To Anthony " gMd " Guimond, breaking out in the North American CS:GO scene was a daunting task. Despite the wealth of talent in the Canadian pool such as Matthew " Wardell " Yu and Tyson " TenZ " Ngo, players like him struggled to find their footing in the turbulent environment that is NA CS:GO's Tier 2 scene.

The French-Canadian boasts nearly four years in ESEA's NA MDL division, and briefly played for organizations such as Rogue, Spacestation, and LiViD. But those stints were alongside periods of free agency and seasons with Canadian mixes District 7 and French Canadians, marking his career with instability.

When Valorant finally materialized, gMd and company moved over to the fledgling new scene, competing under the name French Canadians. Following two weeks of competition in open events, the entire French Canadian roster were signed by Gen.G Gen.G North America Rank #4 PLAYER1 Keven Champagne huynh Danny Huynh MkaeL Michael De Luca gMd Anthony Guimond effys Loic Sauvageau and became one of the first teams to be signed with a professional organization.

Since then, Gen.G have remained a mainstay of the North American scene, participating in every NA Ignition Series event, with the team making a top four placement in the FaZe Invitational.

Following the conclusion of Pop Flash, organized by Flashpoint, VLR.gg reached out to Anthony “gMd” Guimond to chat the first four months in Valorant, his team's arrival at Gen.G, and the future of Valorant moving forward.

How did you react to the rumors and eventual announcement of Valorant?

Coming from Counter Strike, I was rather skeptical, especially about the agent-based abilities concept that I moderately liked. It's the FPS part that made me interested in the game. On top of that, the idea of ​​a new game that could make new people breakthrough is also very interesting as standing out on CS:GO has become something very complicated over time, and the arrival of Valorant is beneficial for that.

I'm glad to see that Riot is behind the project; I still have a lot of confidence in them seeing how well they are doing with League of Legends. Like I said, some abilities as well as the cartoon-ish aspect gave me some preconceptions at first, but I got to play the game in beta and quickly saw that the game is great.

Has Valorant been a topic of discussion for a long time in terms of possible career change for you and the team?

The game was released in beta during ESEA's off-season. With some people, we got a key for the game quickly and from day one we tested it a bit — nothing too serious, because I was already involved with a semi-professional MDL team. I also had no intention of leaving CS:GO, as I didn't think Valorant was going to explode so much.

On the other hand, a lot of people tried to convince me to give Valorant a chance, especially effys, who was going to focus fully on competing in the game 100%, and the same for PLAYER1. They've been my teammates for years, so I trusted them. We played at the start, did a few streams, but the arrival of competitions, as well as our two good results during the Nerd Street Gamers events (third place then first place in the second tournament), is what got me hooked on the game.

I like Counter Strike a lot, but it's the competitive aspect of the game that matters most to me and that makes me thrive on Valorant. I like to learn new games, so I have to hang in there right away.

So it was just the competition that got you into the game, didn't you look at the lore or the aesthetic?

Yes that’s what attracted me, otherwise I trust Riot. In principle it's still 5v5, bomb or spike I don’t care, the two games are very similar and I didn't see too much difference. It's a new game and therefore a new challenge for me, and I got hooked straight away.

For you, was this massive exile towards Valorant expected in North America? It seems that the phenomenon has been less prevalent in Europe.

I think this is due to the fact that there is more talent in European CS:GO and also more room in structures, and that it's much harder in North America to join a recognized organization. We have a lot of top teams like Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Evil Genuises, who can compete at a very high level. But the pool of players is much smaller behind and I have no difficulty in recognizing that the level of the second tier teams is lower than that of Europe.

We see it if we compare the teams present in MDL on the two continents — there is a difference in terms of the time and the commitment that is put into the game. I think that it is this phenomenon that makes it so more well-known players in North America switched games when Valorant was released.

You immediately took the game by storm and, as you said before, you quickly had good results. Did you expect to perform so well you were spotted by an organization after only a few weeks on Valorant?

Our success at Nerd Street Gamers stems from the fact that we are all close friends on the team and we've known each other for a long time, but it also surely was because we took this seriously faster than others. We also quickly realized that we knew everyone in these tournaments; the scene was so young that we knew who we were playing against with our liabilities on CS:GO.

Then for the organization, we contacted Gen.G by email when we saw that they were looking for a team. From there, they answered us and it all went really fast. I didn't think it would be that quick!

I think for them, it’s a risky bet to take us. We had only done two tournaments and we could very well have collapsed afterwards without leveling up. I really enjoyed what Gen.G did for us; we were greeted like royalty and they're a really good organization. We already had contacts, but it was clearly a snap with them.

Bienvenu to our new VALORANT team!🇨🇦🇫🇷

We are excited to announce that the French Canadians will make our roster! #TigerNation give the Kings of the North a warm welcome! So, who's ready to see them compete?👀

@_PLAYERR1
@HUYNH_CS
@MkaeLcs
@Guiiimond
@effysgo

#GenG #WeAreGenG
Gen.G signs French Canadians shortly after their NSG Open #2 win

I imagine that Gen.G especially had to offer more things than other organizations?

This is not necessarily what attracted us the most - the main thing was that everything went quickly. They quickly gave us confidence by explaining their project and structure to us and we really liked it. This proposal was also at the center of our discussions because it gave us the possibility to play with this five there, where we have all known each other for several years, and where we are friends even outside of the game.

You have participated in four Ignition tournaments so far, which one did you prefer in terms of format? And if you have a format that you would like to see next time.

I would say Pop Flash! Partly because the tournament was made up of fewer teams, but also because the days were less important and we were given time to see the next match coming, therefore allowing us to prepare more properly than on days when the rounds were continuous.

It will surely be something difficult to reproduce if more line-ups participate in these tournaments, but Bo3 is by far the system we like the most as players. I find that Bo1 has too much randomness, even more-so in Valorant where the matches are played up to 13 rounds. I also really liked the production of the event, as Pop Flash for me was perfect even though we expected better results.

During the Pittsburgh Knights Invitational playoffs, we played a lot of Bo1 games, which leaves a lot more room for surprises and misfires from the teams. On the player side, I find it clearly more interesting to switch to Bo3, but I also understand the organizers want to see more teams in certain tournaments, and that it makes it difficult to set up matches that are so long.

The main thing I have to say is about the schedules. I live near the east coast and it is very complicated to start games at 11:00 p.m., especially if they are long. Other than that I have nothing against the organizers, and I am happy with all the competitions that we have had to do so far.

That was a little less true on the Pop Flash tournament, but didn't you feel aggrieved when everyone was talking about the TSM vs Sentinels duel? How did the team feel about that?

I can understand the TSM matchup against Sentinels. However, I think it was a little unfair to say so quickly that sinatraa and his teammates were the main opponent of Team SoloMid, because often at the beginning they didn't play all tournaments and so on. We played against them more often than not. It didn't play on our confidence, but more on our motivation where it boosted us to show our level. We also showed it recently where we came close to beating TSM in the playoffs game. But the more time passes, the more I see that Sentinels deserves their support and results.

The storytelling around sinatraa, the Overwatch legend, who plays against well-known CSGO players must have done so too.

I think it plays clearly yes, but it mainly depends on their experience in the game. They know how to play at a very high level, manage their stress, etc.. By being at the top level on another game, you arrive on Valorant with basis and knowledge which already make you a super player, as I said, the experience plays a lot especially in close matches.

sinatraa improved so quickly. Honestly, at first it all sounded like one kind of joke, but now we can't laugh anymore. {laughs} He has really improved and it's great to see people taking the time and energy to learn and be the best.

What makes your team strong with Gen.G? You were telling us about the fact that you know each other, is that mainly what keeps the roster strong?

We're one of the fastest growing teams alongside TSM and yes, the fact that we know each other helps a lot - we take criticism better and we don't get too upset. Even if we are cold at the time, after practice everything is forgotten. We also learned the game together so it's easier to understand each other. We also have more teamplay than certain formations in place, while remaining humble, because we play less on the individualities of each.

Our firepower is much less impressive here — we don't have sinatraa, ShahZaM, or TenZ dominating the scoreboard. We don't have star players like these other teams, and the fact we're moving forward and being able to be competitive all together like that, that motivates us! I find it also easier to work like this; the whole team is lifting and climbing at the same time and it is good for everyone.

gMd clutches vs. TSM during Pop Flash

The question of the franchise format arises for the future of Valorant. For you, coming from a scene barely supported by Valve, what is your opinion?

I never thought about it too much. I will follow the scene as it unfolds, but it is clearly interesting for teams in place like us who are supported by important organizations. The franchise format would be clearer for everyone, unlike CS:GO, where teams oscillate between pro and amateur mode without ever really being on top. But at the same time, it's hard for up-and-comers to break into a scene like that.

The franchise system remains the most stable option for players and established organizations; Riot already structures its LoL leagues like this and I would like to see that happen in the future. I trust them to build a viable ecosystem that will allow the game to last.

What do you think about the current state of the game and what changes are you waiting for?

I find that the game allows you to move quickly and also escape quickly. There's also the the format of the matches, which are shorter than CS:GO, the pistols rounds which therefore count more in MR12, and some ultimates that allow you to win some rounds easily.

Jett is the best example, as her power allows you to play rounds with pistols more serenely and with a really improved firepower. But also no, in the meta I don't find anything particularly too powerful.

To continue on Jett, I just have some doubts. I have the impression that with this character, a lot of players allow themselves to be very aggressive without risking too much. I will probably not be able to play it correctly, but I have the impression that she is very strong - we see Wardell at TSM or even Mixwell at G2 Esports fly over parts just with their mastery of the character.

What are you waiting for at the most competitive level?

I can't wait for events to be more on a regular basis, just to know in advance against whom and in what format we're going to have to play. The current system with short tournaments that follow one after another quickly doesn't allow you to change the game plan too much or test a new agent on a player, it's really complicated on that point.

A sort of league like what we could have with the ESL Pro League will help us to establish ourselves and to prepare well for the following meetings. I can't wait for such a format to emerge clearly!

Do you watch competitions on other continents? Which players and which teams do you follow in particular?

I follow FunPlus PhoeniX a lot in Europe, I think they're a team that brings a much more structured side than what you can see elsewhere. I suspect that it must come from Ange1, who was a very respected leader on CS:GO and was famous when he joined Valorant. Honestly, I find Japan to be lagging behind in FPS overall; they have an very good aim, but they have difficulty with strategy.

Other than that, I watch Team Liquid and G2 Esports a bit, but I find the scene less competitive in Europe. Being humble, I feel like I see more teams that can be at a competitive level in North America.

I have the impression that I see less of the strategic side, but it is still very clearly nice to follow and there is a lot of great play! We see players like Mixwell or ScreaM who really have a very high level of play and who seem to be able to reverse a game on their own. For me, FPX remains the most interesting team to look at in Europe for their strategic side.

To pick up on your words in relation to Ange1, do you think a new player starting the lead on Valorant is going to be something that will take a long time to see? There are a lot more things to take into account than with CS:GO for example.

I agree, I had never really taken the lead before Valorant. We clearly have an advantage coming from another FPS, but it can also play tricks on us because we want to play the same game. I'm telling you that especially in terms of how to manage the pace in attack or positions in defense. Keeping this rigor prevents us from seeing other aspects of the game or other way of playing and we can be surprised.

There are a lot of possibilities and varieties on Valorant and all of these strategies can work. It’s much harder to lead for that, even when you have a game plan set up against a particular team. We never lost to Cloud9 because we knew their game, which looks like what you could see on Counter Strike. But then they surprised us by playing three duelists in a strategy that we weren't ready for. It took a long time to adapt and that was noticed during the game - we started soft on both sides and it cost us the game.

A team like T1, who have played little since the start of the game, are also difficult to anticipate. Conversely, we already have a lot of games under our belt and we are surely more predictable during games for our opponents. The adaptation time is much longer for Valorant, because there are many more parameters that come into play, unlike CS where everyone has the same utility.

All of this also makes it more chaotic during games, and therefore it's more difficult to keep calm. I also spent more time with my nose in the radar as I played more with my aim before, but I love learning how to do it and I enjoy making progress in this area.

Any last comments?

Honestly, thank you very much for coming to see me to interview me. I find that the work you do at VLR.gg is important for the scene, to allow everyone to follow the competitions and the various news. That's really sweet, without you the scene wouldn't be the same and thank you again for contacting me!

You can find Anthony " gMd " Guimond on his social media, including Twitter and on Twitch.

Gen.G Gen.G North America Rank #4 PLAYER1 Keven Champagne huynh Danny Huynh MkaeL Michael De Luca gMd Anthony Guimond effys Loic Sauvageau are not currently set to compete in any upcoming events, with the North American Ignition Series coming to a close.