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Interview with hoppY, Smoker of the Team Mandatory

Although he started his career on Battle Royale, it was on Valorant that he revealed his full potential. Dylan ' hoppY ' "hoppY" Aube has made a name for himself with the Opportunists and has been playing for Team BDS. However, he has decided to put his immense talent to work for a new team: Mandatory ! In this interview, we'll talk to hoppY about his background, his vision of the competition and his teammates.

Mandatory: Hi hoppY! Welcome to Mandatory. Could you please introduce yourself?

hoppY: My name is Dylan, alias hoppY, I am 26 years old, I come from the Paris region. That's where I was born and where I have always lived. 

Mandatory: How did you get to be a professional player?

hoppY: I started with a classical route: school, college, high school. I made it to my baccalaureate. But I had problems with the courses. I was absent-minded, I didn't like school, like everyone else I guess. I didn't like listening to a teacher talk for hours, so I dropped out very quickly. 

I started to drop out a little bit when World of Warcraft came out, like a lot of people my age at that time. And I liked it. I kept on doing it. I still forced myself to finish high school, but by the time I got to high school, it was too much. So I stopped during the year. I left France. I took the opportunity to go to Portugal, where I have family; that cut me off from the world a bit. Afterwards, when I came back, I wanted to work. That's when I started my CAP and BEP hairdressing courses. I started when I was 18, passed my exams when I was 22, then worked for a year before stopping. 

That's when all the big games came out that I was able to play and go 'pro' on. I played H1Z1, even if the game only lasted 6 months, that's when I became a bit of a pro player. After that, there was Fortnite where I was able to enjoy the hype a bit by surfing on it. And then Valorant came out and I haven't let go of the game since the beta. 

I was lucky enough to be able to bounce around on the different games and especially to have either a salary or income from tournaments. I didn't necessarily need to work, and that's why I was able to switch to a lot of games, while still playing and making a living.

Mandatory: You talk about difficulties at school. Were your parents worried about your schooling?

hoppY: My parents were a bit worried, yes. They knew I had the ability to study. I'm not a dumb person, I just don't like to work and I'm a lazy bum. They were worried about whether I was going to go far in my studies, but they knew I wasn't going to, because I had problems with memorising, working and so on. 

My mother was a hairdresser and it was she who got me into this business. She knew that it would be a way out for me, as I already liked it. One day she said to me 'Well, listen, study, see how far you want to go and where you can go, and if you don't succeed, come with me and start there.' And that's what happened.

Mandatory: Many young professionals are confronted with their parents' lack of understanding. Did yours support you when you chose your path?

hoppY: As far as my career as a professional player is concerned, I had the support of my father right away. He always played, so from his side it was okay, he supported me. My mother a little less. She started working very early, when she was 16. For her, work is really all that counts. Of course, at the beginning, when there was no salary or income, it was complicated for her to understand. But I was lucky that I didn't have to go too long without a salary and without tournament earnings. But if it was hard for her at the beginning, when she saw that it worked for me and that I was able to go pro on games, she understood. 

I hope we will get to a world where people understand what esport is and some people see a professional future in it. I think that in a few years it will be something 'normal'. 

Coming back to my mother, she saw the organisations I went through. At first she didn't know about it and she didn't believe in it, but now it's fine. She supports me and she knows that it has become a professional world, unlike when I started.

His arrival on Valorant

Mandatory: You say you started on Battle Royale. What attracted you to Valorant?

hoppY: I'm a big FPS player to begin with, I've only played that for years. It's true that I started professionally on Battle Royale, but it was never my favourite thing; I've always been a very FPS person. So when Valorant came out, a game made by Riot Games, it was easy to imagine that it would be something big and with a lot of esport ambitions. It was the game I was waiting for.

I really got into it when the beta came out and I was hooked right away. It was new. A competitive 5v5 with spells, it was original and I liked it quickly. It also came at a time when it was the end of Fortnite for me, I didn't like the game at all; I didn't know what to bounce back to, or if I should go back to work. I didn't know what to do. That's a question I asked myself a lot... Was I ending my career on this? I was almost 25, so you have to wonder... 

In the end, Valorant came along and it was really good for me. I really liked the game and I thought 'this is going to be the last game in which I'll give my all'. I said to myself that I'm going to give everything I can give to go pro and make a living out of it, and then we'll see where it takes me.

Mandatory: So, how did it go for you as a pro player on Valorant?

hoppY: The Valorant scene is still young, but we have a lot of big players who come from other games, especially CS. Basically, even though I love FPS, when I came to Valorant, I had almost no experience in 5v5 games. Battle Royale is not the same thing at all. I can shoot but I'm a novice in team strategy. I don't have the basics of the game, nor the whole tactical or economic aspect.

When I joined my first big team, the Opportunists, I played with ex-CS players. They taught me right away about the game world and how to play as a team in a game like this. I learned a lot from them. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty damn stupid and I was running straight! I would take Reyna and run straight and kill everybody. It worked well in the beginning, when the game wasn't tactically set up and the teams weren't necessarily all that strong; but as time went on, the tactical side took over, and that's where I struggled. 

It's a lot of mindgames that I didn't necessarily have; that's what was hard for me to work on and what held me back for a very long time on my individual game level. Thanks to my teammates, I managed to catch up and now it's my turn to teach others. To Jbzz for example, who doesn't necessarily have it either. Everything I've been taught, I'm retransmitting it and that's cool. But it's true that at the time I wasn't chosen because I was a scholar and because I knew the game perfectly. 

A new adventure with Mandatory

Mandatory: Today you have decided to continue your career with us. What convinced you to join the Mandatory project?

hoppY: What I liked was the fun, but still tryhard side. A lot of eyes will be on us. People won't expect us, because they'll think we're the little team that got together because there was an influential streamer, for example. It's that challenge that I like, to prove to people that we can be more than that and I really believe in it. 

On the other hand, I play with people I really like and respect, so it can only be positive. I think we're going to present a little challenge to the other teams. In fact, I don't think they're going to expect us to be at the level we're going to be at. I'm looking forward to those moments!

Mandatory: What are the key differences between your former teams and the Mandatory team?

hoppY: First of all, we don't have the pressure of having to give results quickly, of having to be at the top of the game from day 1. We know what we want, we know what we have to get, we are hard workers, but we know that it won't happen tomorrow. 

I really appreciate having the time to get to know my teammates before I start performing. It's a process that I think is important to learn how to play with five players. It's a fun thing to do. Between us, there is no pressure, no fuss over the slightest round that we can lose because someone else did it wrong. We get along well. We're not waking up and saying 'Oh no, I've got to train... This is going to go wrong...' It was an environment like this that I needed.

We're going to move forward together, we're going to improve together. We're going to make a lot of mistakes, of course, we're still a very inexperienced team compared to what's being done on the European scene. But we are also hard workers and that can only work!

A team of teammates and friends!

Mandatory: What can you tell us about your teammates?

hoppY: I'll start with the ones I know the least about at the moment. 

In the early days of the game, I played a lot against CREA^. It was pretty niche, so it was often the same teams that were at the top of the tournaments or that were invited. But even though we played each other a lot, we never really talked to each other until now. It's new for us to play together. What I can say is that he's a hard worker! He proposes a lot, he is very thoughtful in his game. It's a good surprise. 

APO, I already knew him a bit. We spoke a few times. He really surprises me with his skill, he has a very good aim. He's a very strong player. As for CREA^, he's a guy who works, who proposes and who also plays roles that are not easy. He's got a bit of a thankless role, but he does it well and he's very committed. 

HyP is the captain. I talked to him a lot at the beginning of the game, at the beta. I respect him a lot. He very quickly brought back the pro level in France at the time, through the different teams he created. When I was offered to play with him, I liked it right away because he's a good captain. He is a guy who knows what he is doing, who is very intelligent and who has a good vision of the game. That's a big positive point, because that's what we lack most in France!

In the case of Jbzz, I don't think I have any say. I've known him for a very long time. We met even before we played together on H1Z1. We've always been close. It's fun to play with him. Even though the project is professional, we have this little guy who is there to add fun and be a jerk. I think that's important in a team! We manage to mix the two worlds, pro and stream, and I think it's a good addition. After that, sometimes he doesn't shoot straight... but you can't help that!

Mandatory: You are 5 players, but we must not forget Menegh, your coach! What do you think he can bring to the roster?

hoppY: Meneghwas already the former coach of HyP and APO before he came to Mandatory. He is someone who has a lot of experience in the Valorant scene and has done some big teams. When he says something, he knows what he is talking about. From a teamplay and tactical point of view, he has some very good ideas. 

He's also someone who can be bossy, but I think that's good in a team where we don't necessarily all have pro player profiles. In the case of Jbzz in particular, he will have to work harder than the other players. In fact Menegh will help him to catch up quickly. That's why we wanted to have him with us quickly, because we needed him and it was important.

Interview with hoppY, smoker of Mandatory
Interview with hoppY, smoker of Mandatory

Mandatory: You were part of Team Jbzz in Valorant's very first official tournament. How does it feel to be on the same pro team as him now?

hoppY: If someone had told me that 6 months ago, I wouldn't have believed it... When Team Jbzz was created, with Jbzz, we're not going to lie, it was because at the beginning of the game there were very few tournaments and very few players. He's someone I'd played with a lot before, so it was a natural fit. 

But as soon as I had the opportunity to go and play in a structure, I went. Now it's funny to think that I'm back with him, after all these months without playing together. Nothing changed in the end. It was unpredictable but it's so good!

We've known each other longer, we've played a lot of games together. He's a friend and that's cool, because he's someone I can say things to more easily when necessary, because I know he won't take it the wrong way. And he's not a stubborn person, so at that level, having him in the team is good for everyone.

Mandatory: When your teammates were asked who they thought was the most skilful in the team, they all agreed that it was you. How do you feel about that?

hoppY: The fact that my teammates think I'm 'the best in the team' doesn't necessarily put pressure on me. By joining the Mandatory project, I know what I have to contribute. But I've proved more what I can do on the European stage. I have to do it and I find it enjoyable. 

It's an extra challenge that I didn't have in my previous teams where I was just one good player among many good players. Even if I had a bad game, it wasn't necessarily disturbing. At Mandatory, it's true that I have this little pressure to say to myself that I have to be good. But it's good pressure. I'm not here just for that, but I'm here for my skill, so it's normal to set the bar high!

Having said that, the most skilful of our team, I would say, is APO. In the short time we've been playing and the little bit we've practised together, he's the one who has impressed me the most with his skill. He is very precise, I like his style of play!

The will to fight

Mandatory: You are going to join the VRL soon. What are your ambitions for Team Mandatory?

hoppY: Today, if we talk about VRL, we must not lie to ourselves either... I wouldn't say that we are far from the best in France, but we have a lot of work to do. We have shortcomings on certain points that we have to correct quickly. It's true that, if tomorrow we have to play against the best in the country, it might not be pretty. But you never know, there's always the unexpected!

What is important is that we know we are capable of catching these teams in the long term. If we give ourselves the means, we have the profiles to be able to compete with them and play good matches. I'm not saying 'it's over, we'll never be able to make a top three at VRL', I know we can do it very well. It's up to us to work hard for it, there's no quick fix! So in the short term, the project is to tease these good teams, to show them that even if we have very little experience of playing as 5, we can hurt and we will hurt! 

In the long term, it is to bring this project to the best in France. This is something important for me. And if we manage to get to the top in France, we could go international, and make a name for ourselves on the European scene.

Mandatory: Is there a particular French team you would like to play?

hoppY: Yes. I'm going to say BDS, given my history with them. It's not about ego at all or proving to them that I deserve my place. I'd just like to see how our new roster compares to my old team. It's always nice to play against your old teammates. 

I said BDS but I could also say Vitality Vitality. They are also friends of mine and they are the best team in France today. If we want to gauge our level, there's no secret, we have to go and hit the heavy stuff. Everything else, honestly, I wouldn't say that we beat them easily, but these are less interesting matches. I really want to play these two teams.

Mandatory: We all look forward to seeing you in action! In the meantime, do you have any final message for the people who are already following you or who are discovering you today?

hoppY: What I want to say to people who know me or who may discover me later is simple: the fact that I am investing in this project will surprise them, because they may have seen me higher up. But I want to reassure them by explaining that it's really a project I believe in! I really want to take it to the top and I'm going to do everything I can! We'll meet in the VRL!