NBK- also shares his thoughts of his team going into 2021.
At the start of 2021, Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and his team OG find themselves in an excitingly challenging position, having to find themselves once more without internal and external factors supplying fresh incentives. After a year of continuously rising through the ranks, the team has to do it once more in 2021.
Having been in professional Counter-Strike (CS) for over a decade, NBK- looks back on a wealth of experience in the scene which makes him a valuable voice in assessing the status quo of Counter-Strike as a game and as an esport. “In terms of viewership, I don’t think there is any problem, because Counter-Strike remains the best esport game to watch [...] The only thing is that there were too many games last year. There has been a loss of interest for some matchups for example. Watching Vitality-Astralis was something that was happening every second week almost” says NBK-, raising a point often echoed by his peers throughout 2020.
“I think that’s what matters really: Trying to find a way to make those matchups more important in order to really get more hype going again for some of the game. But I think CS is thriving, really.”
Another topical issue has arisen last week, with Counter-Strike developer Valve stepping in and changing the way how coaches are able to interact with their team during live play significantly. The decision came off the back of a major scandal within the esports’ scene that an investigation by the Esports Integrity Commission had brought forth, finding that multiple coaches had used an in-game bug to gain an unfair competitive advantage, some of them on several occasions. With a few apples ruining the bunch, Valve once again took power away from the coaches, banishing them from the field of competition. Moreover, teams using a flexible six-man roster were also kneecapped by additional changes, significantly cutting down on the upside of a substitute player. NBK- himself was critical towards the manner in which these changes were enacted.
He said: “For Counter-Strike as a whole [...] it is really bad. CS has grown a certain way for quite a long time, and it evolved in a sense that you want to have as many people behind you in the coaching staff as possible. Same for six players and teams are exploiting it very well. For Valve to let everything go and come in like “You can’t do this any more.” it is a pretty big blow because the majors are obviously regarded as one of the biggest tournaments of the season and one of the most enjoyable ones to watch and to play. To just have that ruling, is going to bring us the question if the other tournament organisers are going to do the same and align to that. In that regard, I hope that they don’t because I think it’s crucial to have coaches and coaching staff and just evolve into a more professional way, in a sense that it looks more and more like professional sports club where you have a big coaching staff.”
BLAST had announced that at least for the upcoming BLAST Premier Spring Groups competition, the tournament organiser would stick to the old rules of allowing coaches in the practice room, while they are monitoring the situation. NBK- and OG will be competing in this very competition against their 2020 rivals BIG tomorrow at 6:30 pm GMT. For projections on how this might go, check out the rest of our interview with NBK- above!
Image via BLAST