mixwell: "We just have to fight to see how far we can go"
After a thrilling 16-14 victory over G2, which qualified OpTic to the IEM Oakland quarterfinals, we caught up with mixwell to hear his thoughts about how his team is fairing.
OpTic will face SK in the first IEM Oakland quarterfinal at the ESL Studios in Burbank on day three of the tournament. The European mix were the last team to qualify after beating G2 in-extremis in the last match of the group stage.
Going back to the inception of the team, Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas runs us through OpTic's progression in both the season as well as this particular tournament, and where he believes the team currently stands.
With the season wrapping up in the next month or so, let's go back to the team's creation for a moment. How did that all come about?
There was a moment in which I almost went to mousesports, which is public knowledge, but there was some fishy stuff in the contracts and they were giving me deadlines. At that point, the OpTic team was going to be North American and I wanted to go back home to Europe. Eventually, they agreed to my contract demands, but by then I lost faith and backed out. At the same time, my family advised me to stay in OpTic because I had a good relationship with the organization, so I came back to the US to play with RUSH and Tarik, and look for a 5th player, but a few days before me coming back to the US they went to Cloud9.
I had a meeting with OpTic and they supported my idea of making a European team. Two days away from the Pro League inscription deadline I had to contact all the players, sign them to the team, and sign us up to the leagues. We're even getting docked some prize money for late inscriptions. It was all a bit chaotic.
With the beginning being so complicated, going out at the Minor and the EPICENTER qualifier, and not reaching a level most of the players in the team have reached before, how has that affected the team?
The Minor was our first LAN, but that's no excuse because qualifying for the Major is the most important thing. Qualifying for the Major would have been especially important for us because it would have created a stability in the team that's very important. If we want to move back to Europe, we may have to play a league below ESL Pro League, and playing a Major would have created some stability. If we have to change leagues and we don't play the Major, we could spend a whole season in no man's land. That's why qualifying for the Major would have been important in my opinion, and we couldn't do it. That affected all of us. It was definitely a hard start. Now we just have to fight to see how far we can go.
Getting into the end of the season, IEM Oakland is the last LAN for you before EPL and ECS, what were your expectations coming into it?
We didn't have any expectations as far as going home soon or going deep in the tournament. It was just about going one match at a time. We knew we could play well against anyone because we're a strange team in a way, and because we have good players, but we have to get much better tactically. If we knew how to use our players better we wouldn't have as much trouble as we do against teams that are worse than us individually. We know we can beat anyone, but we can also lose against anyone.
How has all the traveling between Europe and the US been, retrospectively?
For the organization being in the main leagues is essential, or at least really important, but I think that it has tired us out a lot. Flying back-and-forth, not having any days to practice because all the league matches bunch up every day of the week and so on. We're all quite burnt out. I think it hurt us more than it helped us, even though in the last interview I said I thought it would help us.
To get out of the group stage you had a nail-biter against G2, how did you get ready for it mentally?
We went in knowing we could win, but we also saw they were strong against FaZe while we had a terrible match against the same team. We knew we were going to have to play much better against them or we were going to get stomped. We started out pretty strong, though, and when things start out well for us we're a very different team. My feeling at the beginning, when we won a few gun rounds, was that the match was going to go our way.
If it weren't for bodyy and the great match he played, I think we could have won a lot more comfortable, maybe even 16-8 or 16-9, but bodyy is a great player and was on fire in the clutch situations. He made the match be closer than it should have been. They're a great team but this time we came out on top.
As far as tomorrow's match goes, do you have the same feeling that you can either go in and wreck or go in and crumble?
Yeah, that's one of the problems we have right now. If you look at our results it's pretty obvious. There are matches we lose 16-3 against random teams, but if things go well, we can play well. We can win 2-0 or go home looking really bad, it just depends on which way the tide goes.
Finally, how do you feel about not going to the stadium just yet? You thought you were going to Oakland after making out of the group stage...
Not playing the quarterfinals in the stadium... that's really bad! What you expect in the playoffs is to play in front of a crowd, and it really discouraged us to not be able to do that because it's been a long time since we've played for a crowd, and Counter-Strike is really different when there's a crowd in front or not. We're a bit tired of playing small LANs or behind closed doors, we really want to play in front of our fans in North America. After all, OpTic is a big name, so we have to win against SK or we won't be able to see them.