The recent success of G2 has marked one of the most exciting developments in professional CS. Barely scraping into the ESL Pro League finals in May, G2 shocked onlookers by dominating their group pool. After defeating Fnatic they went toe-to-toe against the world number one, Luminosity Gaming, in a thrilling five-match finale. Though LG took the crown in May, the ECS Finals in June provided the perfect opportunity for revenge, and this time the French did not falter. During the tournament, G2’s Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom and Richard ‘shox’ Papillon discussed the revitalisation of French CS.
As a star player, adored by fans for his legendary , Benrlitom presents a surprisingly reserved persona bordering on shy. Speaking after G2’s quarter final victory over NiP, discussion of his expectations is assured, but equally restrained. This quiet level of confidence is echoed by G2’s captain, Richard. Both men give the impression that they believe strongly in their team, but clearly understand the level of work needed make it to the top.
“Individually if we’re gonna be really good, we can win against everyone, but if we don’t play well individually, we can lose to anyone,” says Adil. “Right now we’re more reliant on communication and individuals... we’re trying to mix everything and find our own game style. We’re still searching for it but we need some time and it’s going well right now.”
“Since the ESL Pro League we lost some matches in ELEAGUE against teams like NiP, mousesports and Gambit at the major qualification so that was pretty hard,” Richard says. “After this we just came back home and worked on what we needed to fix mistakes. At the moment I’m pretty happy with the team because we’re finding again the way we want to play. We still have a lot to improve of course because we need more experience, we’re a young team but we’re going in a good way.”
This shared ideology is core to G2, and reflects the long history between the players. Both men have had long careers in French CS, and much of that has been spent together. If one thing has been established by G2’s recent performance, it’s that Richard and Adil, both players of phenomenal skill alone, combine to form one of CS:GO’s most formidable double acts.
“The thing with me and ScreaM, it was back in 2010 in CS:Source, I saw his aim and realised he had definitely got talent,” explains Richard. “So in the same month we were creating a team and I wanted to pick him. I took [him] under my wings and wanted to help him learn more about the game. Even if we managed to split after because, I mean we were all young you know and when you’re very young it’s hard. We were like 16, 18, something like this. Between him and me we always liked playing together. Not only outside the game everything is good, but inside because we have the same vision.”
“Shox and me, we have been playing together for a long time,” Adil says. “He’s always been really good, I had some good times as well and now we’re feeling good in this team. That’s how we work. The whole team... the relationship we have is really good actually, I mean we’re not kids, we just like each other but some of us have known each other for ten years, six years, something like that so we really know each other and it’s important to feel good outside the game also.”
The French shuffle
This team-wide positive approach is is core to G2’s survival as a French squad. Despite a dizzying amount of talent, French CS has always been hindered by near incessant roster changes, swapping players back and forth between teams.
“That’s always been a problem in France,” admits Adil. “It’s just a communication problem I guess, they’re not being honest with each other, they’re not trying to fix problems by talking. They think that by changing players it’s good. It’s good in the beginning but later you’re always going to have problems and you’re always going to have to fix them with talking. I think it’s getting better now and I hope it’ll get a lot better in the future.”
“To be honest, the thing is, you know it’s the French scene,” Richard says. “When everything is good, it’s okay, but when things get bad some people want to try different things. I think we’ll not have this problem because we all five have the same mentality and same goals. This is key because we had this same problem with EnVyUs… when we had some problems we didn’t fix them because we didn’t talk. What people don’t see behind the scenes is that even we have had some internal problems but we managed to speak and solve them. Since then our results have gotten directly better.”
By ensuring good communication across the team, G2 have established an extremely dangerous roster, with SmithZz, RpK and boddy all offering standout moments at the ECS Finals. As captain, Richard is keen to highlight the rest of the team.
“For me it’s really important,” he says. “A lot of people just see the scoreboard and the rating. What they don’t see is that yeah, sometimes we’re gonna get a double or triple kill, but that’s because one of our teammates has just made the perfect flashbang and we’re killing people that are blind. People don’t see this so I’m really happy this is improving. To have a good team, you need good chemistry, you can’t have five fraggers, you have to have roles. People need to see what roles they play and people will realise how good they are.”
With strength in unity and victories over the best teams around, G2 have shot up the rankings, dragging France back to the limelight. If their recent form is maintained, G2 look to be serious contenders for the CS throne.