In Focus: OpTic's Mixwell

Written by: Dustin Mouret
Twitter: @dustmouret

       The story of OpTic Gaming reads as a complicated series of ups and downs over the last few months. With a mixed bag of results to end 2015, OpTic started this year off securing a spot in ELEAGUE during the Road to Vegas. Shortly afterwards, OpTic ran into trouble as they failed to qualify for the most recent Valve Major at MLG Columbus despite being a favorite. OpTic recovered with solid results in North America’s top professional leagues, making the playoffs for the most recent seasons of both ESL and CEVO. While things seemed to improve, the players at OpTic felt change was needed to reinforce the greenwall for the future. Óscar “mixwell” Cañellas looks to be the breath of fresh air OpTic needs to continue their climb to the top of the North American ladder.

In the shadows

       Mixwell began his career at the age of 18 in his home country of Spain. Spain is known as one of the lesser-developed countries when it comes to CS:GO in Europe; therefore, studying mixwell’s early career can be quite difficult. His first recorded tournament took place in July of 2014 at DreamHack Valencia where he played for a team by the name of gBots. Here, mixwell faced lesser-known teams such as Platinium from France, who at the time housed players such as bodyy who now plays for G2, as well as to1nou and mathEND, current LDLC players. In his debut at a decent-sized LAN event, mixwell showed potential, putting up impressive numbers.

      In April of 2015, mixwell attended his next offline event at Copenhagen Games. Playing for Atlantis, mixwell met his first elite level team in the form of the current Virtus Pro. It was a reality check for a rising player, as he struggled to hold his own against the higher-level competition. Though mixwell fell short in his first encounter with one of the best teams in the world, he pressed on within the Spanish scene. Mixwell went on to become a standout player within his country, putting up great showings under gBots in the local AlienTech CS:GO League, which featured Spanish and Portuguese teams as well as a few smaller teams from other countries. Mixwell dominated the league, leading his team to a second place finish in the early part of this year. In roughly a years’ time, Mixwell had elevated his play, becoming more experienced and confident in his abilities. He soon would get the opportunity to put them on display at a big tournament not too far from home.

Stepping onto the world stage

      Mixwell got his next shot at proving himself against top international competition at the ESL Barcelona CS:GO Invitational in February of 2016. Here, mixwell along with the rest of gBots, faced off against dignitas, fnatic, and EnVyUs. Their opening match against dignitas turned out to be an extremely tight race as gBots narrowly lost the match on cobblestone 14-16. Despite taking a loss, the team performed quite well considering their opposition, and mixwell exhibited an especially high level of play. In the following game, gBots stood up against the world’s best team, fnatic, on one of their best maps: inferno. Again gBots put up a substantial fight until the very end, losing another close game 13-16. Mixwell put up fantastic numbers, fragging some of the best players CS:GO has to offer. While gBots exited the event in the next game in a one-sided loss to EnVyUs, they certainly turned the heads of many in the community during their first two matches.

       In a somewhat breakout performance, mixwell’s name was unknown to the international community going into the tournament. Throughout the event, mixwell looked sharp and highly versatile. His play at Barcelona immediately caught the eyes of OpTic’s captain Damian “daps” Steele, who was looking for a new player to get his team back on track in the North American leagues. After watching over the games from the invitational, daps dug deeper into the tape of mixwell over the next few weeks. He saw an aggressive, capable player with the AWP and the rifle. Mixwell possessed the will to be a selfless teammate and do what was necessary to open up areas of the map for his team. To daps, it was clear mixwell could complement the roster of OpTic and the roles they were looking to establish for their lineup going forward. As a result, mixwell was approached with a new opportunity to continue his professional career that would take him far from home, thrusting him into some of the biggest tournaments that game has seen. It was an offer he couldn’t pass up, and despite the challenges, he took it head on.

Going for glory

      Upon his arrival to North America, mixwell quickly impressed many of the region’s professionals in nightly pick-up games. Several players praised him for his aggressive yet intelligent plays, as well as his positive attitude and drive to improve. However, what mattered most was his ability to have an immediate positive impact on OpTic in online league play. With little time to prepare, mixwell quickly found himself competing in the ECS as well as the tail end of Season 3 of the ESL Pro League. Mixwell put on a solid display of skill in almost every game he played against the top teams competing in the North American region. This included great performances in victories over Team Liquid and CLG, while there were also some upsetting losses mixed in. The next step for mixwell would be transitioning to a LAN environment with his new teammates.

       Mixwell’s first tournament with OpTic took place at the CEVO Gfinity Season 9 Finals. OpTic opened up the event with a match against Hell Raisers where they looked to be in great form in the first map on cobblestone, taking a quick and easy victory. In this game, mixwell was one of the team’s top performers and looked as though he fit in well considering the circumstances. However, in the following two maps, cache and overpass, OpTic was absolutely ripped apart. It was a crazy turnaround for the team as the entire lineup struggled to replicate their success in the first map. Thus, OpTic initially stared down elimination, but they managed to survive their series against Splyce, moving on in the tournament. Next, they contested against Virtus Pro. Virtus Pro would completely dismantle OpTic on mirage and inferno, though mixwell mustered up some decent individual showings throughout the whole ordeal. It wasn’t an ideal result for the team, but it allowed them to gain some much needed experience.

       Just a few weeks later OpTic participated in the ESL Season 3 Pro League Finals. OpTic started off the event with a huge upset win over Astralis on inferno. It was a great overall effort for the entire OpTic lineup, with mixwell doing quite well in an entry role alongside Will “RUSH” Wierzba.  However, this is where the victories for OpTic come to a close, with G2 dominating them on cobblestone. In the best-of-three decider, OpTic battled with Luminosity, a team with a highly-successful track record in recent months. It was a close series as both maps went the distance, but as the dust settled, Luminosity emerged victorious. While they didn’t win, it was a good display for OpTic. Mixwell had a particularly great game on overpass and the team did well to keep up with the current best team in the world. It was a sign that OpTic was heading in the right direction, and that their decision to change things up was not in vain.

       Mixwell continued to thrill fans at the second Americas Minor and during the second week of ELEAGUE. In Columbus, Mixwell led his team to wins over TSM, Selfless, and WinOut during the earlier portions of the tournament. He then helped OpTic twice best Tempo Storm to secure the winning title. Mixwell ended the event with a +49 k/d ratio, and put on a masterful display in his approach to the game. Mixwell then brought impressive form to ELEAGUE, with impressive individual performances against NiP on multiple occasions. He also played a solid map against G2 on train, and had no problems dealing with Selfless in the group stage. Despite the fact OpTic was unable to secure a playoff spot or guarantee themselves a place in the LCQ at ELEAGUE, they looked fairly competitive in several of their matches. OpTic has certainly displayed a good amount of growth in recent times, with mixwell beginning to emerge as the star of the team.

       While his origins may lie in obscurity, mixwell has begun to demonstrate great capability this year. His last moments in Spain produced some highlights in Barcelona, as he battled some of the best teams CS:GO has to offer. In his short time with OpTic, mixwell has shown the ability to be productive as not only an AWPer, but also as an entry rifler. His aggression fits well with a team that is comprised of more passive players (outside of RUSH). Undoubtedly, OpTic made the right call bringing mixwell on board. With this opportunity, mixwell has only just begun to show the world what he is really made of.