Article and interview by: Mike "nartouthere"
Danny "cxzi" Strzelczyki is a current FPL and Rank S player who has earned over $20,000 in hub winnings. He was my mid-season ESEA Advanced MVP. This interview was done on 6/7/2020 before cxzi officially left the Supernova roster and was waiting to join ETHEREAL (ex-Polar Ace). We talked about his personal life, how he got into CS, his competitive CS history, the current season, and FPL. As of today (June 27th, 2020), cxzi is looking for an MDL team for the upcoming season.
Tell me about yourself?
I am 19 and live in Chicago. I attend a local community college and plan on transferring to a university in Spring 2021 to major in Business.
How do you pronounce your name? Every match I watch, your alias is being pronounced differently by casters.
“60”. It’s pronounced like the number sixty.
How did you come up with your nickname?
I used to play Xbox and my last 4 gamer tags were cxzi. I kind of kept that because I was in the Call of Duty scene, sniping and trickshotting and such. That’s how I got my name. This was around the time I was a sniper in Obey and some other big Call of Duty (CoD) teams. I just kept that as my name the whole time.
Speaking of Call of Duty (CoD), this was your game of choice before CS?
Back then in CoD, there were trickshotting and sniping teams... It’s not really popular now, but if you think of FaZe back in the CoD scene, even though they’re a big team now and with personalities, streamers, and many pro teams in many games... In 2014/2015, the main way they grew was trickshotting. There were other big teams around at that time like SOAR, Obey, and Era. Many teams focused only on trickshotting and sniping; none of them had pro teams. Eventually, I got lucky enough to join ERA. At the time, I had a lot of the FaZe guys follow me on Twitter. I was 13 and really good with sniping in CoD Black Ops 2; that’s how I got my following on Twitter. A lot of people said I was botting my followers when, in reality, I had that following from 5-6 years back. I actually had 10k followers at one point and lost a lot because I left the scene and stopped tweeting. I was a sniper for Obey for years on end. I have some highlights uploaded on Obey which have 25,000 views. I was featured on Pamaj’s channel twice & FaZe Apex’s channel. Back then, I did clan tag challenges in which you would have a certain time frame to hit clips in CoD. You’d have to approach it like it was all about killfeed and focus on getting a quad feed or 5 on screen. That was what the whole sniping thing was about. I won challenges on both Pamaj and Apex’s channels; those videos got over 250,000 views each and their audience would go onto my channel and follow me. That’s how my following was made.
Why did you stop playing COD and transition to CS?
I moved over to CS around 2015. I got bored of CoD. That’s when Black Ops 3 came out and everyone hated it. My friend who got me into sniping in CoD got me into CS. I started playing with him on a bad laptop with 50 fps, just playing MM. Started playing MM all the time, but never hit Global Elite—just grinding. I got bored and got ESEA in October 2015. I played pugs at 50 FPS on a laptop for years on end.
Did your parents support your gaming hobby?
It got started in a weird way. I’ve always played games and my dad didn’t care about it too much. I went through a hard period in my life when he passed away 5 years ago. It was really difficult. My mom doesn’t understand the whole gaming thing—she’s against it and hates it no matter what I achieve. Recently, she started easing up a little bit because I started making money from the game. Sadly, money matters. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy gaming because eventually you have to make money to pay the bills. I was working at McDonald’s with my friends. It was fine at the time, but eventually I started playing Rank G and made like $600 before they changed the prize pools. I won 3 weeks in a row and made more money within those 3 weeks than I would have made after months of working at McDonald’s. I was like fuck this, I’m quitting McDonald's. I focused on CS and got into Rank S. That year of Rank S for me was one of the best years ever.
To me it’s not about making money; I enjoy playing. For FPL, I enjoy playing with the better players, that’s why I’m doing that. Even if I lose, even if there’s times when I don’t have a chance of making money, I still play it just to get better. This week, I went 1-8 and got destroyed every game. But I keep grinding. That’s my whole thing.
Would you say this is your full-time job?
Technically, CS is my only income. When people ask me what I do for work, I tell them I play video games because that’s what I do. My goal is to make a certain amount of money for a month. If I make that amount of money, then I can live comfortably the following month. How the payouts work is kind of weird. It’s the 2nd week of every month. So, situations arise in which, for example, I could get $3,000 this month and only $1,000 the next month. I try to have extra money from the previous month to balance over because I want to stay around $2,000 earnings every month.
Would one of your goals be to make MDL and get salaried? To receive additional income from the hubs?
I’ve always wanted to make MDL from the beginning. Winning Advanced division sadly isn’t hard, even though I haven’t won the division. The first time I played on a team, we almost won Advanced and lost in the finals. I got close again with Prospects the following season. Honestly, that wasn’t fun because we had too many personalities on the team.
What’s your warm-up routine?
I’m trying to find a warm-up routine to be honest. Before I play scrims, I just show up. I don’t do anything; I just get on or maybe play a pug beforehand. I stay up and play CS really late after practice. My sleeping schedule has been really bad lately. By the time practice starts, I’m still warmed up from the night before. I’m thinking about doing Curry’s routine. He DM’d 3-4 hours a night for 6 months. I think I am going to commit to that but I’m not sure yet. He would play 10 hours a day. You can tell it paid off because look where he is now. I thought he was cheating in FPL-C at one point because he was ready for anything at all times. When he didn’t make the queue, he would be DMing. He DM’d every second he got. That’s what I am going to try to do.
What are your biggest LAN achievements?
I finished Top 4 with Thunder Logic at Fragadelphia 13 with sfX, vSa, Ange, and Oderus.
I played with Just Swing (MoMo, cxzi, Axed, retrQ, RenZ) at NCS Chicago Major and we finished 3-4th place. We lost to Singularity (champs), but we were happy to take a map off of them. The tournament was kind of stupid; we went 7-0 and beat Big Frames, but somehow they got a better seed than us. Sadly, we struggled against an Addied-out Main team. I see these guys play online and they’re way different on LAN—10x better on LAN. I know it’s normal, but it was a little crazy at that point. We went to OT both maps. Admin said that, since we struggled against them, we were placed against Singularity.
I won the IEM Chicago 2019 Wingman Tournament with Reality and we got $3,700 each. At one point, Welshy had an MDL match, so I took his spot to play with Reality. We played against like 5 teams in the qualifiers. We won 6 games in a row. We played CMX and Xotic and beat them to get to the finals. We go on stage and play 2 B+ on ESEA. At that time, we were both Rank S. That was not fair.
Where do you think your personal ceiling is?
I’ve been told by multiple people—and I think so too—that I have what it takes to go pro, but I just need to put more time into the little things. I need to think more before I make plays. I’ll do something before thinking enough and sometimes it will lose us the round and sometimes it will win us the round. I make very high-risk plays. I know I can make pro eventually, but I have a lot more to learn.
Who are your favorite pro players/teams?
I like playing with the guys on EG a lot in FPL. I enjoy watching them too, I really enjoy watching EG. I also like Chaos because I learn something when I watch them play. Liquid is fun to watch because their individual skills can take-off anytime. For example, Twistzz will just get a random 3-4 kill round by one-tapping everyone.
Towards the end of Advanced Season 32, you tweeted that you wanted to quit CS. What was the reason behind the Tweet?
There was a period of time in which I felt demotivated. I was upset with losing, even though we had more structure. We played the right CS and lost because they out-aimed us. I don’t want to be an ass or anything because I love Welly. When you play the game by running at someone the whole time and try to win off of that, it’s so stupid. I feel like that’s what they tried to do and it worked for them. That BO3, we picked Nuke and got T side first and just couldn’t get anything rolling. The other map was Inferno, which was a really strong map for us. I don’t know what happened, but everything fell apart in those two maps. There was a period of time before this in which I made a tweet about Welly, saying I didn’t trust his calling. It was a lot of frustration built up and I regret it. Everyone on the team was thinking that and I was the one who said it. I really regret it. We worked harder than them and should have won that season.
In Advanced Season 33, you played with a new Faint Gaming (Powerzz, vek, KmZ, Agony, cxzi). You guys were upsetting MDL teams in qualifiers and then, all of a sudden, you left the team midseason. What happened?
The backstory is that we ended up beating Riot Squad in the Major Qualifier. We had Brian2k stepping in because Powerzz was working or something. I played really well. I was happy we won. This is the second time I beat Riot Squad. Then, we went on to beat some other good MDL teams. We ended up playing Envy in the Major qualifiers and got stomped. There are personalities on this team like me, Agony, and kmZ who are known to be toxic at times and we talked about it before as a team, saying how we need to chill, take our time, and not get super worked up and mad. After that, we never got toxic; it was more like the tone of how we talked. For example, Agony would sing on the mic. Vek got super upset one time and said “I’m not playing with Agony. Cut him or I’m out”. This was when we were performing really well, too. The way our team worked was me and Agony played all sites together. So, whatever I wanted to do, he would make it happen. If he thought of a different setup, then we would do it. On A site Mirage, we were down 14-4 CT side and came back to win 16-14. They went A like 8 rounds and we held it down every time. We had good teamwork and chemistry. Same thing on Nuke; Riot Squad tried rushing upper 4-5 times and we held it every time and we would get 4-5 kills between both of us. When they cut Agony, we picked up Brian2K. He didn’t have the experience to fill that because Agony would call the setups and basically tell me what to do. With Brian2K, he would let me make decisions. That didn’t work because then I was the one focused on calling. It just wasn’t working. Agony was way better. Me, kmz, and Powerzz were talking about cutting vek and bringing back Agony. Eventually, we would have cut Brian2K for someone else, too. We brought up the idea of Magowi. He was interested because his team was falling apart, too. The day before cutting vek, Powerzz messaged me saying “Yo, vek is on to us. He’s convincing kmZ not to cut him, saying I was the problem and not him, and basically trying to cut you instead”. At that point, I didn’t want to deal with the bullshit and said “fuck this guy” and I left the team. I’m not going to play with two-face people. That’s what basically happened: he tried cutting me after we were in agreement to cut him then he got what he wanted.
After leaving Faint Gaming, you joined Prospects (JoshRT, CLASIA, CutzMeretz, Taboo). How did you join their team?
I was just looking for a team at that point and I just asked Josh because I saw he was looking for someone. It was looking good for a little bit, but eventually fell apart. REALBM was supposed to come back after military service, but didn’t want to play anymore, so we were stuck with Taboo. I streamed my playoff matches and there were only 1-2 times during this whole period in which I got mad, and I’m known to be a toxic player. One time was with Taboo, when I asked for the Fallen boost and he went to the wrong spot and got us both killed. Then, no matter what, anytime we did something, there would be an argument between CutzMeretz and clasia. One time, CutzMeretz tried to knife someone at 12-15. It was a shitshow at that point.
Big Chillin knocked you guys out of Advanced Season 33 playoffs. What were your off-season plans? Did you have any MDL tryouts?
I’ve never had an MDL tryout. We talked after the game. It was known that we were going to part ways at that point. I was going to keep my options open. Me, axed, agony, Powerzz, and kmZ were going to make a team. Powerzz and I love playing with each other and wanted to keep on doing that. Kmz and Powerzz played a lot together in previous teams and had chemistry. We were looking for 1 and brought up Axed. I played on two teams now in which someone is always yelling on their mics. I don’t want to deal with that again. Everyone was in agreement. I didn’t want someone screaming the whole time and tilting everyone. We played E-Fire league against Warriors International and took the first map off of them. We destroyed them 16-5. Next map we lost and axed is lagging out and screaming at me. I’m not doing anything wrong; I’m holding a push and he’s screaming at me to back up. Everyone’s tilted. This is our first day playing together! It’s not good at all. After that it was obvious: we weren’t going to play together. At this point, kmZ and Powerzz got picked up by Under 21 and everything fell through.
Talk to me about this season. You have been through multiple rosters and roster changes.
I rebuilt and brought in stamina, Wolffe, CLASIA, and jitter. However, jitter said he was down to play and then dodged practice the next day. So, we picked up contii, who played with us for a week, then did the same as jitter. We tried out aris and were like “ok, that’s fine”. CLASIA would be toxic and yell at everyone, especially aris, the whole time. Every time someone did something wrong, he would either yell at them or rage quit. At that point, Powerzz got cut from Under 21, so we picked him up.
Did you guys kick stamina? Reason?
We were at a point in which Powerzz was getting very tilted. Sometimes you can’t tell stamina anything. He thinks his way is sometimes better no matter what and you are always in the wrong. I started getting tilted, and it was affecting my play. Wolffe also didn’t want to play with him, so at that point two people wanted him to leave. I was kind of in the middle; I liked stamina a lot, but obviously wanted to play with George, so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The team decided to give him another chance for a week, but we ended up losing to Thunder Logic and Eclipse. At that point, everyone was tilted.
You guys also kicked aris. Why?
We played with agony in our first match together in the Eclipse game. Regarding aris, if you watch the VODs back--everyone throws games, but with him it was round after round of mistakes. When you say you are playing retake on A Mirage and you’re dying default, then you are not playing retake A. I think aris is a good player, but I think he still has a lot to learn and it will take some time. At this point, we wanted to make that step to MDL and need to make an improvement, so we picked up cam^. In the end, we cut aris because he wasn’t the right fit. We have nothing personal against him; it was more about the team fitting.
How come agony wasn’t a part of the original lineup when you guys were looking for a 5th?
agony didn’t want to play with stamina. When stamina got the kick, we brought in agony.
What can you tell me about Cam^ ?
I wanted to play with viz but he was already on a team. It was a crucial time and I knew he would be reluctant to leave them. We picked up Cam^ on a whim and I think he’s really good, too. From what I’ve seen, he’s an improvement from aris because we needed an entry. Agony and aris kind of played the same role at times, too, and I’d rather have agony play that role because he has more experience (MDL).
Rumors are spreading that you, Lacore, and Powerzz are leaving for ETHEREAL (ex-Polar Ace). Is this true?
Powerzz came to me the other night saying Polar Ace died and asked me if I wanted to pick up RenZ and Magowi. I was down to pickup Magowi in place for cam^. It’s a no-brainer, you have to do it. It’s like recon5 picking up Neptune instead of AAustiN; there’s no way you don’t do it. I didn’t know who I wanted to cut for RenZ. I’ve had issues with RenZ in the past and he’s trolled me in FPL-C. Even though I played LANS with him, he shit-talked me afterward. I wouldn’t cut Wolffe or agony because I think they’re really good. I told Powerzz that we would need to talk to everyone about changing our practice schedules, too. I want to practice in the afternoon and get Pro scrims instead of playing at night vs Main and Advanced teams. Agony’s work schedule is conflicting and I don’t think he can play playoffs with us when time comes. The team never got to talk about this because the ESEA admins gave the roster to RenZ and Magowi. W0w wasn’t going to give them the roster, but ESEA overruled it. That roster was going to be RenZ, Magowi, Powerzz, and Lacore. They only have 2 MDL spots left—Lacore and Powerzz. They’re going to talk to an ESEA admin and are trying to get 1 more spot for me. As of right now, I’m still playing with Supernova. I think it would be a really strong roster with the experience on that team. There’s no way I could pass up the squad we would have.
You’re having a really great moment right now, individually. You’re leading the statistics leaderboards in Advanced. How did you find such good form?
I don’t think I am playing well right now. I think I’m in bad form. A couple of seasons ago, I would drop 30 every game AWPing. Now, I’m supporting a lot more. I have to get used to that. Kills aren’t everything and supporting is a big part. I’ll be honest; I’m taking map control with everyone a lot more and using nades. Even though my stats don’t show it, I don’t think I’m doing well individually.
Favorite teammates you’ve played with? Worst?
agony or Powerzz. Worst player I’ve played with is Welly, sadly. I love him but I did not like playing with him sometimes. Also, vek. He is two faced and don’t like that. You don’t put people in into situations like that. I haven’t talked to him since.
Let’s discuss yourself and FPL. You’ve had some drama with other players and experienced a controversial kick. Where did it begin?
This tweet was right after I beat Riot Squad. Steel is talking to Jonji and ptr. They’re talking about the game. Steel said he just watched the game and complained about how unlucky he was, blah blah, blah. You can say its unlucky or whatever, but we were up 9-0 CT side and got a kill with our nades every single round. I had 29 kills and won a 1v2 clutch to win the game. I just felt at that point my confidence was really high. I’m not going to lie—I let that get to my head a little bit for that night. I got really upset and tweeted. This is after he had given me criticism. I’ve always taken his criticism, but I was responding really emotionally at the time. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to fix and, looking back, I shouldn’t have tweeted it. I should have kept my head down but, you know, you learn. I learned to never say anything like that again. I don’t have any issues with steel. I don’t know if he hates me or holds that against me. I feel like I’m not the same player, anymore. Freakazoid hated me at a point, too, and tweeted that I needed to stop crying during the incident. About a month ago, he tweeted that I improved a lot. On stream, he was roasting me, but I did really well in the game. I saw the stream of him talking about taking back some of the things he said. It is a known fact that I’ve improved. He and steel motivated me to get better. I watch a lot of Swole Patrol and Chaos to see what they do. Even though I am not perfect, I’m still learning a lot from them.
Let’s talk about your FPL kicks and leaves.
The reason I got kicked because I was playing like shit. I’ve been in FPL 4 times. The first time I played in FPL, I didn’t play that bad, but I didn’t play good. I was about to get kicked, but left beforehand. The second time, I played even worse than the first so I was kicked. The third time, I got bullied out the hub. ShahZaM and wippie ruined my time in the hub. I was to the point where I messaged Swindoll to say that I’m not playing the hub anymore with these people and going back to FPL-C. I said, “Swindoll, if I lose this game, I’m not playing this hub anymore”. I lost the game and left the hub on March 29th. I did it on stream, too. When I did it, people came to my stream and Teamspeak to ask why I was leaving. I told them that I wasn’t playing with these people anymore; it’s not fun. Why would I play to get shit on and be called scumbag on stream? You don’t personally attack someone on stream to your audience, so they go and attack the person on their steam. That’s fucked up. I qualified for FPL the 4th time back around when Valorant came out. It’s been a month since I have been in FPL.
How has your time been in FPL since your third FPL qualification?
I’ve played money in the last 3 weeks, but not the last week of the month. I enjoy playing it. I don’t feel like I have no chance to kill someone or that I’ll be completely destroyed like before. If I’m in a 1v1 vs. someone like Calyx, I don’t get nervous anymore. A lot of nice players in FPL like Brehze, CeRq, Calyx, and ANDROID, are what kept me going.
As you know, some of the FPL players have stated their opinion on twitter about the current state of FPL. What are your thoughts?
When curry tweeted about FPL and Advanced players, I thought he was talking about me. He considered me MDL. He was most likely talking about someone else. His teammates are making the Minor, and they’re not added, but an Advanced player gets added. I understand why he brings this up. I read his tweet and discussed it live on stream with about 50 people watching. FPL removed 4 people the other day: pao, miniature, RIKO, and RZU. I agree with all of those removals. The people they added were all MDL players. They’re fine, but like I feel like at this point the state of MDL is really bad. In FPL, there has to be an adjustment period from the top pros and top FPL players, like wippie. You have to understand that these players aren’t going to be what MDL used to be. MDL used to be really good. Some of the players who were moved in would not have been considered 2-3 seasons ago for MDL; the skill gap is very big. Let’s use AAustiN as an example. I am not saying that he is a bad player and he is used to Adv/MDL player skill. Prior to these recent MDL FPL additions, Chaos was the only MDL team that had all their players in FPL. He is not used to playing against top talents and the skill levels of pros. Now, you have 5 players that can aim, which is the big difference. He can’t do things to get a free kill. He has to play a different way and have more confidence. It’s nerve-wracking when you first get moved in. There needs to be an adjustment period for a lot of these players. For me, I enjoy it because it takes the heat off me if I don’t play the best every game. I liked when they moved everyone in because I play better now that I don’t feel like everyone’s staring at me when I do something wrong. There’s more opportunity for other players to mess up.