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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

BLAST rules out coaching changes for Premier Spring Groups

BLAST has announced that it will not implement any changes to the way that coaches can interact with players for the first stage of the BLAST Premier Spring season. This comes in the wake of Valve’s decision to prohibit coaches – or any other support staff – from being on the server or in the same room as players during online Regional Major Ranking (RMR) matches.

The 2021 BLAST Premier Spring season will kick off Thursday

“We believe that the mechanisms we have in place enable us to listen and observe coaches’ actions when they are on the server and in the room with the players, which gives us greater oversight of competitive integrity by being able to directly monitor actions in real-time and have information to review post-event if any concerns are raised,” BLAST Premier Commissioner Andrew Haworth said in a statement.

“We feel that coaches provide a vital role in the professionalism of esports, improving quality of play and team performance.”

BLAST becomes the first tournament organiser to react to the game developer’s recent ruling, which is aimed at preventing the “diminished integrity of coaching from casting a shadow on the integrity of Valve-sponsored events” following the recent spectator bug and stream-sniping scandals.

Valve has determined that coaches who exploited the spectator bug, which was brought to light on August 31, will not be eligible to participate in a number of future Valve-sponsored events based on how many demerit points they were issued by Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) in its September 28 report. Stephen Hanna, Director of Global Strategy & Partnerships at ESIC, recently said on Twitter that updated information on demerit points and how these have been affected by appeals will be made available soon.

On December 2, ESIC revealed that it had decided against taking action against teams, players and coaches who had been caught stream-sniping opponents during the online era of Counter-Strike. Despite considering the practice to be “widespread”, the esports watchdog group explained that the prospect of handing out a large number of bans would cause “an extremely adverse effect on CS:GO esports, particularly in the top tier”. It added that some of the cases “were simply impossible to prove” or would demand considerable resources to be examined in full.

ESIC decided to enforce a zero-tolerance stance moving forward, with Vitality the first victim as they were fined $10,000 after being caught with the stream playing in the background while they faced Liquid and Complexity in the BLAST Premier Global Final.

BLAST noted that it will “continue to monitor and review” the coaching rule after the Spring Groups, which will run from February 4-14. According to Robert Mulgan, Esports Operations Manager at BLAST, up to two members of support staff will also be allowed in the room where the team is playing or on the TeamSpeak server, though they will not be able to speak with the players or interfere with the game.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Twista departs ENCE’s coaching staff

ENCE‘s overhaul continues following the staggered benching of Jere “⁠sergej⁠” Salo, Miikka “⁠suNny⁠” Kemppi and, reportedly, Elias “⁠Jamppi⁠” Olkkonen. The Finnish organization, which is undergoing deep restructuring and could be after Marco “⁠Snappi⁠” Pfeiffer and Thomas “⁠TMB⁠” Bundsbæk according to DBLTAP, has now cut ties with its former coach turned analyst, Slaava “⁠Twista⁠” Räsänen.

Twista and ENCE have parted ways after two years and a half

Twista was signed by ENCE in August of 2018 and was in charge of the team that won StarSeries i-League Season 6, BLAST Pro Series Madrid and was runner up at the IEM Katowice 2019 Major, but the 33-year-old skipper was involved in the coaching bug scandal in September of 2020 and handed a 15 month ban by ESIC, after which he was moved to an assistant coach and analyst role, helping successor Eetu “⁠sAw⁠” Saha.

“Two and a half years went by flying with some remarkable achievements, poor decisions and struggles. I will cherish all the good and bads since the journey is what teaches you,” says Twista. “The past six months have been a big lesson for me which I consider the biggest learning experience in the whole time as a coach. I took some distance late December to self-reflect my mistakes, I don’t think any of the players in ENCE can deny my work in game, but I have much more to learn outside of it so that’s where my focus will be going forward. I bow before every player who represented ENCE during my time and also thank everyone working behind us.”

Twista‘s departure leaves ENCE down to two players and a coach in Aleksi “⁠allu⁠” Jalli, Joonas “⁠doto⁠” Forss and sAw, with Tuomas “⁠SADDYX⁠” Louhimaa also being rumored as one of the incoming players alongside the aforementioned Danish duo in the Finnish organization’s plans to rebuild the team ahead of the upcoming tournament season.

“We would like to thank Slaava for his time and effort with us and for all the memories we made together,” says Niklas “Willkey” Ojalainen, ENCE‘s General Manager, “it was now time to turn a new page for both sides and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Global Offensive » Update on Majors and Coaching

Majors

When we announced the Rio Major, we were excited to bring a CS:GO Major to one of Counter-Strike’s most passionate fan bases. At the time, we couldn’t have imagined the global challenges that have limited live events throughout 2020.

We’re not going to ask players and fans to risk their health in order to attend a Major while the pandemic still poses a threat to travelers. Therefore, we have made the painful decision to cancel the November Major.

So, what’s the plan? First, we’re going to hold off on scheduling Majors until, at a minimum, Regional Major Ranking (RMR) LAN events are safe to hold around the world. Until then, we expect to continue to hold online RMR events to keep track of the best teams in each region.

Coaching

Recently we’ve been made aware that several coaches of professional CS:GO teams exploited a bug in the game in order to gain an advantage over their opponents. It is unfortunate and frustrating that we did not respond to this bug sooner. But bugs are the reality of software—and until they are resolved, we need to be able to trust players and coaches.

We won’t spend much time here reiterating our stance on the importance of integrity in CS:GO matches. At a minimum, we expect that players and coaches will play by the rules, and immediately pause the match and alert tournament admins if they know of an issue that may give them (or an opponent) an unfair advantage.

Any teams that were disqualified for exploiting this bug during an RMR event will have their RMR points reset.

As for taking action against individual coaches, we’re going to wait until we get a complete picture of the extent of the bug abuse and the punishments handed down by third parties. Regardless of those penalties, mid-match coaching will always be a tempting opportunity for some teams to violate the integrity of the match. So we may also consider limitations to coaching.

We’re looking forward to getting LAN events started again, and hope that we can all find a safe way to do it soon.

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