I keep thinking of an interesting quote from EliGe about Team Liquid’s future prospects that stuck with me. When asked about cadiaN’s benching and Twistzz’s supposed move to the IGL role by Shiqi Chen of esports.gg a week or so ago, he basically said that anyone can learn the role if they fully dedicate themselves to it. Thing is, I am not so sure.

Before I jump into my ramblings, here’s the full quote, in response to “What do you think about a star player moving into the IGL role?”:

“I think anyone can be an IGL if they really want to. It's just something you have to dedicate yourself to. As dev1ce said in an interview, you’ll have less individual time. Twistzz has been a strong performer for them on Liquid.

Moving into the IGL role might hurt his performance, which teams always need to consider. Being an IGL means focusing on the macro game, coming up with new strategies, and working with the coach. It could hurt him individually, but I think anyone can be an IGL if they want to.

I just think it’s a negative thing if you are flip-flopping between IGL and non-IGL. I’ve experienced that on Liquid with past rosters. You are the IGL, and now this guy is the IGL. I think If Twistzz is ready to do it long-term, he could definitely do it since he’s a smart player.”

I found this answer telling in so many ways.  Note the elements he’s honed in on: the macro game, the strats, the coach, the drop in individual numbers. The raw, cold, statistical parts of the Counter-Strike experience. Very EliGe. But it does ring a little hollow when you think about it, doesn’t it?

These are far from the only attributes when it comes to leadership. Especially when it comes to leading – gasp – gamers. Where’s the teambuilding, the bonding, the adjustments made to accommodate for the individuals in the squad, the poise under fire and the inspiration when things go wrong in the game?

Much has been made of “silent leadership” as of late, the clarion call of introverted people in higher positions, but even with all my sympathies for the concept, I can’t see it work in a high-pressure, results-oriented, and most importantly, zero-sum environment like esports.

That isn’t to say that an inspirational loudmouth, all brawn and no brain, will make for a good leader – and especially not one that would survive the test of time. In some ways, it feels like an overcorrection, a huge swing of the pendulum, that we’re discussing this in such a reductive way: many years ago, early in the Global Offensive life cycle, it was all about momentum shifts, inspiring moments, huge solo plays to galvanize the squad, the timeouts that would decide everything. Then, as the game became more cerebral, and the stratbooks ever deeper, the scene more professionalized, we’re now only focusing on this aspect of leadership – symbolized by this EliGe quote, the way many others also see the game right now.

Making the most out of a boot camp involves just as much of a social aspect as a training regimen, and I sometimes wonder, looking at the walking catastrophes of NiP and Falcons, if personality profiles truly play a part when deciding to construct a roster. Just look at Brollan – going from strength to strength and repeatedly proving me wrong – and how he seems like an entirely different person on MOUZ than he was on Fnatic or NiP.

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The Hegelian dialectic. Perhaps we will grow to value leadership’s rawer elements again – and, in the process, give more time and breathing room to those able to produce it. Because even though Team Liquid’s roster turned out to be a complete dud, rebuilding around the star player rather than the IGL still feels like the wrong decision.

Perhaps you could say that anyone can become a mediocre IGL if they are dedicated enough to the cause. Grind, grind, grind your way to HooXidom. Which is fair enough – and in a market where leaders are few and far between, that can also take you quite far. Just not to the highest of highs of the esports summit.