Mixwell Interview: switching disciplines, updating the map pick/ban system, domestic esports and player agencies
Mixwell Interview: switching disciplines, updating the map pick/ban system, domestic esports and player agencies.
VALORANT was introduced to the esports scene quite a bit ago, and its release was powerful, significant, and attracted hundreds of thousands of users. The bright and dynamic shooter from Riot Games fully meets the established expectations and more and more people continue to fall in love with it. The project, planned as a competitive game since day one, was accepted with pleasure and almost instantly got an impressive base of players. Some came from other disciplines, while others decided to start their careers with it.
Oscar "Mixwell" Cañellas is among the first. The former professional OpTic Gaming and Cloud9 CS:GO player officially joined G2 Esports in June. And not just “joined”: the organization decided to build a team around the Spaniard, allowing him to be one of the deciders during the selection. Of course, because who else but the Catalan Oscar could be the most valuable player in VALORANT?
I scheduled a conversation with Oscar around noon. “I recently woke up, had breakfast, read the mail, just the daily routine. Usually, at such a time I’m more or less free, so I’m glad to talk,” Oscar says in a calm, low voice. At 24, Mixwell is considered one of the strongest players in the discipline. And all thanks to many years of experience in another shooter and constant training in VALORANT. “We’ll talk now, and then I’ll go train with the team.” Cañellas continues.
Arseny: First of all, I wanted to ask you how's your quarantine life going on? Are you living in Spain now?
Oscar: I'm living in Madrid. The quarantine has been rough for some people around me, but it has been better than I expected for myself, mainly because of joining G2, VALORANT, and everything. I've been really busy, so my quarantine has been fine. I'm happy. And even though it's rough times and people are having trouble, I'm a lucky person, I guess.
A: We all miss LAN events. Can you recall your last LAN? Do you miss it?
O: I miss big events for sure. Playing in big events is what I like the most by far. My last event was with Cloud9 in CS:GO, I remember there were a lot of people there watching live. Now I just want the current situation to resolve and restrictions to end so we can play tournaments with a big crowd and people cheering for us wearing team T-shirts. I like playing in front of the fans, seeing them really supporting us. What I liked the most is after the game; we spent time with the fans as well. I think it's the special thing about being a professional: traveling and meeting people and being able to play in front of a big crowd.
A: I noticed that your English is almost perfect. They say that you know four languages, is that true?
O: Yes. I speak Spanish, English, French, and Catalan, which is a language that we speak in Catalonia.
A: Was it easy to learn them, or was it a result of hard work? How did it happen?
O: For English, it was more hard work because they teach you English in school, but it's just the basics. You don't learn to speak as I'm speaking now. What I used to do when I was young, was watch everything - interviews and movies in English. I also read a lot in English as well, and that helped me improve. When I left for North America for two years, I needed to speak in English daily. So, it gets much better as well. As for French, I have a French family, and for Christmas, we used to go to France and I learned how to speak it just by listening to my family and speaking a little bit by myself. My French is not as good as my English though, I need to improve it more. And I know Catalan because I'm from a town close to Barcelona called Girona. I lived in the region where both Catalan and Spanish are spoken.
A: I know that you are now streaming on Twitch and doing videos for YouTube, but didn't you think about promoting esports in Spain, maybe helping to develop it in your country?
O: Yeah. For me, it's hard because I don't have too much time. My way of trying to improve our scene is to make Spanish content. So people get involved, and that's what I'm doing. Most of my videos are in Spanish, and I have a lot of videos that teach people how to play the game. I'm going to also try to record everything when there are live events again, so I can show the people what it is like to be a professional gamer. And I'm just going to be really open so people can follow me and try to get more people involved in VALORANT, and in esports in general. Try to be a role model, sort of say.
A: Do you have a team, or you do your YouTube content on your own?
O: I record stuff myself, and then I have an editor who works on the video editing, and I have one guy that does the thumbnail. The rest is me recording myself explaining, and all that. Then I upload the video on YouTube. So I have two people working for me.
A: So let's now take a step into the games more. Was it hard for you to leave CS:GO?
O: It was hard because of emotional reasons, I've dedicated myself to it for so many years, but at the same time, I think it was the perfect timing because I was not as motivated as I once was. I like VALORANT a lot, and I enjoy playing it. I would never switch to a game just because of possible success or company behind it. I swapped because I genuinely liked VALORANT. I think I can dedicate myself as much as I did in CS:GO or even more because that's my goal: to be better than I was. VALORANT gives me everything I want. It gives me the potential to build a community and enough content to be able to both stream and create YouTube videos. Also, it provides a new competitive scene where I can try to be the best player in the world with the best team in G2. So everything is perfect.
A: G2 wanted to build the team around you, is that right?
O: Yes! A lot of teams from around the world approached me, and G2 were the ones who offered me the opportunity to build a team around me, and I accepted.
A: What can you say about your current roster? Did you help G2 to choose your teammates?
O: I gave them a lot of names and G2 — Carlos, Jamie, and the people that work there — contacted them and talked to them. We then came to a conclusion of who we like the most. We tried out some of them and formed the team. For example, I knew Jacob "pyth" already because I played with him; I played against ardiis, and he was for me the best player in fish123; I know paTiTek from CS:GO, and I know that he has really high skill. And now we are trialing a lot of players for the last spot in the team. So it's a decision between the staff, the players that are already in the team and myself. It's a group decision. And ocelote (G2 Esports CEO — ed.) has the last word to say yes or no, but I have the ultimate responsibility in picking who he chooses from. They give me a lot of freedom in that.
A: So, your team has people from different countries. Is it hard to communicate inside?
O: No, I think I'm used to it because I lived in NA. I think it's harder for maybe paTiTek because he's from Poland and he only played in Polish teams. But ardiis lives in the UK, so he speaks English perfectly. And Jacob PYTH has played for NA teams as well. So we're used to it, except paTiTek maybe, but he will get used to it more.
A: You had Team Mixwell, right? Why didn't G2 just sign your team?
O: I think that team was just to have fun. I don't think it was as good as the team that G2 has now. There are players that are better, in my opinion, in G2. And we just played for fun in that Mixwell team.
A: You are a part of Prodigy Agency. When did they sign you? And what are the agency’s main duties?
O: I was a part of Prodigy since CS:GO before VALORANT came out. They have been helping me build my brand and trying to find teams and talk to them and, in general, covering everything that involved me. That way, I just got to focus on the game and not on ten million things outside the game. My representatives talk to organizations about the contracts, they take care of what I want in the contract and what I don't want in it. They are prepared. Agency has people that know the law and everything, so they can really change things in good terms because I don't know anything about that. They talk to potential personal sponsors and negotiate for me with them. They could take care of my social media if I wanted to. In my case, it’s not necessary because I am good at it. If you're a player who doesn't care about social media, they will take care of it for you or do content for you. They will just do everything they can to help, make your brand bigger, and take care of you basically.
A: You've almost mostly answered my next question, which was about the comparison of CS:GO scene and VALORANT scene. I mean the agencies, because, you know, PRODIGY signed a lot of VALORANT players while in CS:GO it's not a usual thing.
O: I think there will be much more. In CS:GO, players are really experienced already, and they have been through a lot of negotiations all the time, and they might have more experience in that, and they know the market; they know how much money they can get and all of that. And I think in VALORANT, there's going to be a lot of new players that have no idea about how to do things and they will need help to be able to join teams. And PRODIGY has been signing a lot of players and they are smart because if you get a lot of players now you basically control the market. And I think that that's what they want to do.
A: What do you think are the main differences between VALORANT competitive scene and other competitive shooters?
O: The biggest difference is that Riot Games takes care of the community much more. And when we have a problem, they answer us immediately, and they try to fix it. Some other games have really huge competitive scenes, but they are built by the community. It's not built by Valve or by Activision or anything. You know, in CS:GO, the competitive scene has been built by the community and Riot is making sure that they are involved in that. So for me, that's the biggest difference. In terms of players, the game is new, and competitions are smaller than in really big established games. VALORANT just came out a few months ago, and it's going to keep growing slowly. For now, it's kind of an amateur competition in my opinion.
A: Let's get to the game itself. In your opinion, how many maps should there be in a map pool?
O: More than four. That's for sure. More than four, because it's kind of a weird one where you play a best of three, and the pick and ban phase is weird. What I would like is to have six or seven maps. So your ban, ban, pick, pick, ban, ban, pick, pick, and the last map is what you will play. I think that's the best thing because right now it's kinda weird.
A: Riot will for sure release the new maps, it is just the question of time. How does VALORANT shooting feel to you?
O: For me, it's easy because I come from CS:GO, and the mechanics are pretty similar to CS:GO. It's a hard game to master if you're new. It's going to be hard, and it's going to take time to be really good at VALORANT because it's a game where you die instantly if they land a headshot. It's not like in Call of Duty or Overwatch, where you have to land a lot of bullets to hit the character. Here you die instantly, and skill is really, really important. And it's a slower-paced game. So decisions are crucial, you cannot make mistakes because you will die. For new people, VALORANT is a hard game, and a really fun game as well, and it, for me, was kind of easy to transition from CS:GO to VALORANT.
A: I myself am a noob, I tried the game, and I had two wins from two games. But I had some struggles: I died a lot, and I had miscommunications. What can you advise the newcomers to do?
O: Well, I advise them to watch people that are really good at it, but don't watch it just to watch it: try to analyze why they do certain things and try to watch content where they teach you how to play as well. When you understand the basic things, then you should launch the client and try to replicate what they do. Obviously, you will not play as good as the pros because they have been working on their skill for a long time. But when you know how the game works, you know where you're failing, and it's easier for you to fix your mistakes. People who don't get better often don't truly understand the game and can't find the reason why they fail. For me, the most important thing is to learn how the game works first and only then go and play it.
A: So basically, you're just advising to follow your YouTube channel where you have those "VALORANT tips and how to win" videos. The problem is it's in Spanish.
O: [laughs] Yeah! But there's more content in English. You can watch me play in English as well when I play tournaments. There are videos in both English and Spanish.
Won Twitch Rivals and people said that I've won because it was full of influencers.— G2 m1xwell (@Mixwell) July 12, 2020
Won Ignition Series G2 Esports Invitational and people said that there was no real teams in the event.
Won Ignition Series Vitality EU Open and I don't see you anymore, where are you?
A: I saw you asked Riot to add an aggressive agent in your Twitter. What did you mean by that?
O: I mean a duelist and a super aggressive agent, like Jett or Phoenix, someone like Reyna. I'm a very aggressive player, and I have a lot of fun playing those agents. And if they’d give us one more, it would be more fun for me. I want to have more fun!
A: Do you think the agent pool they have is balanced?
O: The game is well-balanced right now, but I think we need maybe one more support agent. I think everyone plays the same ones. They all play Cypher and Sage, and I think one more support player that can change the setup quite a bit. That would be great as well.
A: Have you seen the new dragon skin? What do you think of it?
O: I think it's really weird. I don't know if it's going to look good or not, but I'm going to buy it anyway, and I'm going to support the game. I obviously need to see it for myself. Controversial items make people want to test them and maybe even launch the game or install VALORANT if they didn’t have it before. They are good for shocking people, even if they don't like it.
A: It was nice to have you! Thanks, Oscar!
O: Thank you for the interview, thanks to WePlay! for running this tournament and I hope we win it! Actually, I think we will win. I hope you guys support me and support G2 because we're training really hard. I think we will do a great job! Thank you so much.