Spotlight: Danny ‘Tehda’ Squibb - Academy Rocket League Coach
From Pro to Coach: The esports journey of Danny ‘Tehda’ Squibb
The journey from being a professional video game player to one day becoming a professional coach, is interesting to say the least for people who want to follow suit.
One such person who has made this journey is Guild Academy’s Rocket League coach, Danny ‘Tehda’ Squibb.
We recently spoke with Danny to find out how he transitioned from playing into coaching and the way he made it happen.
Guild: Where did you grow up and what’s your family like?
Danny: I grew up near Portsmouth, in the south of the UK, with three older sisters and I have three nephews and two nieces now. My parents were very supportive of everything I wanted to do. At first when I tried to go pro, they wanted me to pursue other jobs and take time from competing, since they didn’t have much of an idea about esports. When it became apparent to them that professional esports was what I really wanted to pursue, they were onboard.
Guild: What did you want to be growing up?
Danny: I wanted to be a professional footballer. When I was 8-9 years old, I was playing in football teams every week at the Eastleigh Football Academy in Southampton. The very first day I made the first team however, I was badly injured and had to stop playing. That was when I started to seriously get into playing video games - my friends still joke to this day that it was what I was born to do! I also streamed on YouTube when I was younger.
Guild: When were you introduced to video games and which games did you play as a child?
Danny: I remember playing FIFA 03 and 04, around the age of four and five. I also had a Gameboy Advance.
Guild: What was your favourite subject at school?
Danny: I really liked maths and designing graphics - you could say even my favourite subjects were related to video games!
Guild: When did you come across Rocket League and why did you decide to specialise in it?
Danny: I was on holiday with my best friend and we watched a YouTube clip showing Speedy playing - this was right after Rocket League was released. After coming back from holiday, I checked if the hype would last and about 2-3 weeks later, I purchased the game. I decided to specialise in RL mainly because I found it really, really enjoyable.
Guild: When did you become a professional player?
Danny: A big part of going pro for me was that one of the friends I started playing RL with got way better than me and then went to the USA for three months.
I decided that I would use this time to overtake him and went from Gold to top 26 in the world in three months. Afterwards, I started entering tournaments for fun, which went on for about a year and resulted in me starting to break into the scene. My big break came in early 2018 when I was picked up by EndPoint as a sub for the Gfinity League Series. I was then a sub for Unilad, before being picked up by ASUS Rogue Army as a main player.
Guild: What was your daily schedule as a pro player?
Danny: I was working full time as a bathroom fitter, so on workdays I would get home around 6pm, hoping that I made it back in time for a tournament! I would play a couple hours of scrims before entering tournaments and would end the night with some training. On days I was not working, I would wake up, play 2-3 hours of scrims, then play ranked games and grind.
Guild: How would you describe your experience and journey as a pro player?
Danny: A lot more people look up to you once you go pro (my nephews are obsessed with me!) but there are also a lot of people who are not so keen on your success and make you feel that you’re not supposed to be where you are. This can be difficult to deal with.
Guild: What were the toughest challenges you faced during this time?
Danny: Rather than external pressure, what I mostly struggled with were my own thoughts and mental health. I was too much of a perfectionist and demanded too much of myself. I wish I had some support for my mental wellbeing back then.
Guild: Looking back over this period, what would you say were the biggest lessons you learned?
Danny: Everything happens for a reason and if you want something, you have to work really hard for it. But it still might not be the result you wanted. You need to build the mental strength to stand this.
Guild: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Danny: Don’t be so tough on yourself. In fact, try to be as nice as possible. Also, keep working hard!
Guild: Why did you decide to stop playing professionally?
Danny: It all got a little bit too much for me. I was working a lot, so didn’t have the hours to put into grinding with the team and I also didn’t want to be the weak link. The Dreamhack Valencia in 2019 was an amazing experience, but our team didn’t get the result we wanted.
I realised that while I enjoyed the game immensely, I was falling short at the final hurdle.
Guild: How did you turn your passion for the game into coaching?
Danny: When I look back, I saw that whenever I played on a team I also acted as a coach without realising it. I was the one watching replays back, giving feedback to teammates, talking about what we could do differently and improve etc.
I was basically a player-coach. All the teams I played with were at the RLCS level when I quit competing and I still get messages from players like Extra, who I did some coaching with and is a three time Majors champion, saying ‘thank you for helping me’.
Then about two months ago, I became a coach for Guild Academy. I had been trying to become a coach, whether for individuals or a team, so I first pursued commentating on the Grid and other tournaments. When I started streaming again, I made replay analyses for friends and semi-professional players. Receiving their positive feedback and seeing them improve made me decide to become a coach.
Guild: What’s your advice for anyone looking to become a Rocket League coach?
Danny: If you’re passionate about Rocket League and you like watching players you help succeed - just go for it. Start by teaching your friends new things, stream and do replay analysis, look at teams and see how you can help them. These will eventually build your reputation.
Guild: Why do you think the Guild Academy system is beneficial for players?
Danny: You can work on the fundamentals of Rocket League, but more importantly you will receive mental support from our psychologists - this would’ve helped me greatly when I was a professional player.
At Guild Academy, you will be learning more about yourself than just about playing Rocket League and this will be everything you need to go pro. I would say there is roughly a 50-50 chance of having mental wellbeing issues like imposter syndrome and plateauing when you go pro, so the mental help we provide at the Academy is invaluable.
Guild: How will the system benefit professional players?
Danny: Pros can always benefit from reminders for specific skills and recapping - back to basics stuff. They’ll also get help from our dieticians and other support staff.
Guild: Final question… Can you give us a teaser of what we can expect with the Rocket League academy content?
Danny: Oh, there’s a huge roadmap of content ready to be made in the future.
We’ll also provide content on how to work on your mental game and how to improve certain mechanics. There’s a whole bunch of content waiting for our players!