Interview with Gregor PAL Morton, FOKUS New Valorant Coach
Yoann: Hey, hello everyone! Today I’m with Pal, Fokus’ new coach!
How would you introduce yourself?
Pal: Hey everyone! Yeah, as you said I’m a head coach in Valorant, I’ve been working in Valorant for the last couple of years. I finished my university degree just when I started getting involved in esports. Since then, I’ve been working my way up to develop my ability to coach and master my craft, and make my way up to the top if I can!
Yoann: That’s great! When and how did you get into esports?
Pal: I first started two years ago when I got the opportunity to participate in local tournaments with some friends. I put a team together, I’d only ever watched pro CS-GO before, and I’d never been involved in any esports team before, but from there, my passion really grew!
Yoann: Nice! What's your role as a Valorant Coach? How can you help your players?
Pal: I see coaching as a way of supporting new players, as a coach, you are not the one in the server making the plays and the decisions, you are responsible for the preparation and the knowledge to execute the stuff you have planned and practiced. Also to be able to adapt to certain situations. No game, no map, no series is going to be the same, especially in Valorant. There are too many variables, from micro to macro that can differ.
For me, it’s very important to be serving the players you are working with, you have to be there to support and work with your players. Either by being a leader, by providing good emotional support, or by providing really good strategies. You have to help your players perform to their best abilities as a team and as individuals.
Yoann: That’s interesting! Which play style is hardest to anti-strat in your opinion?
Pal: Teams who are aware of what they do, and are really flexible to change their approach before you are able to see it coming. If you anti-strat a team who was playing aggressively the last couple of games but are aware of it, they can anti-strat themselves and change their playstyle!
Every playstyle, composition, or strategy has counters, you just have to find it. The teams who can disguise what they are trying to do, and are flexible are the hardest to anti-strat.
Yoann: Interesting! How important is having a great team environment inside and outside of Valorant? How do you build chemistry in a team?
Pal: This is a great question! Team coaches are super important in esports, people don’t recognize it enough. We see the importance of the coach and good communication in other esports, in regular sports, in the military, and in the office. Teams always existed, and it’s extremely important to spend time building the chemistry in the team.
Every time I work with new players, I go through a presentation, before you even get in the server. You need everybody to share their personal motivation, what is important to them as individuals, and you understand what is really important for the team, what it really means to be part of this group of people competing for the same goal.
It’s really important to be clear about the behavior you are expecting, and those you don’t want to have, keep everyone on the same track and you know how you’re going to work together. When problems come up, you know how to solve them together.
Yoann: That’s awesome! What's your preparation routine one hour before official matches?
Pal: Match day is usually calm, I’m someone who’s really heavy into prep the weeks and days before. One hour before a match, I’m here for the players, we do our warm-up scrims and an anti-strat brief, and then it’s all about the mental aspect of performance. They need to feel as comfortable and confident as possible before they step into the server.
Yoann: Great! Let’s move on to the quick questions part, I’ll ask you ten quick questions, and you’ll have to answer as fast as possible, ready?
Yoann: Phantom or Vandal?
Yoann: What's your favorite map?
Yoann: What's your favorite agent?
Yoann: What's your favorite skin collection?
Pal: The original Prime!
Yoann: Who are your favorite T1 teams in each region?
Pal: The new Team Liquid in EMEA, in NA, I like the new look of Sentinels, PRX in APAC, and EDG in China!
Yoann: Can you name the eight teams that won an international event?
Pal: Loud, Fnatic, Gambit, Optic, EG, Acend, FPX and Sentinels!
Yoann: Perfect, good job! What’s the best advice to give to a Valorant ranked player?
Pal: Always be open-minded about learning anywhere and from anyone. The more you’re willing to learn by dropping your ego, the more your potential rises!
Yoann: What's your favorite memory as a Valorant coach?
Pal: I’ve had a couple, beating Gentle Mates 13-6 on a map I was very proud of with the last WYLDE roster. Coaching my first LAN event. But I think my favorite so far was when I was coaching in Tier 3 in Polaris, we were playing against former T1 players, and sometimes beating them, that whole experience was something I enjoyed massively!
Yoann: Great! Can you quote a voice line from your favorite agent?
Pal: I don’t think I can, you’re putting me on the spot!
“I am the hunter!”
Yoann: Awesome! Let’s now get back to the standard questions.
What are your hobbies or passions aside from gaming?
Pal: I read a lot of books, I’m a big fan of human performance and coaching books, and I like to exercise a lot. Before I got into esports, I was very big into Rugby, I used to play the piano, and I also worked part-time in the military. I’m also a massive Lords Of The Ring fan.
But as a head coach, I don’t get time for that these days!
Yoann: Yeah, I understand. How do you feel about the new map rotation?
Pal: I love it, it’s my favorite so far! I think there’s a difference between the interesting maps, and the maps that are fun to play, and I think right now, we have the maps that are the most enjoyable to watch and play, and also the most interesting to come up with strategies for!
Yoann: What would you change to Valorant if you were a developer?
Pal: I would add more controllable spray patterns, to increase the difference between pro and average-ranked players. The other changes would be related to the social side of the game.
Yoann: Which team would you like to play against in the near future?
Pal: I’d love to play against Fnatic, they are really strong. It’s a team that you really have to play against to really understand how oppressive their playstyle can be. It looks simple from the outside, but it’s very restrictive to play against, it would be great to learn from that!
Yoann: Yeah for sure! What advice would you give someone willing to become a Valorant coach?
Pal: You’ve gotta go and do it! Get some experience, learn, talk to people. But you also have to be ready to do anything and everything. Coaching is not one specific thing, it’s not only coming up with strategies, it’s also emotional intelligence, learning how to adapt your coaching to your players.
It’s all about solving problems for the sake of the team and making sure you’re there no matter what. Always look at what you can do and bring to your team.
Yoann: That’s interesting! What are your short and long-term ambitions as a Valorant coach?
Pal: Short term, I want to get to Ascension with a very strong roster and perform very well there.
Long-term, I want to be in Tier 1, that’s all I’m working towards, especially with how Riot established the Tier 2 system. That’s a clear goal purely for the survival of my career, but I’m also very competitive, I got into this to try to be at the best level, and I’ve been given even more reasons to think that I can do it, that’s the only place I’m going to!
I want to work hard enough to get myself at the top and win Champions one day!
Yoann: That would be awesome! Is there anything else you would like to say?
Pal: I thoroughly enjoyed my journey in Valorant so far, but I don’t think I’m special, I’m working hard, and I’m learning a lot, especially from people above me who are smarter or more experienced.
I’ve always known that thinking that I have the answer when I’m someone with no experience in esports at all, is the wrong approach to have. You can come from any background, and any amount of experience, as long as you work hard and smart enough, and you really want to learn, anyone can make it!
I want to be able to inspire new people to achieve things that they are proud of!
Yoann: That’s awesome, thank you! Thanks for your time, and I wish you the best in the future!
Pal: Thank you!
- Twitter (X): @PAL_TTV