So, you want to be an “In-Game Leader”? Do you think you have the chops, the gusto, the mental fortitude? We shall see. This article will cover my perspective on the IGL.
If you were to relate the position of an IGL to a regular professional sport like football, they would assume the role of both the offensive and defensive co-ordinators as well as the role of the quarterback. Pretty hefty amount of responsibility for one man on a 5 man team. So, what does it take to be a good IGL? In my opinion, it takes 3 things: Focus, Time, and Patience. Now I know that those seem like generic buzz words, but those are simply the points of their very own triangles. In order to really understand my thoughts on this, you really need to get to the bottom of them. That’s what I will attempt to do in this article. Break down how those “buzz words” impact the world of CS:GO.
What’s the first thing that breaks when you do anything competitive? Your focus. As the person that is (for all intents and purposes) the stable core of your team, you need to find a way to maintain your focus. And I don’t just mean the focus on your screen, but the focus on the game as a whole. All ten players, all the time (yes 10, you count too). This will include how your team is playing, where the other team is strong or weak, your team’s economic status. as well as your perception of the enemy economy.
We’ve all seen good, and even great, teams fall apart because members start to go on tilt and bring the entire team into it. One tilting player can cause a problem, but when your team tilts, it’s catastrophic. The IGL is often the team captain, but more importantly it is the them that needs to provide that rock solid steadiness and allow the rest of the team to feed off of. Someone that can pull the focus away from the player that might be letting their anger show and help the rest of your team keep their attention on the match.
You need to be able to focus on the game plan. If your plan going in to the game is “win”, you’re going to have a bad time. You need to focus on how your team is playing, like if you are unable to hold a bombsite, or if someone is playing out of their minds and wrecking you every round. Is there a flaw in your strategy (“strats”), is timing off? Is someone playing below their normal level and do you need to switch up your approach? While you are doing this you must also pay special attention to see if you can manage to derive the common defensive scheme or offensive strategies used by your opponent’s default setup. All teams have a default, so it’s just a matter of finding it. I have never once in my career of playing (though short), or all of the games that I have watched, ever seen a match where BOTH teams did not resort to a defaulted approach at some point. On average, a team will spend 7 or 8 rounds per half running a default strategy. A “Default” is normally a pick oriented approach to taking sites, however some teams will tend to gravitate toward a singular site. Conversely, understanding which players tend to defend certain sites and if you can take advantage of a player who is having a rough map or match.
If you are not able to focus on the game and your team play as a whole, you might miss if your opponents are taking advantage of a flaw. How do you adapt? How do you adjust your strategies? Part of being an IGL is to adjust your team play (offensive or defensive) to help with this. Move a tilting player to a different spot that has more help, switch out your entry fragger if he just isn’t making the picks that day. A big part of this also relies on team communication, for those people that ARE having a bad match to speak up about it. But, if someone that is normally your second fragger is sitting at the bottom of the list and is swearing up a storm, you should know that there is a problem. You have to be willing to tell those players to relax and let the game come to them. Often a tilting player becomes more and more tense as the match goes on and their play will suffer because of it. Working with the player and talking them through the rough patch is, more often than not, something the IGL tends to do. (Pro teams also have coaches for this as well)
What the heck do I mean by “time”? Well, besides the obvious running clock in the match; as an IGL you need to be able to put time into the game above and beyond standard practice. To be good at anything at a competitive level you need to practice, with no question or secondary thought this is an unequivocal requirement. CS:GO players spend time practicing on their own outside of the time they scrimmage, practice strategies with the team, or play in official matches. Things like spray control, tap shooting, movement, and positioning are vital parts of the game; so they need to be an innate and reflexive part of your play. As an IGL, you need to do all of that, as well as setting aside the time (often equivalent to the time spent in each of the other categories) developing and refining strategy. Whether that time is spent watching demos from opposing teams to learn their tendencies and develop a game plan, watching your own team’s demos to see where you are falling short, or trying to create something new and off the wall, it is time well spent. Don’t get me wrong, more often than not they are working with one or more of their teammates, checking to see if something they want to try will actually work, checking timings or visibility, but it is still time that I can guarantee you all high level IGL’s do.
I have also seen instances where the IGL will spend even more time working with individuals on their team that are having issues with their play and being a coach. Helping them develop into better players. This will help the team but also requires more time. Often being available for practice sessions or reviewing POV demos will also help.
Lastly, the realm of Patience.
How does patience really come in to play as a gamer? More specifically, how does it come in to play as a twitch gamer?
Well, how many times have you been holding an angle and you get worried or anxious and decide to pull back and 2 seconds later you get fragged? Exactly, patience. One of the hardest things to do as a cs player is to wait. This one thing is the bane of a gamers existence. Honestly though, holding that angle can often leave you at a disadvantage from other angles and that is what causes the nervousness or anxious thoughts to come in. How do we counter that? Communication is key. Communication between team mates to tell each other where you need to be, if they are leaving something open to rotate, or telling their compatriots they need to think about other angles.
Having patience as a gamer, and especially as an IGL, is crucial. As an IGL you need to be able to understand an urgent or failing situation and address it without making it seem like it’s life or death. By all means convey how dire your issue might be but do it in a calm way so that the rest of the players don’t end up stressed out and affect their play possibly greater than it might already be.
You must also be patient when understanding your strats and how/when to use them. You need to have patience in executing strategy, counter strategy or oddball strats. You may ask, what does that mean? Well… We’ve covered that as an IGL you need to understand the economy and, for the most part, to know what the enemy economic situation looks like. So I’ll give you an example of what a pre-round decision might look like. : you lost 4 rounds in a row, but they were hard lost and you killed 3-4 members of the enemy team each round. You finally managed a full gun round and swept them away without losing a man. What does their economy look like? Should you run an anti-Eco strategy or a default counter? Should you wait one more round to push and run something off the wall? All of these things go through the head of the IGL but they should also see those thoughts in their team mates (again, tying back to the communication I covered in a previous article).
Being an In-Game Leader is something that takes time, effort, and a deep understanding of the game. But not only that, they also need to understand the people and environment they are playing in. Being an IGL takes work, but it can also be a very rewarding experience.
So, I’ll ask again: Do you want to be an In-Game Leader?
David Alberto is a Contributing Editor for AYBOnline.com. You can often find him making people cry in Counter-Strike. Roll percentile dice to see if his opinions change, your chances are slim.