The French scene is in the worst state it has been since its large absence in 1.6. There are currently three French teams that maintain any form of relevancy in Counter-Strike. The new G2 has returned Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans and Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux to what should be the top team in France, but this team has failed, crashing out of tournament after tournament. Nathan “NBK” Schmitt’s new team Vitality features Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer, a player far past his best. Despite looking strong recently, the young team LDLC lack the discipline and quality to make it to the top. With the majority of French talent spread out between three teams, it is clear to see that the scene is fragmented. Shards of greatness lie within these three teams, forcefully distributed, but if they can be brought together they can shine.
Back in Source, VeryGames’ roster of Ex6TenZ, NBK, Cedric “RpK” Guipouy, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and SmithZz were widely considered one of the world’s best teams. But they were never truly able to overtake NiP and become the best. In Global Offensive, apart from two Major victories with LDLC and EnVyUs, they have disappointed because of the breadth of talent within the scene. It is unfair that great players like Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Ex6TenZ have never won a Major. French teams have had brief stints at the top in GO, but it has been the Scandinavian teams who have ruled the game for most of its lifetime.
The Fragments of Greatness
The talent in the French scene is undeniably present. Players such as kennyS, who is one of the best AWPers of all time, have changed Counter-Strike forever. He has a fast, unique and mobile strategy with the weapon which has allowed him to step up as the star for all the teams he has featured on. kennyS revolutionised the use of the AWP with his close-range, aggressive style. Legendary in-game leaders such as Ex6TenZ have changed the way that Counter-Strike is played. Ex6TenZ is notable for his motivational and inspirational speeches to players. The clip below showcases when he gave a powerful and spirited speech to VeryGames before a crucial match against NiP at DreamHack Winter 2013.
The old guard of the French scene, such as Richard “shox” Papillon and Ex6TenZ, are starting to be overshadowed by a fresh wave of exciting players. Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, who finds himself on Vitality as their star AWPer, have risen up as hotshot talent and thrived. Below are his HLTV ratings under Vitality, which have been nothing short of exceptional for the 18-year-old prodigy.
ZywOo is not alone though. AmaNEk and David “devoduvek” Dobrosavljevic are excellent riflers. The players moved to North America in 2017 and represented Misfits. They played under legendary in-game leader Sean “seang@res” Gares, who helped them blossom. Now, they are shining on the new-look LDLC roster. Recently, the team had a great quarter-finals finish at IEM Chicago 2018, and it was largely thanks to this duo who achieved 1.17 and 1.04 HLTV ratings respectively.
Mending the Fissures
The LDLC duo could both fix Vitality and G2, in order creating two French superteams. AmaNEk should replace SmithZz on G2, because it would allow bodyy to return to his support role as well as bringing the team firepower in the form of the LDLC monster, who can be a consistent third fragger. The stars of the lineup, shox and kennyS, would have more support fragging-wise so they are not relied upon every match. Ex6TenZ would have more firepower behind his strats, giving them more of a chance to work. The move would instantly improve G2 and easily make them into the superteam they attempted to be in 2017 with NBK and apEX.
Speaking of the Vitality duo, if devoduvek replaced Happy on that lineup it would be an instant upgrade for the team. apEX would have more firepower behind him when he entries, giving his role more of a purpose and improving Vitality’s trade fragging. NBK would be able to lead uncontested, as Happy’s history makes him more likely to challenge NBK. RpK, despite losing a familiar face, would thrive around new faces and truly showcase his skills. ZywOo would be relieved that a younger influence in the team would give him more to relate to outside of the game, and almost definitely give him a friend within the squad that will only help him on his road to becoming one of Counter-Strike’s greatest.
Put simply, the French scene is fragmented largely due to politics and unfortunate timings. The scene is arguably at war with itself, and as EnVyUs fell apart in 2017 G2 were not in the hunt for new members. Players such as ZywOo, arguably the best European talent since Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, are not on France’s best team. AmaNEk and devoduvek, two powerful fraggers, are stuck on a meandering LDLC when they could be playing with the legends of the French scene. Meanwhile, G2 are bombing out of every tournament they enter. The quality in the scene is spread over three teams when it should be concentrated together. In fairness, G2’s ill-fated superteam featuring NBK, shox, Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, kennyS and bodyy did not work. In the present day, the talent in France has increased and so the time is ripe for another French superteam. It is a tragedy that greatness, which has ruled Counter-Strike at different points in its lifetime, is in such a horrific state in the present day; especially compared to its former greatness.