5 Necessary Tasks for Any Effective eSports Coach
Know the game, inside and out.
All games, especially on the competitive level, have a million different strategies. When you’re talking about eSports coaching, you need to know every strategy, and more importantly, every counter-strategy. It’s up to your student to implement the strategies in real time once learnt. However, as an eSports coach, it’s up to you to make sure that the student knows what works and where.
Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest strategies. It’s important to know what other players are using so that you can use your counter-strategies. It’s also important to revisit old strategies. Most of the time old strategies are going to be redundant because of game updates (99% of the time that’s the reason they become old strategies), but it’s still important to know them and understand them, especially for your student. If old strategies become revived, and your student is only aware of the current trends, they could be blindsided.
Stay on top of updates
Games are so advanced now and forever changing. All competitive games that require eSports coaching these days are constantly being updated with new patches. For example, League of Legends, if you count alpha versions as well, have had a total of 182 patches so far since its release on October the 27th, 2009! It’s up to eSports coaches to read and understand the changes that each patch brings.
eSports is definitely on the rise and patches are something that no other sport has, at least, not to the extent that computer games have. Some patches change the game completely. Say, for example, that a new hero is brought in in DotA. Let’s use, for example, Techies—one of the most anticipated heroes in all of DotA. If you already know the hero, then you know why he changed the game completely. He makes all heroes alter their behaviour in a game due to his ability to lay traps down around the map.
This is an obvious issue that any eSports coach needs to teach their student. However, there are less obvious changes to DotA that would require eSports coaches to do their research before hosting sessions. You can see these changes in the respective pick rates and win rates on DotaBuff. Even the smallest of changes make a huge difference to gameplay, and an eSports coach’s job is to know and understand how these changes will take effect.
Follow eSports events
eSports events are full of professionals that spend every second of every day awake learning and practicing new strategies. Sometimes these strategies are not applicable to games at the level your student might be playing at, but they’re good to have in your arsenal.
Poker is the best example of this. You can watch professionals exercise their strategies, however, it’s all situational. Their opponents’ thought processes are different to what you or your student are facing. Therefore, the actions needed to be taken in certain situations may differ from the professional events.
Another example of actions taken by professionals that may not be applicable are event highlights. Some people watch shows such as Poker After Dark and seem to think the plays they make are applicable to all situations. However, these hands are only one out of many, many hands, amongst players who are deep thinkers. These plays don’t show the full picture and are probably not applicable plays to make against players who are not deep thinkers.
Let’s take for example, one of the most famous hands in poker, 10-2. This hand was made famous by Doyle Brunson during the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Championship Main Events. During the 1976 Championship, Doyle found himself heads up. Please note… heads up! Heads up play is completely different to any other type of play, the range of hands both players are going to be playing is much wider. I’ve seen many players at the casino play 10-2 at a 9 or 10 seated table! So this is the first note to make, know your range!
The second note to make is that Doyle was a strong leader in chips. This is something that isn’t all too important in Doyle’s situation, he’s probably not folding 10-2 suited pre-flop heads up very often. However, it’s still noteworthy that he had a strong lead and chips to play with. He’s not calling with half of his stack pre-flop with 10-2 suited, for example.
The third note to make is that when the flop came out A-J-10, Doyle had a pair of 10s with a backdoor flush draw, with a strong chip lead, heads up. These are some the reasons he decided to shove it all in, to try and intimidate seemingly week hands that he might still be losing to out of the pot. Unfortunately for him his opponent, Jesse Alto, had top two pair so was obviously not folding. You must note that although Brunson ended up winning the hand, and therefore the tournament, there were reasons behind the play beyond the fact he believes 10-2 is some sort of lucky hand. This was obviously before 10-2 became his lucky hand, but it’s important to know why it became his lucky hand—it was made lucky through rational situations that led to him winning without the odds in his favour.
My point in all of this is to understand situations beyond their face value. If you can use strategic thinking to not just replicate the plays of the pros, but to replicate them and implement them into applicable scenarios, then all that’s left is to work on your execution and you’ll soon realise that you or your student ARE the pros!
Work on your communication skills
Communication is at the foundation of every good eSports coach. No-one learns anything in life by being insulted or intimidated. Screaming at your student, or insulting them, is of no use to anyone. If you want to build an eSports coaching career, you need to learn to stay cool, calm and collected in all situations, no matter how stressful or intense they may become. We all know that gaming, especially at the competitive level, is a stressful experience when you want to be the best. But it’s up to you as a gaming coach to stay level headed—there’s no room for ragers in this world!
Get to know your student’s strengths and weaknesses
Knowing your student is as important as knowing your strategies. There’s no point having the knowledge of strategies if your student is incapable of using them. Sometimes students can get by sticking to what they’re good at. eSports coaching doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re coaching students to become the world #1, some things just come down to natural born ability, and most people don’t have what it takes to be number 1 in the world.
When you’re coaching your student you need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are so that you can build on what works and what doesn’t. Of course, it’s important to work on your student’s weaknesses as well. But sometimes just making the student aware of their weaknesses is the best thing you can do for them. If they’re aware of what they’re weak in, then they can simply outsource that ability to someone else if it’s a team game like LoL or DotA. If they’re not even aware of what they’re good or bad at to begin with, then they’re never going to be able to build an effective team. And if you don’t have a good team game going in a competitive game like any MOBA, then you’re wasting your time completely.