It is now time to go back to Europe and to take a look at Team Vitality. After having tried to qualify the standard way, the players were granted a spot to Montreal via the Community Vote.
Following its Pro League debut in season one, the French organization's team got demoted to Challenger League at the end of season two. Their stint in the lower league was however not very long since they have already secured their place for the upcoming season of Pro League.
Rising from the ashes of the old Playing Ducks roster, Team Vitality benefited from a direct invitation to Year 2 Season 1 of Pro League. You managed to stay in the Pro League for the following season and to win the “Coupe de France”. Season Two however did not really go as you had hoped : you lost both of your games. What were you missing, and what are you maybe still missing to put up a fight with the best teams in the world?
Panix: I think it is a bit of everything. We did not know how to use the right person at the right place, the team line-up was not well understood and the meta was not in our favor. Besides from that, we also lacked external help. Elem, Nmy and I were doing the same errors we committed during the pducks time. We lacked discipline and rigorous work, it was messy and it cost us losing against underdogs. To sum up, we lacked a structure that could help with strats and help us do optimal work.
You reorganized your roster a bit during the summer, Elemzje left and Hansen joined you as well as Kivvi as a coach and Lyloun as an analyst. How does it work between you two and the rest of the team?
Kivvi: Our roles are really different. Lyloun does the analysis part, she studies our opponents, watches VODs and gives us a lot of information. She also bring interesting elements that she notices by watching many competitive games. I mostly supervise the trainings and make sure the team improves, corrects the mistakes and that they have good communication. I am also in charge of organizing, structuring and participating in the strating sessions and the viewings of previous matches.
At the end of the Year, you managed to earn a spot for the next season of Pro League and made it to the closed qualifiers of the Six Invitational. As you seemed to be gaining momentum, you got totally caught off guard by #XBOXMasterRace in the round of 16. How did you approach that game against a team of Englishmen who had a fair bit of experience on Xbox?
Panix: We were just very surprised by their very original gameplay. We were not ready for them and it is a massive regret for us.
The wildcards were announced a few days later, at which point you knew the community vote was your last hope to qualify for the Six Invitational. When the teams running for that last spot were revealed, did you believe you had a shot at winning it?
Kivvi: We knew that the chances were slim. We had already worked on making the necessary changes to improve our gameplay and hopefully bring it up to Pro League level. Therefore, we just continued to work hard waiting for the results.
Then came a completely crazy final poll against Brazil. Numerous public figures from both sides supported their team until the last stretch. Beyond the massive advertisement this vote was for Ubisoft, was it not an easy way of promoting Rainbow Six at the expense of the competitiveness supposedly embodied by the Six Invitational?
Kivvi: It is not the first time that we see a community vote in an e-sport event. Even though we know that from a competitive standpoint it is not necessarily the team that deserves it the most that will win the vote, in this case, all the teams in the running were either from Pro League or of Pro League caliber. In that case, the lack of competitivity is more negligeable. From a marketing standpoint, as a player or staff working in e-sport, visibility is very important and it brings new players, more viewers and more sponsors. In that case, the marketing “coup” by Ubisoft does not only benefits them but all of the Rainbow Six e-sport community and during a whole weekend, the game was in the spotlight.
You will start off the event by a match against PENTA Sports, one of the competition’s big favourites. How are you going to approach that game?
Panix: Like underdogs. No pressure, we know who we are playing and we know how to play them. We also know what we are worth and that we are capable of beating them. On top of that, it seems that we are more at ease with big-name teams. We will give it all.
Evil Geniuses and 1UPeSport are the other two teams in your “group of death”. What are your opinions about these teams, who should not be easy to deal with either?
Panix: We have a revenge to take from EG. They work hard and have very good individual players, they might give us a headache. It is one of the only NA team that I respect, however we have no reasons to be afraid of them.
1UP is a newer german team and we also need revenge against them. Even though the lineup has changed since. They were promising during the qualifiers even though they rely too much on certain operators. If we play them, we will use Lyloun’s analyses even more.
Given your group, what is your objective for the Six Invitational?
Kivvi: Of course, it will not be easy to get out of the “group of death” and advance out of the group phase. However, you do not become world champion with ease. We will take things one by one, first get out of the group phase and then get victories one by one, match after match.
Finally, is there a team that, in your opinion, will grab the spotlight with unexpected performances?
Kivvi: The surprise could come from Room Factory who is also in a group with a lower level than group A or C. They could beat Mindfreak and give Rogue, who has not been at its best, a headache.
As a reminder, Team Vitality is composed of:
Dimitri "Panix" De Longeaux
Julian "Enemy" Blin
Jean "RevaN" Prudenti
Valentin "risze" Liradelfo
Jean-Baptiste "Hansen" Mace
Julien "Kivvi" Serrier (Coach)
Laurie "Lyloun" Lagier (Analyst)
Our last interviews:
Black Dragons: "It's gonna be one of the most difficult groups"
Team Liquid: "We can't underestimate anyone"
1UPeSport: "Our main goal is to get out of group phase"
Evil Geniuses: "We can beat anyone"