XTQZZZ: "Replacing shox or apEX with any other player would cause the team to malfunction."
Vitality mentor Rémy “XTQZZZ” Quoniam, in an interview with invenglobal.com, shared his opinion on the ongoing period of online matches to which the professional scene has shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the French specialist, the large number of online games has turned CS:GO into an endurance test.
The following is a raw transcript translated from French.
Throughout your career, you made so many transitions — from playing to casting to coaching. I wonder how you eased into the fundamentals of each role, and how you progressed to this point.
It was a “typical” career arc. I was an in-game leader in the French scene, but I didn’t play CS:GO all that much because I had a lot going on in my day job.
At first, I found myself coaching a bit for fun to see how it would go in a French team under the top level. Then I started playing left and right, got into streaming, and found myself commentating after doing so for fun.
How did I get there? As a caster, when I wound up casting for the top French CS:GO channel (ESL France) and commentated and analyzed gameplay n, it helped me get back into the scene. When I cast, I’m more interested in looking at strategies. Back when I played, I was not that great in terms of skill [laugh]. But when it came to analyzing gameplay, strategizing, and managing people, that was more my specialty. With that, a lot of big names in the scene get interested. That’s how you wind up being a coach.
So, as much as you had some of the prerequisites for the job, it was always a leap into the unknown...
Even though I knew that esports would eventually blow up, I didn’t put 100% into it since I was splitting time between esports and my career at the time. But casting allowed me to focus on esports fully because it allowed me to earn a living on its own.
When I was offered to coach, I had wanted to do so for years, but I didn’t think I would get an offer. As the channel that I was working in was closing, I was thinking of doing something else, maybe even quit esports long story short.
When I got into coaching, I told myself, "This time, let’s give it 3,000,000%." Before, I didn’t give it my all because I didn’t have that many openings available.
I am actually surprised to hear that you nearly quit esports. What happened?
I had just become a father, and I had to take responsibility for my child. With casting over, and without receiving income for months, it was complicated. I had to fend for my family.
For years, I was waiting to receive an offer because I was being told that I should be in a similar position. But there was a closed circle of influence at the time — an inbreeding of sorts, if you allow me to use the term. There were no roster shuffles, with players even switching to coaching a team. There was no attempt to change things. So, I thought for a time that the opportunity would never come. I didn't completely lose hope, but I didn't base my prospects on it happening since nothing had changed for two-three years.
But within that timeframe, you were able to work close to the French scene. That must have helped you scout talent.
Near the end, I was casting ESL Pro League matches. I was casting for ESL, so we were casting only the big games. Then we also broadcasted the [French] national championship.
I discovered ZywOo near the end of 2017. I was at Gamers Assembly, at the time the biggest tournament in France. While I was in the small casting booth, a “war box”, he broke out throughout the tournament. At the time, there was some noise on Twitter about it when he was barely getting started at WySix. But I also saw misutaaa at that tournament back when he was 14. The kid was already playing LANs at 13, and he was already beating people left and right.
Besides, I was a trainer at heart, and I helped young people overall. So, I took interest in young talent, like other French CS:GO figures.
Nowadays, I don't have all that much time, but I watch games in the French scene to see who's emerging, and how things are evolving, considering that — let's be honest — the French scene is currently experiencing great difficulties. That's how I operate. And if I see a promising player, I keep monitoring them, as was the case for the two young players that we recently recruited [misutaaa and Nivera].
Let’s talk about your arrival at Team Vitality. I believe the roster was already shaped when you arrived.
I arrived three months after the lineup was made. Initially, I was helping them out [remotely] for DreamHack Atlanta, and they won the tournament. I signed with Vitality one week later.
Upon your arrival, you had to see what the situation was and to diagnose anything that was amiss. What can you tell me about it?
When I arrived, I observed [how things were going.] I was surprised since I expected something more professional, more communicative, but I could see right away that things weren't going well. I set my expectations high because it was the first time that I was coaching a team at the highest level, but I expected better. Honestly, in terms of team comms, some things weren't working, and something had to give. Ultimately, I sidelined Happy to ensure that we progressed following a common line towards a common goal.
As we evolved, even though we had quite a few issues, we had to consolidate ourselves professionally. At the time, what we had was not enough, at least that's what I thought.
In retrospect, things worked quite well in 2019, but I wouldn't say that things worked as well when looking at it through the lens of 2020 in terms of results.
2020 will forever be a defining year in international CS:GO given the COVID “side note”, with all the competitions played online.
Nowadays, whether they're right or wrong, people downplay 2020 because of the nine months spent playing tournaments online. But five-six years from now, people will remember that year as the year that we couldn't go to offline tournaments.
It's hard to compare 2019 to 2020. We had good results in 2019, but people kind of buried us after ALEX left in 2020.
Let's be frank: it isn't easy, even today, to spend our lives online. A lot of teams have underperformed, sometimes because lineups didn't work out, but I also think that it's partially due to the difficulty of setting objectives for oneself and staying focused.
We're in it for tournaments and to play to a live audience, but some players are struggling to play from home. In our case, we managed to perform.
The way we saw it, we didn't have a choice: we had to do it, and we had to perform. It's a simple discourse: when we managed to follow suit, things worked out. But you have to remind yourself of that over and over.
Saying that things were going well would be an exaggeration: in the second half of the season, I can tell you that we were on the verge of blowing up. Some players nearly had burnout situations. It's very difficult to manage.
Check out the full interview here.
The next matches of Vitality will be held from March 13 to 18 as part of ESL Pro League Season 13. In the group stage of the tournament, the French team will play against FaZe, G2, mousesports, ENCE and NiP.