Inero's History in Esports
The great American basketball coach Bob Knight once said, "To be as good as it can be, a team has to buy into what you as the coach are doing. They have to feel you're a part of them and they're a part of you."
Coaching in esports has long been an undefined role. Many people aren't sure what coaches are supposed to do or what they bring to an esports team. However, great coaches have become known across the world for leading their team to victory on a regular basis.
On May 27, 2017, Echo Fox announced its signing of multiple new players and staff for the upcoming NA LCS Summer Split. Among these signings was a new coach, Nick "Inero" Smith. Coach Inero would be in charge of Echo Fox's brand new 10-man roster. His task was to take the ten players and turn them into a unit where any player could play on stage and synergize with his teammates as the situation required.
Inero first became interested in esports when he was 15 and playing competitive Call of Duty with his friends. Unable to participate in traditional sports, gaming fed his love of competition.
Inero and his friends would take part in small GameBattle tournaments and matches most nights after school. Inero played competitively for most of the lifespan of Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.
He first played League of Legends in Season 2 when he and his friends were looking for some new games to play. However, Inero hated the new game because he was not very good at it. He went back to playing first-person shooters while his friends continued to play League. Later in Season 2013, Inero returned to play League and eventually fell in love with the game.
Inero began his professional career as an analyst for Dignitas.EU. A friend asked him to help in advance of the Challenger Series, and Nick took the chance. This is where the name of Inero was created. Since the team tag for Dig.EU was just "d", Nick wanted his screen name to be "d inero" as a play on the Spanish word for money.
Once the Challenger Series began, Inero joined PrideZ alongside a friend, working again, in an analyst role. When PrideZ’s roster merged with mousesports, he found his first head coaching position as he took the helm of the team for its 2015 European Challenger Series campaign.
He characterized being thrown into the head coach role, in a new setting, with a new team as a “sink or swim" situation.
Inero swam, he led his squad to a 5-5 record, securing 4th place in the Challenger Series and a spot in the playoffs. The team made it to the finals, but fell short, taking second. This earned the team a spot in the European LCS Promotion tournament.
Though the team lost it series to Gambit and did not qualify for the 2016 EU LCS Spring Split, Inero and mouseports would play in the European Challenger Series again in the spring of 2016.
The team was unable to continue their success from the previous season and placed 6th. Inero left mousesports to return to North America, where he joined the Dream Team as an assistant coach a little over a month. During his time there, he met current Echo Fox jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham.
In December 2016, Inero left for Australia to become the head coach of the Oceanic team, Tainted Minds. There were a number of disputes with management involving equipment and pay, which culminated in the organization being fined $7,000 AUD by Riot. Inero spearheaded the effort to improve conditions for his players but he was unable to bridge the divide between the players and organization. He and four members of the team left in February 2017, leaving him looking for new opportunities once again.
Near the end of the 2017 North American Challenger Series Spring Split, Inero was contacted to help Delta Fox prepare for relegation matches. He was recommended to the team by top laner Brandini based on previous work between the two.
Shortly after the team requalified, Delta Fox was restructured as the team signed a roster of well-known former professionals. During this time, Inero moved to the head coach role for Echo Fox and began working to form a cohesive ten-man roster for the summer split.
When asked about his plans for Echo Fox's League of Legends team, Inero states his goal clearly: become a strong force in the LCS. He is not happy being a middle of the pack team and believes that if we make it to playoffs it should be because we deserve to be there and not because we barely made the cut.
In Inero’s mind, the most important traits a coach can possess are strong communication and good social skills. Coaches need to be able to solve conflicts, relate ideas, and provide a healthy practice environment for the players. However, he doesn’t think coaching should be a one-way street. All coaches should acknowledge that they can learn from the players, especially in an ever-changing game like League of Legends. By staying open-minded, a coach can improve himself while encouraging open communication within his team.
His dedication to communication, open-mindedness, and advocacy for player rights and health have helped him create strong relationships with players from his former teams. One of his proudest accomplishments as a coach is that many of the players he’s coached in the past stay in touch and highly recommend Inero as a coach.
This is something that Inero values greatly because it shows the positive impact of his coaching outside of wins and losses. With the help of Echo Fox, Inero will continue to work to improve his players both in and out of the game.