The Mandatory Team takes stock of Split 1 of the VRL 2022
The Split 1 of the VRL France 2022 ended a few days ago and with it, our very first competitive period as an esport team. It was the opportunity for our organisation to jump in at the deep end and for the players to take their marks.
So naturally we wanted to give the floor to our players so that they could tell us what they felt about this Split 1, but also what they are preparing for Split 2!
Mandatory: The first VRL France Split is over! Now that you have had some time to digest this emotional tournament, what do you remember about it?
HyP: A bit disappointed when you see the final result. Last in the league, it's clearly not what I wanted. Afterwards, when you look at the games, there were some very close ones. I'm thinking in particular of BDS who could have gone to the final and against whom we could have beaten 2-0 if we hadn't thrown away some important rounds. So yes, I'm obviously disappointed, but on the other hand, there were a lot of positive points. There were games where we had the advantage and we managed to do some very nice things, but we never managed to finish.
CREA^: It was intense. The buzz around it was incredible. It was very interesting for us because we didn't have much time to prepare. We had to do our best in a short time. We had to do our best in a short period of time, we had to look for strategies and the agent pool. I put the results aside, but my feeling is very positive and everything around the split was very nice.
hoppY: It went pretty well overall. Even though we finished last, I don't think it was deserved. We caught some big teams and played some good football. I'm still happy overall.
APO: It went the way I thought it would. We had to deal with some really strong teams, there wasn't one really stronger than all the others. It also highlighted our strengths and weaknesses, in terms of level of play or strategy.
Mandatory: The level was super stacked, too. The ranking could change dramatically in just a few rounds. What do you think of the VRL level?
HyP: It's pretty crazy how the league level was very stacked. It's just too good. On the last day, there was a world where Sector One didn't even make the playoffs. In the end, they won the league. It shows that we have an interesting league. For spectacle and storytelling, it's so cool, rather than having one team crush everyone else. The BDS final against Sector One was a crazy final. It goes all over the place, it ends on Breeze, a map where both teams are not very comfortable, but they manage to adapt and give us an over-time finish that was crazy.
I hope that it will continue like that. After that, there is a mercato coming up. I imagine that some teams will strengthen. We'll have a Split 2 that's probably very different, but I hope that each team can still win against any other team. It adds pressure for the players, it creates spectacle and lots of twists and turns, it's too good. The fact that we beat Vitality in the playoffs is a disaster for them (and I feel sorry for the mates there), but for the history of the league, it's crazy. I hope we have more surprises like that for a long time in this league.
CREA^: We finished good last, but I think that's harsh. We showed potential, we made some great maps. We won maps against Vitality and against BDS. It was very encouraging, but the level was very stacked. I didn't expect it to be that close. I thought Vitality and BDS were going to roll over the league. I was surprised that the level was so even. But it's better for the viewers and for the hype!
hoppY: The same, I must admit I was surprised. I expected the big teams to be at the top of the final table. After all, being the favourites puts extra pressure on them, but organisations like Vitality and BDS have been on Valorant for a long time, they are expected to do well. So of course I'm surprised when Sector One, a very young team, manages to get to the top and win the split.
What were your best memories of the Split? Were there any particular moments that stood out for you?
hoppY: For me, the best memory of the split is the general atmosphere during the bootcamp. We had a very close group and everybody got along very well and that helped us a lot in the game.
I didn't know how the bootcamp would go. I already knew Jbzz and a bit of HyP, but that's it and we didn't know each other in game. It was really an adventure in that respect. We got on well, everyone was great. There was never any trouble, whether it was in preparation for the games or during the games. We were united and that really helped us in the game. We knew we weren't expected to play, so we were able to have fun and we had fun on the server, which is essential when you start a team.
APO: Yes, the first bootcamp before the season started. We got to meet all the Mandatory staff. We got to know each other, especially as I had never met Hoppy and Jbzz.
Developing relationships on the internet is possible, but to deepen things, seeing them a little bit on a daily basis is very important. I can't wait for the next one. The fact that we know each other well and like each other is crucial, especially in a game like Valorant where players have to be on the same page and be able to exchange. It's good to have six people, including the coach, with whom you can talk and exchange calmly. That hasn't always been the case in the teams I've played for. It's really a key point in the formation of a team and for me, it's a success.
After that, if I had to choose for my best memory in the game, it's the game against VMS, despite the fact that we lost in overtime. The CREA^ clutch was incredible and the reactions in the voicecoms were really intense. It was a great memory.
CREA^: The famous 1v4 against VMS! It was so good! And all the hype on Twitter, I had never seen that. After that, for a more collective memory, it was the match against Vitality which was incredible because of the hype, the result and what it meant for Vitality, poor guys. But for us, it was incredible.
HyP: Fracture vs Vitality. On this map, I saw the potential of the team that we would have liked to reach in every game, but couldn't. We had nothing to lose, so we put the pressure aside. We had nothing to lose, so we put the pressure on, but we also had a desire to win... because it was Vitality, but also because the game was very important for them, so there was something at stake on their side.
We had a motivated team that was able to transcend itself. I was very happy to see our team like that and to be able to show that we could be very, very good. We showed our true face, the one when we are all at 100%. But obviously I was disappointed that we couldn't show it outside of this game. As a result, it's one of my best memories, but also one of the worst in big quotes. I still wonder why we didn't manage to be like that for the whole split.
Mandatory: How do you explain this final result and what are your areas for improvement?
CREA^: What we lacked was stability in training. We were quite limited by the condition of our teams. We couldn't play as much as the others. It showed in our performances. We had to make a lot of changes. The stability wasn't incredible. There are maps that we only played twice, and each time with different compositions. We have to work and prepare properly, without changing the composition every three days because we're still looking for ourselves.
hoppY: It was especially difficult for Jbzz. I think he didn't expect that much work to be done and that may have been a problem for him. Since he was only playing Raze, it limited the compositions and the possible game plans. But everyone did the best they could. We knew from the beginning that he would be part of the project and that he was combining his work as a streamer, so we assumed it perfectly.
APO: I think that throughout the split, we were able to reinvent ourselves a lot. The team being very young, we had to find ourselves, to find a game that suited us. There is a meta in Valorant, but you also have to deal with the affinities of the players. We were very reactive on that. After that, regular changes also mean a lack of habit and that cost us dearly on some maps.
There was a very good team spirit, but now we have to go to the next level and learn to fight together and move forward together. There are different possible calls, but you have to choose one and we all have to follow it together. That's something we started to learn at the end, especially against Vitality, but it was a bit late.
HyP: We've been looking at each other strategically for a long time and it's been hurting us. Having Jbzz play Raze didn't help us in a meta where Jett is far too strong. We had to find ways to replace Jett, while keeping Raze. We tried several composites, with Neon in particular, but it didn't necessarily work well. It took us a long time to find what was right for us.
Against Vitality, all the conditions were there. We didn't have any pressure on our shoulders. Individually, we were fine. That's something we may have lacked throughout the first split. Some people don't handle pressure as well as others. Everyone expects us to lose, so if we win it's amazing. That's all we needed to be 100%.
Mandatory: Whatever the result, the community was always there to support you! Is that something nice or did it end up putting pressure on you?
hoppY: Having a supportive audience had absolutely no negative impact. We didn't put pressure on ourselves by saying that we had to prove to ZeratoR and his community that we were going to beat everyone 2-0. The audience helped us more than anything else, actually. They took the pressure off us. We've come a long way, everyone knows that, especially those who follow us. We've got ties and even when we lose, it's extremely close. We gave them a good show.
HyP: The support we received during the split gave me a huge boost. Seeing that there are so many people who follow us or support us, even in defeat, is extremely motivating. I want to make everyone proud. Personally, it boosts me and it makes me feel good. It reminds me of the time when I was in the Overwatch League where after every win, it was a mess... but here, even after a defeat, we are really supported. I can't wait for us to do better at the split 2 to make all these people proud and give them a reason to give us lots of messages to support us because we are doing well.
CREA^: I think we handled the pressure really well, at least in the first three or four games. I didn't even feel it, it was mostly super positive adrenaline. I think that was the case for everybody. With our many comebacks, we showed that mentally we were solid. What was lacking was the strategic dimension and sometimes the lack of luck, it must be said. But we managed the pressure well and it was positive. It's a plus to have the support of the public. The community was very supportive. Even when things weren't going well, they were always cheering us on.
APO: I must admit that I went through several phases. I had never experienced this in my previous teams. When you see the audiences that were there from the first ZeratoR live shows, it was really impressive. It put a lot of pressure on me at the beginning, I must admit. But as the split went on, it became a motivation to see people supporting us. I was pleasantly surprised to see people continue to support us despite the fact that our performances were not ideal. There were always people there to cheer us up. It feels really good to have a lot of supporters, and for them to be great supporters!
Mandatory: In what state of mind are you preparing the Split 2? What are the new objectives?
HyP: First of all, we don't want to finish last. There's relegation at the end of the split, so it's a no-go area and we absolutely have to avoid that. Apart from that, we have big ambitions. We're aiming for the top. Not to qualify for the playoffs this time would be a huge failure. With the changes we're going to make, we hope to be in the top two or even win the league. It depends on the changes we can make, it's hard to say. For me, qualification for the playoffs is obvious and we have to reach it.
CREA^: We're going to attack this second split with a completely different mindset. We knew that we were in a running-in period and that we had to go through this, but for this second split, we're coming back with the objective of doing much better. We have to prove that finishing 8th was a mistake in the ranking, but that we are here for good and that we are here to be at the top of the table. It's up to us to make the necessary changes, to work better and harder. We're going to give ourselves the means to go as high as possible.
hoppY: The French Valorant scene is going to change a lot and so are the teams. We're in the middle of a mercato. We have every chance of reaching the top and we're going to do everything we can to get there. With the changes we're going to make, we're honestly aiming for the top of the table. For this split 2, we will only have people who can invest 100% in the game and in training. We will be able to work even harder and the results should follow.
APO: We had time to get used to the team and to the weekly rhythm of the competition. We made Top 8 on the first split, even though it was a close call. At the next split, we have to blow everyone away. My goal is to make the playoffs in the next split.
Our main area of improvement is that our opponents have realised that we don't play Icebox and Breeze at all. This is not suitable for the next split. We have to work hard on that.
Mandatory: There are going to be changes in the team, as well as your opponents, but there are also big changes in game since patch 4.04. Do you think this will benefit you?
CREA^: I do think that the patch will benefit us. The disappearance of Astra encourages dynamic and aggressive play. We're not very patient guys. We like to run, and that's been a problem for us a few times, but having a more dynamic game is an advantage for us.
hoppY: As far as I'm concerned, I don't like patch 4.04 at all. I don't really like Omen and Brimstone. Maybe the game will be a bit more dynamic, but I don't think it will change much.
HyP: The changes on Astra were necessary. Now we expect some on Jett. After that does it benefit us or not? It's too early to say. It will depend on the changes we make and the player who joins us.
I don't think it's an advantage for any team, really. Except teams like BDS, who play very very direct and aim for 5-0. Astra was anti-rush and Brimstone now gives you a lot of speed, which gives you an advantage on the offensive game. Having said that, too direct a game is also too simple a game, so does that really give them an advantage?
Afterwards, it gives us new things to work on, I find it refreshing. Now we'll see how it goes at Split 2.
It's high time for us to prepare the Split 2 of the VRL France! As you already know, Jbzz has left the team and CREA^ has joined the coaching staff. Two other players are joining our ranks and the team is already preparing its training for the competition in May! We will tell you more (very) soon.