G2 analyst enkay J on moneyball-ing CS:GO: 'I think that certain stats could actually help to find the most suitable role/position for each player'

by Dennis Gonzales May 30 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of DreamHack

Niclas "enkay J" Krumhorn is a former pro turned analyst, now with G2 Esports, and was part of the formation of their French super team. Ahead of G2's games at the ESL Pro League Season 5 LAN Final in Dallas, Texas, enkay J spoke to theScore esports about his relatively new career as an analyst and the idea of applying a moneyball system to CS:GO.

Let’s talk a bit about your time since joining G2 Esports. There was a period early on where G2 looked pretty shaky. How did you try to alleviate this as the team’s analyst?

In the first couple of weeks after the team was formed, we did indeed struggle quite a lot, but everyone within the team knew that it was only a matter of time until things start to click. Therefore I was not focusing on doing any sort of anti-strats in the beginning, but rather helping my teammates to minimize their individual mistakes, as well as pointing out flaws within certain strategies.

G2 is one of the few teams using both a coach and an analyst right now. Most teams only have a general coach, while some don’t even have a dedicated coach or use their manager as one. Do you believe CS:GO is at a point where support staff (coach, analyst, psychologist) are a big key to success?

I personally believe that any sort of staff, be it coach, analyst or psychologist can be a pivotal part of a team’s success. If you look at the size of current prize pools at most events, and how professional everything has gotten, I definitely think that the staff around the team is of vital importance. But at the end of the day it comes down to how the staff and the players work together as a unit.

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For teams that don’t have an analyst, or perhaps aren’t interested in one, what would you say to convince them otherwise? What impact does an analyst have on a team?

There are not many professional players out there that really enjoy watching demos to prepare for an official league match or even prepare for an entire tournament. This should already be enough to actually convince them to outsource this task to an analyst. An analyst can save you so much time that you as a player could invest in a different way to improve your game.

You wouldn’t need to watch three to four demos of a team to see certain tendencies of them on a specific map, you could instead focus on “staying in shape,” as well as having more free time outside of the game. This makes the players’ jobs a lot easier and they’ll most likely perform better as they should, in theory, have more time to make sure that they stay on top of their game.

Do you interact much with the players in your work, or do you mainly work through Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux and captain Richard "shox" Papillon? How scary is SmithZz?

I am working with the players every day, as I am watching every single practice and also teaching them a thing or two on all sorts of aim maps. If I see mistakes being done numerous times during practice or in an official match, I’ll directly talk to the player.

But other than that, most of my suggestions go directly to Lord SmithZz and he’ll decide what to do with them. To be honest, I am happy that I am not a player, because SmithZz is scary as f--k. The constant fear of getting slapped by him after doing a mistake or being too greedy would eat me alive.

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How does your time with G2 compare to being an analyst with Team EnVyUs? Or further back when you first started out as a coach with mousesports?

When I first started out as a coach for mousesports, I just transitioned from being a player myself, so everything was very new for me. Not only my role, but also my teammates and the organization. And it was definitely not easy for me, because I was being downgraded to an analyst after just two events: Acer Predator Masters (1st) and IEM Katowice (7th-8th).

Back then I was also only preparing memos for official matches and tournaments for the team, not watching their daily practice. Looking back now, I have to admit that I would have probably changed my approach.

When I was at Team EnVyUs I started watching their daily practice and created a database, including statistics about the players’ behavior. I was still doing my memos, but they still included too much information, and the language barrier obviously didn’t make it easier.

Now in G2, I work a lot closer with every single player on the information I need to provide them with, furthermore I’ve extended my database from just individual statistics, to team statistics.

I’ve also started learning French again, but unfortunately this hasn’t been very successful as I do not have a lot of time and I think they should rather learn German instead!

How much do you value stats such as ones from from HLTV (player rating or the deeper stats like DPR)? Do you believe CS:GO is a game that can be moneyball-ed?

I remember watching moneyball with my brother last year and he asked me if this was something that I could consider implementing in my team.

I think that certain stats could actually help to find the most suitable role/position for each player. But more importantly, these statistics can help you show a player where his strengths and weaknesses are and then you can work more effectively tackling these weaknesses.

Sure, players will most likely know themselves because they are professionals, but it’s something else if you hear it from “just an analyst” or if you actually have numbers backing this up, because numbers don’t lie.

G2 have qualified for the EPL Finals, Cologne 2017 and are looking good for the ECS Finals. How do you prepare for so many events in a row? Is it too much ahead of the Krakow Major?

Well it’s going to be a tough period for the team, as they will mostly only have two to three days in between events and therefore their preparation is going to take a toll.

For me personally it isn’t that bad, as I started preparing for most of the top 25 teams a couple of months ago. Preparing 5-6 maps for each team took some time, but now I just need to compare my memos with recent demos and keep them updated, as most teams won’t have time to completely change their own game anyways.

Furthermore, the majority of teams that are attending the next couple of events are nearly identical, with some exceptions.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.