Coaching in CS:GO
There is no doubt that coaches are very important in all traditional kinds of sport, as in most cases their impact on the players can lead the team to the victory. However, this job is considered more or less rare in eSport, considering that many teams cannot afford to employ a coach for themselves. The position of CS:GO coach, for instance, is quite young, even though the people who partially carried out these tasks have been present in teams since the beginning of eSport. Even before that, the strategy of the team was prepared differently: most players simply copied the rounds of top European rosters, whereas captains tried to adjust them to the playing style of their team during practices. However, the schedule of official matches and practices of the top teams has become too busy during the past few years, and players have been left with practically no time to work on new strategies and analyze the demos of their rivals. Therefore, coaches became much needed in every CS:GO team.
Who is a coach
CS:GO coaches are slightly different from their colleagues in classic sports. In most cases, these are the former players who were the members of top teams but for some reason decided to finish their career. These people are responsible for the training process of the team and its performance at different tournaments.
Because of the limited budget of most teams, coaches usually wear several hats and have to combine their main profession with the roles of manager, analyst, assistant and team psychologist. Their most important responsibilities are to analyze the actions of the rivals during the break between maps and hint the players what to do throughout the entire match. Apart from that, they also need to study tons of material to build tactics that will counter enemy’s strategy and make the team win.
Nowadays, most teams have already found their own coaches. The first professional coaches started to appear in CS:GO teams in 2012, and mostly those were experienced players from CS:Source who wanted to share what they knew. They were looking for new wallbangs, interesting boosts and strategies. According to some players, such people have been in this business since 2005. For example, the famous Finnish player lurppis mentioned being a coach of two teams in his blogs. Such organizations as Fnatic, SK, Na`Vi, M5 had people who fitted this description, but were called analysts. They looked through different demos and prepared valuable statistical information for their team. This way, the teams prepared more efficiently for such tournaments as WCG and ESWC.
The best-known European 1.6 coach is Anton Budak (former SK coach, current NiP manager), who made his first attempts to carry out the tasks of coach in 2007. Ukrainian teams used tactical tips given by coaches as well. Natus Vincere players Zeus and starix were known to do that in CS 1.6. So, the foundation of the position of coach was built at the time of CS 1.6. It wasn’t taken from Dota 2 or invented just because somebody wanted to earn more money. Such people really do help top players and teams to achieve their best results and will always be needed in professional eSport.
Coaches became officially recognized on CS:GO scene in 2013. Many teams that transitioned from CS 1.6 invited coaches from CS:Source. This move was particularly common in France, where former “sourcers” formed new teams to make their dreams come true. French player Happy, for example, started playing with a coach in early 2013. In June 2014, Fnatic CS:GO roster did the same, hiring the former captain of the team Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg. Less than a week after that, Titan hired an active CS:S player le Poireau Malefique. They decided to make this position experimental, so it had to be tested for a few months before the final decision. Many top European teams started looking for coaches after that. Today, in 2015, the news about hiring/firing coaches doesn’t seem surprising anymore. Even amateur teams have them, let alone professional ones. Also, coaching helps certain experienced players earn some money, as they are teaching beginners through Skype and Teamspeak.
The role of the coach and his influence on a team
The main goal of the coach is the victory of his team. He works on strategies and rounds, keeps an eye on players' practice routine, gives hints at tournaments, gathers useful information about the rivals, prepares different series of exercises for the players, and a lot more.
Of course, in-game leader is capable of doing such things as well. But professional CS:GO features lots of serious tournaments which require the time to practice, bootcamp and play official games. Thus, coaches save the time of the players, doing a huge part of theoretical work instead of them. Their responsibilities include presence at all practice games and matches of the team. They join the players during online pracs, attend their bootcamps, and stand behind their backs at LAN-tournaments.
Initially, the coach studies the playing style of the team and notices all strengths and weaknesses. Then, he discusses certain aspects with a team management, receives a particular task, and chooses the practicing method to accomplish it. The best part is that the coach can look at the team and everything that players do from aside, noticing all their mistakes and flaws. He decides who needs to practice more than others and helps to choose the best way to do it. He tries to concentrate team’s attention on the victory, and improve individual skill of each player.
All in all, most teams need the same: basic work on their most uncomfortable maps, knowledge how to counter their rivals, and improvement of their in-game communication. To make the work even more efficient, the players contribute their own ideas to help the coach, discussing theoretical aspects of the strategies.
Sergei «starix» Ishchuk on the responsibilities of the coach in Na`Vi
Every team has the coach who must do two main things: to help the captain and carry out management tasks. He finds flaws and things that players do badly, and explains to them what goes wrong and how to fix it. Tactical aspect is very beneficial to all players if they do it themselves, but they can totally rely on me and use their spare time to improve shooting skills.
When I was the member of the team, I always listened to what the IGL has said. And even though now I am a coach, at times it gets very difficult to dictate the players what to do. Maybe, it would be easier for me to work for another team. In this case, I would be the person from aside, and the players would have a bit different perception of what I want to do. Now, I am trying to find a common ground with Na`Vi players once again, this time as a coach.
After 10 years of playing, you start to see Counter-Strike as a completely different thing. Every cyber athlete focuses on his own monitor and the sound in his headphones when he is playing. He doesn’t feel the atmosphere, doesn't pay attention to the audience and the stress of his teammates. As a former professional player, I see the moments which upset guys, and try to support them no matter what.
Coaches help to earn more
The fact that most professional teams have coaches indicates that players are focused on winning prizes. Earlier, they studied hundreds of demos and invented new strategies, but now they rely on other people to do that. Many players admit that thanks to coaches their results improved considerably, and they started winning a lot more. All above mentioned proves how important this position is in competitive CS. But players tend to change because of it.
If the team hires an extremely successful coach, all players respect him and do what he says. But if some of them consider themselves more experienced, the conflicts are inevitable. That is why most organizations have the rules that regulate the behavior of both players and the coach.
It is quite difficult to become a coach in competitive CS today. Most top teams emlpoy only those who achieved great results in CS 1.6, CS:Source or CS:GO, as they are considered to be trust-worthy. Often it is someone familiar with all players, like kuben in Virtus.pro or starix in Natus Vincere. This way, such people can stay in eSports even after the end of their main career. Some of them use it as a good way to earn some money. There are also those, who start coaching to try out their own tactics and strategies.
How much money do coaches make?
In most organizations, the income of the coach remains confidential, but it surely depends on his past. Brilliant players that achieved a lot and won numerous different titles during their professional career earn a bit more. Some of them receive money when the team wins, but only if they attend that particular LAN-tournament. All in all, their salary is a bit lower compared to the one earned by the best player of the team. CIS coaches get from 500 to 2000 dollars per month (in top teams).
Almost every good player can make an excellent coaching career in the future. And even if Valve will release a new version of CS, he will be able to adapt his past skills to it and won’t be left jobless. However, it is impossible to become a coach without LAN experience. The people that don't have it can be the analysts, as they are not able to help players throughout the competition.
Usually, coaches are the reason for quite unusual victories. They help teams make unpredictable tactical choices and perfectly counter their opponents. But it’s not their only task. The coach must help young players to fit into the team, teach them how to behave at tournaments and compiles their own practice schedule. He shows the newcomers how to perform to their fullest potential, and cope with the pressure after losses in important matches. If the coach is good, the young talented player will turn into the professional esportsman, as it was in GeT_RiGhT's case in SK.
Nowadays, every professional CS:GO team needs a coach. All European rosters perform on more or less equal level, and every step forward can cause victories and prizes. Coach can have a very positive influence on the results of the team, if he has needed experience and confidence in what to do. 5% result improvement is already a huge achievement, but, anyway, coaches are not a miraculous tool that helps to win rounds.
Their adaptation to the team can’t be easy, as the top players tend to ignore even the most experienced people. The coaches mostly play the role of managers and LAN-tournament assistants, and prepare important statistical information for the team. Nevertheless, everything is still ahead. The coaching position is relatively new on CS:GO scene, so the process of integration can take a few more years. One way or another, the importance of coaches can’t be overstated, as the eyes of the most experienced ones catch the details that can be seen only after long days of playing CS:GO.