Written By Germanicus - 2021-02-16
Several teams have made great strides up the North American ladder lately, with one of them being XSET. The team has shown massive potential and a playstyle like no other, and perhaps the best example of that is Matthew "Wedid" Suchan. The endemic VALORANT pro has become known for his proficiency on Viper, playing it when few others were, and has become a rising star in the scene. He sat down with THESPIKE.GG to discuss his former team, Mamba Mode Gaming, why he ended up on XSET, the origins of his Viper, and how big of an impact the VALORANT pros who have never played another game competitively will have on the scene in the long run.
Answers have been edited for clarity and grammar.
It’s safe to say things have been going very well for XSET VALORANT lately. With big wins over TSM and Envy, they secured a top four finish in Challengers 1 and earned a bye to Challengers 2. Wedid is very happy with the team’s progress so far.
“We feel really good actually about our results, things have been shaping up nicely, you know? When I first joined the team, we had like a little tournament win (Nerd Street Gamers - Monthly October), and then we were in a little slump for like a month, or something, and then we brought it back, and now, I guess we’re in contention for, maybe like, top 5 team in NA. I’m really proud of where we are right now.”
Alongside XSET, teams like Luminosity Gaming and Immortals have been posting very impressive results lately, with the more traditional top teams slipping. Wedid thinks this is partly due to complacence, and partly due to the lack of tournaments that some of those teams play, giving the newer rosters more time in officials to experiment and practice.
“I feel like this kind of thing is gonna happen a lot, you know? The teams at the top, they get complacent, and they don’t really change anything, and they don’t play tournaments for a few months, because they’re still at the top. They only need to play the big tournaments. Then once they get into these Riot-sanctioned tournaments, or anything like that, they’re still running their old strats; they haven’t changed much because they think they can get in there and just out-aim everyone, or do the things that worked in the past. But a lot of new teams come up with different comp ideas and they’re very creative, and I feel like that’s what happened with us and LG, for example. We came up with a lot of new things, a lot of new ideas, and we were able to take these top teams down and get an upset going.”
As regards the team’s playstyle and strengths, Wedid explains that they have great teamwork and coordination, and their lack of solo plays helps more than it hinders.
“I feel like we don’t make many solo plays, and most of our plays come from team plays. So like, we don’t have anybody lurking unless it’s really needed, we have really good cohesion with each other, and we work really well as a team, whereas like, some players are just mechanically gifted on the top 5 teams, and they like doing things alone. Of course that can get you some momentum going into a game, but it can also mess it up really bad if you make a couple mistakes. We don’t really do that often.”
Wedid comes from a competitive background of… absolutely nothing. VALORANT is his first competitive game ever, putting him in an small group of players, such as Shawn "Shawn" O'Riley and Quan "dicey" Tran, who are also in that situation. Wedid took some time to explain his personal experience making his way into the scene, and his thoughts that these players are going to push out the veterans and be the future of the game.
“I feel like it wasn’t that hard for me to break in, because I was just a CS pugger in the past, so I kinda had the 5v5 first-person shooter game sense and everything that comes into this game, and I feel like it’s easier to aim in this game than it was in CS. The tier 1 CS players that come into this game, I don’t feel like they have much of an advantage compared to the new players, or the people that weren’t really pro in CS or Overwatch or anything. I feel like a lot of people in this game could do better than the people that were tier 1 in other games as well. I feel like someone who wasn’t really a pro in any other games could just come in and make strides here. Another great and helpful thing is that the community is also the nicest I’ve been a part of out of any game I’ve played.”
“I do feel like, if you have that CS background, you have an advantage in terms of getting noticed by orgs, but I feel like the people whose main priority is VALORANT, I feel like they have more of an up, you know? They don’t bring their egos from other games and they’re more open to learning and stuff like that, and are more creative and come up with new things more than others. I feel like the people from other games just, like, they bring in their egos and they get cocky, you know? I feel like the people that came from VALORANT specifically are gonna be better than those CS pros, and Overwatch pros, and PUBG pros, and all that.”
Wedid first began to find VALORANT success with Mamba Mode Gaming, a small start-up organization. Their win in the PULSE Series was massive, and though the team began to split ways after that, most members found high-profile new homes. Former MMG players from that event are currently on Built By Gamers, Evil Geniuses, and Ghost Gaming respectively. When asked how good they really were at this point, Wedid explained that, though other pros thought they were good, their lack of a coherent playstyle and strategy really hampered them scrimming against North America’s best.
“There was a pro’s zone Discord where we were the first team that got a chance to be voted into tier 1 by the other tier 1 teams. Even at that, when we would scrim tier 1 teams, we obviously wouldn’t be the best. The reason we won a lot of games on Mamba Mode Gaming was because we were just out-aiming and doing stupid things, and it just ended up working. That’s basically what happened. The only thing I think we practiced on MMG was our retakes, and that’s why I think we had like a 70% retake percentage against most teams. We got voted into tier 1, and I don’t think we were doing well against most teams, because we weren’t coming up with strats, we were just picking characters and doing our own thing, and it just seemed to work for a long time in tournaments, but I don’t think we deserved it honestly.”
Wedid was the first player to leave that MMG roster after his Viper played a starring role in their Pulse Series success. Most fans predicted that he’d find his way to some massive organization, such as NRG Esports or Complexity. After weeks of trial rumours, however, he found his way to XSET, who, while a very promising organization, it can be agreed are not yet on the level of some of the aforementioned orgs. Wedid revealed what really happened during this process.
“I had a chance to trial with NRG the second I left the team. Gabe Ren released me from my contract because I asked him to, because he said I wouldn’t get any trials. He said, and I quote, ‘If a team wants to buy you out, they will, a contract is not gonna stop them from getting you’. So I left, and then Chet, the NRG coach, instantly messaged me, I think it was literally 3 hours after I put up my LFT post, and he told me, ‘hey, I’m the 100 Thieves coach for CS and I’m moving over to coach VALORANT, I’m gonna be with NRG,’ and once I heard that, given that NRG was my dream org, I felt like I had to prove myself there. The reason I didn’t make the spot is because I was really nervous, and my comms were on a low, and that was the only reason that I basically think I didn’t make it, at least that’s what I thought. When I trialed for XSET, there was instant chemistry. Everything just clicked, I was comfortable with everyone, everyone was laughing around, we were all having fun, we were all eager to work and win, and it ended up becoming my favourite team to play with so far.”
Probably the thing Wedid is most well-known for is that Viper. Even just recently, he dominated TSM with it on Split to send XSET through to Challengers 1.
The pick has become XSET’s trump card, the thing they can throw out whenever needed to always have a chance of winning. Wedid told how his affection for the agent came about. Essentially, it was a ‘screw it, let’s see what happens’ move when he had decided to leave Mamba Mode. To say that things worked out would be a massive understatement.
“For why I started playing her, this is not something I’ve told a lot of people, but I thought for one, Viper was underrated, but she wasn’t underrated to the point where she was like, ‘oh, she’d be so godlike if someone learned her.’ I just thought she was better than people think she is. But also, I was already planning on leaving MMG when I picked up Viper, so I kinda wanted to see what I was able to do, and I kinda convinced my team to get me off Jett and put me on Viper. We kinda went to that tournament not expecting to win, because we were practicing Viper for, I think, three or four days. I think most of the things in that tournament we came up with on the spot, so I was throwing random walls on Ascent or random walls on Bind, an orb in the middle of site, and all these things. And then I just fell in love with Viper from there. I didn’t expect her to be as good as she is, she offers a lot to most teams if people would actually give time to learn her. When we would scrim TSM, they were running Viper as well sometimes on Split, and I thought she was really good. I feel like more teams should run Viper, like Andbox does, you know? Andbox has really intricate Viper plays that I really like, although I don’t think she’s the best in the way that they play her, but I think the way I play her is really good.”
With Jake "POACH" Brumleve on his way out from Andbox, Wedid laments that the future of their Viper play is uncertain.
Tweets like this from Damian "daps" Steele have opened a big can of worms in the VALORANT community lately - is VALORANT too random, is the skill floor too low? Wedid discussed his thoughts on the subject - some of it is valid criticism, while some of it has gone a bit too far.
“Personally, I think there’s only a few things that genuinely make me mad about this game, and it’s just the Stinger, the Frenzy, and the shotguns, but other than that, I feel like everything else is fine. Those are genuinely the only things that come to mind when I get frustrated during a match or playing a ranked game or something. It’s a running Frenzy or a running Stinger, or a Bucky that shoots me from 20 meters away and one-shots me, or a flying Judge on Jett, those things are just annoying. But other than that, I feel like when people complain about Reyna or Jett being annoying, and like ‘oh, it’s a puggy playstyle,’ like sure, it’s a puggy playstyle, but that’s what the agent is meant to do, you know? It’s meant to take solo fights, it’s meant to be a ‘confidence-driven agent’, right? So you’re a momentum-based character, but it also helps that losing momentum is just as easy as gaining it in this game. And I don’t mind all that, it may be annoying to play against a combination of an overconfident Reyna/Jett who also has really good aim, but those characters have balances and could also be tweaked in some ways to not be as annoying as they are right now.”
Alongside his VALORANT success, Wedid’s personal brand has been growing quickly. With 10k+ Twitter followers and some stream success as well, he’s converted server success into popularity very effectively. He explained that, while streaming success wasn’t ever his goal, it’s something he’s very happy to have, and also described why he thinks he’s grown where others haven’t.
“My main goal was to go pro, but, since playing CS, I’ve always wanted to grow a stream or my own brand or something, because I always look up to streamers, like for example aceu or dizzy, these are people that I would look up to and watch. I would always be like, ‘dang, having a stream would be so cool,’ and I guess I’ve built a brand for myself and I have a decent following now. I would play against pros in ranked games and then people would come check out my stream. Then, after I tried to go pro in tier 2, people would watch me, and then they’d come watch my streams after, given the results, and I think it all popped off when I did well on Viper, for some reason. Having your own gimmick and having your own little thing, like, I’m the Viper player. Everyone knows me as the Viper player, so for some reason people love that. If something’s unique, people will watch you more.”
Finally, Wedid commented on XSET’s future. The goal is simple: to keep improving and to win, watching out for stumbling blocks along the way.
“I mean, challenging for Masters is our goal, you know? I feel like right now, any team that’s in the top 5 could beat any team. There’s not a lot of room for mistakes. I feel like our main goal here is to win, obviously, and I feel like if we make it to Masters here, we can qualify for Champions for sure, and make it to the global LAN.”
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