For Richard “shox” Papillon and company, 2016 has been a rollercoaster. The team has struggled for consistency in their performances from event to event, and mental strength has proved key over these months, to make sure the lows are not too low and the highs are not too high.
As G2 travels to New York for the ESL One event, shox hopes the team will bring its best version to the tournament – the one that won ECS Season 1 and finished in second place at the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals and at the SL i-League Season 2 Finals -, but he refuses to share his expectations or those of his teammates.
“We do not talk that much about it,” he explains. “We all know we can lift the trophy, but we do not want think about that before having even played a single match. The only thing we want is to do the same that we did in practice matches over the last weeks and to capitalise on our efforts. We have been working a lot since Starladder, and we are just focused on our game, playing the way we know. If a team betters us, we will work hard again and again, but we do not want to be eliminated because we did not play like we should have.”
Even if the team heads into ESL One New York hot on the heels of a great run in Kiev, shox is taking nothing for granted, revealing they have been on a learning curve since returning from the Summer break.
“It was really hard for us to begin the new season, it took us more time than expected, and I still do not know why,” he said when asked about the team’s results in the ESL Pro League. “We had to bring back the mechanics we had before Summer. Moreover, we had some matches with high pings because we were suffering from a national routing problem, and it costs us some maps, unfortunately.”
When asked about the team’s practice regime for the event, shox replied by saying that they prepared like they would for any other competition: seven hours a day, five days a week. “We focused on the weaknesses we had before the Summer and tried to make our strategies even clearer,” he said. “We have also added some cool new stuff, which we will let everyone discover live.”
The tournament will use a Swiss format, to which the team is used after playing at ESL One Cologne qualifier, in June. shox thinks that a victory against Astralis in the opening match will go a long way towards reaching the semi-finals, but he is certain that the team will not find rounds gift-wrapped for them against the Danes.
“Astralis have not had such good results since adding Kjaerbye for cajungb, but they are still a top team that can win almost every match-up, especially when it comes to best-of-one games,” shox noted. “They will be serious contenders, and we will clearly need to be at our best to win this match, which would improve our confidence.”