Narugami Shares His Gaming Secrets from CR Gaming School to Master Apex Legends – Interview Inside

The popular professional gaming team “Crazy Raccoon” and Game & Co., a subsidiary of Brave Group, have teamed up to provide an online gaming school service called “CR Gaming School(hereinafter referred to as CRGS).

CRGS is an online school where each student is assigned a coach and aims to “improve their game” through one-on-one online lessons. It features a unique chart that makes it easy to grasp the current situation, coaching that focuses on “reproducibility”, and special lectures by special guests including members of Crazy Raccoon.

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In this issue, we bring you a conversation between Kubo Atsutoshi, who is in charge of this project, and Narugami, the company that develops various creator support services including the commission service Skeb.

Narugami took the CRGS “Apex Legends” course for three months from December 2023, and achieved a rank increase from Gold to Master without any aim practice. We asked him about his impressions of the actual lessons and his growth as seen in the medical records unique to CRGS.

[Interviewee profile]
■ Narugami (Kazunari Kita)

Born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1990. After graduating from the School of Information Sciences, University of Tsukuba, he joined Dwango Co., Ltd. as an engineer. In 2014, he planned and developed the 3D model sharing service “Niconico 3D”. He joined DMM.com Co., Ltd., where he worked on the official recognition of derivative works and anti-illegal uploading measures. In the same year, he planned and developed “Doujin.Tax”, a tax return service for creators, as a personal business. In 2018, he planned and developed the commission platform “Skeb”. In 2021, he transferred all shares of Skeb Co., Ltd., which operates “Skeb”, for 1 billion yen.

■ Atsutoshi Kubo

After graduating from Kaisei High School, he entered the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University. While still a student, he worked at CyberZ Inc. in 2016, managing the esports brand “RAGE” and establishing a professional league, before joining CyberAgent Inc. as a new graduate. He began working as a professional card game player in 2019, and after leaving CyberAgent Inc., he worked on new business ventures at ANYCOLOR Inc. and a foreign IT venture, before serving as business manager at Game & Co. Inc. and becoming a director of the company in October 2023.

◆The reason I wanted to become a coach was because I wanted to become as good as everyone else.

–First off, what made you decide to get coaching for Apex Legends?

Narugami:When I played again after three years, I had become incredibly bad at the game and was holding back my friends who I played with, so I thought, “I want to get as good as everyone else” (laughs).

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I'm 34 years old now, but I've spent over 7,000 hours playing VRChat, and I have friends who are 17 years old, while some of my fellow entrepreneurs are in their 40s. I interact with people of a wide range of ages. One thing that was consistent was that everyone was playing games. The most common game they played was “Apex Legends.”

My policy is to leave it to the experts.Looking for coaching on Twitter (now X)After giving it a try, I received a call from Kubo and decided to take the course.

–I see. What age range are the other students in your class?

Kubo:Initially, we expected most people to be in their teens, but the majority of participants were in their late 20s. We even have some people in their 50s. Many of them said they wanted to work here because they “kept getting carried when playing games with their juniors” or “we're boss and subordinate at work, but in games our roles are reversed, which is frustrating.”

–The amount of time that students and working people can devote to things is different, isn't it?

Narugami:Most of the people around me have already reached Master status, so it can be tough for me to jump in. I need a way to improve my skills efficiently, as an older guy in a community with a large age gap (laughs).

◆ Record your child's growth with your own chart

–What is the first thing you will do when taking the course?

Kubo:First, we will conduct an interview to find out about the goals and current issues. We will set mid-term goals according to each student's environment and issues, such as what their motivation is, how much time they can spend on games, and even if they don't know what their goals are.

–It starts with communication with your coach.

Narugami:Before the first lesson, I recorded a few of my matches and had the coach watch them. We then set goals. The coach analyzes the recordings, gives me a score, and writes it down in a chart.

–In your case, Narugami-san, was your goal to become a master from the beginning?

Narugami:When I started taking lessons, I was “Gold 3” and my goal was set to “Diamond 4”. In my case, my aim was good but positioning was an issue, so in the first half of the lesson, I was taught that intensively.

Kubo:In general coaching, the basis is so-called “teaching” that teaches the correct answer, but CRGS values ​​”reproducibility”. As the specifications of the game change, we focus on ways of thinking and learning that can be used over time.

In Narugami's case, his aim had reached the level required for his target rank, but the coach determined that the issue was with his positioning and other aspects of his gameplay. Therefore, the coach and Narugami watched gameplay videos together and reflected on his performance, and after he shared his thoughts with the coach, they focused on aligning their thinking.

–As a student, do you think it's easier to understand and absorb the material if you make adjustments?

Narugami:I was so happy that the teacher explained everything logically. Moreover, the teacher took the board notes from every lesson. I practiced while checking these on the sub-monitor, so I was able to review them immediately, which was very helpful.

–So what you learn in each session is carefully recorded.

Kubo:Students who have been taking the course for years can have thousands of lines of their own charts, and some even continue to review their records after the course has ended.

–It's interesting that it's been made as a continuation from the first episode. It seems like it would be fun just to rewatch it.

Kubo:At work, we keep daily reports, and by comparing our past and present selves, we can really see our growth. In the same way, past scores can be easily viewed, making it easy to see how much we've improved.

Narugami:When I watch the first episode, I think, “What are they doing?” (laughs)

–You can really feel your own growth.

Narugami:After just the first lesson, my skills improved visibly, and I felt like my rank went up by one. It's difficult to find out what's wrong on your own, so it's great to get feedback from a third party's perspective.

Kubo:To be honest, the content itself is probably available somewhere on the Internet as information such as explanatory videos and articles. However, it can be difficult to determine which of that vast amount of information is right for you.

–That's true. What did you think of Narugami's rate of growth?

Narugami:In fact, I reached my goal of Diamond in the first two months (laughs), and then I reached Master on the day my final coaching session was over.

◆ Coaching that utilizes the characteristics and strengths of students

–I heard that you didn't practice aiming during this lesson. Is that true?

Narugami:Yes. What surprised me the most was that I was told that I didn't need to practice aiming. Similarly, I didn't practice character control.

When I was taught by a former pro gamer friend three years ago, I would practice with aim training software for 30 minutes before playing, but time was limited, so repetitive training was still difficult. But with CRGS, everything is solved by logic, so I was able to improve while having fun.

–So you can reach Master status without practicing aiming, just by moving around.

Kubo:Not all students will not practice aiming, but we will adopt various patterns that suit each student's characteristics and help them improve.

At CRGS, coaching often makes use of each individual's characteristics and strengths, and after the first lesson, Narugami's coach felt that Narugami had strong thinking ability and a strong willingness to think, so he focused his instruction on the player's “way of thinking,” or “why doing it this way will help him win.”

–How much time did you set aside for practice?

Narugami:About 1 to 2 hours a day. On the other hand, I was able to master it with such a small amount of time, so the effect was enormous.

(*The course will run for three months from December 2023 to February 2024. This will be during Season 19, when promotion matches were introduced in ranked matches, and it is said to be very difficult to raise your rank.)

What does a basic lesson consist of?

Kubo:Students submit videos as homework, which the coach reviews and analyzes before the lesson. The 90-minute lesson focuses on reviewing the videos, and also considers schedules and practice menus. There is almost no playing together during the lesson.

–Lessons are centered around feedback, and students practice during the rest of the time.

Kubo:There is also a weekly goal sheet, and you practice little by little every day at the time you set with your coach. There is also a system in place that automatically records play time and other information in your chart using a bot on Discord.

Narugami:They specified software that would automatically cut out the fight scenes, so it was easy to submit the video, which was helpful since I wasn't familiar with such software. The software also displayed the fight scenes on the seek bar, so it was easy to look back on them later.

Kubo:The capture software used for both VALORANT and Apex Legends is “Insights Capture.” It seems that some professional e-sports teams also use it.

–That's convenient. Being able to discuss with your coach what kind of practice you'll be doing is also a big plus.

Narugami:In my case, I do it between work or on holidays, so I can't do it from morning to night, but I'm sure there are many more options available for students.

Kubo:In addition to the wide range of options, we also provide an introduction to scrims and support for joining a team for those aiming to go professional.

–So there is a path available for those who are serious about going professional!

Kubo:In addition to the one-on-one lesson that Narugami experienced this time, we also hold event-like lessons in which we invite special guests, as we place importance on providing opportunities for people to interact with a variety of role models.

Not only do we have Crazy Raccoon talents such as Selly, Mondo, Vokka, and Francesco, but we also invite coaches and analysts from outside teams, and recently we have also invited mental trainers from physical sports. We hold sessions about once a week to discuss how to approach the game and maintain motivation.

◆ Gaming ability and teaching ability are two completely different things

By the way, what kind of person was your coach?

Narugami:He was very gentle and answered any questions I had right away with a solid reasoning. I work in business consulting, and I know how important it is to be able to speak confidently right away, so I felt at ease (laughs).

Kubo:We put a lot of effort into recruiting coaches, so I'm glad that it resonated with Narugami-san. There are very few people who can provide perfect coaching in the demo coaching that we do at the first stage of recruitment. From there, we conduct training and simulations, and only about 12% of them are actually hired.

Narugami:Gaming ability and the ability to teach it are two completely different things. CRGS firmly guarantees these two things, so it is reassuring for students. I realized this from the first time I received a logical explanation.

Kubo:We are confident enough to sell it as a coaching manual. We also often tell our coaches that they should be aware that they are the best coaches, carrying the Crazy Raccoon crown. We are committed to providing high-quality services that will allow them to continue their careers by knowing that they have “coached at CRGS.”

–Is there anything in the way you think about getting better at games that is similar to your regular work?

Narugami:That's right. For web services, we also use “personas” to simulate how users will react, and then we put together logic to add or improve features. There are some similarities between the way we run this PDCA cycle in coaching and in business.

Kubo:When CRGS started, we developed it with the idea that learning the PDCA cycle to improve learning would be achieved through content that one likes, and that the process of improvement and learning methods could be used for studying and work as well. Narugami-san had the PDCA cycle from the beginning, so by receiving coaching services, we felt that his speed of growth had increased even more.

By the way, were there any parts of it that you thought could be used in other games?

Narugami:“The key to winning the game is not just your aim.” I was able to use my knowledge of how to use cover and how to take positions in other games, such as Rainbow Six Siege.

◆ “Apex Legends” is “Golf for Nerds”

— Previously, Narugami-san, you played Apex Legends.Described as “nerd golf”That was what was done, wasn't it?

Narugami:A long time ago, golf was a common way to entertain and deepen relationships with business partners. Now, with the development of the Internet, golf has shifted online. One of the ways to interact with people, including IT ventures and general companies, is through games, including Apex Legends.

It's also useful in terms of finding common topics with young people. When I told a young person who said, “I like Hatsune Miku!” that “Melt is good,” he replied, “What is Melt…?” and I realized that I'm an old man (laughs). But even so, “Apex Legends” is a common topic. Games are useful as a communication tool that transcends age, and that's what “nerd golf” is all about.

–And that's why it also works well with coaching services.

Narugami:There are golf coaching schools in many places today. It's the same feeling. Also, game coaching services are great for e-sports players, who have a short career as athletes, in the sense that they can create a second career.

◆ New plans and free trials make it easier for customers to try out our service

–From April 2024, you can choose from three periods: two months, three months, and six months. What is the intention behind this?

Kubo:As we operated the service for a year, as I mentioned earlier, we found that there were more working adults than we had expected, and we received feedback that preparing homework videos once a week felt like a burden, so we prepared a lighter course that was taught twice a month.

We also want CRGS to be a service that continues for the next 5 to 10 years. In order to give more people the opportunity to try CRGS coaching services, we have created an easy-to-follow 2-month course.

Narugami:Some of my business friends who have heard about CRGS said that six months or a year is a bit too long. The Light Plan is also great for those who are introducing it.

–You are also holding free trial sessions; what can you experience there?

Kubo:This is a 40-minute coaching experience with a CRGS coach. It is about half the time of the service, but the coaching will be based on the video you send in advance.

— Narugami-san also said, “Your skills will visibly improve after just one session,” so this is quite a generous offer.

Kubo:Nowadays, it is common to rely on others for learning or physical training, such as English conversation or personal trainers, but this is not yet widespread in games. We are planning to create more and more needs and a market, so please feel free to take our courses.

Apply for a free trial here (Discord server)

At CR Gaming School, you can learn the PDCA cycle itself to “improve” by utilizing the strengths of each student together with a dedicated team of coaches. You can try out game coaching casually for the first time through the new plan from as short as two months and free trial sessions that were launched in April 2024.

CRGS official website:https://cr-gs.jp/
CRGS Official X: https://twitter.com/CrazyRaccoonGS
Crazy Raccoon official website:https://crazyraccoon.jp/
Game & Co., Ltd.:https://gameandco.co.jp/

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