When it comes to any kind of sport, it’s very easy for the viewers to see the players as the root of the team. All of points they score or game winning plays is done through their individual teamwork and skill, and the same thing goes for their mistakes and losses. It’s very easy to finger point at anyone, may it be sports or esports, based on their results, their attitude or the people they play with.
But when it comes to any competitive sport, one role is often times undervalued or unspoken. That one person who works the extra hours at the office because he’s just that passionate and wants to do everything he can to help his company. That one friend who’s always willing to talk to you if you’ve got an issue at three in the morning. Of course, I’m talking about the coaches.
Coaches are far more known about in the sports scene, as in most sports like hockey and basketball, they are actively participating in any given match. Although they aren’t skating on the ice and shooting pucks into a net, or dribbling the ball and going for a slam dunk, they sit on the sidelines, screaming at their players on what formation to take, the weakness in the enemies’ own formation, as well as deciding who is brought onto the ice or field at any given moment. They’re the ones who motivate their team, plan strategies and overall gameplan. Most coaches were players in their younger age, and as their age got the better of their reflexes and body, they moved to a coaching role to not only follow their passion, but to keep their legacy going.
In esports, coaching is not that far from what we see in traditional sports although having their own differences depending on the game. In most cases though, coaches allow individual players or teams to have a different perspective on the game or on their opponents, on what might be good, what might be bad, optimal play styles and what’s in the meta ( the optimal way to play the game in its current state ). Depending on the game, coaches may have other responsibilities, but in all games they serve the same purpose: to keep players focused and prepared.
For instance, in most single-player fighting games such as Streetfighter, Super Smash Brothers and Tekken, some players will have their own dedicated coach, often carrying out the role of an analyst, a advisor and even just a friend. Coaches for players in this game genre will help the player study on their opponents. They’ll take note of their playstyles, what characters they play the most and in what situation they might switch to these characters. They also study the player they’re coaching, pointing out flaws in some of their own playstyle, keeping them in a positive mental state and lifting a bit of the anxiety that these players might face. While the player focuses on improving on their individual skill and practice, the coach can focus on the extra studying and homework on the players they often meet up against in tournaments. It is beneficial to have a coach in almost every aspect because of this.
In terms of multiplayer games, being first-person shooters like Counter Strike and Overwatch, or mobas like Dota 2 or League of Legends, coaches work differently depending on what the competitive scene of the game allows. Though this is the same for single-player games mentioned above, it isn’t as drastic.
For instance, Counter-Strike being a team-based shooter game, coaches of the teams are more similar to traditional sport coaches as they are allowed to be behind their players during actual tournament matches, telling their players what they should do in any given moment, giving out the opponent’s location and telling them what strategy or formation to take. It’s as if the is an extra pair of eyes and voice to the players, which allows them to focus more on their own game, while keeping an ear out for important info from both their teammates and the coach.
However, in large-scale games like Dota 2 and League of Legends, games can last between twenty minutes and an hour on average, and having a coach in the booth with the players as they play could be an incredibly huge advantage, what with being able to look at the captain’s notepads on the enemy team’s movements around the map at certain parts of the game or other important objectives. The player’s focus and individual ability to analyse the game is what should make them be able to play at such a high level, and not the person behind them telling them everything.
That, and not every team has the resources to have a coach. Already enough a team without a coach is at a disadvantage both time and resource wise, and having to face an opposing team of essentially six players, it can be seen as unfair. Instead, coaches, serving as the study-bot and life coach for the team, have only recently been given the option to go into the drafting phase inside of the player booth during professional games at events. It allows for an extra perspective and insight during probably the most vital five to ten minutes of a match: what you’ll be choosing to go up against your opponents. This is a rule that’s been added just in this competitive season, and Dota 2 has been an esport for about seven years now. Esports rules for different games are still evolving, as it is still in its infancy.
This Youtube like shows a half-hour documentary of two teams playing in the finals of a 3 Million dollar tournament, and although has a focus on the players, also gives us a unique perspective on the coaches of these two teams, the different on how they talk to their players and what they offer.
Yet here we are, with a viewership so huge and growing faster than all other sports due to the technology that we have today, esports continues to adapt and evolve based on current situations. Drama, just like in any media, is very prevalent and esports, and some of it can be a lot more positive than people might think when they see the word Drama go through their ears.... Till next time!
When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.