French Counter-Strike Is on the Edge of a Successful Future

June 25, 2019 | 0 | 2105| |

Team Liquid secured their third Intel Grand Slam victory at the ESL Pro League. It was a momentous occasion since the tournament featured nearly all the best teams in Counter-Strike. As the celebrations of Team Liquid’s *era* are still going on, there is another story in development. The rise of the French Counter-Strike scene is good news not only for French CS: GO fans but for fans of Counter-Strike all over. 

French Counter-Strike is not the same as it was several years ago. The times of EnVyUs and Titan co-existing side by side provided multiple facets to the scene. Titan had the best player in the world and the most respected IGL at the time. KennyS and Ex6tenz were part of a team that was the biggest challenge to Fnatic’s dominance of the past. However, over time, the decline in form for KennyS along with lack of Major results for Ex6tenz proved to the source of decline for French Counter-Strike. 

On the other side of the spectrum was EnVyUs, a team stacked with a flashy playstyle. The sheer amount of talent on this roster made it a fan-favourite. The team was able to be a challenger to Fnatic. Although they were not able to become the Number 1 team in the world, they did win Dreamhack Winter 2014. 

The two pillars of French Counter-Strike

The decline of French Counter-Strike was a huge shock to many analysts and players. KennyS, Shox and others lost form and the lack of firepower definitely hurt the potential of their teams’ success. The G2 superteam which came into formation in 2018 was born out of desperation more than synergy. The team had a deep lineup and lots of firepower on paper. But apart from a few blips on the radar, the team was unable to make an impact on the Tier one scene. 

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On the 8th of October, Vitality entered the Counter-Strike scene with the signing of certain players. NBK, Zywoo, Apex, Happy and RpK formed the starting roster for Vitality. A change towards the end of 2018 saw Alex replace Happy on the roster. This change allowed Team Vitality to focus on developing their playstyle over the next few months. Let’s have a look at each of the two teams holding up the French Counter-Strike scene at present. 

G2 – The Grand finalists at ESL Pro League Occitanie

Shox and co. walking onto the stage
G2 was the heavy crowd-favourites at ESL Pro League Season 9 LAN Finals

The G2 roster has two of the best players in French Counter-Strike. The likes of KennyS and Shox have long been called the best players in the scene. For a long time, they were on different teams; however, their coming together for G2 was big news. Despite being together on one roster, the players definitely were not near their peak performance. G2’s performance at the ESL Pro League Occitanie, however, definitely leads us to believe they have a bright future. The team’s performance saw them overcome teams such as Faze Clan, Heroic, Cloud9 and NRG. The Grand Finals against Team Liquid saw multiple close games in the Best of Five. Ofcourse ultimately, Team Liquid came out ahead and won the event, but G2 definitely had an impressive showing

The biggest factor for G2 had to be the resurgence of KennyS in the tournament. He had a 1.27 rating over 17 maps. His performance was just behind Elige who was the ultimate MVP of the entire tournament. 

KennyS’ performance saw him push forth with the AWP consistently. The team’s performance reflected on KennyS’ confidence. His interview with HLTV portrayed his confidence and joyousness with the team’s results ( reaching the Grand Finals). 

KennyS and Shox thrive when others perform well

No French team has won a Major without either KennyS or Shox in the roster

KennyS and Shox
The two veterans stepped up at Montpellier to challenge Team Liquid.

KennyS and Shox have a very high skill ceiling, but they have not always been consistent. In fact, for the past few years, Shox and KennyS alike have been far away from their peak performance. Despite being big names in the CS: GO scene, the duo was never able to put forth a strong result for the team. 

KennyS and Shox
KennyS and Shox : Superstars of G2

ESL Pro League saw G2’s rise to the top. Their performance against Team Liquid was definitely helpful in establishing the team’s confidence once more. KennyS is a very emotional player and his aim depends heavily on his confidence. Shox is quite different and requires a lot of space to allow his creativity to thrive. This is one of the reasons why MaleK does not constrain Shox to fixed strategies and tactics.

This is why G2 has implemented a multi-leader strategy within the team. Allowing Shox a lot of space to do this thing in the team can reap wonders for the performance of the player. At the same time, the rest of the squad is usually governed via the strategies and the tactics of AmaNeK. 

MaleK and AmaNeK have done wonderful work with the team focussing the strategy around players such as KennyS and Shox. They realise that their chances of success and becoming the best team in the world depends on KennyS and Shox reaching their peak. While at present, KennyS and Shox are still not anywhere near their peak, they can still put forth amazing games for us. The ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals saw KennyS ( and Shox towards the last part of the Grand Finals ) show up in a big way. 

Zywoo: The Young Prodigy 

Zywoo from Team Vitality
Zywoo is the latest talent to come out from the French Scene. He is the core focus of Vitality’s CSGO Squad. Image Courtesy: Dreamhack

G2 rose to the top of the CS: GO scene during ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals. However, VItality is another team in the French scene that has been making waves in the CS: GO scene for a few months now. The biggest reason for all the hype around Vitality remains the emergence of Zywoo as the star player on the team. 

Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut Image
Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. Image Courtesy: HLTV

19-year-old Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut was signed onto Team Vitality at a young age. The sheer amount of talent on the roster is heavily tilted towards the young man. He has been the star player on the team for a long time. It is his first shot accuracy which allows him to get a huge number of frags in the server. 

With the passage of time, we have seen how NBK and CO. have adapted to his playstyle. They provide him with adequate space to make plays and more often than not, he does not disappoint. The player is improving with each passing day and we hope to see him become even better in the near future. 

While Zywoo remains a formidable force in the Counter-Strike scene, the rest of the squad is also improving in their performance. Players such as NBK and Apex have definitely maintained their performance and there is the ever-so-slight improvement in their gameplay. 

What’s next for the French Scene?

Zywoo walking off the Press Conference
The Future of French CSGO: Vitality’s Zywoo

Right now, French Counter-Strike is looking very good. The two teams are both improving in results and the prospect of a bright future is looming. While Vitality has Zywoo as their best player and they have formed their strategy around him, they are not limited by his performance. NBK and Apex are strong players in their own right. In the upcoming months, we might expect to see these players also improve their performance.

On the other hand, G2 is a team that already has strong members on its roster. KennyS looked extremely happy and confident with the team’s performance at ESL Pro League. His confidence was evident in the way he was pushing with the AWP at awkward angles. His sheer talent meant that he was often able to get away with really risky kills. 

On the last map of Inferno, Shox stepped up in a big way. For many, his performance on the map was reminiscent of his former glory days. If Shox and KennyS start performing as well as they did during ESL Pro League, G2 can truly rise to the very top. The improvement is possible only when the rest of the squad is able to remove a lot of pressure from these players. Average performance by the rest of the squad can go a long way in ensuring a strong and confident duo of KennyS and Shox. 

The next stop for Team Vitality will be ESL One Cologne 2019. They will go up against some of the very best teams in CounterStrike at the Cathedral of Counter-Strike. You can catch all the action live here

The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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