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Winning Secrets: an Interview with a Double Champion

Today, we had the pleasure of speaking with manager LA-ivo, (1048018). With his second team, Take Me to Your Lizard, he was able to win both the US Open Cup and the Major League this season. This is a great feat that only a handful of people managed to achieve so far. It was his only his second season in the ML but season 83 will be a memorable one for his team forever. Come join us while we pick his brain about his incredible season. You might learn something new. I would also like to thank LA-ivo for taking the time to share his vast experience and knowledge with us. I wish him the best of luck for all his teams. Lets begin.

(Q1). Could you tell us about yourself?
Hi, I'm Ivo. I'm 35 and came to the US for college when I was 18. I've had my US HT team since 2013 and I also finally got my real life American citizenship last year.

(Q2). Can you tell us a little about your team, Take Me to Your Lizard and briefly describe your journey to the Major League?
This is the second iteration of Take Me to Your Lizard. The first one maxed out below the top of D2 and I sold up the team when most players were around 30 or so, after I decided they probably wouldn't be strong enough to progress much further. I also wanted to maximize their transfer value in order to bankroll the next build.

This current team was basically a similar and improved version of the old one, a build of progressively training wing -> scoring -> PM/passing/SP and an ever increasing train-to-keep trainee count. Two homegrown guys have been on the ride since the beginning, a Quick and a (not ideal) Technical IMTW/winger types. The main difference with the old build was not training up my own WBs in half-wing and half-PM slots, which I felt doomed my first build; and also adding a bit of scoring due to the speciality changes a few years back. I was able to buy high-quality guys instead of training up suboptimal ones internally thanks to the banked money before the coach and goalkeeper changes were made in recent years.

(Q3). What were your initial goals for the US Open Cup this season?
Winning the Open Cup was definitely a team goal this season. In the previous 4 seasons, I made it to 3 semis and 1 quarterfinal, losing two of those semis while favored 64-36 (according to HT's 100 replays). I was hoping to have another strong run and maybe end up on the good side of HTRF for a change.

(Q4). How did you manage your TS during the season? Did you prioritize cup over league matches or vice versa?
(Q5). At what point did you start putting more resources into cup games? What was your overall strategy for each round?

Not sure whether I had a particularly good luck with opponents or if teams didn't dare play their best against me because they didn't think they had a chance or their own league focus (probably a combination of all three), but I played straight PICs all the way up to R9/round of 16, and my lowest odds of winning were 75% (in R6) and 99% (!) or higher in the other eight games.

(Q6). The quarterfinals and semifinals were two tough games where you faced two LS teams back-to-back. How were you able to overcome these opponents and what were your thoughts at that time about your chances of winning the Cup?
(Q7). You used 253 formation with pressing tactic and Style of Play of 50% offensive numerous times this season both in league and cup. How reliable is it as a long-term tactic and how much success did you have with it overall?

The 253 offensive press is, I believe, quite often the optimal approach against long-shot teams, so I do think it can be sustainably successful. You can reliably press one or often more LS chances, which can be incredibly valuable in those matchups. My third team is a long-shot team and I hate being pressed against there.

I did play Normal in the QF and the semifinal, with my winning odds topping 80% in both games, and again both opponents likely deciding to focus on their respective D2 league fights (both are automatically promoting to the ML this offseason, so this worked out well for both them and me!). At that point I did PIC the league games leading up to the final 3 Cup rounds and had my 2 luckiest league results, a draw at Cleveland Force and an away win at FC OCNJ, each of which I had 25% or less of achieving.

Funnily enough, I also played 253 pressing in round 3 against another LS team, then left the tactic choice the same for rounds 4 and 5, a complete oversight. Not sure why but I failed to notice the tactic on time or change it back for two full weeks. Thankfully, this error didn't come back to haunt me.

(Q8). You had a fantastic game in the Cup Final. Match Link: (707999347). It was a historic moment for your team because it was the first time that you won the US Open Cup. What was going through your mind as you prepared for that game? How much TS did you exactly have before the game? And what were your emotions after the game?
(Q9). You had two substitutions and formation changes in that game, while your opponent only made one substitution. Do you think those changes gave you the edge you needed to win that game?

It was a very exciting moment for me to finally make it to the final and I was thinking about this game all week. I had maximum TS and went all-out match of the season. Stiinta and I have played each other a number of times in recent seasons (he beat me by a point at the top of II.1 in S80 to get to the ML two seasons earlier than me; not that I hold a grudge or anything), so we sort of know what to expect from each other at this point. We both man-marked each other and turned the game into a midfield-and-attack battle.

HT's replays indicated that Stiinta was quite the heavy favorite in the end, with my team losing the replay battle 31-69, but managing to edge the one actually played on the night 4-3. I did feel quite badly about winning in such a lucky fashion, especially after having been on the receiving end of similarly unfair losses in previous seasons. Chris certainly deserved the Cup win this season, and I'm expecting he'll win it soon enough.

I'm not sure that the subs were necessarily a big reason for the outcome; Stiinta scored both their normal chances after my defensive changes, so fortifying the defense, while logical in theory, didn't do much in practice.


(Q10). You have also won the Major League yesterday against the same opponent, Stiinta United. You have pulled the double this season. What are your thoughts about this achievement? Match Link: (706701859)
Winning the ML was amazing. As I mentioned earlier, I had two quite fortunate league results, which helped me keep pace in the league with Stiiinta while focusing on the Cup. Earlier in the season, it had all gone quite differently, as I lost six-pointers against Stiinta in R1 and Cleveland in R5 (despite being slightly favored in both). I had a deserved loss at Disgustin to start with 3 losses in 5 games, but was the favorite in all of the remaining 9 games I won, including a dramatic R13 late away win as well as the season finale.

Speaking of the finale, it was a home match which I needed to win for the ML title... anyone would sign up for that opportunity in a heartbeat! In another possession-and-attack battle vs Chris, this time I was the favorite (52-13-35 according to HT replays after the match). My wide range of team selection allowed me to play a surprising midfielder in defense, so Stiinta's man-marking was unsuccessful. It's hard to say for sure this had a meaningful impact for the outcome, but I certainly like to think that it did. :) (See Q11 for more on this.) The final scoreline of 4-1 certainly flattered me given the ratings but all that mattered was the win. Winning both US HT trophies in the same season is something I haven't really even dreamt of, and it feels quite amazing.

Oh and I just want to point out that the Major League finished second in the World Battle division battle, just a point behind the eventual winners, a Latvian D2. I really wish we won that one for the ML, but we'll try again another time. Can't win them all!


(Q11). What are your plans for your team now? What lesson have you learned from your journey?
With the profits from the Cup and ML wins, I hope to be able to rejuvenate the team a little bit, as some of the guys are getting up there in age!

In terms of lessons, I think the game meta has changed a bit from when I started building the team and hope to be able to slightly shift the configuration for the next 3-4 seasons. I won't go in too much detail here as many future opponents might be reading this.

Additionally, one of the choices I made this season was to have a wider roster of players, and I had a total of 19 guys play meaningful competitive games. Many teams choose to max out their top 11 or maybe 13-14 guys, and that's a valid strategy, too, but I did enjoy having some tactical flexibility and selection choices and was able to deal with injuries, poor form and even a final game suspension in the season run-up. The season finale midfielder switcheroo mentioned above was a nice cherry on the top as well.

(Q12). Finally, what do you recommend for managers who played the game for many years without winning anything major?
I hope that if you've read this far, it's clear how winning trophies in HT can rely on quite a bit of luck: in opponent matchups, match schedules, form, injuries, and of course in match outcomes. You win some, you lose some, and it doesn't always necessarily work out or balance out, even in the long run.

I think the key is making sure you're enjoying the journey and are doing your best or what brings you the most joy, even if the end results aren't exactly what you hoped for. And, of course, Hattrick offers many ways of having fun, whether it's playing to win, creating your unique team build, training national team players or whatever else catches your fancy.



2023-02-22 12:33:21, 6633 Visiten

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