Maksym “Mopsio” Szczypa is used to being knocked down and picking himself back up.
It started at a young age growing up in a small village in Poland when his decision to pursue professional gaming alienated himself from the wishes of his family. That defiance strained his relationship with his loved ones, shaping Mopsio into someone who, at times, couldn’t get a handle on how to deal with stress. Family pressure and in-game tension reached a boiling point when he was suspended from the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) last September for seven days following toxic behavior in a ladder match that was seen on a large personalities’ stream.
Since the day he was forced to watch his teammates struggle without him, a direct result of his actions, Mopsio made it a personal goal to attempt to put a handle on his demons. He did that by seeking outside counseling, a difficult and humbling experience for some who go through this process.
Looking to improve as a person and as a player on his new team, Leftovers, as they ascended from The Crucible to qualifying for Western Clash, Mopsio is, once again, out to prove those who want to see him fail wrong.
He sat down with me recently to talk about his recovery process, how former-teammate Adrian “adrd” Wojcik helped turn him into a better leader and where Gordon Ramsay fits on his road to culinary excellence.
The last few months of your life have been pretty hectic. You were one map away from winning the first Western Clash against Dignitas as a member of the Zealots to being dropped, picked up by the Leftovers and now are planning your second Western Clash trip of the year, how would you describe your life recently?
The last couple months have been back-and-forth. From almost getting a title to almost going to Mid-Season Brawl to be dropped and picked up by a team that was in The Crucible, the amount of work I had to put in to get to another LAN event...I’m speechless.
What were your expectations when you joined the Leftovers as they weren’t in the best shape performance wise?
My expectations when I joined the Leftovers were small, to be honest. During tryouts, I saw areas where I needed to work with the team to improve. I decided to give it a try and we’ve been talking and working together ever since I joined the team. We had a talk and decided that if we didn’t qualify for Western Clash we wouldn’t take [HGC] too seriously and just make sure we wouldn’t qualify for The Crucible. Ever since we decided that everyone has been grinding and working super hard.
What has changed in-game to where the Leftovers are now competitive and able to take maps off strong teams?
I think the biggest change was that the Leftovers didn’t have a shotcalling Tank back-in-the-day. Having a shotcalling Tank is something I’m very comfortable with. We’ve also split a lot of responsibilities across the team and I brought a level of infrastructure and experience that I got working with adrd.
Some things include communication and giving as much feedback as possible to the Leftovers on how to approach the game. To be brutally honest, their communication in-game was completely off. The rotations were bad, the drafts were decent but mechanically they’ve always been at the point where they could win some series and maps but they needed the leadership and structure within the team. It’s something they didn’t have. Once one person is micro-managing a lot of people, it’s impossible to perform well. Right now, I think everyone is doing well because we have split shotcalling, for example.
What does it take to be a good leader and why do you think you’re qualified to be a good one?
This question is pretty hard to answer because it’s something that always came to me naturally. I’ve always been a leader since my early-age, especially around my childhood friends, and that continued into high school. It came pretty naturally to me and I like having control over things around me.
You mentioned how much you learned from adrd moments ago, is there anything that sticks out to you?
The most important thing is patience and playing to your win-condition in-game. I used to be known as someone who was hot-headed and I still am a bit but not as bad as I was. It’s important to remain calm, patient and make sure everyone on the team shares the responsibility. Back in the day, I was the person who wanted to make sure everything was under my control and when I decided to join the Leftovers I told them, “I’m not going to do everything for you guys, you guys have to give your best as well and share duties.”
"I think the biggest moment is realizing yourself that you need help. I told myself, 'I want help. I can’t change all by myself and my own will.'"
Do you hold any resentment for how things ended with the Zealots?
I think my relationship with the Zealots is complicated at this point. We just didn’t get along and we didn’t share the same passion and goals. It’s also one of the reasons why adrd left the team.
Your past reputation within the Heroes scene is one filled with a lot of labels. You were known as someone who was toxic and, at one point, received a ban from HGC for poor behavior. What have you done to try and better yourself and repair your image?
I still think I’m very far away from the teammate and human being I want to be. I’ve gone through some big moments in my life and it took me acknowledging that I need outside help to allow me to become a better teammate.
Within your “Ask Me Anything” you held this past week, you mentioned a lawsuit in particular that caused you to change as a person, mind expanding on that?
As I’ve stated many times, a lot of things were going on in my life and they all snowballed and collapsed on me. A bad moment in-game was me being toxic in Hero League and once that got on Reddit it caused me to be banned from HGC. My team had to play with a last-minute sub in a very important weekend against Playing Ducks and Fnatic and I feel we could have beaten both of the teams had I not been banned. Just forcing me to watch the games and acknowledging that I can’t keep behaving like this made me feel miserable. Also, some real-life stuff was going on and my friends suggested that I seek outside help as they thought it was too much for a human being to handle alone.
What was the experience of seeking outside help like? Nerve-wracking? Excited about the possibilities?
I think the biggest moment is realizing yourself that you need help. I told myself, “I want help. I can’t change all by myself and my own will.” Since that moment, I went through a lot of talks and sessions, mostly about how to turn stress into something I can benefit from.
You may or may not realize that you’re not alone when it comes to these issues. People around the world are going through the same struggles you are. When you feel yourself creeping back to your “old ways,” what do you tell yourself to prevent lost progress?
I think this is a very good topic because during high-stress or emotional moments with my team or dealing with in-real-life stuff, I sometimes have a habit of going back to my old behaviors. I’m trying my best to not do it but it depends on the moment. Being a pro-gamer is not as easy a job as people think, it’s a very stressful job. I used to be known as a huge international choker at events and now I feel that I’m a huge asset to a team as I try to better myself.
Has your current team been supportive in your attempt to better yourself?
The environment with the Leftovers is that everyone is pretty open. We didn’t have that with the Zealots. People were way too shy and we used to have big arguments when I wasn’t behaving properly.
On the Leftovers, everyone is open to taking and giving feedback and criticism. I find this very important as a pro-gamer because you have to accept at some point that we are all human beings and we’ve been raised through different backgrounds. We all have to be more respectful to one another and towards our pros and cons.
From what I’ve read, being a pro-gamer isn’t your only passion in life. Can you talk a little about your relationship with food as your Twitter feed is filled with pictures of home-cooked gourmet meals?
It’s really difficult cooking as well as I am right now because, on one hand, I want to go on a diet and be more fit but the other side is that I love eating and cooking. The passion I have for good food, which is something I’ve always had since I was very young, has evolved into something I want to do. I actually planned to be a chef before I went to high school as I wanted to go to a culinary school.
"Confidence and patience are very important skills you need to have when it comes to food because you need to learn by making mistakes."
If down the road you are able to open your own restaurant, what will be served on the Mopsio menu?
It will be a mix of everything, mostly “fusion cuisine” because I like mixing stuff and trying to find umami when I’m cooking. I also love to experiment with different products and not try to be one-dimensional that only traditional cooking involves. I think traditional cooking is very important, of course, but what is more important for me at least is using the traditional rules to cook and use my imagination to try to evolve it into something high-quality tasting.
Where did your love of food come from?
Well, I used to be raised on cafeteria food and I hated it. When I was a young age, I tried to convince my mom to let me cook in our own house and make meals for everybody. Whenever I did cook it came out pretty good and nobody complained, despite the fact that I asked for honest opinions.
If you were raised on “cafeteria food” how did you even learn to cook so well?
When it came to cooking I learned a lot from the internet. I used the knowledge that professional chefs were passing through the internet, such as Gordon Ramsay and other Michelin star chefs. There’s so many Youtube videos or cooking tutorials that told you how to cook what they are cooking, including their techniques. Techniques are very important. I’m practicing very hard to get good at what they are showing.
Are there skills that translate well between yourself in the kitchen and when you’re in the middle of a professional Heroes match?
Definitely. Confidence and patience are very important skills you need to have when it comes to food because you need to learn by making mistakes. All you need to do is try to improve as hard as possible to create the best looking and tasting dish.
What do you want the future to hold for you three or five years down the road?
I would love to still be a pro player who can make people happy and compete at a high level. I’d also want to be a role model for some people.