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Blog / November 11, 2018

The current state of coaching in esports


The job title “Esports Coach” is not yet legally protected and is not regulated by requirements, certification or specific educational qualification. A largely uniform profile of career, tasks and competencies is missing, what makes it difficult to give a generally valid definition of what makes an Esports coach.

Nevertheless, there are again and again appearing task fields and responsibilities, over which Esports Coaching can be understood and a typical picture of the practice of an Esport Coach can be pointed out.

The first generation

When Esports and its disciplines were still at an early stage and a professional, well-organized framework for teams was not yet a matter of course, coaching, management and other support-staff were absolute rarities. Only in recent years this area has gained importance and weight in organisations. The first coaching personalities, that found recognition in the Esports-scene have been mostly retired pro-players who started to focus more on analytic work for a team and providing new strategies and coordinating the current meta approach. In other words: work that teams used to do themselves had simply been outsourced to an additional, non-active-playing person, who supports the active roster. We will simply call them Esports coaches of the first generation.

But Esports as a business model grew and with it there was an immense increase in professionalism and demands on athletes and organizations and thereby also on coaches in the Esports industry, which brought up a second generation of coaches. Because as things started to get very serious and big on the Esports market, teams and organizations started to realize, that a high amount of game-knowledge alone and a former career in the respective Esports game won’t be sufficient enough anymore for the occurring standards of the top tier competitive scene.

New Trends and Dimensions

Structures of coach-team relationships then became more natural, more long-term, more binding. Team houses in which the common everyday life is experienced, regular travelling, strictly organised weekly schedules, high prize money and the mental and physical strains that come with those are new, extended dimensions in Esports in general. In order to be able to do justice to those dimensions as a coach, it requires coaches with accordingly highly-qualified educational careers or by immense experience in the industry established top-class personality profiles, which are up to these new and extended requirements.

Coaching tasks in Esports have long since left the level of ingame analysis at this point and have also expanded to consulting, mental training and advice, as also have individual concrete cases of classical sports psychologists working with Esports teams. Today, growth processes, practice efficiency, team-spirit and moral, long term decisions, schedule plans and caring about the mental and physiological health and fitness are common standards and no longer have anything to do with the game itself, which means game knowledge, replay analysis, strategic coordination, etc. are no longer the only content of coaching.

In order to fulfill this broad spectrum of tasks, whole coaching teams have been established in classical sports as for example football or basketball; many different people with different competences, priorities and areas of responsibility, mostly under the lead of a head coach. This best-practice structure is also more or less adopted in Esports.

That means usually different tasks in the coaching staff are split and specialized individuals are put in the relevant niche of their competences.

You have an analyst who can focus on being an analyst and strategic stuff and you have for example an additional mental coach working independently of that and you also have a head coach who manages the coaching process itself.

But there is no clear picture here either. Coaches and coaching teams or the organizations staff which is involved, usually totally differs in methods, size, strengths, competences, priorities and structure as you will see especially in part three of the article.

Conclusion

There seems to be a common sense what a coach in Esports may do, but no common practice at all. How does that come? I already gave the answer to this question in my opinion. On the surface it seems to be fairly clear what makes an Esports coach, but due to the entirely different requirements of all those teams and athletes out there, there doesn’t seem to be a real joint standard in the actual reality of Esports coaching. Because although coaching in Esports has gone through a very short history, there have been many different changes, forms and types of coaches or coaching staffs.

For example there are very successful individuals from the – as I called them – first generation of coaches in the business for years who are successfully doing only analytic and strategic work for the team and on the other hand there are coaches who don’t have any game-knowledge or don’t even have a single connection point to the games at all, but working with the teams exclusively as mental coaches. Some coaches are able to bring the complete coaching-package in one person, some tend to be highly skilled experts of their own field. And I think they can all be considered as Esport coaches.