Top 3 Tips for Ingame Leaders in Mixed Teams
Fri 28th Jul 2017 - 10:18am
In the current meta of Counter Strike, teams tend to adhere to one of two playstyles. One style revolves around taking a slow, methodical and tactical approach to the game. In teams which adopt this strategical philosophy, it is clear what the role of an in-game leader is and how they can improve their team's performance in matches, by broadening the team's range of tactics and deciding which tactics to run during rounds mid-game. In the second looser, more aggressive playstyle, teams tend to have few pre-rehearsed tactics and rather rely on a high level of individual skill or team play. As such, in-game leaders and especially those with little experience often struggle to have as much impact as they possibly could, due to their team having a less tactical philosophy.
To begin with, no matter what experience you have as an in-game leader, I believe that you need to have had at least a little experience as a player in a more puggy team. This is because puggy teams often have a completely different way of communicating and making decisions. Players themselves are often expected to know when to make plays and be able to make basic reads about the positioning of the other team. For example, the majority of the players in a loose team's default will be looking to be aggressive and take aim duels, in order to find out where the Counter-Terrorists are positioned, as well as get opening picks. In direct contrast, teams with a more tactical style tend to begin with a more passive default, with the in-game leader deciding who will get aggressive and where. This also means that the players on these mixed style teams need to be of a high skill level, as well as have a good amount of experience. However, if these conditions are met and your team does want to play a puggier style, then in some cases this playstyle will lead to your team being more successful than they otherwise would be.
All of that considered, here are my top 3 tips for the in-game leaders of less tactical teams:
1. You still need set strategies
One obvious disadvantage of this style is the lack of a tactical base to fall back on, in case your team are not hitting their shots or are struggling to win the early Terrorist rounds through your default. This can also be an issue if the other team have one or two players who are having over performances, especially if one of these players is your opponent's AWPer, as your team won't be able to easily lock them out of the round with smokes and Molotovs. As such, despite being a less tactical team, it is still important to have one or two well drilled executes on each map that can be used in case your team is struggling. Often these executes are tailored towards high skilled teams and are very fast in nature. Cloud 9 is a very good team to study in order to learn a few of these quicker stylized executes and one example is their explosive Middle to A split on de_mirage. I have included a video below produced by Benjamin 'esio' Doughty about this very strategy, to give you an idea of how these executes differ from more standard, slower executes.
2. Theory-Striking is just as important as scrimming
One of the foundations of a good mixed team is good teamplay. However, unfortunately, this rarely comes naturally in teams and instead relies on teams openly communicating and reflecting on their teamplay as they practice. I would personally recommend that teams who are looking to play a looser playstyle spend time on "Theory-Striking". Theory-Striking generally involves your team sitting on an empty server and discussing how you want to react to various situations ahead of time. Although you won't be able to go over every possible situation in an afterplant or on the Counter-Terrorist side, if the situation you have already discussed does come up, you will be surprised how well everyone will remember what you discussed. Even if a situation you haven't discussed does come up in a match, by engaging in these discussions, you will learn how others like to play various situations and will be able to quickly judge how others will play out other scenarios which you haven't already discussed. Simply reacting as a team, be it in the best possible way or just in an acceptable manner, is often far better than reacting in a more disjointed fashion. However, if you are unsure how to react to a situation or have an unresolved discussion, then it can be your job as an in-game leader to perhaps look for examples of how professional teams react to similar situations in demos and use your judgement to decide how your team should react ideally.
3. Communication is key
Communication is a core principle that all teams should be aim to improve, however, in more loose teams where less time is spent on perfecting strategies, an extra effort should be made to perfect the fundamental skills that underly good Counter Strike teams. Communication can most easily be improved by reviewing TeamSpeak recordings, most of all those from official matches but also those from practice. Initially, you should aim to deal with simple communicative issues, such as making sure every player on your team uses the same names for the same spots, or that across different maps comparable positions use the same name. You can also give spots bizzare names if you wish to emphasize them in your communication. Once most of the simple problems have been solved, then you can focus on more complex communicative issues. For example, using your tone of voice, over communication or having a calm environment in TeamSpeak. These issues are often extremely easy to spot in a recording of your TeamSpeak, or by an external coach who is not playing, however, it can also go unnoticed during practice. I have included a video below from Chad 'SPUNJ' Burchill on communication, which although being very long is a must watch for any in-game leader and especially one interested in running a more aggressive and puggy system.
As a whole, I personally believe that running a mixed team inspired system can greatly benefit high skill and experienced players, due to allowing these players lots of room to do as they please during matches. However, I feel that at the lower end of competitive Counter Strike, teams often run these loose styles without knowing how to improve or learn and are not interested in doing so. They are simply run by a team of five pug stars, who do everything but play and learn as a team. So I urge anybody who has read this article and is thinking of leading a team with this aggressive style, to apply some of these basic ideas to their own team practice. Although initially it may feel like a waste of time and it may take many weeks for an improvement to be felt by the team, these tips will only accelerate the growth and success of your team.