‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
Roles are one of the most useful tools we have in giving shorthand analysis in a limited amount of time. However one of the criticisms of using that tool is that it doesn’t give a wholistic definition of what a player brings into the game. While there is some truth in that criticism, I don’t think it’s a criticism of the tool itself as much as it is a criticism of how the common fan perceives it.
Roles in CS:GO have always had the caveat of being more general directions of what a player does in his team rather than a strict definition. For instance, if you asked any expert in CS:GO what device does for Astralis, the first thing we think of is primary AWPer. While that’s certainly the case, if you look at device on the T-side for Astralis, he uses the rifle even more than the AWP. On that side of the game I’ve seen him used as a lurker, map control player, and even entry player (depending on which iteration of Astralis and map we’re talking about).
So while calling device the AWPer is useful, it’s only his signature playstyle and attribute. The role system cannot holistically cover everything he does in the game.
Having said this, there are certain players that do perfectly fit into the role system. The best example I know of is TACO. What’s interesting about TACO is that if you look in the games, some of the actions he takes don’t correlate with what people think of as a support player. For instance, when he plays with Coldzera on B-site Mirage, Coldzera will be the one who flashes TACO in to take the aggressive entry duel in the early or mid round of the game.
However if you look at the specific attributes of what makes Coldzera a superstar player, you’ll realize that he is at his absolute best in small man situations, in passive positions, in late round scenarios, and when he has information to process. In order for Coldzera to be utilized as a superstar, every player around him has to be used like a pawn to enable his specific strengths. So in a majority of other teams, Coldzera flashing in TACO would make Coldzera the “support” player. However in MIBR, that is the move needed to enable Coldzera as a superstar player and that’s why even though TACO takes a “star” role in that action, in my mind I classify it as a support play.
One of the best articulations I’ve seen of this argument was from legendary in-game leader Puppey. In an interview with cybersport, he talked about how role and playstyle interacted in Dota2 in regards to the old [A]lliance,
“It’s basically playstyle. It’s the way he plays. His role in the game is to not take farm. There are a lot of times where you’re just a spacemaker. We all know that s4 is a spacemaker. We all know Fata is a great spacemaker. But a lot of the time, that role changes from the midlane into the offlane. Not saying that midlane was actually the potential lane for spacemakers in the first place but patches shift, the game changes, and the game evolves. And when it evolves, the role should be respectable to the lane it goes in. Basically, you need to understand what your role is. Even though he was the midlaner, theoretically he could’ve said, in his head, “I’m the 2nd position”. No, you’re actually the offlaner. Perhaps you’re playing in the midlane, but you’re position 3 regardless because someone like AdmiralBulldog is taking your farm.”
So while I personally use the role system in analyzing CS:GO teams, it must always come with the caveat that it is more of a direction than a definition of what a player does in the game.