Conventional sports usually stick to one set of rules which dates way back. eSports, on the other hand, take a much more active approach in terms of shaping the game in the way its makers want to. For example, MOBA games such as Dota 2 and LoL both have frequent item (and meta) changes that are known to hurt certain teams (their playstyles, to be more precise) beyond recognition. FPS games such as CS:GO do things in a similar manner. Weapon damage modifications, peek point alterations, new levels and so on. All of these changes drastically affect professional teams and their approach to the game. However, back in August 2016, one alteration paved the way for CS:GO as the eSport we all know and love today. As the title implies – I am referring to the notorious CS:GO coaching ban.
Valve limited coach-players interactions during major tournament matches
I'm sure some of you already know that back in August 2016, Valve brought a gamechanger to the table. In an official announcement, they limited coach to players in-game interactions. In other words, Valve limited the way in which coaches and players were able to communicate during a match on one of the Valve-sponsored tournaments.
“During a match, the coach may only communicate with the players during warmup, half-time, or during one of four 30 second timeouts that the coach or player can call.” – Officialy announced rule by Valve
Needless to say, this greatly changed the way organizations structure their rosters. After the CSGO coaching ban rules took over, organizations which relied heavily on IGL coaches had to make roster changes or suffer the consequences. As we all know, on such a high level of competitive play, a proper in a game leader is a must. And with new Valve's rules, IGL coaches were out of the picture.
Before the ruling though, there were plenty of teams which didn't have a proper IGL besides the coach. Top tier teams had a simple solution – free roaming coaches that could watch all the action from their players' screens and influence it as they see fit. They were in charge of the strats and players were just concentrating on following their orders and getting those nasty frags. Obviously, that led to massive exploitations… In fact, there was a massive movement a year before the ruling which saw plenty of in-game leaders getting replaced by class A fraggers. More on that in the next couple of paragraphs…
From 2015 to 2016 there was a massive movement during which lots of IGL lost their positions in professional CS:GO teams' rosters. Some of the most notable changes were the following:
- mousesports – gob_b replaced with Speedy
- Natus Vincere – Zeus replaced with S1mple
- Cloud9 – Slemmy replaced with autimatic
Just by looking at the changes it becomes clear that IGL were an endangered species. Sure, all of these players managed to find a new team pretty quickly, but it still doesn't diminish the fact they were kicked out and replaced by superior fraggers. However, all that was brought to an end with the August 2016 CS:GO coaching ban by Valve. Alongside that, another innovation started shaping up the competitive stage – spectate mode with new coaching features. Coaches were finally able to see and hear the same as their players but were allowed to communicate with them only during warmup, halftime, or during one of four timeouts at their disposal. Undoubtedly, it didn't take too long for CS:GO eSports scene to evolve into something much bigger than a simple game. Of course, other outside factors were included too, such as the growth of the entire eSports industry
CSGO eSports scene evolved drastically
It doesn't take a genius to realize just how much Counter Strike evolved from its early games. Let's take a step back all the way to the golden era of Counter Strike 1.6. The level of professionalism was at a much lower level than what we are seeing today. True, some teams had managers and coaches but it's nothing compared to what we are seeing today. Heck, the biggest changes were brought in during the last couple of years. The staff structure became even broader with specialists coming in for all sorts of tasks. This ensured everyone has a single job in the organization and they can concentrate on making the very best of it. Nutritionists, coaches, tacticians, event planners, sponsors, and plenty more people, all involved in a single organization.
Player roles and adjustment time
Players are there with a single goal – just to concentrate on the game without having to worry about anything else. This stood true before and after the CS:GO coaching ban, but coaches were struck with the rulings a bit differently. Since Valve felt the direction of CS:GO competitive scene was heading in the wrong direction to the point of no return, they had to act even before the August 2016 bans in order to turn things around. These changes insisted on forbidding PCs for coaches on major tournaments as to make it clear they're not the 6th man or IGL. Of course, all changes made by Valve (including CS:GO coaching ban) only work for their own tournaments. Other standalone tournaments and leagues sponsored by third parties are not obliged to include these rules into their rulebook.
“We understand that there will be some short-term disruption for teams that have made an investment in coach IGLs (in-game leaders). However, we intend the Majors and Minors to be events that can be won by any team of 5 players that demonstrate excellence in all skills of CS and this adjustment is intended to ensure that this remains true.” – Statement by Valve
Valve is a strict company that doesn't want to stray too far off from its beliefs. Whether we're talking about their CS:GO competitive scene or the (now already past) drama related to illegal skin gambling. One thing that can be concluded from everything written above – Valve indeed does care about the future of their golden franchises. With constant updates, minor and major improvements coming in with each consecutive patch, CS:GO makers are ensuring it stays as entertaining and profitable as it currently is. And I for one can't thank them enough for it!
Results of the CS:GO coaching ban?
Obviously, teams with poor in-game leaders (after kicking them out, of course) and great coaches well-versed in CSGO strats were ones with the biggest issues. NiP serves as the best examples after failing to qualify for the Atlanta Major right after the CS:GO coaching ban by Valve. They had several bad match displays which made it quite obvious they are lacking a proper IGL now that coaches are eliminated from the equation. Needless to say, this pumped back the prices of true in-game leaders. In other words, this made the likes of karrigan and zeus become viable yet again, with teams battling to get their services in time of need. And this leads us to today – I'm sure you will agree with me that Valve did the right thing here. By diminishing coaches' roles and in-game interactions, IGLs became a vital part of every top tier CS:GO team just the way Valve wanted. And I salute them for it – CS:GO is a 5v5 not a 6v6 game with coaches running the play!