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Style Points: Ranking coaches’ fashion in the EU LCS

We’ve all heard the saying: offense wins games, James Bond cosplay wins championships. Or something to that effect. Under section 5.4, “Player and Coach Apparel”, the LCS’ 2016 Season Official Rules states that “coaches must wear, at a minimum, business casual attire while at the studio. Business casual does not include: athletic wear, sneakers, team-branded apparel, etc.” Translation: look fine or get fined.

Coaches have a thankless job. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find suits that complement those bulky noise-cancelling headphones? You can’t even begin to gauge how well a given outfit is going to work without carrying the headphones into the dressing room with you. Not to mention the dozens of hours of catwalk training it takes to make the slow, back-and-forth pacing behind the players during Picks & Bans look absolutely effortless.

Coach

The link between fashion and coaching goes back to 1941 when the American luxury fashion brand Coach, Inc, was founded in New York City. Most people assume the name refers to the horse-drawn coach featuring prominently in the company’s logo, when it’s actually because the head coach of an athletic squad is being chauffeured by carriage to an important tournament. Coaching and the world of high fashion have been inseparable ever since. 

As part of our Coaches Week festivities, we want to return to a variety of article that’s always been a safe, non-controversial option for us in the past: Power Rankings! Or, in this case, let’s call them the Power-Suit Rankings. Having the EU LCS broadcast in a style hotspot such as Berlin puts even more pressure on our coaches to bring their fashion A-game. Let’s see how well they stack up.

Alvar

10. Origen

Coach: Alvar "Araneae" Martin Aleñar

Despite his trademark inspirational phrase “Keep Smiling”, Alvar “Araneae” Aleñar’s all-black ensemble struck a sombre note his stage debut in week 6 of the EU LCS. The sporty trainers (perfect for stomping on rule-book section 5.4) and white socks, for example, cost him a few points with our panel of fashion experts. We have high hopes that Araneae can go on to become a contender in 2017’s rankings, and he may bear the indignity of anchoring the bottom spot on this year’s list, but it’s been a little while since he’s been on-stage and it can take a bit of time to get back in the sartorial groove. #KeepStyling

Grabbz

9. ROCCAT

Coach: Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann

ROCCAT’s coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann could stand to grabbz a suit coat to gussy up his go-to game-day garb. When your players in their cotton athletic jerseys are in danger of looking dressier than you, it doesn’t bode well for your standing in the Power-Suit Rankings. Lohmann might simply be proud of how toned his exposed forearms happen to be, and fair enough, but we think there’s a lot of unrealised potential here. Good luck in 2017, Fabian, we know you can put the “Fab” in Fabulous. Get this man to a tailor, swift!

Shaunz

8. Team Vitality

Coach: Kevin “Shaunz” Ghanbarzadeh

For fans watching an EU LCS two-game series, a tie can feel less than satisfying. But in the much more cut-throat game of coaches fashion, ties can make the difference between ending up in the bottom half of the Power-Suit Rankings and the top. We can only assume that Team Vitality coach Kevin “Shaunz” Ghanbarzadeh is relying on his square jaw and pretty-boy good looks to make up for the filthy casualness of his tie-free ensembles. The truth is that, yeah, they kinda do, but if he wants to climb on the list, he’s going to need to step things up and accessorise with a bit more imagination.

Nyph

7. Schalke 04

Coach: Patrick “Nyph” Funke

Unfortunately for EU LCS newbies Schalke 04, merely having a “4” in your team’s name doesn’t automatically bump your coach all the way into the #4 slot on the best-dressed coaches list. That said, Patrick “Nyph” Funke holds his own with conventional but elegant style choices. Blue coat, blue shirt, blue tie, nothing too flashy or attention-grabbing, and just enough royal blue to make his team’s owners proud. He’s looking to be the utility style icon rather than the playmaker. Plus, he’s keenly aware that the neon-green hues of his team’s uniform require a more sedate counterpoint.

Sheepy

6. Unicorns of Love

Coach: Fabian "Sheepy" Mallant

Unicorns of Love coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant isn’t afraid to leave the herd behind and channel his inner Bowie when life calls for an edgier style statement. He’s worn a plush unicorn headpiece on stage during Picks & Bans. He’s powdered (spraypainted? dyed? candy-flossed?) his mane pink at the start of the current split to lend his players extra team-spirit juju. Such antics would lose their potency if they became too predictable, just like the pocket picks (jungle Twisted Fate, anyone?) that first put his team on the map, but he mainly goes with standby pink dress shirt and black coat and tie. Hard to go wrong with pink when you need to dial your power suit up to 11.

Lozark

5. Giants Gaming

Coach: David "Lozark" Alonso

Though he plays things pretty safe on the fashion front, Giants’ coach David “Lozark” Alonso offers some of the most dependable suit choices in the league. He brings a timeless cool and professionalism to the EU LCS stage, showing that style isn’t just about the clothes you’re wearing but how you carry yourself while wearing them.

Check out that photo of him. Lozark’s regal posture and poker-faced intensity. At the moment this shot was taken, he’s strategically slipped his hands into his pockets to grip the lower edge of his dress shirt, pulling it downward and taut, reducing the billow of fabric that can easily bunch up just above the beltline. Well played, sir.

Deilor

4. Fnatic

Coach: Luis "Deilor" Sevilla

In the team’s record-setting 2015 season, Fnatic made winning look easy. Perhaps this is why the team’s coach Luis “Deilor” Sevilla favours the relaxed open collar and denim trousers. His fashion statement basically says “no big deal, we got this!” Also, check out the shine on that coat. Seriously. The high-class shine off that linen catches the light just like the surface of one of the trophies in the team’s award cabinet. The Fnatic pin on his lapel adds just the right amount of team spirit without getting too gimmicky. And the combination of Deilor’s impeccably trimmed beard and designer specs make the Spaniard a formidable contender in our Power-Suit Rankings.

(Fun fact: beneath his jeans he’s always wearing a fancy pair of grey dress slacks just in case he has to go straight from the LCS broadcast to a business meeting with a potential brand sponsor.)

Prolly

3. H2K Gaming

Coach: Neil "Pr0lly" Hammad

Whether Neil "Pr0lly" Hammad, coach of H2K Gaming, looks more like Steve Buscemi or Johnny Depp might be a matter of opinion, but our 100%-not-imaginary panel of fashion experts all agree: Pr0lly’s transition into coaching, from athletic jerseys to dapper suits, pushes him into the Depp end.

See that freakishly large notebook he’s using for bicep curls? Most people assume it contains lists of League champs he’s singled out for pick-ban priority. Not even close! It’s a style bible. There are swatches of patterned fabric stapled to the pages, sketches of jacket-lapel cuts, and scrawled names of under-dressed EU coaches he plans to report for Section 5.4 compliance investigation.

Your tie game is strong, Pr0lly. You may not be a player anymore, but you look like a stone-cold baller.

Youngbuck

2. G2 Esports

Coach: Joey "Youngbuck" Steltenpool

With a necktie knot so gloriously beefy it looks like it’s been juicing, G2 Esports’ coach Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool defines impeccable taste on the classical side of coaching attire. He doesn’t let himself get locked in to simply mirroring his team’s colour combo. He has imagination. If the man wants to wear a dress shirt with a bright orange hue (...huehue) for an extra bit of sizzle, you could padlock his wardrobe shut and it wouldn’t stop him from punching through the door to grab it.

Plus, let’s be real, it never hurts to have some muscles on which to hang those designer threads. A nice suit shouldn’t look like it’s still draped over the brittle frame of the clothes hanger. Youngbuck may be young but he ain’t brittle. Our panel of fashion experts has submitted a formal recommendation to league ops to urge Steltenpool to change his handle to “MillionBucks” since that’s what he looks like on stage.

Yamato

1. Splyce

Coach: Jakob "YamatoCannon" Mebdi

Finally we come to the top spot, an honour coveted only slightly less than the Summoner’s Cup itself. Nobody comes close to challenging Jakob "YamatoCannon" Mebdi for style-rank 1. Dude’s got it on lock. Who else has the cojones to pull off the stuff this guy wears without looking like he’s attending a fancy-dress party themed “spoiled kids of Russian billionaires”? He wears turtlenecks that would make Udyr jealous. He lays on that incredible fake accent even though he actually hails from U.S. state of Iowa (that’s the rumour, at least, we can’t verify at this time). His blue-steel smoulder says, “I’d quit being an LCS coach tomorrow if somebody would just give me a sales job in the handbag section of a halfway-respectable department store.” We love you, Yamato. Keep the all-in fashion statements coming. You do you. And the world will be watching.

Yamato