For today’s interview, I have the captain and head honcho of F2L and Hall of Famer, Rebobson.
Diamond: What do you look for when constructing your roster?
Rebobson: The main thing I tend to look for with rosters is vibe, though obviously being good players comes into it as well. If I know somebody to be someone who's particularly prone to ranting, or salt, that always comes into my thinking, likewise if I know someone is super helpful, particularly towards lower seeds, that’s a major plus. I would always have a 1000 Legend player that helps their teammates over a top 10 Legend who doesn’t say much. At lower seeds in the PR series (<300PR or so), I don’t really look at PR, rather that players' attitude. The most important thing for players in that bracket is being receptive to advice and constructive criticism; the ones who are keen to learn and improve are always the ones who break out of that bracket, and are the ones I’m always happy to have back.
Diamond: How would you describe your captaining style?
Rebobson: My captaining style has changed a lot as the game has changed and time has gone on and I increasingly have become more established. I used to go pretty deep in the tank to help my players prep in the early days (we’re talking Boars and VONC here), and in those days, there were so many edges you could get with prep and stats, particularly in LHS (just don’t target Murloc Priest). Increasingly, I think as class identity has blurred and the game does rely much more on individual player knowledge in game. That’s less my focus, and now it’s more sitting back and letting people do their own thing. For any questions players have, I’ll always do my best to answer and go over their choices with them, but I do take it more passively and allow my players to do their own thing and come to me with questions if they have them these days. Though a big part of that is also my IRL commitments have drastically changed through the years; I’ve gone from an unemployed student to an employed engineer who’s getting married this weekend across the span of F2L’s existence, so I have really had to re-evaluate my relationship with THL through the years and changes thing up in order to keep things working.
Diamond: You've won a lot of championships in THL, and Legacy is the last one you need to chase down; what do you think it will take to get there?
Rebobson: I still have nightmares about the aforementioned Murloc Priest target that marred my closest attempt with VONC many years ago. Legacy is honestly the series you need the fewest things to go wrong in; if you have a player who’s not really enjoying that meta or just isn’t doing well, you’re basically down a player for most of the season. F2L: White have made so many playoffs, it’s probably only a matter of time before it eventually happens, just missed that little bit of luck that can be the deciding factor when you reach single elimination stages.
Diamond: What seasons have been your favourite in your tenure in THL thus far?
Rebobson: Oh man, there have been so many. Early days, the season with Vote of No Confidence in Legacy was exceptional vibes, likewise the championship winning season with the Boars. From the FTL/F2L era, it’s harder to pick single seasons, as it's been much more of a continuous, ongoing thing, which tends to continue in between seasons. The first FTL Pro title was especially sweet, given the historical context at the time. Honestly, the past couple of years have been a pretty continuous good time, and easily the best vibes through my time in THL.
Diamond: As someone who has won in multiple series, what does it take to succeed in THL?
Rebobson: I think the most important thing is consistency. I always set pretty clear expectations of what I expect from players when they join one of my teams, and I pretty much always have enough returning players that those get enforced and the team pretty much regulates itself. Half of the battle as a captain is getting your players into their matches, with an updated lineup, without getting DQ’d along the way. I have an incredibly low rate of DQs, and I construct teams of players who help each other along the way, and that’s the recipe for success. There will always be teams who come out of nowhere, but they often rely pretty heavily on one or two individually freakish performances; they will win a series, and inevitably fade off. I’m pretty happy having teams that keep making playoffs, and win a few things along the way, and have a good time doing so.
Diamond: How do you keep your players motivated during the season?
Rebobson: The difficulty of this is pretty dependent on the character of the players that you recruit. I tend to get a good idea in the pre-season of who’s not feeling the game or is burning out, and I tend to try and avoid having those if it's possible. It’s pretty impossible to motivate somebody through a burnout with the game, and can be pretty detrimental to the rest of the team. Pro is really the only series where you can have somebody who just straight up doesn’t care but may still win, as the seeding or scheduling can still easily go your way. Otherwise, just keep talking and keep people engaged, remind them of how well they’re doing, positive reinforcement will take you a long way. Never, and I mean NEVER, start talking shit to your players, or you will absolutely lose and never recover.
Diamond: What is the meaning of F2L to you?
Rebobson: What a loaded question! Joking. Obviously, the meaning has changed a lot through the years, just like the acronym had to. Looking back, I kinda see that change as being pretty representative of how THL itself has evolved for the better in that time. FTL in its first iteration very much stood for how maligned all of us felt towards THL, which was a pretty divided, often poorly-run, and deeply toxic place, and there was a group of us who were deeply unhappy with that. Obviously, you and I both were witnesses to that, and we’re both very happy that we can comfortably say it’s no longer the case, both in terms of leadership, and general vibe, and that we may have contributed to that positive change in some way. F2L has then come to embody much more of a sense of community, I’m pretty proud of the fact that it’s just an acronym you associate with THL, and that so many new players just assume it’s been part of it this whole time. It represents getting people together to have fun and have a good time, and very often those players stick around even while not playing.
Diamond: What would your advice for any rookie or newer captains in THL be?
Rebobson: Honestly, the main thing is to get talking. I’m pretty blessed in that I don’t need to be particularly social in main anymore, but you absolutely have to do your time there when it comes to chatting, getting to know people, and getting your name known. Getting involved in content can be a huge boon towards this as well, as you’re immediately so exposed. For rookies, trying to get yourself in the door as a sub for another team can be a great way of getting yourself noticed, and if you do well, they may bring you back, I certainly have done that in the past. For a new captain, it is a significantly harder gig, as a lot of captains like me, will snap up people they know. I’d strongly recommend, if you are thinking of stepping up as a captain, have a GOOD idea of at least some players on your roster, 2 or 3, and get them agreed early before you start recruiting. There is nothing more off-putting to an established player than seeing somebody who’s recruiting 4 or 5 players, it doesn’t give a great sense of confidence. In a way, if you take that approach, you might actually be doing yourself more harm than good. Plus, if you are a new captain, I would absolutely hammer home the rules, and your expectations as a captain. New captains are always the worst offenders for players DQing, partially because they often have to recruit newer players, and partially because of a lack of that established knowledge base. Comms deadline, submission deadline, how the players communicate match times to you and the team, expectations of posting lineups, all these things are often not communicated well enough; get your expectations laid out early, lay out your server in a way that makes sense, and you’ll avoid some early pitfalls and hopefully have a positive experience.
I want to thank Rebobson for his time and for answering all of my questions. Thank you for reading the interview series and please DM any feedback to me on Discord (diamond22_). This was the last captain interview for this season. I will be coming back with a 5-part series where I interview players in THL, so make sure to tune in for those interviews.
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