Sports is a harsh industry. Winning and losing is often predicated on randomness and luck as much as skill and preparation, but results often decide the future of a professional career. Produce them, and you’re lauded. Fail, and even a past track record won’t be enough.
In many ways esports has yet to mimic that cutthroat business-like environment found in professional sports, but we’re getting close. Today League of Legends squad Gambit Gaming canned its coach, Jordan “Leviathan” Waites, after a “disappointing performance in the playoffs.”
That comes as a bit of a surprise considering Waites received heaps of praise for turning Gambit Gaming around during the regular season. After starting the Spring Split of the League Championship Series (LCS) with five straight losses, Gambit Gaming rolled off a near-record eight straight wins.
The team settled in their team house situation midway through the season and benefit from improved picks and bans thanks to Waites, the narrative went. But that success seemingly went to the coach’s head, according to Gambit manager Dmitry “Moo” Sukhanov.
“We believe that Jordan had a successful start as a Head Coach of our team, but in the past couple of months he lost his interest and was dedicating more and more time to his image in social networks, instead of working with our team,” he explained. “Our players are as professional as one can get, therefore they require the same level of commitment from their support staff.”
After winning those eight straight games, the team limped into the playoffs by finishing the season 2-3, with an extremely disappointing performance at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice—a tournament where Gambit typically performs well—in between.
The team then fell in the opening round of the LCS playoffs against eventual finalists Unicorns of Love after a 3-1 series loss. Waites is taking the fall, though the team admits “questionable decision making” and “individual misplays” contributed to the loss.
Gambit Gaming has yet to find a replacement for Waites, but has reiterated its commitment to qualifying for the World Championships next season. The team is looking for a “self-motivated specialist with organizational capabilities, extensive LoL game knowledge, and an ability to set his priorities straight.” Waites, apparently, couldn’t maintain those qualities for a full season.
Esports is a harsh industry, and getting harsher. If you can’t maintain a full commitment, you won’t last long in the top tier.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr