We’ve recently seen a growth in the amount of teams that have picked up a “6th man” as part of their team. A coach that calls the shots and learns the strategies has joined the ranks of some of the top teams but will this become the new Meta in CSGO? Will teams potentially change the in-game leader role in favour of a more hands on style coach that dictate the teams play or is CSGO too heavily dependent on leaders in game?

Introducing coaches to teams has increased the strategic level of the game and the best part is that you don’t need to sacrifice a current team member to make this change. You miss the little mistakes in the moment but, if your coach can pick up on them and make the right adjustments it can end up swinging the game in your team’s favour. We have recently seen Ninjas in Pyjamas return to form due to picking up a new coach by the name of THREAT. With this 6th man guiding the team, they were able to focus on their own positions and ultimately took out the DreamHack Master Malmo tournament against Natus Vincere.

The easiest place to start looking for a comparison is at professional sporting teams and their team/coach set-ups. When compared to professional sports, the coach controls the team in almost every aspect. They make the formations, set up practice schedules, punish team members for mishaps and create the set piece plays that can change the momentum of the game. The coach then assigns a Captain of the team who is able to provide leadership at a lesser level and maybe even call out variations during the heat of competition.

We’ve seen time and again where dedicated in-game leaders have underperformed because they’ve been too focused on communication for strategies to get their team in line. They can’t see what people are doing wrong until after the match is finished. More than likely it brings down the rest of the team to the point where they may as well be playing a pickup group (PUG) match where they will only go for kills. With the coach being introduced there is less pressure on the IGL and the tactics are initiated by someone who can’t get killed mid-round.

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Now I’m not saying that esports should replicate sports in terms of coaching but in CSGO we haven’t witnessed anyone that has actively coached a team to glory. Instead we have seen ex-pros and mates join an existing organisation to look after the team. I can’t think of a CSGO coach that could compare to the likes of Wayne Bennett (Australian NRL Coach) and his streak of glory while coaching teams to victory. While he might have had a short playing career he’s better known for his abilities in commanding a team to victory. The CSGO scene is just a little bit younger than Rugby League (pushing almost 100 years) but it has been quickly evolving through the various iterations of the game and adding dedicated coaches is the next logical step.

On the flipside, team members need to be able to accept calls and strategies that come from their coach. I think this is one of the biggest issues with the coaching dynamic right now and it could ultimately make or break teams that try to bring in a coach. This was recently discussed on the “By the Numbers” CSGO podcast with Team Liquid’s former Coach/Manager GBJames.

Players weren’t actively accepting the information from him and his attempts to call a timeout were thrown aside because the players thought they knew better. The additional information and the ability to watch all five of the players wasn’t enough for the team to take a timeout which ultimately left them losing the match. This is both an issue with the coach not being firm enough and the players not respecting the role that the coach has been selected for.

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So if this new 6 man Meta is going to work in CSGO you’re going to need 3 things. Firstly, teams need to sit down and decide whether or not they are going to bring a coach into their line-up and whether it will improve their game. If not, then their in-game leader needs to be as good as the coach while also putting up frags. Secondly, you are going to need a coach that has the special awareness to work out where their team members are and where they need to be effective. This is probably the most difficult aspect to get right and can’t be accomplished by most of the coaches that are employed right now.

Thirdly, if a team picks up a coach they need to respect the coach’s wishes while in the team or have them be punished for it. Practice schedules, strategies and picking out mistakes are now the coaches’ responsibility and players will need to get off their high horses and play nice together or there is no point in having the coaches there at all.

If there is a team that can bring together these elements they will dominate the next chapter in CSGO. I’m of the opinion that you don’t need to have the best fragger in the world to be one of the best teams in the world. Having a strategist there to out think the opponent and come up with new tactics is something that I would take over a good fragger every day.

Coaches have the ability to become famous in the CSGO scene for being able to lead the charge from behind their team. Bringing together a perfect roster, the carefully thought out strategies and the discipline to make the calls needed to better their team will be traits that people will look for and I hope this will be a breath of fresh air into the professional scene as we move forward.