XTQZZZ: "Even if we won the Major, we needed to change; replacing NBK- was my decision"
Vitality's coach Rémy "XTQZZZ" Quoniam commented on the removal of Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt, the decision to bring in Richard "shox" Papillon, and the long term vision for the team in a podcast with 1pv.cs
"ALEX started leading as T & Nathan as CT. NBK was still team captain. At the time we all said 'ok, no ego problems, we're adults'. But then it happened anyway. Maybe the problems started there"
XTQZZZ stressed that nothing was decided before the Major, but that after ECS Season 7 Finals he became aware that the team surely wasn't going to stick together long-term:
"All I can say is that after ECS, almost all of my energy was to stabilize the group. More outside than inside the game. Linking humans together. But after ECS, I knew that we couldn't stay a year like that. Impossible."
Vitality's coach explained that "changes aren't bad", referring to the improvements of NRG, Liquid, and Astralis after their last roster changes, and touched on the human aspect and the life on the road, which, in his opinion, contributes to instability in teams: "I'm sure most teams would stay stable if there was only six or seven events a year".
However, things that took place during the Major made the change inevitable:
"Things happened at the Major, even if we had won, we needed to change, it was decided. About [replacing] Nathan, it was my decision. Something happened at the Major and ALL of the players didn't want to play with Nathan anymore, not one or two, all of them."
"They didn't tell me to change, I had already decided."
"To say that there are only problems with Nathan is false. There are problems with everyone. ALEX wasn't easy either. Honestly, we have to say it, in the end, it was either ALEX or Nathan."
"In relation to what happened, behaviors, what Vitality wants, and what I want, kicking Nathan was the right thing to do. I made the decision during the Major."
From XTQZZZ's point of view, issues with NBK- were tied to the balance of powers within the team. At the start, Vitality "gave NBK- the keys" and the player "sees it 'old school': staff doesn't decide, players do", which clashed with XTQZZZ role.
"I might be dumb to say this but players are here... to play. They don't have to have the power."
"There are so many things to handle. I like sports a lot and some players give their opinion, but no player decides."
"If players had the power [in Vitality], the team would have changed many times."
Touching on the rumors that Dan "apEX" Madesclaire decided to remove NBK-, Vitality's coach stated that apEX was the player that "tried to make it work the most", while also defending Cédric "RpK" Guipouy's position on the team: "no one can say that he's not doing the job".
The conversation then moved on to the addition of shox. The coach described that they needed someone who is mostly useful on the T side as a lurker, while the CT sides would be changed up no matter the player they pick up.
"Why not young players? Because honestly, shox was perfect for what I wanted."
"You're losing NBK. You need a name, someone with experience. I term of game, vision, etc. And Richard and kioShiMa at first were perfect for that. Better than any young player."
"shox will never be the leader, he will never be the captain. That's what I told him. And it's now 2 years that he doesn't want to lead anymore. He didn't impose anything. I asked him what he wanted. He wants some responsibilities, for example, in mid-rounds. Perfect for us."
"About motivation, there are ways for him to keep it, for example, in contracts and other things. He knows. Plus, HE came to us, it's also another point people don't know."
Lastly, the Frenchmen revealed Vitality's long-term vision, and that is to move to an international team due to the limitations of the French scene.
"This is the last French-speaking team at Vitality. They know it. I have no problem telling everyone, that's Vitality's vision."
"The game is getting older, the French scene too. It does not completely renew itself. Not many young people are coming up. We didn't give them enough confidence in the past either. We buried players who had potential."
"Other games are fully international but it's not like that in CS yet. I'm a little bit of a disagreer right now. Look at the top 10, there are one or two international teams max. Only FaZe was winning things at some point. mouz never really won anything."
"I don't think it's international or nothing in the future. I think it works for some countries, it won't be the same for everyone.
"That will be our trajectory. It's not a pressure for the player, but you also have to look at the truth, look what's on the table [in the French scene]."
The podcast was conducted in French and featured XTQZZZ, 1pv.fr's neL, and commentator Arthur "pm" Guillermet. Highlights translated to English as well as links to the podcast are available on 1pv.fr.