North American LCS teams’ inability to adapt quickly to meta changes has become somewhat of a meme lately. They’ve always struggled at longer international events like Worlds, where a stubbornness to innovate has frequently doomed them. But the most recent humiliation came at the hands of Europe at Rift Rivals, a short tournament played on North American soil in July.
That has prompted LCS organizer Riot Games to give NA teams a helping hand. LCS commissioner Chris Greeley announced that, starting this weekend, NA teams will be allowed a second stragic coach on stage to assist in the draft phase
From now until the finals, teams will have the option to use a second coach who will be able to communicate with the head coach and players during picks and bans. Just like the head coach, they will not be able to talk to anyone off-stage.
The change was made as a result of Riot’s discussions with LCS teams on how to improve the league. But while it’s a good idea at face value, it does pose some problems for the competitive integrity of the game.
First, Riot decided that this is a pilot program. We’re not sure what type of information Riot is hoping to learn from this experience, but the fact that the pilot is being performed during an actual split of competition—including the playoffs and finals—is a big departure from the way rule changes are normally implemented.
Furthermore, this is an NA-only pilot—cue the snarky comments that only NA teams need help with picks and bans. Not allowing strategic on-stage coaches in other regions creates imbalance between how teams across leagues compete. And strategic coaches will not be allowed at Worlds later this year, which could screw up how NA teams prepare again.
Overall, this is a move in the right direction. But the timing and implementation during a competitive season appear to be missteps. Maybe NA teams just needed help that badly.