Heretics Keloqz and Mixwell discuss idols, influences, and a Shakespearean reunion
European esports has driven a wedge between Spanish and French players for as long as storylines have been forced upon the players. The likes of League of Legends have pit rivalries between French natives Karmine Corp, BDS, and Team Vitality, and Spanish powerhouses of Heretics, KOI, and the adopted G2 thanks to ex-CEO Carlos.
So, when the Romeo and Juliet story between Oscar "Mixwell" Cañellas Colocho and Wassim "Keloqz" Cista saw the borders be blurred and rivals become teammates under the G2 banner, thunder was expected to boom.
Although G2's story in VALORANT didn't quite play out like a Shakespearean love novel, the relationship between Mixwell and Keloqz has continued to be built upon, and now the pair are reunited at Team Heretics, looking to turn the south-western part of Europe into the successful hub of European esports once again.
A reunion party
"Keloqz and I have a special bond," began Mixwell. Just the mention of the reunion was enough to spark a rare grin on Mixwell's face, tired from travelling. "He's like my little brother, so it's really nice to get to play with him."
Keloqz's status on Heretics, as the only retained player from their their-two roster that played in a string of national cups, is one that he's relished. "I'm really happy that they still trust me," he said. "Heretics is a great org. I'm really happy and feeling confident about the next year coming," he added.
But it's the reunion that best pleased Keloqz. "This guy helps you a lot, especially when you are playing against really great teams, he helps you handle the pressure. People ask 'do pro players have pressure'? Of course, we have it, and you need to have it, and I'm happy to have it as he helps me become more confident," he said.
Hero-tics: How idols shaped careers
Coming from rather different cultures, and being on opposite ends of the career span, Mixwell and Keloqz fall into generations influenced by different idols and influencers, yet the inspirations of these two players only outline the respect from one to another.
For Mixwell, growing up in Spain, the home of footballing giants FC Barcelona, El Classico matches became a highlight of his youth, but only after one sporting magician landed in Catalonia. "When I was younger, Ronaldinho was my idol," he began. "It was a really bad time for us before he came and when he arrived everything changed. He always had a smile on his face while he played."
The Brazillian trickster spent five years at the club, helping Barcelona to their first European trophy in 13 years, and became the poster boy behind flair and skill that was injected into his fans' everyday lives. "I enjoy playing, especially on LAN, and I don't worry too much about winning or losing anymore. I've been competing for 11 years and I've learned to just enjoy your moment like Ronaldinho did, and that's what I am going to do going forward."
Yet for Keloqz, despite being a fan of popular sports like football and even pursuing a career in esports titles like Fortnite prior to moving to VALORANT, it was a new generation persona that inspired him to get where he is now, and one of Mixwell's most fearsome competitors too.
Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, of Belgian/Moroccan descent, became renowned in Counter-Strike for his ruthless headshot accuracy while competing on a string of top-tier French organisations, pioneering the entry fragger role in Europe. Adding the online streaming persona to his groundbreaking talent, ScreaM quickly became an icon in esports, and Keloqz was inspired.
"I really like ScreaM, he's insane. ScreaM the one-tap guy, he's great you know. I tried to play like him, one-taps, two-taps, and it helped find my style that I play with now," Keloqz said.
Despite namedropping a CS legend that wasn't his trusted Heretics teammate, ScreaM and Mixwell are very much cut from the same cloth, ageing in the same era and pushing each other to the limits in Europe and the world stage. Keloqz becoming inspired by an esports veteran only shows how much respect he has for the old guard, and Mixwell entering his happy and free leadership role on a clockwork team appears to be a recipe for success.
Planning for the future
"If you compare this team Heretics to other teams I have been on, I guess the biggest difference is that, on paper, this team doesn't have as many 'big names' as others," began Mixwell.
Alongside himself and Keloqz, Heretics' new roster also boasts Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt, Auni "AvovA" Chahade, and Ricardas "Boo" Lukasevicius, all of who come from stellar organisations yet aren't well-known for being the stars of their teams.
Instead, this Heretics roster looks to be building a solid foundation that revolves around teamwork, communication, and confidence. "The chemistry is much more important in this team. We need to be a team and work well together. We have a lot of players who have a lot of potential, with huge peaks, but who have been inconsistent in the past, including me," he added.
"So, what we need to do is focus on consistency and teamwork. If we do that, people will rate us much more highly come to the end of the season."
For Team Heretics, the Red Bull Home Ground serves as a catalyst for experimenting. With a huge shift in the meta coming post-event, teamwork will become more prevalent than ever before. Now it's all about bowing Chamber out in style or hedging your bets closer to the meta post-update. With Ronaldinho's spirit looming over their heads, you can imagine this will be the last dance for Chamber that might just leave Heretics as the Black Swan.