XTQZZZ: "We need to stabilise in the top 10 and rebuild this project because a big part of it was destroyed when ALEX left"

HLTV.org sat down with Vitality coach Rémy "⁠XTQZZZ⁠" Quoniam to learn about the French team's new direction following the loss of in-game leader Alex "⁠ALEX⁠" McMeekin, and the signing 17-year-old Kévin "⁠misutaaa⁠" Rabier.

Vitality got off to a rocky start to 2020 as they were relegated to the BLAST Premier Spring Series Showdown after losses to Complexity and Natus Vincere in the group stage in London, and finished 9th-12th at IEM Katowice, where they were defeated by Astralis and FaZe.

Vitality's foundations were then rocked as ALEX announced he was stepping down from the team, leaving a void in a position that the French scene has had a tough time filling in recent years. The British tactician, who had guided the team to victory at cs_summit 4, ECS Season 7 Finals and EPICENTER 2019, cited personal struggles with the intense travel schedule of a professional Counter-Strike player.

Vitality hope to rebuild their foundations with misutaaa, says XTQZZZ

Early reports mentioned Ali "⁠hAdji⁠" Haïnouss as the French squad's first option to fill the empty spot on the roster, but contract negotiations stalled and it was finally misutaaa who joined Vitality. The 17-year-old played his first ESL Pro League match on Monday in a 2-0 victory over GODSENT, ending the series with a 1.23 rating.

In his first-ever interview with HLTV.org, XTQZZZ goes into how Vitality and misutaaa's family were able to come to terms to make the signing happen, what the youngster's fate could mean for the hopes of other French up-and-comers fighting to make their way up the ranks, or the gamble that is making Dan "⁠apEX⁠" Madesclaire the team's in-game leader, among other topics surrounding Vitality's recent roster change.

How long had you been following misutaaa? Were you thinking about him before ALEX’s departure?

Vitality had been following misutaaa for quite some time and the organization was almost at the point of signing him as an "ambassador" to keep him close. This was was, of course, hastened by ALEX’s departure.

The first reports pointed to hAdji as a possible replacement for ALEX. Is that true? Why did you go with misutaaa in the end?

Yes, it’s true, but complications in the negotiations made the hAdji move impossible and we had to fall back on one of our other plans. misutaaa was a no-go because of his studies, but after negotiations for hAdji stagnated, we reached out to his family to see if we could find a way to reconcile his studies and his professional career. We reached a consensus and the organization and the player’s family have executed the plan, although it will demand a lot of responsibility both on the player's side as well as from the organization’s staff towards his family.

For people outside of France who don’t know misutaaa, could you tell everyone a little bit about him, his style of play, and why you think he’s the best option for Vitality?

Kévin [misutaaa] has already played a lot of LAN events in France despite being so young and he was the best option for us in the current context because all players are "locked". As far as his play, he has a tendency to anchor on the CT side although he likes to change it up. Nothing is defined for him on the T side as he still has everything to discover. In CS you have to know how to do everything, and our scene has often been hindered by all this talk of roles. You can have a preference, sure, but in a match you’re always going to find moments when you’re in the pack, or you're lurking, or you’re supporting your teammates.

apEX wrote in a Twitlonger post that "misutaa deserves his spot, we are going to try to give him the best conditions to perform and we will not use him the wrong way as we did in the past with a few other players." Could you develop a bit on the subject?

apEX is referencing the past, when up-and-coming players were used the wrong way. This ties into what I was just talking about earlier. For a long time, players were “used” in just one role and the teams that signed these up-and-coming players put them into roles that weren’t necessarily what was good for them. The advantage we have here is that misutaaa is young and he wants to learn everything, so in time we’ll see where he performs at his best and where we can make him better.

Did you think about signing an IGL? Were there other options that the public wasn't aware of?

No, we didn’t think about an IGL since nobody was free and there really aren’t many options to consider at this level in France.

apEX talked about the lack of leaders in France and said that some of the older IGLs fell out of the meta (including shox). Do you think that’s a problem at the moment?

It’s our biggest problem, yes, which is why we tried to bring one up in ALEX when he started to prove himself with LDLC.

Could shox have become the team’s IGL? Did you have that conversation before choosing apEX?

No, we didn’t have that conversation, I just asked apEX to become the IGL. It was, at the time, the best option. shox has other responsibilities in this team, as he has always liked, but it’s important that he stays away from this part of the game. He needs responsibility, but not the weight of the team on his shoulders. We’ve had a lot of talks about how he has to operate for the good of the team and for his own good.

Some pundits have mentioned that perhaps it would be good for Vitality to go international, like G2 have, in the absence of experienced high-level French-speaking players. Do you think Vitality could go that way in the future?

First of all, with everything that is going on, we couldn’t do that. We had roster deadlines for ESL Pro League and taking an international player would have been catastrophic when looking at group cohesion. A new player’s integration would have been very complicated. It can be done, but it will require time, and that’s exactly what we didn’t have. If we ever want to do something like that it has to be a huge move, not something minimal, and we were all in agreeance about that.

Have you talked to apEX about how he’s going to adapt to his new role? What type of leader he’s going to be and how will he learn? How can you help him?

Yeah, we’ve talked a lot about all of the mistakes we’ve made over the past year. The way I’m going to help him is pretty simple. We usually have this problem in France when talking about leadership. You’re supposed to lead the team depending on how you practice and how the team is performing collectively and individually, but most of the time it is the opposite that occurs: the leader sees only one way of doing things, his way, and all of a sudden it becomes hard for him to make his teammates perform as they all have different points of view. And that’s why IGLs are usually singled out. There’s a certain confusion surrounding being a captain and having "power". apEX has to be aware of this, and that’s what MaT and I are going to be looking out for. To be able to rally a team and lead is not just "doing whatever I want without any discussion". It’s very easy to say this now, but it’s going to be tedious ongoing work. If we can achieve that, that’s when we will get the most cohesion.

How long did you have to decide what to do after ALEX said he wanted to leave the team? What other scenarios did you have prepared other than misutaaa?

We had three days to choose, so frankly not an abundance of scenarios.

Did you consider playing with ALEX for a while, as he proposed, before signing someone? Why didn’t you do it?

No, I didn’t consider that. We didn’t do it because after ESL Pro League you have to get ready for the Major, then for BLAST Showdown, DreamHack Masters, etc., and we wouldn’t have had time to prepare for those events, although it wasn’t ideal to change now, either. With what’s happening with the coronavirus, preparation times are going to change, as we’re sadly going to see some tournaments get cancelled, but of course nobody can foresee what’s going to happen.

apEX had said the future of French CS with ALEX, ZywOo and yourself looked bright. Now that ALEX is no longer in the mix, do you think it changes anything?

I don’t know anything about that, but I want to point out that there are youngsters coming up in France now, misutaaa being the pillar, and we need to do good by him for all of them. If he succeeds with us that will encourage other up-and-comers in the scene to keep fighting.

Vitality had a rough start to 2020 at BLAST Premier and IEM Katowice. That situation was not made any easier by a roster change. How are you going to tackle the upcoming matches?

I’m not sure how it’s going to be in terms of going to events with all that’s going on. Everyone is in the dark. What we’re trying to do right now is build our new roster up and play good CS, the rest is out of our control. We’ve of course lowered our goals, but we need to stabilise in the top 10 and rebuild this project because a big part of it was destroyed when ALEX left. We need to rebuild our foundation.

XTQZZZ is confident that apEX will overcome his slump in form

apEX said his greatest challenge was to get his individual form back after six “terrible” months. Do you think becoming an IGL while trying to improve his personal performances could be too much for him to handle?

Honestly, it’s a gamble. We’re gambling on the future, which is something that happens every time you make a transfer. The difference now is that you usually think about the risk before you make the change. We didn’t have much time, so we did the best we could and I do think that apEX can make it. It will do him good to think about the team and not focus only on stats. Plus, he has always liked the strategic side, focusing on teamplay and human relationships. There are a lot of things in this role that line up with what he loves and I hope it will give him some freedom.

Vitality has several young stars across multiple games. Is there a method to help them flourish?

There’s regular scouting and tracking of youngsters. Vitality really cares about the pool of young players we have in France and in the future, the goal for them is to enlarge this pool outside of our borders. As far as the method goes, they really want the staff in different games to give young players a professional education and prepare them for their job (knowing the rules, how to act outside of the server, dealing with the media, etc.).

MaT was recently announced as the team’s assistant coach. What’s his exact role in the team?

He basically does the same things that a coach does. He works on our demos and those of our opponents, works on the human aspects of the team and helps make sure that there’s good group cohesion. We’ve known each other for a while now and we’ve always been in conversation about what's good for a team and what's not. It’s important that we’re always fresh, so splitting responsibilities helps us stay focused and at the same time it lets us spread out our work.

You have a performance staff with former professional players and coaches coming from tennis and poker. How do they work with the CS:GO squad?

They manage everything outside of the game. It used to be that I had to manage a bunch of things that had nothing to do with CS. This was because there wasn’t a link between the team and the organization when it came to things like performance metrics, or image and marketing, because Vitality has a lot of teams in a lot of games, so Vitality brought in people to act as links between the different parts of the organization.

As far as the team goes, they work with a mental coach, who teaches them to be disciplined and responsible, and the performance staff is also here to share their experience competing at a high level. We often forget that no CS player has been prepared for the life of a professional, including the sacrifices they have to make. We see the advantages of being a professional, but it’s a huge change for every player and they need some time to adapt.

France Kévin 'misutaaa' Rabier
Kévin 'misutaaa' Rabier
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
France Ali 'hAdji' Haïnouss
Ali 'hAdji' Haïnouss
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
United Kingdom Alex 'ALEX' McMeekin
Alex 'ALEX' McMeekin
No team
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
France Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Good luck staying top20
2020-03-18 14:02
s1mple | 
Europe Sam2k
fluke team back to tier 3 with bot zywh0
2020-03-18 14:02
7 replies
Portugal joaosenra
s(2)mple kkkk
2020-03-18 14:42
nice bait
2020-03-18 14:42
s0mple losing to north lul
2020-03-18 15:14
Do you watch csgo or do you just hoover around HLTV to spread your opinion about S1mple and hate on everyrhing/everyone else?
2020-03-18 16:24
2020-03-18 19:04
2020-03-18 14:02
12 replies
11 replies
Do you reply that to everyone? ;D
2020-03-18 15:13
9 replies
only to stupid Navi fans spitting on a clever news
2020-03-18 15:15
8 replies
Ok, keep going :)
2020-03-18 15:25
Ur Boys from vitality are not gonna make it past group stages in any tournament. Just wait till they clash with tier 1 team with this fool apex igling
2020-03-18 16:07
6 replies
my boys ?
2020-03-18 17:21
3 replies
2020-03-18 18:52
2 replies
okay dude you must be infected
2020-03-18 18:59
1 reply
you the type of guy with an 80 year old immune system
2020-03-18 23:21
Says the fan of Niko IGL bad try
2020-03-18 18:12
1 reply
for me he is still brutal fragger who calls the shots like he plays on fpl.
2020-03-18 20:11
u mad?
2020-03-18 15:44
2020-03-18 14:04
Indonesia Journeast
That's decline of Vitality
2020-03-18 14:07
Vitality tier 11 soon
2020-03-18 14:09
4 replies
everything checks out
2020-03-18 14:16
2 replies
nice name ))
2020-03-18 15:14
+1 best name
2020-03-21 06:36
disband pls LOL
2020-03-18 14:15
ALEX team destroyer confirmed
2020-03-18 14:19
****"We need to stabilise in the top 10 and rebuild this project because a big part of it was destroyed when ALEX was kicked"
2020-03-18 14:21
10 replies
France Barburo
A whole ITW saying the departure of Alex is a disaster but you still thinking it's a kick
2020-03-18 15:55
9 replies
expected from romano
2020-03-18 21:51
of course it was a kick. Do you think they would admit that they kicked him??? ofc not
2020-03-19 09:39
7 replies
France Barburo
First of all why would they kick their most important player the day of the deadline of EPL roster lock you mongoloïd and second why Alex would he lie about it ?
2020-03-19 14:07
6 replies
ALEX lied because he is a nice guy and they kick him because of internal power struggle. Pro players don't think as rationally as you might believe.
2020-03-19 17:30
5 replies
France Barburo
Didnt know you were in the team. Nice to have a romanian insader for vitality.
2020-03-19 18:03
4 replies
if you have insider information i'm open to hearing it.
2020-03-19 18:18
3 replies
France Barburo
Would you believe him more thant every member of vitality and Alex ? Nel did say the same thing.
2020-03-19 18:19
2 replies
I believe it's easier to lie then to speak honestly
2020-03-19 18:20
1 reply
France Barburo
So you made up an argument in your head when all the clues and all the poeple say the opposite ? The coach said himself, he knows since month than Alex wanted to leave.
2020-03-19 18:23
Poland Hanse
"When we lefted Alex"*
2020-03-18 14:22
1 reply
2020-03-21 06:37
for many years french scene in csgo and none of em didnt realize they had snake in their team smh
2020-03-18 14:32
3 replies
alex didnt leave because he was a snake
2020-03-18 16:39
2 replies
idk what u talking about men. alex leave maybe because he know its presence so he decide to leave to maintain his reputation
2020-03-18 17:02
1 reply
he left because he couldn't keep up with the travels, finding a balance with his personal life it has been explained many times
2020-03-18 18:09
NIce interview but -shox -apEX after the major please, dead players, old dinosaurs who've been here since the start of the game but have fallen so far behind now.
2020-03-18 14:33
2 replies
Fr Cs getting held back by boomers, I agree
2020-03-18 21:05
3 days to decide, damn! Still, Alex leaving is a really good opportunity for Vitality to improve. Misutaaa looks impressive so far, hopefully apEX can adapt to his new role well.
2020-03-18 14:39
why is there only stupid Navi or S0mple fan trashtalking this news when it's actually clever af
2020-03-18 14:41
8 replies
What else would you expect from NAVI or s1mple fans? Still crying because Zywoo top1 2019.
2020-03-18 15:10
7 replies
I swear they are the most idiot fans around. I see them like fucking Gollum
2020-03-18 15:14
5 replies
MIBR and Faze fans are quite amazing as well.
2020-03-18 15:16
4 replies
MIBR fans are in hiding right now but yes Faze fans are generally 13 and toxic af
2020-03-18 18:15
3 replies
Australia Cheesle2
Furia fans are worse than Mibr fans.
2020-03-19 03:55
2 replies
Hard disagree, Furia fans dont lean on 2 majors from 3 years ago
2020-03-19 13:22
1 reply
Australia Cheesle2
i guess i haven't experienced their wrath because Mibr has never beat my team :P
2020-03-20 09:57
2020-03-18 15:24
"the performance staff is also here to share their experience competing at a high level. We often forget that no CS player has been prepared for the life of a professional, including the sacrifices they have to make" Obviously Alex skipped that class. GL to them ! Misutaa has a lot of potential and apEX is smart. If shox comes back to his level they'll be very strong.
2020-03-18 14:46
4 replies
Vitality need to kick shox. IMO, one of the worst transfers in CS:GO history.
2020-03-18 15:06
1 reply
yes there is no place for 2 bots shox and apex..but shox might play better now who know ..he was maybe not well used by alex
2020-03-18 20:32
apex is smart lol first time i hear that, can t even remember last time he won a clutch .. but i can remember many of his retards moves
2020-03-18 20:34
1 reply
Rekt Frenchies
2020-03-18 21:03
2020-03-18 14:54
Europe MaHoTei
2020-03-18 15:12
a big part of it was destroyed when shox joined* & it will never be repaired ever as long as this guy will be here
2020-03-18 15:15
3 replies
Ehem won Epicenter with shox
2020-03-18 18:14
2 replies
shox or me would have been the same.. zywoo made all the work
2020-03-18 21:48
1 reply
keep talking
2020-03-18 22:27
Thanks for the interview!
2020-03-18 15:15
Let's go Vitality!
2020-03-18 15:21
Yeah good luck with that.
2020-03-18 15:24
Hope his chemo goes well
2020-03-18 15:27
2020-03-18 15:30
Russia ToughGuy
French fans pretending that they are not trashtalking KEKW
2020-03-18 15:44
won t change anyhting that alex left, have you seen vitality play in 2020? they can t do worst, all depends about zywoo if he come back in carry mode they can hope top 3/ 5 stable like 2019. "a big part of it was destoryed when zywooo stoped to carry us"
2020-03-18 15:52
1 reply
Trash 12yo with trash takes
2020-03-18 18:13
Is that voldemort?
2020-03-18 15:56
sh1ro | 
Philippines euzu
misutaaa top 20 2020
2020-03-18 16:00
Zywoo isn't good as s1mple
2020-03-18 16:05
1 reply
+! fact
2020-03-18 17:32
France MarcoXY
2020-03-18 16:14
without a good IGL, Zywoo cannot carry this dead team. NBK lucky as fuck
2020-03-18 16:16
6 replies
no minor tho
2020-03-18 16:41
3 replies
OG is just beginning its journey. until the end of the year OG will be above than ENCE(aleksib) and Vitality(nbk)
2020-03-18 16:45
2 replies
Above ENCE won't exactly be a feat of strength, as they will probably have disbanded by then. As far as above Vitality, I don't buy it, even if Vitality have been losing major steam lately. Certainly not with this lineup at least. OG are really disappointing this far, and , apart from valde and mantuu, none of the others is displaying tier 1 individual skill. aleksib's lead has been abysmal on T too.
2020-03-18 17:26
1 reply
OG just needs some time like Astralis
2020-03-19 17:36
How igl have something to do with zywoo , it was the same with nbk igl, it was the same in aAa.. if you think zywoo was good cause of Alex your wrong..it s even maybe the opposite..Alex picking awp as T ect
2020-03-18 20:03
1 reply
you need to learn basic text interpretation pal...... never said that and never implied that what i meant is that no matter how good zywoo is, he can carry a team like that without good IGLing
2020-03-19 17:43
Classic French scene interview
2020-03-18 16:22
1 reply
no snake this time tho
2020-03-18 16:41
lol vitality is shit xd
2020-03-18 18:41
Good for ALEX! He deserve a better team, that plays like a TEAM. Vitality plays for one player only. He can be the n1 in the world. But that style will never get them the Major Title.
2020-03-18 19:04
2 replies
Like LDLC ?
2020-03-18 19:51
1 reply
+1 solid tier 4 team should be a great fit
2020-03-18 20:57
Disband soon
2020-03-18 19:04
top 10 i arent think so
2020-03-18 19:43
Top 30 😎👍
2020-03-18 20:56
Imagine a french squad lead by a british, Napoleon was crying in his grave, finally they fixed it.
2020-03-18 21:03
1 reply
Napoleon ate ass twice, once by the russians and once by the brits. Cry is free for napoleon. If he had a brit leading him... might not have happened :)
2020-03-19 03:45
Canada chanse
dead team
2020-03-18 23:12
thanks one punch man
2020-03-19 00:18
Vitality wont recover just like your hair wont
2020-03-19 07:13
apex worst pro player ever
2020-03-19 13:21
Vietnam Hulkie2K
Dont worry coach u got a great replacement called Agent Misutaaa 0-18
2020-03-24 13:30
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