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G2 Gozen Mimi: "Our Goal Is To Bring Game Changers Trophy Back To EMEA"

G2 Gozen's IGL, Mimi, gives insights about the new roster additions, improvements of GC scene, Clove buffs, and more.
G2 Gozen Mimi: "Our Goal Is To Bring Game Changers Trophy Back To EMEA"
Picture: Riot Games

Whenever we talk about Valorant Game Changers, there is one name that always comes up—Michaela "Mimi" Lintrup. She has been one of the most successful players in the GC scene and currently leads G2 Gozen as IGL. The team had a perfect start to the season 2024 as they won Game Changers 2024 EMEA: Stage 1 and lost just one series in the whole event.

You'll see the new roster in action once again at Red Bull Instalock 2024, and ahead of it, I sat down with Mimi to discuss their current roster, the team's goals for this season, the new agent Clove, the improvements the Game Changers scene needs, and more. You can read the full interview below.

G2 Gozen Mimi Interview

Mimi shares her thoughts on the main issues with the Valorant Game Changers scene.
Mimi shares her thoughts on the main issues with the Valorant Game Changers scene. (Picture: Riot Games)

Congratulations on a fantastic split one! You guys were amazing as always. How have the new changes been working out for you with the new roster, including Amy, Vania, and Rezq, in terms of gameplay, results, and meeting the expectations you guys had?

Mimi: Obviously, our expectations were very high, but they were based on individual talent rather than the belief that we would be a great team. That was the main goal for me and Petra. We wanted to create a super team that truly played together as a team, even though we have strong individual talent. Obviously, this takes a lot of time due to the many factors involved like experience.

It's a big challenge for a team like when you're not aware of when to stop overpeaking or when to push forward; it takes time to create these fundamentals in players. I think we're on a really good path. Right now, I'm sure that on an individual level, they can outshoot anyone. I have no doubt about that. But I want us to become a great team and reach the next level as well.

One thing I've loved most about G2 Gozen is the vibes. Whether you guys win or lose, you always seem to be enjoying yourselves. You're singing songs and chilling on stage. I think this synergy and these vibes make G2 Gozen the most unique team in the world. I'm curious to know what helped you guys achieve this level of comfort with both the old and new teammates and how you manage to stay positive all the time, even when there are multiple reasons to feel tense, like game pressure or when things don't go as planned. So, what's the secret behind this?

Mimi: I mean, in the very beginning of G2 Gozen, we were a lineup coming from Counter-Strike together. So we had been together for many years before we actually started playing Valorant. We had already built up that friendship and comfort with each other. 

But one thing is that Petra and I click very well together. Our personalities are very different, but still super similar. So we know each other really well and know how to keep the mood up. Petra is so goofy, and I just play along with her goofiness.

So everybody automatically feels more comfortable and welcome, knowing they can be themselves. Nobody has to pretend to be anyone. It was actually really funny because last year, we had Sarah with us for about six months. In the beginning, she was super shy and held back a bit, but by the end, she just blossomed and you could really see her true personality.

I'm sure it helps a lot that there are players like me and Petra and our friendship that can help the rest feel like, "Okay, this is a good place to be." Nobody has to feel bad about being themselves, and everybody can say whatever they want. We're not a team made up of snowflakes, either. It's really important that people are honest and themselves. And we have fun because I truly believe that's also a really important factor in winning together.

You can have really good vibes, and the mood can be super high, creating a really good atmosphere, and this way, you're already winning. So I think that's also one thing that we've noticed from the beginning—that high vibes are super important.

I want to talk about the performance of the team in 2023. You guys were not able to win Game Changes in São Paulo last year. Now, with the new changes in place, what sort of gaps you guys are aiming to fill in the gameplay this year? And what are your expectations for the whole season? 

Mimi: Our expectation is definitely to go 3-0 in the EMEA scene this time. We've never managed to do it before with Gozen, so this is definitely going to be the year. After achieving that, we definitely want to bring back the global Game Changers trophy to where it belongs in EMEA.

It's going to be a hard and long road because, obviously, everyone is working really hard, and the scene is growing so much. Just from last year, you can see how high the talent level was at Champions, and I'm still very happy that we managed to secure third place despite having so many things to work on.

So I think it's pretty impressive that we made it that far actually. And then, obviously, we are also looking into qualifying for VCL. I believe this roster has Tier 2 potential, but we just have to really work hard to get there. We've had a lot of good practice against Tier 2 teams, like VCL teams, and have had a high win percentage.

So, I believe that if we just keep working hard, our team actually has the potential to make it.

So, are you guys keeping the same roster for the VCL?

Mimi: Yes, we would. 

Since you mentioned the talent and the global Game Changers event, as well as the Tier 2, I wanted to discuss the overall GC scene here. Leo mentioned that Riot wants to integrate GC into the main VCT circuit. They want GC players to play with men in the co-ed rosters in the long term. He mentioned that they've been talking to a lot of GC pros and the thinking is the same there.

Hence, they don't want to create systems like a Partnership League for GC separately, which I completely agree with and appreciate the vision. However, one of the things I'm thinking— and I could be wrong, so I'd love to hear your thoughts— is whether it's too soon to try to do that without marketing the GC scene to that scale. For example, we haven't even seen a major LAN event with a huge audience as of now. Did Riot talk to you about that vision as well? Could you share your thoughts about it and basically the whole GC scene?

Mimi: Riot is very receptive; they're looking for all kinds of feedback they can get from the GC players. Obviously, they have been very clear that they're not trying to elevate Game Changers to the level of VCT. I think that's totally fair because I believe there has to be some kind of gap. Also, if you want to be a tier-one professional player, there should be a distinct tier-one professional scene, not just a route through Game Changers. So, I think how things are now is super fair. 

Also, since I am not going to be playing for another 10 years like the rest of my teammates, and Petra is also getting a little bit old, don't tell her I said that (laughing); my goal for this team now is to try to give them all my experience and my way of thinking. Hopefully, it will help them become even better players because they obviously have the talent in terms of mechanics and aim; it's the experience that's lacking.

Hopefully, I can teach them so they have a chance to actually make it on a VCT team. Do I believe they can do it? Absolutely. It's only about the hard work they put into it. I think it would be so awesome to have a VCT team with a three or two-man core. I see it happening if they truly believe in themselves and want it.

Have you ever received an offer from a men's VCT team in the past, whether it's tier two or tier one?

Mimi: I have not. In Valorant, I've always been very settled on G2 Gozen, so I've never been a free agent either. If anyone were to approach me, they would know they'd have to buy me out of my contract. I don't believe it's the easiest thing for G2 to let go of, but if it were to ever happen, of course, G2 would be very cooperative. 

I also know that I'm not a young talent anymore, and I'm okay with that. I really just want my young players to be the superstars later in their lives, and we believe it's going to happen, definitely.

There are a number of tier-one GC tournaments happening over the year, which has given a lot of exposure to players. But I want to focus on the off-season here. Last year, we saw some tournaments where the participation of women and marginalized genders was encouraged, but the numbers were very low. Do you think we'll see more of them this year, like Red Bull Instalock? How much do you think these tier-two tournaments will help young talent come forward, and how can they help tier-one teams scout new players and prepare for bigger stages in the future?

Mimi: Yeah, I think Tier 2 GC tournaments are definitely helpful for the scene. As for Red Bull Instalock, I don't want to make it sound like I'm not grateful for the tournament; I am. I think it's going to be such a fun experience to finally play on LAN again. But for the main GC circuits, our season starts early in the year and ends pretty late, so we have a full year with tournaments.

There's a bit of a gap between some of the splits, but if we had many more tournaments, I think we might actually reach a point of saturation. However, I do believe that having Tier 2 tournaments for GC, whether online or not, for people to prove themselves and get noticed by some of the top GC teams is definitely good.

It's the same as how it works for VCT, right? In any VCL or Tier 2 tournament, everybody takes their chances and tries to show themselves. The only other way you can do it is through ranked, and if you don't get noticed through ranked, well, then it's pretty hard. So I always believe that it's super great, and I wish that they keep on coming.

I also always love to be a part of it, especially the Red Bull tournaments. We were at Home Ground last year, and it was such a crazy experience. It's one that I will never forget. So I'm also sure that this tournament, Instalock, is going to be the same.

Riot is doing its best to help the GC scene grow, but what areas do you think need improvement?

Mimi: One thing that's really great is showcasing Game Changers on the main channels of Twitch, where VCT is also being streamed. It really helps with exposure. The same goes for Twitter and Instagram. So I think that's really good. They're not really trying to differentiate too much between the main VCT circuit and the Game Changers.

While I'm not saying it's necessarily unfair, for example, in Brazil, they have their tournaments on LAN, which we don't have in EMEA. So, in a way, they're getting some experience that EMEA doesn't have the chance to get.

I also understand that there are a lot of Turkish players, Russian players, and players from the Middle East in the EMEA circuit. So everything is a bit more complicated because you do need visas if you were to have events in Germany, for example. So, things would be a bit more complicated for the teams. But I do believe that there is a way to find some stability.

I do understand that there are budget considerations to take into account. It's not as simple as just inviting everybody to go to a LAN. There's obviously so much more to consider. And when it comes to the Riot Studios, there's also League of Legends to take care of and Valorant to take care of.

So I understand that Game Changers is not their first priority when there are high-caliber teams and games to take care of, and I totally get that. I understand that it's probably hard for them to find a balance and a spot for this to actually happen. I'm just still very grateful that we have Champions at the end of the year, and I'm praying that it's going to be in EMEA again this year.

Another thing, for example, in NA, you see that only two or three teams are signed, and for me, that makes no sense. In EMEA, we have all the teams in the main circuits that are signed, and even people in contenders are signed. But that is, of course, not on Riot; that's on the orgs, but I think we need to talk about it more. 

You are an initiator player, but you've played as a controller on occasion. We've seen you play Brimstone, and even in the Masters Madrid Showmatch, you played Clove. Back then, it was too soon to ask about the agent's potential in competitive, but now that they are out for a while, I'd like to know your thoughts about them.

Mimi: I think Clove is definitely playable, but they have to be used in a very specific way, I would say. We've tried Clove on different maps to see if we can make it work, and there are just some maps where we feel like they don't work; it's just not possible.

Omen is still superior on some maps, especially with the range of the smokes, which limits Clove on bigger maps like Breeze, Haven, and Ascent. You would have to play Clove in a very specific and limited way where it doesn't benefit the team play. However, I do believe that there is still potential on other maps.

It's all about combining Clove's utility with, let's say, someone like Raze or a Sova shock dart, where it actually makes a lot of sense. So, if you are to incorporate Clove into gameplay, you really have to be creative with it.

Do you think there is a need to buff or nerf Clove right now? It's probably too soon to ask, but I'm curious.

Mimi: Maybe a buff to the range of the smokes could make Clove more competitive compared to Omen. But Omen is really good. I feel like a nerf would destroy the agent and make them unplayable, which would be a shame because they're really fun to play and offer something different. Finally, you see ranked players picking something other than smokes, which is surprising. So, yeah, I think if there were to be any changes, it would be a buff, in my opinion.