Become a Better Coach In CSGO: A Guide With Fifflaren



Tue 23rd Jun 2020 - 7:33pm

Almost every CS:GO team nowadays has a coach behind the players - that was something that didn’t exist until a few years ago, and that’s just part of the natural evolution of the esport. More and more people are getting into it and implementing resources from “classic” sports to improve in almost every aspect of esports.

Coaching is now a staple in esports and makes a big difference for a team. Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson is an ex-player that turned coach. He was part of one of the most legendary CS:GO lineups and is now coach to his old teammates. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Fifflaren about his current role and how an aspiring coach can improve on his role.

Main Roles of a Coach

I think the main role for the coach is to have a clear insight on how the game should be played, on how he likes the game to be played.”

When asked about this topic, Fifflaren quickly gave the answer above. There’s just no other way around it - a coach needs to know about the game and understand it as well as the next one. But that’s a given, right?

A team coach's priority should be his team and not so much on studying opponents. You need to make your team grows from the inside, learning from their mistakes, and you’re there to point them out and suggest solutions to the problems you face. You’re also there to be the motivational voice in the player’s head when everything seems to be going wrong. Remember, even if you have an amazing team, you will lose games, you will have bad days.

But What About Compared to the Analyst?

The line that differentiates coach from analyst work can sometimes be very thin and there are coaches that even do both. Nevertheless, if you’re able to have one analyst working alongside you, you should have your tasks really defined so that you never go over each other. 

Fifflaren took his time to explain how they do things on Dignitas between him and vENdetta:

“For me, or at least how it works in DIG is that the difference between me and vENdetta, for example, is that I put a lot of focus on the team, a lot of focus on that we know what we're doing heading into a match. Obviously, we look into our opponents heading into the game, but for me, since I'm there with the guys in every single practice game or every single time we go over strategies, it's just that I think that the coach is more part of the team versus, for example, the analyst.

The analyst does more work on the back end side of things, he works more with analysis tools, what strategies the opponents run, what positions they play, how do they like to do things, some special rounds... maybe find some loopholes in their play, or even suggesting maps we should play against certain opponents. I would say that if you were to ask, for example, which person suits a coach position versus which person suits an analyst position.

I would say that a coach position mostly suits former players and professionals because there are things that just come with experience and knowing what players are going through at every moment, versus someone who's super interested in CS and knows a lot - I think people like that are amazing at analyst work, there's a lot of super-smart people out there and that's two different skill sets.”

Like I said before, a coach's focus should be on his team, while an analyst should focus on the opponents the team is facing. And together, they should reach a point where you have a “battle plan” for each match ahead of time. Of course, this doesn’t apply to open qualifiers, since it’s virtually impossible to study opponents that you only know a few minutes before playing them.

It’s All About the Team

I can’t stress this enough - being a coach is not about you or about the individual players. It’s all about the team, about improving together and finding the chemistry that allows you to evolve. Take the time to know your players, understand where they excel, and what points need working on the most. 

Fifflaren actually talked about a very pertinent topic when referring to newer teams and coaches:

“Focus more on yourselves - this can go for coaches or even up and coming teams. If you're a new coach, really focus more on yourselves than just studying other teams and trying to replicate what they do. You want to find the strengths of your team, find strategies that work for your team - just because some strat works for Astralis, it doesn't mean it's going to work for yours. It might be a good strategy, and you might even be able to use the fundamentals of that strat and remake it, but don't put too much time and effort into opponents. Pay more attention to what you can do to strengthen the weaknesses of your team.”

You need to be able to identify your own problems and work on them. Remember that it’s all about learning and being better than the day before. Sure, some teams can get better in less time, but that shouldn’t discourage you or your players.

Respect Is of the Utmost Importance

You’ll need to have a firm hand on your players - they need to be able to respect your decisions and implement them into the team’s future and planning. As long as you can keep peace within team members, you have a clear road to improve. The problems arise when there’s an internal conflict that stops you from improving - whether that’s just bad temper from a player or even someone not being able to show up on practices constantly. If that start’s happening, you and the team should make a decision on what’s best for the future of the squad.

Understand one thing: I’m not saying you should have some kind of dictatorship among the team - of course not! That would never work! You should be able to work and evolve along with your players, but you’ll always face roadblocks. And those are the moments where you need to have a steady grip and the trust of your players.

The Psychological Impact 

One of the most undervalued skills of a coach is the psychological impact he can have on his players, especially during those rough matches. Maybe you’re down a few rounds and nothing seems to be going your way - you can ask for a pause and get into their player’s heads. You should support them, remember some strategies that you might have not tried already but, above all, make them remember that they can still win.

“I'd say coaches can have a massive impact on his players, making sure the spirits are being kept high, making sure that the players are focused, making sure people don't get tilted, but outside of that, being able to deal with those stressful moments or tough games that you're down, let's say, 11-15 and the coach calls a timeout and have that kind of assurance that you're still in the game and you can come back.”

Some players have weaker minds than others and go down more easily. It all comes down to experience, and even the most scared ones can eventually become really good mental players.

These were just some tips that might help you on your way to becoming a better coach. Get together with your team, learn together, and become better together. CS:GO is a team game, you should learn as a team and not alone. Get out there and make it happen!

Thanks for reading! You can reach out to me for feedback or suggestions through my Twitter.