Cristian “Guerra” Guerra is the head coach for Mirage Esports’ Rainbow Six Siege team. With a background in sports management, Guerra takes a unique approach to leading the team. We had the opportunity to discuss Guerra’s approach to coaching, and his perspective on the shifting landscape of professional Rainbow Six Siege.
Steve: How did you initially get your foot in the door in esports and what drew you to Siege in the first place?
Guerra: I’ve been bouncing around from game to game. While in college I started playing semi-professional Overwatch on console. I worked my way through there and ended up finding Siege through Parker “Interro” Mackay. That was pretty cool.
It’s funny that we’re talking about this, because I was just talking about it with the players a couple of days ago, recalling one of the first times I saw Interro casting a game. In the prep phase, the defenders had the option to reinforce the walls, and instead used shotguns to punch holes. I just thought that was so fascinating at the time.
How did you transition into a coaching position?
At the time, I was coaching because when I switched from console to PC, the skills obviously didn’t translate to keyboard and mouse from the controller. Coaching was my place. The creativity Siege allows for from my position is like in no other game. There is no other game in which preparation makes this much of an impact.
What hurdles have you encountered as a coach for Mirage?
There have been a lot of hurdles. It started by essentially stripping away the Canadian roster when the merger happened. Starting a professional team from absolute scratch was in itself very difficult. From there, it was a lot about managing personalities, and not really knowing what I’m putting together.
As a new coach, it’s nice to basically build a team from scratch and more or less use the traditional sports model. A lot of the decisions are made from top-down, starting with me, Rob “Flynn” Flynn, and David “DNA” Thomas, so things are pretty smooth in that regard. However, players were more used to pretty much managing themselves. In the beginning, it took a little bit of trust from the guys to understand that they’re part of something bigger than just themselves as individuals. At the end of the day, all the decisions that we made as a team were pretty much unanimous.
You went to school for sports management. What lessons made there were you able to apply to esports?
I’ve been following traditional sports since I was very young. I’ve had an idea of how coaches should operate. The beautiful thing about esports is that I just do the job as I see fit. Up to this point, I feel that I’ve done a really good job of just applying everything I’ve learned from traditional sports to esports.
Esports coaches are usually former players, and they typically go off of anecdotes from their own experience. With me it’s a combination of anecdotal and professional methods, if that makes sense. Naturally, everything we do has to work in practice.
From the perspective of a coach, how is the esports landscape changing year over year?
For Siege specifically, I do think that the coaching and management ecosystem is starting to naturally become more experienced as more players are exiting the player circuit and entering those roles. I think it’s not only stepped up the competition but it’s also matured the ecosystem as a whole.
That’s something that people could feel threatened by. Coaches like myself don’t necessarily have that amount of player experience, but I view that as an opportunity to continue to grow. I see it as everyone evolving together through competition. Naturally, teams are going to get better and that only means my team is going to get better, too.
This interview has been edited for clarity, style, and pacing.