Maniac: "It's been a hard week for me"
Right before the French Regional Finals we sat down with Maniac, player of the newly returned LDLC, and spoke to him about more than just the upcoming event in Katowice. But the team went through some controversial changes, with the two players from Clan-Mystik joining, leaving the big favorite in France with a new lineup right before the deciding matches. We asked him for his side of the story.
ESL: Only weeks away from Katowice you rejoined with the old core of your former teams. How did this step build up and do you think the timing is still fine to bring your best game to Katowice?

Mathieu 'Maniac' Quiquerez: Basically, everything started up with Recursive announcing that they could not support our former team for the rest of the season. From then, we had discussions with many organisations and this is how we got to talk with LDLC again. Last week, Marty (the manager of Team-LDLC) came to me and made me an offer that I wasn't expecting at all. To make it simple, LDLC were ready to invest a lot on the CS:GO scene, they had the financial possibility and the desire to build up a professional team with salaries, legal contracts and everything you could imagine. The only issue was that the line-up had to contain the former core Happy, apEX and myself. To be honest I almost fell off my chair when I heard about this offer. Until then I hadn't really imagined changing anything in my team because I had the feeling that we could do really well together, but I have to admit that this proposition was everything a player could ever dream about. So I called both apEX and Happy and we had a serious discussion about this and we came to the fact that we could not let this opportunity pass us by. So we started thinking about the possible line-up. Uzzziii was directly designed as the 4th player. He is a very solid and smart CT player and he's a fearless T player, which is even more rare. Also he used to play with Happy in almost all CT positions so the decision was pretty easy. Then we had to decide which of the KennyS/KQLY sniper we would ask to play with us. Although Kenny is a fantastic and really impressive sniper, we all agreed on the fact that he's to immature for a team that had to be 100% "professional". This word doesn't only mean that you'll get salaries and contracts, this is mostly about being professional as a player in one's attitudes during the training sessions, the officials, the LANs, etc. That's why we went to KQLY who is also a very great sniper. His efficiency is unbelievable. He might be less spectacular than Kenny but he really does the job he's supposed to and that's what you want your AWPer to do. This is obviously to early to tell, but I think this was the right call for us.

Now about Katowice, we have roughly five weeks to go until this gigantic event. Ofcourse this is not optimal but I have the feeling that this is enough for us to prepare the basics on 3 or 4 out of 5 maps. Regardless of the tactics you use in a game, I think that a team can beat most of the other teams just with close to perfect communication, cold blood and some important mechanics like not losing to ecos for example. We will obviously do our best to achieve the greatest result possible but this event will be really important as a first test to see how the team reacts to difficult situations and if we are able to really "create a team" rather than just being five people playing together. I'm strongly looking forward to this event.

ESL: What are the team's focus points while practicing, what s practicing like, with such a prestigious event just around the corner?

Maniac: Well with the fantastic opportunity that LDLC gave us and the EMS Katowice come also great responsibilities. As I said earlier, now we have no excuse not to be purely professional in all the situations. In the practices you have to be focused from Round 1 to Round 30. Even-tho you are winning easily like 7 to 0 you have to force yourself to be on top of your concentration until the very ending round. That is at least my vision of the pro teams. If you want your team to be able to play its A-Game during some important final matches, you have to practice everyday with the same amount of focus. To be honest I try to play every training like an official game. You could almost say that you "train yourself to be 100% focus" on the long run. Because LAN's are long lasting events that take a lot of psychological energy and if you are not trained enough, you might waste some rounds or even some games. To resume I'd say that we mainly focus on our concentration, on our communication (to get it as clear as possible) and on our basics. With the time we're going to prepare some particular strategies but that's not our principal concern for the moment.

ESL: The teams you formed the new LDLC from, won ESWC as well as placed top 8 at DHW 2013. Do you think your new team will top this?

Maniac: Even-tho those performances were really impressive, especially Clan-Mystik winning ESWC, I have to admit that i'm not mainly interested in those one-shot results. I am absolutely not saying that CM nor Recursive couldn't have performed well in the future. I'm just saying that the most difficult part of the path was forthcoming for the both teams. I think that it is really easier to surprise people by winning an event or some important matches in an astonishing fashion rather than keeping yourself in the top ranking for the whole season. For example, that is mainly why I admire what VERYGAMES have achieved (now Titans). Maybe they didn't finish at the first place of some events but they were strong enough to achieve impressive results throughout the year. In the end I don't really know if my team will achieve such incredible performances in the short run. But what is really important to me is that we find a way to always get better and better and be able to maintain us in the top tier teams. That's what a professional team is supposed to do in my point of view.

Maniac playing for LDLC at EMS Summer 2013 (More photos of IEM Katowice on Flickr.com)

ESL: In the announcement apEX said your team is taking a big step towards professionalism. What are your goals for 2014?

Maniac: As I see things at the moment, three teams are a step ahead in terms of the stability of their results: NiP, Titans and fnatic. Of course other teams achieved sick performances like iBP, coL, überGeeks or even LGB. But for the moment they didn't really confirm it. Our first objective will be to climb up to this top seed teams level and then, most important, to try and stay at this level for the whole season. I honestly think we have what it takes to get to this level but I don't know yet if we will be able to reach the stability of those three teams I mentioned earlier. In my opinion, you can compare the CS:GO season with Tennis. You have some major tournaments in the season like DreamHack Summer & Winter, CPH Games, ESWC etc. And if you want to be considered as a top team, you have to perform really good at each of these tournaments. Other smaller competitions are more like a way to keep yourself in shape and practice new strategies and correct the mistakes you've seen in the "Grand Chelem" games. In the end we will try to focus on those very big competitions and try to benefit from smaller ones to get the best preparation possible.

ESL: Back in August you disbanded due to a lack of motivation and some bad results. Did you talk about those problems from the past before restarting this project?

Maniac: Indeed one of the first topic was that the core of the team had gone through the crashing of LDLC back then. Our main issue was the lack of motivation after DreamHack Summer which basically led us to the EMS disaster. As I already said we all kind of "betrayed" some friends to create this team and this has to be our everyday reminder that we have to be on 100% each and every time we play. The other real problem was that Kenny's behavior was really impracticable and he could go from the perfect teammate to the childish flames in a blink of an eye. Sf, Happy and I were able to keep calm most of the time even when the rage mode was on, but apEX had a hard time not reacting to this. This led to many skirmishes during the training sessions and it the end it was to much for me (and my former teammates). For the moment this kind of problem is not occurring in the team because our personalities are more calm in general. Although it is way to soon for strict conclusion I think we won't encounter such problems in the future. This will help us create a more stable basis to work on.

ESL: Would you like to comment on what kennyS said about the motivation behind joining LDLC?

Maniac: I'm not really sure about what he said about us. His deception was totally justified but I think he went self-destructive when he slipped into the disrespectful attitude towards Uzzziii for example. But again I don't know how I would have reacted in his position so I will try not to judge him. Anyway saying that we didn't listen to the call of money would be a lie. Of course the idea of getting paid to play had a role in our decision. But more important than that, I saw this offer as an opportunity to finally only focus on our game and not have to worry about e.G. "Will we go to this LAN ?" "Will our organisation drop us next week?" "Can we trust them?". We now have the possibility to play in a totally reliable environment and we can get all our concentration on how to play better and better. Plus we all know that the management behind this project is fully capable and willing to take care of us. In my opinion this is what every player is hoping for.

ESL: You now skip the French Finals which the former Clan-Mystik team qualified for. Which team would you consider to make it to the EU Finals from there?

Maniac: For the European Online Finals I think Clan-Mystik will obviously qualify. Of course there are other good teams like Mistral or LeetGamers but I definitely think they can't compete with CM at the moment. Eventho they recently added two players and they won't be ready to play their top game. They have so good individuals that they won't risk anything in this qualifier. For the 6 final offline slots I'd say Clan-Mystik, Na'Vi, ReasonGaming, n!faculty and I'll leave the 2 final slots to the will of faith!

Maniac and the former LDLC (More photos of IEM Katowice on Flickr.com)

ESL: With Titan, ex-Recursive and Clan-Mystik, three French teams would have been in the position to win an international event. Why is leaving France with only two top teams the better option?

Maniac: First of all let's not be hypocrite. The original idea of this decision wasn't really about "bringing the France as a whole better CS:GO nation". Now I think that there's a paradox in the way most of the people think about Counter-Strike. If you randomly ask some people the biggest part will probably hope for a professionalization of this activity because this is what we get excited for, this is the link between us all, the passion about this game. The problem is that people also want the players to be models in terms of moral and human relations. If you take a look at other professional sports like Football, you can see that these two desires often collide and that in most cases the professional dimension gets the better of it. Even-tho many people think we did not care about our former teammates and describe us as immoral players, I have to repeat that this decision was really hard for me but I don't regret it because it is a step forward for us and for Counter-Strike in the meaning that another organisation is willing to invest much on the game. That is basically the energy this scene needs to grow again and again. This could be a false rumor but I have heard that Clan-Mystik could receive some salaries from now on. If it is the case, one could see it as going from two amateur teams to two professional teams, which is obviously a progression for the french scene. I have to highlight the fact that I am NOT using this as an excuse for our decision. I totally assume what we did and this has no influence on the fact that this was a morally critic-able move. But in the end, maybe in some weeks or months, we will all realize that this was for the best, for us and for the global french scene. This is my most profound hope.

ESL: NiP, Fnatic or Titan. Which team would you like to meet on your way to the Grand Final and why?

Maniac: If we have to meet NiP or Titan, I hope it will not be in the very Grand Final because they are the more experienced players and teams and they for sure will know how to manage the pressure of the situation. In this case I'm pretty sure we would be the ones playing "worst" than normally because we are not really used to those situations. We will have to learn it the hard way I guess. But for the Grand Final I'd say fnatic would be the best enemy. Obviously they are a really threatening team and have some monstrous individuals but I feel they might be the shaking ones playing against an underdog like us. I already met them (EPSILON & fnatic) twice at Dreamhack Summer and Winter and lost twice 2 to 1 so I hope we will get the occasion to stop this dark series. Plus they are really nice guys and it’s always a pleasure to play against them.

ESL: Is Katowice the right place to contest Titan for the French throne in CS:GO?

Maniac: Now that we are in the Challenger zone, every occasion might be the good one to defy Titan because as I said the pressure will be on our enemies. We would have nothing to lose facing them because we have the future forthcoming and we are still at the very beginning of our adventure. Although Katowice will definitely not be the best place because of the non-optimal preparation for this event. We might surprise them there because I see a lot of potential in the practices for the moment but they are still a step ahead in my humble opinion. Maybe after five weeks of hard training I'll feel another way. If we keep playing with this fully professional attitude we might be able to quickly reach the very top level. It is absolutely up to us.

Finals words by Maniac
First of all thank you for this interview. I really appreciated having the opportunity to clear things up and reveal my feelings to the whole community. It's been a hard week for me and I have to admit that I am personally affected by the negativity I feel around us. Of course I knew the risks of starting some project in those conditions and I take the responsibility for it.Now we have to get through this and hopefully we'll be stronger. Also many thanks to LDLC.com, Cooler Master and CM Storm for their support and their confidence. Thanks to my teammates for giving everything for the team. I sincerely hope we'll keep doing this way. In the end big shout out to the community that keeps this game alive. Your feelings are fully justified and all I can do is promise you all that we'll do whatever it takes to make this decision worth it. It's time to work. No more excuses.

EMS One Katowice: The next steps

Tonight the first Regional Finals in France and Nordic kick off. The last qualifiers in CIS and Poland will also be taking place. On Monday we will already be back with the Regional Finals in the UK and Poland. Stay up to date with our ongoing coverage and be well prepared for the biggest CS:GO tournament in 2014!

Soodi, Friday, 07/02/14 18:19
EMS One Katowice: All Qualifiers
EMS One Katowice: Event page
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