FlipiN: to win, one must learn to lose
We got to talk to Spanish old schooler Antonio "FlipiN" Rivas del Rey after his team of youngsters got knocked out from the ESL Expo in Barcelona. He opened up about his situation, some of his history, the current x6tence squad and the values he's trying to instill in a new generation of players.
The Spanish CS:GO scene has never been one to boast about large ammounts of talent or a great pool of players. However, Antonio "FlipiN" Rivas del Rey was part of a team that made it to the top eschelons of Europe at its peak, and is now trying to help a young group of players with what he has learned through his years of experience.
Let’s start talking about how the team has prepared for the tournament.
The team has been together for about one month. The last eight or nine days had an intensive practice schedule. We usually play about four or five hours per day, but to prepare for this tournament we added a couple hours per day, to like seven or eight to try and polish our game a bit because we knew we would be facing an incredibly tough challenge.
So let’s get into the games. You mentioned earlier the boys were a bit nervous playing against Astralis, but then loosened up in the last two games, run me through it.
The first game against Astralis… as I put it on twitter they “popped our cherry.” It was the first time we played as a team on LAN…
And Aaron "nmt" Awad, from what I heard, even had his LAN cherry was popped…
Yeah, so we even had a player who had never been to a proper offline event other than some little party or neighborhood LAN somewhere. But never in national championship finals and much less in an event with top European teams like this.
So our “cherry was popped,” as a team here, and nmt had the unique experience of being able to have it happen at such a spectacular event as this one.
There was a lot of nervousness during the first match. We didn’t play our game. When that game was over, I asked for more intensity from the players, and I asked them to communicate more and play like we do at home. Truth be told, after that match the team really answered well. It didn’t show on the scores, and we played against teams that were just much better than we are, but in the server and on teamspeak there was a huge change.
We could be losing 10-0 and everybody was still keeping up the energy, high fiving their team mates, communicating, trying to play our game. At least trying. And that’s the best thing we did here, that’s why I’m proud of the team because they knew how to hold their own when confronted with a very tough situation.
Players who aren’t worth it, they have this problem, and they can do it over and over again for their whole careers. New players that may be worthy have to know how to overcome problems, and these kids have done that.
So speaking about experience. Many people have probably heard about x6tence, as the name carries a lot of weight from the past from its time as a top European team. Now the project is completely different. You’re at a later stage in your career, and what you’re trying to do is pass on your knowledge and your experience to these youngsters. Tell me a bit about how the project was born and how you selected the players that form part of it.
On one hand, because of old mistakes or failures, or because of bad management—not the organization's, but our own. I decided firstly to play with old friends and colleagues of mine with experience, even having a gaming house and competing in Europe. The gaming house ended up dividing the team, though, because even though we thought we were ready for it, once we got there we found out we weren’t. I think this has even happened to top European teams who wanted to take this step but once they got there, weren’t so sure, and maybe one player left the team, or they just decided to bootcamp for longer periods of time but not as a place to live full time as we tried. That was the beginning of x6tence in CS:GO.
After that, I decided to play with a European team to try something new. I had two Spanish players in my roster that I thought were very good, but for one reason or another, that team also failed. The club then decided not to renew the contracts with the players, who even had a salary [something uncommon in Spain], because we hadn’t been professional enough.
Finally I just thought to find proper motivation with a good work group, and I thought to bring together four young players full of excitement and motivation despite their lack of experience. I think there are more important things than experience. I could help them gain experience, or we could gain it together, but that’s the key, together.
Win or lose, we need to learn how to take a loss, and with time and consistency try to become big. That’s the objective of the team.
Tell me a little bit about the players themselves.
Miguel "Blastinho" Llombart and nmt are 18 years old, Rajohn "EasTor" Linato is 22 and Alfredo "enanoks" Alvarez is 21. They are really young, and I knew most of them from the local Spanish scene. I first contacted Blastinho, and with him we built the rest of the team. I really liked EasTor, too, and we came up with enanoks next. Finally, we decided on nmt as a fifth. It was mostly the guys who told me about him, as I didn’t really know him. As we said earlier, he has barely any LAN experience, but what they did tell me is he had 7000 hours played, was a really nice kid, and he could play the game well. So we decided to bring him on, and that’s the story about how the team came to be.
There’s Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo who has been a sort of Godfather for the Brazilian scene. Do you think you could be a similar figure to these kids, and maybe eventually in Spain?
Well, there are some big differences because what FalleN has done in Brazil is amazing, and he’s doing better every time and I could even see his team going on to win a big tournament like MIBR did back in the day. I would actually love to see that. I didn’t think about that when I created this project, but there is some hope in the fact that the future is about the youth. Older players who have been active a certain amount of time have it harder and harder. Our sell by date is closer because of age, or life, or whatever it may be. The youngsters now can play for 14 years, so these players are the future of Spain, I think.
So yeah, in a way I want to work with these youngsters and I trust these youngsters and I think that while it may take a lot of effort and dedication, in the long run it will yield much better results than any other kind of team.
The goals you have with these guys, what are they in the short and long term?
In the short term? Losing. We have to lose. Not because we’re losers or have a loser’s mentality, but because to know how to win, one must first know how to lose. So in the short term, we need to learn how to lose as a team. In the long term we need to be the best team in Spain. And at an even longer term, when we can be the best team in Spain, we can think about our next goal.
Finally, what do you think about the local scene, and what do you think it needs to grow and be able to compete at a higher level?
I think the Spanish scene has always been full of potential, we have a lot of good players, this weekend gBots showed they can do some damage, or teams like k1ck, or the old Spanish lineup of x6tence. There’s potential, the problem is the mindset. When people ask me “what makes us different than Sweden? Denmark? Or even France, which is right here next to us?” The answer is the mindset. The European mindset is about being consistent, being able to last, learn, and be motivated. The Spanish mentality is about wanting to triumph in the short term.
And if you don’t triumph in the short term, it’s seen as a failure and players are changed. Lose one tournament? Change players, dissolve teams… that’s not how it works. If you want triumphs, you have to earn them. Back in the days, when we were the old school x6tence, we lost for three years before we went out to Europe and beat teams like NiP, Team9, Asylum, and other teams from all over the world. We were a bunch of friends that just wanted to play together and we all had the same goal, to be the best. That’s how you triumph.
And do you still want to triumph?
Yes, I do, but with the youngsters.
Any last words?
I want to thank all my followers, the people who support me from home, the fans, and all the people who show up at the LANs and show their support here as well. It means a lot to see all this affection.