The French Shuffle
When the top two French Counter-Strike teams, Titan and EnvyUs, traded KennyS and apEX for Smithzz and Shox respectively, the community waited to see if the new combinations of old stars would yield positive results. EnvyUs went on to win the major at Cluj-Napoca while Titan sat bitterly in their shadow. It was clear that Titan lost the French shuffle.
In the first four months, their only victory over a top tier opponent in a best of series was against Virtus Pro at Gaming Paradise 2015. It wasn’t until four months after the shuffle, at the CEVO Season 8 finals, when they finally achieved a top four finish beating notable teams such as Na’Vi and Luminosity Gaming.
The Disappointment Continues Under G2
After the Titan organization ceased operations, the squad, playing under the banner of Ex-Titan, beat NiP in a best of three to qualify for the Global eSports Cup. Just five days before the LAN finals, they were picked up by G2. They went on to lose in the round-of-six to Counter-Logic Gaming.
The squad began to show promise when they qualified for MLG Columbus by defeating Tempo Storm (now Immortals) and FlipSid3 Tactics. But the optimism came to a swift end during their first game of the main tournament where they suffered a humiliating loss against Virtus Pro with a 16-1 scoreline on Dust 2. They were subsequently eliminated by the Poles the next day, prematurely ending their Major run.
Many people were surprised when Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans was kicked from G2. He has always been praised and respected as a great leader due to his success in Source and early CS:GO when he was the voice of VeryGames. His ability to get results, however, diminished after 2013. He had only one impressive result in a premier tournament in all of 2014 and in 2015, Droolans achieved only a single top three finish at a tournament with big name teams.
It was not surprising when the community met Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro with skepticism. The French Counter-Strike scene appears shallow when most only know the Goliath rosters of G2 and EnvyUs. With an incredible weight on their shoulders, G2 won their very first online series without Ex6TenZ against Gambit at the ECS Europe qualifier with bodyy having a fantastic game on cache. But they were not met with immediate success with their new pick-up from LDLC White. At their first LAN, Dreamhack Malmo, they fell out in the group stage with a 16-8 loss to GODSENT and a crushing 16-2 loss to Counter-Logic Gaming.
The Rise of G2
When Ex6TenZ was kicked from the team, users on Reddit were quick to call the demise of G2. Fortunately for them, Reddit is often wrong. It did not take long for the squad to start showing results. They just barely clinched a spot for the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals and went on to have an outstanding performance earning themselves second place with a nail-biting grand-final against Luminosity that went to overtime in game 5. While it is easy for skeptics to reduce this performance to the status of fluke, the team has continued to show results.
“Great, now there are 3 mediocre teams from France!” – Top comment by /u/brbgottagethelp
If we ignore the first month’s growing pains, they have had a 73.5% win percentage since the beginning of May up until the end of Group B at ELEAGUE.
It has become clear that Shox’s looser approach, allowing his team to play the way they want to play, has been much more effective than it ever was under Ex6TenZ. Not only are their results improving, but the individual performances of Shox and ScreaM have skyrocketed reminding us once again why they are considered the stars of the French scene.
“If you want your player to be good, he has to love the way he will play in the game.” – Richard “Shox” Papillon
After the fall of EnvyUs, G2 has reached top 5 status on HLTV and has emerged as the best team in France. It may be too early to make any broad statements about the future of the squad. They have the ECS Season 1 Finals later this month and still have to qualify for ESL One Cologne. At the very least we can say that they’re showing signs of life. They are demonstrating that they’re not just a roster with marketable names like ScreaM and Shox. G2 are here to win.
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