Valve bans in-game coaching in Majors; ESL follows suit

August 18, 2016 - Esports

According to reports, Valve changed its Majors rules to prohibit coaches from communicating with the team during the course of the game, except for a short timeout and the warmup period. ESL, one of the biggest CS:GO tournament organizers, sent emails to teams, informing them about the changed rules. Understandably, a shitstorm started immediately, with various players and coaches, not to mention Competitive CS:GO fans, complaining and complaining about it.

From my perspective, having first heard about eSports by following Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series, where coaches always helped their team with picks and bans, quickly discussed tactics prior to the start of the game and then shuffled off backstage, leaving the team’s shotcaller or whoever else was supposed to make decisions, control the team’s actions in-game, I find the CS:GO community’s outrage baffling.

To use an analogy from conventional sports, you don’t see the coach running around after the point guard, telling him whom to pass the ball to, do you? The coach isn’t running on the football (soccer for you, American plebs) field, micro-managing their team. The same should be true for all eSports. In my opinion, which is admittedly influenced by League of Legends, having a coach tell players what to do and where to go at all points of the game, micro-managing the squad, makes the players no better than aim-robots, performing monkeys who aren’t capable of independent thought, who don’t know anything about the game they’re supposedly the best in the world at.

Once again, I have to repeat, my opinion is influenced by League of Legends, I can understand why the CS:GO community is rioting, it’s been done that way forever in this specific game. It’s not the best way in long term. Previously, teams like Na’Vi had their coaches take care of the tactics, tracking economy and similar things, leaving the players to perform, allowed players to take a lax approach towards practice. After all, the coach told them what to do and when to do it, all they had to do was shoot things. Now, they will actually have to work on improving communication, gaining a deeper understanding of strategy, figuring out for themselves how to win. That can only result in the players getting better, unless they don’t mind losing.

What I do have a problem with in this whole matter is the lack of communication prior to the change being enacted. It might have been fine if Valve and ESL warned teams a month in advance, allowing them to prepare for it. I do not get the impression that that’s how it happened. It seems to me that the ruling came out of the blue. That is NOT how stuff like this works. Additionally, Valve and ESL supposedly announced the decision AFTER many teams made roster swaps, assuming that the situation will stay the same.

For example, Na’Vi swapped Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko for Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Zeus has experience as an in-game leader, s1mple doesn’t. Na’Vi was banking on their coach to provide direction for their strategies. Not gonna happen now. Numerous other teams are now facing the same problem. Changing the role of coaches in CS:GO is ultimately the right decision in my opinion, however, the way it’s been handled is, to put it in frank terms, total bullshit. While Valve made the right decision, the way they introduced it to the community all but ensured that it will forever be reviled by the community. I don’t know who’s the community relations people in Valve and ESL, but they needed to get fired.