DeKay Scope: Removing Coaches Would Permanently Damage Professional CS:GO

Removing coaches (Astralis' Danny "zonic" Sørensen is pictured above) would greatly damage CS:GO
Removing coaches (Astralis' Danny "zonic" Sørensen is pictured above) would greatly damage CS:GO / Photo courtesy of DreamHack

Since ESL suspended three CS:GO coaches this month for varying lengths as a result of abusing an in-game bug to gain an advantage, more coaches have been implicated publicly and privately for the same exploit, which has apparently existed since 2016. A recent statement from Valve in response has many sources of mine saying coaches are nervous about possible changes that could come, including removing the coaching role entirely.

Since the original release from ESL, several other coaches have been found to have used the bug or admitted to it, which brings the public total to almost fifteen. However, as DBLTAP reported last week, the total is expected to at least double by the time the ESIC investigation concludes. While these revelations obviously demand change, it would be detrimental to professional Counter-Strike to abolish coaching. It would set the game back years and hurt it beyond recognition for the foreseeable future.

Valve has a real incentive to remove coaches, as that would eliminate any chance for them to harm the integrity of the game. A decision like that comes at a heavy cost, though, which isn't apparent on the surface. Take a look at how one-dimensional and vanilla team strategy was in the early years of CS:GO; it looks atrocious in comparison to today. Teams forgot to take timeouts, tilted into oblivion, and struggled to adapt their play when it would benefit them the most. Modern strategy is a work of art, thanks to the coaches who stand behind the players on stage.

It might be correct to argue that Valve doesn’t care about the level of professional play, but it is a large part of what fuels the game's player base. People will feel much less compelled to jump into the game if viewership declines as a result of time traveling to an era where coaches have no real input. The effect will snowball and cause even more prospective stars to jump ship to Valorant, which is only just getting off the ground. Keeping coaches around is imperative for the health of professional play and the game itself.

A happy medium exists for coaches to still have an impact on the game while limiting their input in the earliest stages of tournaments. Remove the ability for coaches to join the server for online play, but still allow them to participate in offline tournaments. This would still allow coaches to have a strategic purpose that would only come into full effect at the highest level of play. While a decision like this isn’t perfect for everyone, it is a compromise that makes sense from every perspective.