EG CEO on Blueprint: "We will figure out how to build a good CS:GO operation with this"
In an interview published today from the Washington Post's Launcher, Nicole LaPointe Jameson spoke in length about the usage of data with Evil Geniuses and how it is shaping their roster formation across titles. To Jameson's point, it is not all about the money.
I could totally buy the best Counter-Strike team tomorrow. It's a money function. But that doesn't mean I know how to build a good Counter-Strike operation.
When talking about the development of data in Evil Geniuses, Jameson noted that they were lucky to get a "Unicorn" in Soham "valens" Chowdhury. He is a "Classically trained Tesla and Google data scientist turned Counter-Strike coach" that is currently the Director of Athletics for Counter-Strike and holds a long-term belief in data. He's been one of the longest-tenured Evil Geniuses employees since Jameson's appointment in May 2019. He has built the data operation for EG and has apparently found "best-in-class" engineers to follow him.
One of the most pertinent questions of the interview inquired about how players and coaches would be receptive to data and how that has guided player decisions. The Blueprint is a data-driven product where EG will create the best five-man lineup out of the 15-man roster they have recently signed. Jameson talks about this a bit and how it's worked so far with their League of Legends team.
It definitely varies on application. A good tactical example is “League of Legends.” We have tools that can help stimulate pick-ban probability and how we should draft. That’s not how anyone currently does pick-ban. Today, you rely on a coach’s intuition … [esports teams] are completely reliant on a coach to be informed, whether subconsciously or consciously, and to make these decisions. But now, we’re adding data, where our coaches get booklets of “Hey, here’s what they played, here’s scrim results, here’s what they’re picking and banning.” It gives more information for us to make an informed decision than just one source of information.
I would say culturally, for coaches, it can feel like it’s a slight on someone’s capabilities, right? It’s like, “Hey, our computer can do some of the stuff that you used to do.” But we’ve been able to show results and help make the coach’s life easier, where now they’re not spending 12 hours a week manually pulling information to help make those draft decisions. … But it takes a special coach to be open-minded to thinking that way.
This isn't the first time that data is superseding traditional coaching methods. Famously, the Oakland A's Billy Beane (and later the entire of Major League Baseball) used sabermetrics to guide roster decisions that were glamorized in the 2011 hit "Moneyball". Is EG operating a little bit of Moneyball in these roster decisions with the Blueprint? Potentially. So far, the League of Legends team is now more successful than it has been since the organization re-entered the space and only time will tell if it works with the much different CS:GO team. The move to data for the CS:GO team is different from how the organization approached the formation of the roster in the beginning, with the additions of Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and Timothy "Autimatic" Ta considered more for their nostalgia rather than raw performance.
The interview itself was a fantastic deepdive to understanding how Evil Geniuses plans to move forward with not only the Blueprint project, but as an overall organization. Jameson goes on to discuss how they never would have found two of their foremost League of Legends players - Joseph "Jojopyun" Pyun and Kyle "Danny" Sakamaki - if it were not for the advanced analytics that they have implemented. The organization still has a long way to go in the world of CS:GO utilizing these analytics, with only time to tell if the project will be successful.