Valve Bans In-Game Coaching At Majors

A problem was recently brought into light that team coaches are no longer able to participate in leading their team through a game at Valve-sponsored major events.

The Electronic Sports League, also known as ESL, sent emails out to some of the members of the CS:GO community, one of which was Hiko, professional player for Team Liquid. He read this email on his stream which you can see here. If you don’t want to watch the highlight I will transcript it the clip.

…If a person is performing these actions, we consider them a player. Since the goal of our events is to identify the best 5-player CS teams that exhibit the best combination of all CS skills, the current participation of coaches in the game is not comparable with that goal. To address this problem, future Valve-sponsored events will enforce the following coaching rules: During a match, the coach may only communicate with the players during warm-up…”

Not mentioned in the highlight due to Twitch’s clips feature only capturing the previous 30 seconds of a live stream is that coaches are also able to communicate during half-time, or during one of four 30 second time-outs that the coach or player can call. So what does this mean for coaches?

It’s really hard to tell at this point what Valve is trying to do with the game. Most people think that Valve thinks it’s all about the players when coaches are also players, but just not the recognized type. To be a coach of a team, you have to be able to read the game better than the best. If you can’t do that there’s no point. Take pronax from GODSENT. When he was in FNATIC, he was considered one of the best in-game leaders of all time due to his ability to read the game and then guess what happened? FNATIC went on to win two majors back-to-back, ESL One Katowice 2015 and ESL One Cologne 2015, the first time in CS:GO history to have back-to-back major champions. Being able to read the game very well can carry your team through the most difficult of games. Coaches add so much to a team, but I can see where Valve is coming from.

Valve wants their game to be a five-versus-five competitive game, not a six-versus-six like the dying Team Fortress 2 and new Overwatch. I mean, the five-versus-five format was done for years dating all the way back to when Counter-Strike began developing as an e-sport. Like I said before, coaches are players but they’re not the ones playing the game. The players that are playing the game should be the ones to make the in-game decision on whether or not to do something, especially in mid-round where something can happen that wasn’t planned and you’ll have to adapt to it. The main part about being a Counter-Strike player is your ability to adapt to the most sudden of changes and you being able to adapt quickly to that due to the round being 1:55 plus 40 seconds if you get a bomb plant. With rounds being so short, your ability to make the decisions on the fly is the most important aspect. Coaches being able to do that while in-game, to me, is one of those things that I’m indifferent to.

Just like any rule changes that happens, the community is going to go absolutely mad over it and demand that the rules be changed or find a happy medium. The best happy medium there can possibly be is the coaches should be able to communicate with the team during round restart and buy time giving around 17 seconds to tell the team what to do and it should be the players who will play that round out and make the decision. Like I said before, the best skill someone can have at this game is the ability to adapt to sudden changes when something goes wrong.

The part that I’m most frustrated about is the community’s reaction to it. If you go to the CS:GO subreddit or HLTV you’ll find threads to no end stating that Valve is basically ruining careers because of this rule change and to an extent they’re not wrong. Valve is lowering the impact coaching has a lot with this rule. Teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas depended on their coach to get them through games and now they can’t depend on it as much and now have to depend on their captain and in-game leader to make the mid-round decisions, something that has troubled them for a while ever since they won their first CS:GO major back in 2014.

This is, once again, something that people are reading too far into. Valve is trying something new here, something that they think will change the game for the better. If it doesn’t go the way they plan, if it makes it worse, then you’ll see a repeat of the Winter Update all over again (referring to the Revolver Update and Damage Control). If it goes for the better than so be it.

Cover Photo Credits: Helena Kristiansson | ESL | eslgaming.com

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