Coaches in Dota 2

Sat 9th Jul 2016 - 8:53pm Gaming

Recently we’ve seen a huge rise in popularity of coaches in Dota 2. While they are prominent in other e-sport titles and in China (during the time of VG’s prime their coach had an even split with the players when it come to prize money) they weren’t very common in the Western scene. However, before the recent Major out of the sudden nearly every European and American team got a coach. We can expect that it will be the same for The International 6.

With this role being so new and underused before there isn’t a clear picture who the Dota 2 coach is. What are his responsibilities? We don’t really know what is the best way to implement them into the competition. That raises the question when the coach should be allowed to be with his team? All the time even during the match? During the draft but not the gameplay? During the breaks between the games in a series? Or maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to see the team at all during their matches?

Let’s look at how the role of the coach has been integrated into other e-sport titles and if their model could be applied to Dota 2.

Coaches in CS:GO

The role of a coach had been fully integrated into the CS:GO scene. Now nearly every competitive team has one and they are an integral part of the roster. During the matches they are constantly in full communication with the team, supporting them and helping out as much as possible.

However, CS:GO is a round base game, and that's vastly different from Dota 2. In CS:GO the strategy changes from round to round and while it is incredibly important it isn’t game defining as it only affects a couple of rounds.

In Dota 2 having someone who can see the game while not playing it would change the whole strategy and approach to the match. It would be a huge disservice to the players that have developed the ability to look back at the bigger picture while still playing. The role of the captain, in my opinion the most important thing in Dota 2, would be just simply lessened.

Because of that i believe this format of coaching in Dota 2 wouldn’t work and we shouldn’t follow the CS:GO in this particular move.

Coaches in League of Legends

As the LoL scene is way more structuralized than Dota 2’s it is also way more similar regular sports. Naturally the coaches are a lot more prominent there, for quite a while now, and also more popular. LoL is also heavily influenced by Korea where the role of coaches is already deeply enrooted in e-sport from the StarCraft days. Also the Korean culture makes coaching frankly a lot easier that it is in the west.

League of Legends does not even limit themselves to one coach. “Normally, a top-tier LOL team’s coaching staff should be structured this way: one head coach, three assistant coaches. The three assistant coaches would be a life coach, a mental health coach, and a technical coach. The technical coach would ideally be a retired support player; the life coach needs to be a retired player with lots of professional experience; and the mental health coach needs to have professional experience and a good understanding of the human psyche,” said Qijing, former analyst for WE.A and King, and head coach for Lion according to This shows you how similar it is to the physical sports.

When it comes to what the coaches are allowed to do during the match: they are with the team during the draft but they can not help them during the game itself. In my opinion this is the model that Dota 2 could follow.

Drafting is already a whole team effort with every player giving their input. I don’t feel like expanding that team from 5 to 6 man lineup for the draft itself is that drastic of a change. But it could improve the drafting overall which should lead to closer matches and less outdrafts.

Of course one could argue that drafting is a skill that players bring to the table and it should be only them doing it as draft is an integral part of the game. While it is true that some teams have an advantage thanks to good drafters I feel like players should aim at being the best in the games itself and if that means sacrificing some draft knowledge at the expense of the coach coming in i’m fine with such trade.

However, the current model where coaches aren’t allowed during the draft and during the game itself is also fine. They should of course be permitted to help the teams during the breaks etc.


What does it mean for Dota 2

The fact that coaches are appearing more and more is a clear sign of the scene maturing. It means that players are realising that they can’t do it all themselves and that they are better of trusting some of the responsibilities to other people. It also shows that some people are realising that most likely they will not succeed as progamers the way they would have liked. But they may be able to substantially help others.

The real question is how many people are willing to commit like 1437 and become full time coaches. In League which is way more structured they to be a coach you have to be on contract with a team, there are some regulations in place. There are non in Dota 2 but as the scene is maturing potential coaches can surely persuade teams to give them contracts that will allow them to fully focus just on helping the team.

The head coach of a league team said that ideally you would have 4 coaches. I don't know if that number is correct and if all the people working with the team should be called coaches. But more that one person helping out a team is in my mind a necessity. In my opinion it is only a matter of time before all the teams will start to apply it. Some already do. I'm talking about stat/analitic people that would focus on researching the teams, psychologists etc. They are without a doubt needed and would give a team a substantial edge over the competition.

All in all currently how the coach in Dota 2 should work is little undefined. Additionally the role of a coach is also a bit undefined. The current coaches probably have rough idea but it is absolutely clear. However, that's nothing new in e-sport. As Charlie Yang, former manager of Evil Geniuses, said when he first came on board to manage EG he didn't know what he should do. He himself had to decide. And this is how it probably should be with coaches. As the scene matures more they it will become more clear. Hopefully there will also be some more regulations in place and they can get more involved in the matches.



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