Interview with Gen.G Black coach Jackson "Jaxsen" Popelka
Yoann: Hello, everyone. Today. I'm with Jackson, Gen.G Black coach. When and how did you get into eSports?
Jaxsen: Yeah, so I've always been a competitive person. Whenever I got into video games pretty heavily, it kind of just came naturally to want to watch and compete in eSports.
Yoann: Okay, cool. What's your job as a coach for Gen.G. And how can you help your players?
Jaxsen: Yeah. So my job as a coach is to set my team up for success to the best of my ability. Providing and improving strategies and helping improve mechanics is one of the main duties.
Also, building like a true team, putting aside the egos to work together is very important. Other things like creating a healthy atmosphere in which everyone wants to improve and creating a schedule that suits everyone.
During game day, like making sure we're prepared, I try to do my best to get in the right mindset.
Yoann: Okay. That's cool. What did you learn during your time with former teams when you were in coaching them?
Jaxsen: So like, I love learning from my players because, like everyone has different backgrounds and experiences.
My former teams have definitely taught me how to improve or find my own style of doing things that I know will work for us. Learning that it's much more rewarding to see your players grow and improve as players or people than the actual result.
Yoann: Yeah. Okay. So how do you prepare against opponents?
Jaxsen: It can be different from team to team. You may want to counter strat against certain teams, or you may want to stick to your own game plan. You try to get your best to get a feel of how your opponent likes to play the map.
Find their tendencies ahead of time. So you can exploit them in the game. Watching their VODs back and studying their map pool is something I will do for every single team. And then deciding the game plan after is something that I'll do.
Yoann: What is the hardest playstyle to counter-strat against, in your opinion?
Jaxsen: Yeah, sometimes the hardest play style is that run-it-down style. This extremely fast style because, honestly, it seems like sometimes they don't even know what they're doing, so it's hard to read.
It's unexpected. And any single small hole you have in your defense will get exploited or even offense, for that matter. You need to have these protocols to avoid them.
Yoann: Okay, I agree. Teams like PaperRex, for example, are doing a great job. In your opinion, are scrims showing a team’s future success or potential?
Jaxsen: They can, to an extent. I think scrims are a good mock-up of how a real game should go.
That said, you can never recreate the pressure and atmosphere that comes with a grand final or an extremely important tournament game. Where a team may reach their true potential.
I think it's up to that team to see if they'll thrive under that pressure and they'll peak there or if they'll crumble.
Yoann: How important is it for you to have a great team environment?
Jaxsen: I think it's way more important than people actually realize. Having an environment and an atmosphere where people wanna show up and improve every single day is incredibly important. I think we're pretty lucky here at Gen.G that all of us are friends and hang out inside and outside the game. I think that helps a lot.
I've read a book called 11 rings by Phil Jackson. I think he talks a lot about how much the environment matters. Michael Jordan, at one point, really needed actually to get to know his teammates. And like, keeping that environment really good.
Yoann: Okay, that’s super interesting. So what would be the major difference between NA and EMEA or like other regions in terms of play style?
Jaxsen: Yeah, I think the main difference I've always seen is that EMEA definitely has a slower, more tactical play style, whereas NA is definitely a little bit faster and takes more duels. And I think NA teams have gotten really good at playing this slower, default style over time. And I don't think that this separation will last forever.
Yoann: So what are your short and long-term ambitions with the team?
Jaxsen: Short-term ambitions would definitely be winning this upcoming Game Changers VCT event.
But long term, I would definitely like to see my players grow into some of the best players in the world. Not necessarily exclusive to the Game Changers. I want them to have long careers, and I want them to continue playing at the best level.
Yoann: That's cool. How do you feel about Pearl as a coach?
Jaxsen: I think Pearl is a really fun map to work with. It is definitely different from the other maps. And I think Valorant does a pretty good job at making all the maps look different and with a different play style. I've spent lots of time watching VOD and looking at different ways to play the map.
I think it's gonna be really fun to watch.
Yoann: Which team would you like to play against in the near future?
Jaxsen: I would definitely like to play some of the other GC teams from other regions like Team Liquid Brazil, and Alter Ego Celes. I would really like to play them at some point in time. I don't think we've actually played TSM yet, surprisingly.
That would be a fun match as well. So any of those three teams, I think, would be great.
Yoann: Is there anything else you want to add to this interview?
Jaxsen: Stop insta locking Reyna in ranked, and Chamber meta is boring.
Yoann: Haha yeah, I agree! Thank you for your time. Wish you the best for the future!
Jaxsen: Thank you for having me!
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