ZeratoR and Meteora talk about the creation of the Mandatory team
It's official, after 2 years of covering Valorant news, Mandatory is going straight into esport and setting up its own team! Adrien ' ZeratoR ' Nougaret and Nicolas ' Meteora ' Di Martino, the two people at the head of this crazy project, explain the origins of its creation, how they chose the players and the ambitions they have for their very first team.
Mandatory: Why did you launch an esport team on Valorant? Was it an idea you had in mind for a long time?
ZeratoR: We've actually been wanting to build a team on Valorant for quite some time. Almost since the game was released. But we didn't do it the first year because the game and the players had to find their feet. With the arrival of the different leagues (VRL, VCT, Game Changers...), the game took a professional turn and the stars aligned a bit so that we could find everything we needed: players, financial means, sponsors, and staff.
Meteora: It's been a dream of mine since my first steps in esport, back in the days of the first old school CS LANs! When we started ZQSD Productions 5 years ago, we immediately talked about an esport club. Even though we really like the game, doing it on League of Legends was not an option because we are too involved in the organisation of competitions. So we waited patiently for a game that inspires us but also to have the means to launch this club.
When Valorant came along, we didn't hesitate for a second. After thousands of hours of playing Counter-Strike, I was excited about Valorant from the very first minutes of play and it also had the advantage of being in the very professional Riot ecosystem. ZeratoR also liked the game a lot and the idea of starting a team had been tempting him for a long time. We went for it. With Z Agency, our joint structure, we launched the Mandatory.gg website as soon as the game was in beta. The aim was to get a foot in the door of the Valorant universe while waiting for a league to appear. The competitive circuit was too light last year to create a stable club, but with the appearance of the VRL in 2022, we thought that this was the moment we were waiting for.
ZeratoR: Personally I don't watch much esport but I've been doing it since I was a kid. I started doing LANS on CS in the years 2000/2005 and I continued to do it with streaming, whether on LoL, Trackmania or even Fortnite (yes, yes!). So I've been thinking about how to accompany people who are starting out in this field for a long time. However, for me, it's necessary to do it on a game I know well and that makes sense. I started to do it very lightly on Trackmania with CarlJR and Bren because I knew the game, the scene and the players very well. Now it's kind of the same with Valorant.
Mandatory: What is your role in the Mandatory team?
Meteora: I am the president of the club. My work with ZeratoR over the last few months has been to bring to life a club that absolutely has to be like us and in line with our vision. We wanted a club that was very serious but that didn't take itself too seriously, much like the events we do together. I now manage all aspects of the club and am involved in every detail of the sport, player management, communication, video, relations with Riot and the league etc. All of this is done in close collaboration with the other founders of Z Agency and a team of more than 20 people with whom we are working to make this adventure as competitive as possible, but also as pleasant as possible!
ZeratoR : For my part, I am obviously not part of the day-to-day management of the team, but I was involved in the foundation and the basics. We started talking together at the very beginning with Nicolas about what we wanted to do and we quickly agreed. Then, for Mandatory, I served as a link between everyone, and I will also be the face (without being a player) of the team. A bit of a landmark for people who want to follow the team's adventures. I'll be able to comment on the games, talk about the big news/announcements of the team. And so on.
'We have five players with excellent potential.'
Mandatory: How did you choose your players?
ZeratoR : I started discussing it with Jbzz, HyP, and Nicolas. We really wanted HyP because of his leadership ability and his exceptional mindset. He's a very mature person. And we also wanted Jbzz for his explosive, funny side, but at the same time being an ultra serious and motivated player since he has already been a pro on 2 games, League of Legends and Fortnite. Moreover, having the biggest Valorant streamer in France in our team is, for me, an asset. A team needs a face, and the viewers will be able to meet on Jbzz's stream to discuss all this. I'm also quite a fan of his sultry personality. I'm one of those people who communicates a lot with emotions and for me, that's how a team should exist: with strong personalities and sometimes showmen.
We're aware that there will be a lot of work to do to reconcile all this with a good level of play, but we're in no hurry, we have time. As far as CREA^, hoppy, and APO are concerned, these are names that came up a lot when we were talking with HyP and Jbzz. We put the team together. It's very important to me that players are involved in each other's recruitment whenever possible, and this was it! The 3 players we brought in are all very good, experienced in Valorant, and I have at least seen them all in competitions that I have commented on myself. I have full confidence in their ability to coordinate and destroy everything in their path!
Meteora: ZeratoR is close to HyP and Jbzz who we talked to from the start. I knew HyP well as a player having seen him participate in several Valorant tournaments and via his Overwatch background obviously. He has a lot of experience and a great mind. We quickly made the choice to build the team around him and let him propose players and a coach. The names proposed were not really debatable, the first contacts were very good and everything went very fast with APO, CREA^, hoppY and menegh. We have 5 players with excellent potential, a very good coach and humanly they are at the top, it was also very important for us.
Jbzz's case is special because of his status as a streamer, which can be questionable. It's great to have such a great streamer among us to put a face on the team and exchange with the community via his streams, but Jbzz is also a very talented player, who has already managed to go pro on several games and believe me, on Valorant, he will surprise many.
Mandatory: How did you convince them to join a new team?
Meteora: HyP's unifying role and leadership qualities were very important as he has already played with most of the other team members. ZeratoR's unlimited involvement is also very important obviously because he's going to make it all amazing with great exposure and offbeat casts. After that I think that what seduced the players was also the project as a whole with a good atmosphere and a big staff behind them to accompany them, put them in the best conditions and hype them. It's clear to everyone that the club is here for a long time and that it gives itself time to progress, this stability is important for the players.
To have today a team with a good chemistry, ambition, an excellent atmosphere, players involved in the creation of the club and the choice of their mates... that's all we wanted!
ZeratoR : As far as HyP and Jbzz are concerned, I think the mix of good atmosphere/seriousness appealed to them right away. No one wants a team that takes itself too seriously, and no one wants to commit to a team that will dissolve in 2 weeks either. We managed to offer all that, and they know that I usually only commit to projects if I believe in them. They know that I love the game, we know each other. We have a clear vision over several months/years on the Mandatory organisation. This must have played in our favour to convince them. For hoppY, CREA^, APO and menegh they all know Jbzz and HyP very well and have seen my involvement in the Valorant scene. They know that I love the game, that I've been playing it for a long time and that I will follow them no matter what!
'We want to disrupt certain codes.'
Mandatory: Are you planning to participate in the VRL or the VCT?
ZeratoR : Absolutely! Well, to be perfectly honest, we're going to try for the VCT qualifiers, but that's not our goal for a year 1. Valorant is a young game, things can happen, but we're going to focus on the VRL, which is clearly our top priority, despite having a fresh team against teams that have been around for several months.
Meteora: It's far too early for us to seriously aim for the VCT, we're building as a club and our players only have a few training sessions. The VRL will be a very good field for us this year.
Mandatory: What are your ambitions for this team?
Meteora: Before talking about the sport, the ambition is also to create a club that excites us, the players and the community. We want to disrupt certain codes, do things our way and bring a maximum of fun into the whole thing, so that everyone is having a good time.
On the competitive side, in the long term, we clearly want to play a leading role. But for the moment we are all arriving together by the back door and we are giving ourselves time to build and prove ourselves. The idea was not to pile up stars to play the steamroller but rather to build something solid over time. The objective this year is to do well in the VRL, without pressure and to progress each season. We're still competitors, though, so when we start a game, it's to win it, always.
ZeratoR : To bring it to the top, to win all the tournaments, to have an image that can please the players and the people who will follow us, that everyone gets along well, that the players like it, and finally that it lasts in the long term! In short, simple objectives (no).