After last year's Eleague Major, there came a synthesis of the best players in the French Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene after months, or in this case years of disappointment in competitive play. Both G2 and EnVyus were previously excellent teams that hadn't lived up to their billing. And after yet another group stage exit for both French teams, enough was enough.
In what's now known as the "French shuffle," the two best players in the French scene were united for the first time: Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and Richard "shox" Papillon. This new G2 roster was composed of the best five-man roster possible in France at the time, which earned it the label of "super team." Expectations were high, with the weight heavy on the shoulders of in-game leader shox, who was expected to both lead and perform at his peak level as he had in 2016. While this roster looked strong on occasion, it never delivered on its promise -- thriving with two superstars on a single team: kennyS remained incredible, but shox never returned to the form he had in previous years.
Coming into the second ELeague Major, G2 looked like it was at the end of its rope. The players had tried almost everything: switched roles, played a more tactical style, develop new strategies. Nothing clicked for the roster. Rumors started to spread of another French shuffle after the Major.
Finally, G2 came to the conclusion that it could not become a world class team without shox being a world class player. Coming to the realization that he couldn't play optimally while carrying to burden of shotcalling, he decided to make changes.
"I'm giving away more responsibilities to the players so I can focus on myself," shox said in an interview with HLTV.org after qualifying for the New Legends stage of the ELeague Major.
That wasn't the only change.
Beyond shotcalling, G2 tried to adapt its roles to make shox as comfortable as possible. In another interview with HLTV.org during the New Challengers Stage, Dan "apEX" Madesclaire noted, "shox went back to lurking, we need him to be the star player ... he needs to be in his zone and his zone is lurking."
Most were cautiously optimistic of this change coming into the Challengers Stage, but there are no skeptics now: shox is back.
In the six maps at the Major, shox has a +42 kill difference with a stunning 0.86 kills per round. By being a lurker on T-side, shox has a chance to leverage his skill and intelligence by concentrating on his own game in late-round situations, and this Major serves a reminder that he's one of the greatest at doing exactly that.
With its two superstars finally firing from all cylinders, G2 have actualized their potential as one of the scariest teams in the world. Coming into Boston, it will be the best it's ever been with this roster. A scary thought, considering that one of the top three teams, Astralis, has been eliminated in the group-stage, and another, SK Gaming, are playing with a stand-in. The only remaining Top 3 team is FaZe, whose success comes from its firepower advantage. Given shox's newfound form, they have no such advantage over G2. The French are poised to take home their first Major since 2015, a welcome change for legendary players that haven't lifted the trophy for far too long.