Behind every great team or player is an excellent coach. This applies to a lot of things that usually involve people aspiring for greatness in their given field. In the world of eSports, it isn’t much different. Coaches in eSports generally function the same way as coaches in normal sports.
Their goal is to train the team to become better players, and to some extent, they need to be good analysts as well, as victory in the eSports scene is often tied to how the opposing team plays as well.
These are just a few of their responsibilities, so today, we’re going to take a look at what they function as, how they fit into a team, and overall just appreciate the work they put into the foundation of whatever team they are coaching in.
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The Backbone of the Team
Teams need to work well together, there’s just no getting around it. Success in games like League of Legends are very dependent on your teammates, so cohesion is a must. While star players are nice to have, any coach can tell you that a team that works together beats out a team with one very amazing player who doesn’t play well with his team more often than not.
Because of this, the coach does not just focus on one player, but develops strategies based on the strengths of their individual members to create an amazing game plan. With this in mind, the coach also needs to play around the strengths of each player. In the case of League of Legends, not everyone can play mid lane equally. Some people just have a different mindset, and they might be better suited for a different role, such as a jungler or support.
That isn’t to say that you should stick strictly to what you know. Expanding your horizons and breaking out of your comfort zone is good. However, from a tournament perspective, coaches need to make calls like that to ensure the health of the team. They ensure that teamwork is present and everyone gradually improves at their selected role.
Other games, such as shooters or even fighting games, are a bit more dependent on reflex and positioning. Again, it all comes down to the mindset. While traditional shooting games don’t restrain you with roles when it comes to skills (I mean, you all have access to the same inventory), there are still roles within it. Assigning people to guard key areas or attack opponents is also part of the strategy.
Brains of the Operation
Coaches need to have a deep understanding of the game in order to… well… coach. While there aren’t any set qualifications for a job like this, it is important that the coach has the proper mindset and capability to provide well informed opinions and stern decisions. After all, you wouldn’t take basketball advice from someone who has never heard of the game, right? In many ways, all coaches are analysts – to some extent – but not all analysts are coaches. Does thar make sense?
On paper, the sheer amount of information and number crunching they need to do is unreal. For bigger teams, they have dedicated analysts who work hand-in-hand with coaches and sometimes managers to distribute the workload and ensure they maintain focus with their given task. So while it may sound like an easy job, the reality is that it often isn’t, unless your team is just starting out and you’re all still testing the waters. We all have to start somewhere, right?
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Molding the Meta
In many ways, pro players decide – or at the very least, popularize – what the meta is. Yes, a lot of champion changes and item buffs or nerfs play a huge role in what goes on, but they’re somewhat responsible for relaying what’s best to the general community, be it from tournament displays or live streams. By extension, coaches have a direct hand in what teams generally build.
Depending on the size of the team they are managing, they may either work with analysts, be analysts themselves, or work with several people to manage the whole team. Of course, the meta doesn’t just revolve around their team, they need to be aware of the other teams as well, and subsequently, develop strategies based on the strengths of opposing teams. Think of how Batman preps for every possibility and you’ll be in the same ballpark.
The Climb to the Top
At the end of the day, it’s still a business. However, to my knowledge, it’s quite rare to see coaches who don’t like doing what they’re doing. Oftentimes, coaches themselves are or once were players themselves, and they probably started doing it because of the love for the game. Maybe some prefer working in the background instead of being in the spotlight. It happens. Whatever the reason, it might still be difficult to do it effectively if they didn’t enjoy it.
It isn’t all about playing though, as real work needs to be done, such as submitting reports. The pressures of being a coach can be tough. Like any successful business, they need to constantly innovate and re-assess themselves to try to climb to the top and maintain that position. Easier said than done, especially when the other coaches are trying to do the same.
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Coaches require you to think with multiple perspectives, and it is often necessary to constantly be critical of every little thing, including how they themselves behave. When one way of thinking gets stale, they become predictable, so burnout is a common problem. It’s really one of those jobs that people on the outside think is easy, but coaches are far from one-trick horses.
Oftentimes, coaches are the very foundation of the teams, and like foundations, you don’t notice them too well when things are going great, but you notice them immediately when things start to fall apart. Sometimes it’s a thankless job. But hey, the world has many unsung heroes, coaches sometimes adding to that long list.