The third and final major for 2015 has just concluded. Three NA teams were in the field: Cloud9, CLG and Team Liquid. All three failed to make it out of groups. This result probably sounds familiar. The second major of 2015, ESL One: Cologne, only two NA teams were present: Cloud9 and CLG. Both teams failed to make it out of groups. Finally, the first major of 2015, ESL One: Katowice, again only two NA teams were present: Cloud9 and CLG. And what do you know, they both failed to make it out of groups. There’s a trend and for NA fans and teams, not a positive one. For each major of 2015, NA teams have made the trip across the Atlantic only to reach their demise…
You could maybe argue that with three NA teams being in the final major of the year means the NA scene as a whole has improved. Honestly, I can’t argue against that as I do agree the NA scene has improved in some aspects. Domestic lans have started returning: Fragadelphia, SoCal Revival and the coming RGN Lan to name a few. Not to mention more organizations have entered the scene and begun grabbing up-and-coming teams with potential (Coast, Conquest, 3sUp and more). All of this is truly positive for the scene as a whole, but sadly there is a giant and critical portion not being addressed: competitive scene development.
What I mean by competitive scene development is, NA organizations banding and working together to create better competition and thus bring the NA CSGO competition level up to the international level. Far too often you’ll see teams trying to embarrass each other in online NA leagues: negev’s being bought when a team has a high lead, trash talk between players, intentionally trying to schedule or enforce a default time when it doesn’t work for one side and more unprofessional methods. There’s a reason the international competition has the phrase “that’s NA CSGO for ya” (or variation of that). Essentially it all boils down to immaturity and over this past year it hasn’t been diminished or eliminated. Despite the international results that NA teams have produced at the major events. I don’t want to use the cliché insanity phrase but the NA scene is truly insanity at work.
As a NA fan it’s really quite embarrassing. Take a look at the OCE scene. This scene has far fewer resources than the NA scene: traveling is way more expensive, the scene is smaller and less diverse and the region as whole places a larger emphasis on different scenes. It’s remarkable when these OCE teams (Renegades, Immunity and others) make it the same event as NA teams and end up beating NA teams. Props to OCE, SMH to NA. The NA scene needs to stop taking for granted the benefits it possesses. There’s a reason SA teams have moved to the NA region to compete: there’s more opportunities and it’s easy to qualify/place in these opportunities. If I was Renegades or Immunity I’d seriously consider finding a way to make it to NA to compete. If insanity continues in the NA scene in 2016 and the OCE teams moved to NA, the OCE and SA teams could probably hold the top spots in the NA scene. Maybe that’s embellishment, maybe it’s not. The fact is, how the NA scene is currently conducting itself is not working. There have been improvements, but not the right ones and more importantly, the international competition has been improving the right way this entire time.
Therefore, I propose all NA teams begin to enact the following changes in order to bring the NA competition level up:
- Gaming houses: the entire team needs to be all together at all times. Not only will this build chemistry (or force build it) but make sure all players are on the same page and distractions are kept to a minimum during practice time. The teams should also all have coaches who manage said practices. In order to get to the international level, the NA scene is going to have to out work them in every aspect. The game must become the life of the player (which shouldn’t be a huge issue since they are a professional player).
- Scheduling: Each coach should schedule practices at specific times with specific teams. The relationships between teams need to be on good terms. Teams should be supportive of each other’s success. If a team gets better, they are more likely to make the other teams around them better through practice. I can’t remember if it was Richard Lewis, Thooorin or someone else who discussed that this scheduling technique was done in EU and not in NA. NA teams need to put their egos aside during practice and try new things, even if they fail. Trying out something new on a quality opponent is the only way to innovate. The only things that matter in regards to practice are, was something learned and were productive habits performed.
- Trash talking: The bad blood that exists between these top teams has to go away and that’s all on the players shoulders. I don’t think players themselves are capable of making this happen so coaches need to step up and enforce it. If another team’s coach approaches a coach with evidence of trash talking, a $500 public fine should be enacted on the first occurrence. $1000 dollars on a repeat occurrence and a gradual increase as the occurrences occur. The eSports industry is becoming main stream; there are plans for CSGO to be on TV in 2016. Unsportsmanlike conduct has to come to an end.
- Boot camping: Before a major or other large event occurs, NA teams should band together and boot camp with one another. Invite like eight or more teams and have them play one another once on every map. If the teams want to get a sponsor involved and stream it, so be it. However, NA teams might not want a stream as it could provide international competition strategy/tendencies right before the major event. If multiple NA teams at the boot camp are going to the same event (hopefully they will be), NA teams need to take the gamble of practicing together despite potentially having to play against one another at the major event. When a team knows another team’s strategy/tendencies, it makes for a more exciting match as a spectator. The mind games that get played out in matches between teams that know one another becomes pure ecstasy for viewers. The argument that this would hurt teams is invalid as we have already seen this played out internationally. Take the top ranked teams in Thooorin’s world rankings, they’ve all played each other frequently and yet matches are still exciting and matches go back and forth. These teams have excelled internationally because they frequently practice against one another.
- Mental Assassins: In my previous piece I outlined how I believe Cloud9 were doomed to not make it out of groups at this major because of their current mental state. Unfortunately, I believe the NA scene as a whole suffers from this issue. Mentally, every NA team is weak. They are not mental assassins. This is something that Semmler and Thooorin brought up at the analyst panel at the major. NA teams need to understand that no excuse will ever validate a poor showing. Currently there appears to be only one person in NA that understands this concept: Hiko “the group of death is no excuse”. So Hiko my man, this aspect is on you. Start by first spreading that no excuses mentality with your team. Once established there, see if other teams will follow your lead. Again, it might seem like helping another team is counterproductive but in reality you are helping one another. The stronger your local competition is, the stronger you’ll be.
- Professionalism: Overall, the NA scene needs to grow up and act like professionals. The behind the scenes roster swaps (Coast debacle) need to stop. If a team decides to make a change it needs to have valid and transparent reasons. Team owners or managers need to outline the win expectations of the organization to the players of the organization. No one should be blindsided by a roster change or move. Team owners and managers need to convey to their players that they have their backs but continued failure to reach specific goals will result in changes having to be made. Regardless of the talent level of the players. That is unless NA teams are content with mediocrity.
There are probably more changes that need to occur but for now these are the major ones I believe need to be addressed as soon as possible. If NA teams fail to address these, NA fans should expect nothing to change in 2016: just another year of insanity essentially.
2016 is shaping up to be an interesting year: the CSGO scene as a whole will be bigger than it ever has and in NA, some of the former top players may see their ban removed from Valve. This will most likely lead to another large roster shuffle. I predict some teams will make too many changes when really one or two would do. If these teams follow the guidelines I have outlined above I believe they will have a better shot at succeeding internationally. Only time will tell.
Images were taken from Google Image search. If for any reason these images need to be removed, please contact me and I will remove them.