XTQZZZ: "It wasn't possible to have nexa, huNter, Aleksi, and NiKo — too many voices"
G2 were one of the most highly-anticipated new lineups going into 2022. With hopes of finally breaking their title curse, the organization made three blockbuster signings in the off-season, bringing in one of the most talked-about up-and-coming AWPers, Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov, from NAVI Junior, swapping Nemanja "nexa" Isaković for Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, and taking on a new coach in former Vitality skipper XTQZZZ.
The French coach sat down with HLTV.org while the team is competing at IEM Katowice in only the second interview he has done in English, to discuss how he came to join G2 and what role he played in building the new team.
The 33-year-old explained his reasoning behind the decision to keep Audric "JACKZ" Jug over nexa or François "AMANEK" Delaunay, and he shed light on how the team is functioning in the first two months of their existence and how the two biggest voices on the team, Aleksib and Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, are working together.
Let's start with you leaving Vitality and joining G2. Can you tell me about that process and how you ended up landing the job with G2?
Obviously, it wasn't easy for me because I have to learn English. At the beginning I preferred keeping a distance to adapt my philosophy because I don't know anyone. Aleksi is really different compared to apEX, for example, and I didn't have a star rifler [before]. So, it's not easy, but little by little I try to give some vision, some strategy, some principles, and that's it, I prefer thinking like that.
How much input did you have on the roster that was chosen in the end?
After the Major, when Vitality kicked me, G2 contacted me after one week, maybe. They told me about the future roster, so obviously they had a vision about m0NESY, but they weren't really sure about the in-game leader, who to keep between AmaNEk, JaCkz, and nexa. nexa didn't want to lead, and for me it wasn't possible to have nexa, huNter, Aleksi, and NiKo — too many voices. A lot of voices. And after that, it was really important to have one guy who keeps a good mood, so for me it was better to keep Jacky, especially with roles on CT side.
I expected AmaNEk to stay because of his supportive role rather than JaCkz who is more on the entry side, and that's also something that Aleksib likes to do. Can you tell me a bit more about the philosophy around why you ended up choosing JaCkz over AmaNEk?
It was all outside of the game. I think AmaNEk is better at understanding everything during a round or whatever. The problem about AmaNEk for me is that he is really versatile, but he doesn't have a specific role. He can snipe, he can co-lead, he can lead, he can be the rotator... But I just decided to take Jacky for outside the game, and I don't have any regrets about that because when you start a new lineup with a new player, new coach, new philosophy, you need to have a good atmosphere outside of the game. That's why for me it was the best solution to keep Jack.
As you just mentioned, it's a lot of changes at the same time — a new system, new coach, new in-game leader. How well is the team working so far?
Honestly, I don't know, because at the beginning we tried to keep some things from the ex-G2 lineup, plus Aleksi's philosophy. Me, at the beginning, I didn't want to bring anything because it was too much. And yeah, for example, if you saw our game yesterday, we had a lot of problems understanding what we can do, bad communication, a lot of voices. Ilya [m0NESY], yesterday, he was very stressed, honestly, so today it was better.
We need three or four months to be ready, honestly. I'm not really sure if we can be ready for the next Major, for example, I'm not really sure because we have so much to process. Yes, it's definitely a new experience for me, for Aleksi. huNter- played with nexa for four or five years, so it's special for him, too. NiKo, he doesn't care (laughs).
You were talking about the voices on this team. NiKo has always had a big voice on the team, so now with Aleksib coming in, how are they working together? Are there any clashes or differences of opinions between them, considering the differences in styles that the two teams used to play, in Aleksi's OG and the previous G2 version?
For me, after two months with NiKo, he is really smart, he tries to adapt, and he gives a lot of confidence to Aleksi. NiKo learned a lot about communication with other teammates. Sometimes it's good to have some clashes because we need to talk and exchange, but for example it's not easy to manage apEX and shox at the same time, trust me (scoffs). It's my job to [mediate] a lot — okay, NiKo, Aleksi, we are not on the same page, so we need to talk together, exchange. For example, yesterday it was bad, we talked for two hours, NiKo, Aleksi, and me. So I'm not really worried about that, I think it's a bad impression of NiKo.
I wanted to ask about m0NESY. He came into this team as a 16-year-old, never played at this level, but there has been a lot of praise going his way. What are your thoughts on how he's been doing so far in the team?
m0NESY right now is really smart about understanding everything. He wants to learn, he wants to bring something with hope. It was the same shit with Vitality — when you take a young player, most of the time it's a FACEIT player, and they don't have principles, they don't have a vision of how they can play the situation, he just wants to destroy everyone and that's it. It's the same with m0NESY, it's better because he had experience with NAVI's academy, and honestly sometimes I saw that he can understand something, but he needs to learn a lot, and it's why for example I asked Aleksi and NiKo to talk a lot with him. At the beginning, for example today, he had to be focused just on himself and that's it. And I think today it was good for him.
What are the expectations like for you guys here in Katowice?
Playoffs, if you talk about results. But for me, it's just to learn how we react to a bad game. Yesterday, for example, we won the first map and after that, nothing. We need to learn about communication, mistakes... We changed something today, and it's why we need more officials to adapt all the time. So just learn, get a lot of experience, and if we can immediately go to the playoffs — especially for m0NESY, because we need to have some matches with a crowd.
I wanted to ask you about your former team, Vitality. They went through this massive change, bringing in the Danes. How do you look at them now?
They need a lot of time. In June, I knew about the international roster [idea], and they asked me who I wanted, and I said Magisk and dupreeh. So I'm not really surprised about this roster. I'm not really worried for ZywOo, for example, he's just too strong. The same for apEX. Yeah, it's not easy for them because he talks a lot, it's really important for him to understand everything, and with English at the beginning it's not easy.
But it's the same thing as with us, they need three or four months to be ready with language, with communication, etc. I'm not really surprised that they lost to Heroic because they need a lot of experience. I think they have the same philosophy as us at this tournament, no pressure — it's easy to say no pressure —, but to learn. The community are obviously waiting for a semi-final, a title contender, but we need to be realistic. Virtus.pro, Gambit, Heroic didnt change anyone, so for me it's the best moment for them to win this tournament if NAVI are not really good like yesterday or in the BLAST group stage.