Fergus “ferg” Stephenson joined Tainted Minds CS:GO earlier this year in February alongside Chris “dexter” Nong. With lots of experience as a player and now as a coach supporting a team made up of ex-Winterfox and Athletico players – I caught up with Ferg to discuss about coaching in general within the Australian scene and where we sit as a region.
Can you briefly explain what the coaching role in AU CS entails?
The coaching role in Australia is fairly unexplored and new in the higher tier of competition locally. I personally have been coaching for 7 months now and have had a good opportunity to feel out the role well. After having played on a high level for so long I knew what I’d want out of a coach and i’ve used that as my guide for the duration. I’m not sure how other coaches approach their role in Australia though I’d imagine it would be fairly in line with the rest. I currently monitor all of our practice sessions including scrims and dry runs, address issues and propose ideas and changes to our strategy where necessary. Outside of practice I am keeping an eye out on our competition and their tendencies. During official matches/competitions I generally avoid getting stuck on any small mistakes that occur and help keep everyone focused on the main objective, winning.
Do you think it differs to the role internationally?
I don’t think the role would differ too much in terms of how International coaches would approach their duties. If anything they are just at a bigger advantage as they do it as full time jobs which enables time to become more complete as a team and a coach.
Coming from being a previous player now into coaching do you think this is a distinct advantage?
I’m in two minds if that’s true or not – I always believed as a player that I’d rather have a coach who has been in the field before, who knows the pressures of high calibre matches on and offline. I always thought that my experience could bring a lot of value, in a coaching capacity, to a team whose goals and drive are in line with mine. But then I look at ImAPet from CLG, who recently was bought out by Optic, has close to no experience in competitive CS as a player but has a brilliant mind which reflects in his coaching. So distinct advantage maybe not – though when it comes down to the crunch in high pressure matches, the advantage is there.
What do you think needs the most improvement for the region as a whole?
I think there is a collective of things we require as a region to improve as a whole. The biggest thing is more sponsorships and money in the local scene (which is currently occurring as we speak eg. Adelaide Crows – but requires time to grow through the scene). This will allow teams to start practice earlier and alleviate them from working as many hours in other jobs they might have. Secondly the maturity of players to be legitimate professionals is a must. Although this has improved drastically since the Renegades birth, we still have a lot of problems with maintaining lineups, avoiding clashes and addressing issues properly. Without maturity the potential investors in the esports industry won’t have any interest in people who can’t be professional.
Where do you see the ANZ scene in 5-10 years?
I think the scene will become a lot more integrated with the rest of world and its surrounding competitions. Hopefully in that time most of the high tier teams are also all salaried and can treat their respective games as actual jobs. The esports industry is booming and I don’t think ANZ will be left behind.’