BLAST Entertainment has announced that it will not conform to Valve’s recently announced changes to coaching in Regional Major events.
In the wake of the 2020 coaching scandal that saw dozens of coaches suspended by the Esports Integrity Commission for using a bug to gain tactical information on opponents, Valve opted to kick coaches off the server. That put BLAST in an awkward position as it was set to host the first big Counter-Strike event after the decision, but BLAST Premier rules will not be updated to conform with Valve’s new standards.
NEWS | #BLASTPremier will allow coaches to communicate with players and be present in the room during this month’s Spring Groups.
👉 More below from BLAST Premier Commissioner: pic.twitter.com/SfdSHRtK1f
— BLAST Premier 💥 (@BLASTPremier) February 2, 2021
In an official statement, the tournament organizer confirmed that it wouldn’t be retooling the BLAST Premier Spring groups around Valve’s decision. BLAST discussed the decision and said it was confident it could maintain competitive integrity, but noted that the new rules could be adopted in the future.
While the new rule applies to all regional major ranking tournaments, BLAST Premier events are separate from Valve-sanctioned events. According to BLAST, the coach-team activity will be closely monitored, which will allow the organizer to review the information post-event if concerns are raised.
The 2020 coaching mishap was a hard shot to the integrity of CSGO esports and resulted in 37 coaches being hit by the Esports Integrity Commission’s ban hammer. Valve’s penalty saw nine coaches bid farewell to CSGO for life, a decision that garnered mixed reactions. However, a restriction on coaches entering the server was met with heavy criticism for being unfair. A herd of CSGO players, coaches, and experts opposed the ruling, claiming that the verdict was heavy-handed.
The new rules don’t just preclude coaches from entering the server, but bars almost any sort of communication between them and the players. Naysayers honed in on how this is a big hit to all coaches, even those who had done nothing wrong.
Honestly, a lot of coaches are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Valve didn’t just remove coaching outright…
Sucks for all the guys who did nothing wrong but that’s what you get when we let teams get away with half-measures.
— Janko Paunovic (@YNk) January 28, 2021
The backlash fell on deaf ears as the ruling still stands. It’s unlikely that Valve will budge from its decision during online format, as the developer’s relation with coaches in the past hasn’t been exemplary. The publisher issued a similarly controversial decision in 2016 and completely ignored the wishes of those who play professionally.
BLAST has become the first organizer to acknowledge the loopholes in the verdict as commissioner Andrew Hawthorne commented on coaches’ importance in-game.
“We feel that coaches provide a vital role in the professionalism of esports, improving the quality of play and team performance,” Hawthorne said.
It remains to be seen whether Valve will apply pressure to BLAST or simply allow different events to use different sets of rules. More tournament organizers will likely take the hint and follow in BLAST’s footsteps if Valve chooses to let this go.