Many were surprised by G2’s fantastic run at the ESL Pro League Finals, which culminated with a five-map thriller against Luminosity Gaming, the current Major champions, in the grand final. But not Richard “shox” Papillon. For the Frenchman – one of his country’s most experienced and successful Counter-Strike players – the campaign in London was the result of the team’s hard work, which is starting to pay off. And without the pressure to perform, the players can finally tap a level of potential that Papillon knew all along that was within them.
“It is all about confidence,” he says, when asked about what the team was missing. “It is key in Counter-Strike. When you do not perform well on LAN or in official online matches, it is really hard to overcome a situation like this. This time we were able to do it. Hopefully, it was just the beginning. We needed something like this to step up as a team.”
A key factor behind the team’s surge in form lies in shox himself and in his incredible levels of confidence – which he attributes to the number of hours of individual practice that he has put in recently.
“I am feeling confident about my own level of play,” he explains. “I have been working a lot individually since January, and the victory at the HTC 1v1 Invitational really boosted my confidence, which is something that I needed. I hope I can continue to perform like this for the rest of the year.”
The team will have the chance to prove that the Pro League campaign was not a fluke tomorrow already as it will compete in ELEAGUE, in Atlanta. With Ninjas in Pyjamas, OpTic Gaming and Selfless in the group, shox expects some difficult encounters, but he remains upbeat about the team’s chances.
“I think we can do something good, but it is a tough group,” shox states. “NiP have been growing constantly for weeks, and OpTic have been doing really well. I expect some great matches. Our goals since the Pro League Finals have been to fix the mistakes we did there and come up with new stuff in areas where we lacked solutions.”
The conversation then touches on a sensitive topic, at least to shox – the criticism targeted at his longtime friend and teammate Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux. Some of the comments from the community were uncalled for, shox says, but he insists that his teammate has learned to live with them.
“He has been criticised too much, in my opinion,” shox argues. “You can dislike or criticise a player, you can’t love everyone, but people should be respectful. It was a dark time for him, it really hurt him a lot, more than people can imagine. He just needed to find his old form and that is what he has done. He is bringing a lot to the team, not only in terms of his AWP but also through his calls, his motivation and communication. It feels good to see him back on track.”
Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro is just two months into his spell with G2, which he joined from LDLC. The 19-year-old has shown promise in both online and offline tournaments — nothing that surprises shox, who believes the youngster “will continue to grow.”
“I am really happy about his latest performances,” shox says. “I knew he was a good option. I watched a lot of demos when he was playing for LDLC White, and it was clear that there was something different about him. I am glad he has been able to prove what he is capable of. I never doubted him.”