Following Team Liquid’s second place finish at ESL One Cologne 2016, the last tournament with Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev on the roster, Liquid had some changes to make. If trying to accommodate Jacob “Pimp” Winneche wasn’t enough, the team decided to mess around with who’s going to be the in-game leader of the team, the position, which was held by Spencer “Hiko” Martin during the successful run in Cologne.
Following the changes in the team, the organisation planned to entrust in-game leadership responsibilities to their coach, Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu; however, that idea got axed to death when Valve announced their ban on coaches having input in the game itself during their Major events. ESL, one of the biggest CS:GO tournament organizers, expressed their support for the decision and the intention to enforce Valve’s ruling in their own events.
Following this sledgehammer decision out of the blue, Liquid decided to try Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella as their in-game leader. As reported by unikrn.com’s Blaze “Draulon” Lengyel and Sasha Erfanian from thescoreesports.com, nitr0 stepped down from the role, having only lasted for only a week. In a statement, the player blamed his ineffectiveness as IGL on his inability to multitask, saying: “I called for about a week or so fully and it was extremely hard because I cannot multitask at all. It’s just part of who I am and it affects my fragging heavily. I cannot focus on my own game a lot of the times because I am so worried about trying to be the perfect 'in-game leader' by micromanaging and all the aspects that come with the role.” While the coach did help to figure out the game plan, that wasn’t enough. Going forward, Hiko will take back the reigns.
This news brings up the subject of player’s suitability to lead. While you can definitely learn to be a decent leader, it requires a lot of work and time invested into getting better at it. At the level Liquid plays at, where tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars are at stake, teams don’t have that kind of time. While the situation would be even worse if Liquid didn’t have a player who used to and CAN do it if needed, Hiko makes that point moot. During the turbulent times with s1mple, Hiko was the one who kept the team together, often mediating between his Ukrainian friend and the rest of the squad, while also calling the shots and somehow still managing to give a world-class performance. Liquid is safe in Hiko’s capable hands.