Before the ECS group stages began I managed to grab the Spanish NA star of Optic Gaming Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas to talk about Optic’s current form, playing away from home and his opinion on the NA region. As always the following interview has been edited for readability but I refrain from censoring as much as possible:
Joe: Optic has been going through some rocky times recently with JasonR leaving and Hazed coming in as an in game leader. Has this effected the team negatively at all?
Oscar: Him leaving was not so much of a big deal. He was never a leader before and it’s been a year since he had played professionally so he was transitioning in to a really hard role for him. I thought he was getting better as a leader when we needed him. We never needed Jason to frag, but in his mind he was not able to frag and IGL at the same time so it hurt his confidence.
Joe: You guys went from one of the all time highs at the end of last year to one of your all time lows once Stanislaw had left for Liquid. One of the things I highly credit to both yours and Cloud 9’s success at the end half of last year was extremely good team play. Is that something you guys are struggling to get back?
Oscar: I feel like our team had really good team play, like trading and had a natural feeling between each other. Everyone used to react instantly and knew what to do all the time. We had little things we knew about the team we were about to play but that’s something we didn’t focus on, we had our own style and we never anti-strat anyone. I think that worked really well, Stanislaw is really good at guiding the star potential to what they need to do to win the round.
Joe: So it sounds like you guys seemed to have lost that commanding voice that you needed to guide you in the right direction. Do you feel like Hazed has that confident voice in the same way?
Oscar: He has a different style to Stanislaw. Stan was much more loose and it gives you room to do things. When you gave him the information, you kill someone or make a play he will make the decision how to end the round. I think Stanislaw is better in that department. But Hazed likes to play structured right from the get go.
Joe: And what style would you say you preferred?
Oscar: I think if you play structured you have to play it really well, like Astralis well.
Joe: When I spoke to Fnatic they said that even though everyone labels SK as a very structured based team, they’re actually a lot more individual based than many realise. Is that something you would agree with?
Oscar: Yeah, they’re really aggressive and they react really fast to what you’re doing. Now that they have Felps along with Fer…
Joe: That must be hell to deal with..
Oscar: Oh yeah, they’re really aggressive. With minds like Fallen, them making plays all the time, them reading you like a book and Coldzera they’re really hard to play against. You can’t make any mistakes, you have to play perfect CS you know.
Joe: So you’ve been out in North America for how long now?
Oscar: A year and a half.
Joe: Has it ever gotten to the point where you’ve wanted to go back home?
Oscar: I do get homesick when things are going wrong. The bad times are really bad when you’re away from your family and girlfriend. I mean I’m trying my best to get us back to our old level but if we don’t get it back, I’ll start thinking about it.
Joe: Not any time soon so that’s good. From your particular region (Portugal and Spain) there is only really you, Fox and Lowel. Would you like to play in a team with those two?
Oscar: Oh yeah that’s my dream. To play in an all Spanish/Portugal team.
Joe: To my understanding you hate the AWP as well right?
Oscar: I hate it.
Joe: Would you say that impacts your performance?
Oscar: For sure
Joe: But you’re so good with it.
Oscar: Yeah but I feel like I could do a lot more if I could use more. I feel like my strength is feel the weakness of the enemy and how can I frag them easily. If I can frag them with the AWP I’d pick up the AWP but I don’t like being stuck with it all the time.
Joe: It sounds like the way you’re mind is trained is “I can go here and kill him with an AWP” but the next round it could be “I can go here and kill him with an AK.” Do you struggle with placing that trust on to your team mates instead of yourself?
Oscar: Exactly. We know the best player with AWP is me and I understand that because It brings structure when you have someone who always AWPs. That’s the big difference for me. I would have so much fun if I could do what I want but I just want to win more.
Joe: You sound quite frustrated about the whole thing.
Oscar: I am frustrated.
Joe: I know I’m hitting sore spots here and I apologise for press it but, I don’t know how you do it man. I mean you’re playing away from home, you’re forced in to a spot that you don’t want to play and you’re in team with a potential to be one of the best teams in the world that went from such a high to such a low. How do you deal with that on a daily basis?
Oscar: Another thing I don’t like is that I lived in the gaming house on my own to because my team all live at home so..
Joe: You live in that big house on your own?
Oscar: Yeah I did but I live with the content creators and youtubers now. I was alone for a long time though. We had two houses, a CSGO and the one I’m living in now. We didn’t use the CSGO one so moved in to the other one because I was feeling lonely.
Joe: How involved is Hector (Rodriguez, CEO of Optic Gaming)?
Oscar: He’s a different kind of owner from what I can see. He treats you more like a friend. He knows that he has a big organisation to run so he runs it with professionalism but he tries to keep us all happy. Optic doesn’t have as much people behind it. It’s ran by very few people so the structure of it all is not as big as Liquid for example. It hits a really good point of feeling like a family. But it lacks the other part.
Joe: A lot of NA players have came out publicly about Rank S and the difference between NA and EU. Where do you feel like NA and EU seem to differ?
Oscar: The thing is about the NA is that it’s in a weird spot. If you’re in a top 4 team in NA, you get a lot of money and you don’t have to win tournaments. You can stream and you can still be successful because there is a lot of fans. I feel like they [NA] don’t have to put in as much work because to get in to a top 4 team in europe is really hard.
Joe: That sounds like something you just don’t seem interested in though. If someone like Mouseports called you tomorrow, would you take it?
Oscar: I mean I’ve had offers before from NA and EU, I don’t know. But I still want to try to get back to our level because when you did something from the start, it’s your project..
Joe: You feel like it’s yours…
Oscar: Exactly. I’m still going to try my hardest to get where we were. But I may think about it later down the line.
Joe: So how is the whole mentality of team coming in to ECS right now?
Oscar: It’s going to be hard. Best of ones help and we have to start strong. Something we always struggle with is coming out strong. But we need to just join the server, start killing everyone and I believe we can still beat everyone else.