did some tests in a company that I didn’t like so I went back to education.
K: And how, from all this, did you end up in esport?
S: I wasn’t necessarily a big, basic gamer. My first contact with esport was during Quake World Championships in Bercy. But I wasn’t a player or a staff member, I was just following my buddies. I moved away from all this, to finally find an attraction towards video games in 2006 through WoW. I ended up being a Guildmaster, Raidleader etc. of the first Quebec guild. It was purely an amateur of course. At one point I stopped everything, and discovered Starcraft II. I grinded the game, to the point of becoming strong enough to beat the regular players but not strong enough to beat the pros.
It made me a little sick and I discovered LOL. I found LOL quite easy, I was quite relaxed when I started a game. With friends we formed teams of 5 and I taught them how to play. Then one day, I wanted to play with people of a better level so I went to forums, and 6 months later I joined Nuit Blanche.
K: You coached foreign teams: were you there or remotely?
S: Concerning my last team, it was done remotely. It was a secondary-level team, the only time I saw them was in the LAN final in Madrid. For Turkey, there were both. I started in a challenger to qualify, which we won. Then we performed quite well in challenger series and ended up winning the final phases. For all that, I stayed a month there. It gave us a seat in TCL, which is the equivalent of LCS in Turkey, where we still had good results, but we didn’t manage to qualify for the Worlds via the play-ins.
K: What is a typical day for a coach who prepares his players for the competition?
S: There are a lot of variables. We do not manage a team the same way if we are present or remote. Remotely you have no control over the players except during the scrims. In gaming house or bootcamp, you spend your life with people, you get to know them… So it can really be different. I’ll take a typical day at Solary’s for example. In the morning, we do a kind of meta review in each region (NA, Korea, China…). I look a lot at the LPL and LCK because they are the most copied leagues so it can give some indications over what your opponent can do. Then, when you are in a league system, you know who your next opponent will be so you can adapt your training accordingly.
I will also consult the analysts, who will complete your work, at the stats level or even to propose ideas for the upcoming games. Then, in the afternoon, from 3pm to 8pm generally, we play scrims against other teams. And then you do debriefs, VOD review…. We must not forget that in addition to the sporting aspect, we must also manage the human resources, which implies allowing everyone to get some fresh air, to go out in groups, which for the moment does not concern me in my role as a pure coach at Solary.
K: What do you think of the evolution of the LOL esport scene in France (Open Tour, LFL)?
S: Actually, I think it’s the appearance that’s becoming more professional, but the professional teams already existed before: Millennium, GO, LDLC… The evolution you are talking about concerns professionalization in terms of organization and events. So more the form than the content.
K: Concerning Fortnite, how did you adapt to the game in order to be a competent coach?
S: Fortnite remains a team game, like LOL, so some essential aspects are the same! Communication, role allocation, mental preparation, planning… Then, I had to concentrate much more on the game, I still work a lot today to learn about metas, new features, to be able to establish game plans, strategies especially. Actually, I love this game. I find it extremely spectacular, very technical, complicated, even if it looks simple in terms of concepts. I will put this game in the same category as poker, because of the RNG. But we can tame this RNG, either by decision making or by tactical and mental preparation.
K: Regarding the youth of the Fortnite community and the young players who skyrocketed through the game, what do you think about Fortnite’s influence on this youth?
S: It’s something that’s bound to happen. The numbers are staggering. But even for us it’s a discovery. The age of the community is lower while the amounts are higher. In addition, we are dealing with a generation born with social networks, where influencers also receive large sums of money. LAN organizers don’t realize the phenomena that the pros represent in this game. I’m thinking about Kinstaar, he’s extremely busy! His fanbase is gigantic and for the moment very passionate.
I’m trying to claim a little more privacy, places to reduce this exposure a little bit. Before, in LOL you could walk around in LAN and see your audience. There, the fans are young and especially extremely numerous, and do not realize the pressure they put on the players. Kin’ and Hunter just turned 18 so we need to protect them. In addition Solary is a huge Twitch channel on Fortnite in France, so the exposure is awesome. We have the advantage of having people with their heads on their shoulders.
K: That’s all for us! Thank you very much for answering our questions, Sam!