Professional Counter-Strike has a problem. It’s a problem with esports in general, but it’s easily noticed in CS:GO specifically. It’s not a scumbag organization problem. The rise of tweeters and redditors, with pitchforks aplenty, have made sure any missteps are not only noticed but that you are drug through the mud-filled internet streets like a naked Cersei Lannister with everyone shouting “Shame!”. It’s not a viewership problem. Despite the claims that seem to pop up every six months or so that CS:GO is dying, the community seems as strong and as active as ever even when we have to watch on Facebook.
No, the problem isn’t nearly that serious. CS:GO’s problem is a myth that large organizations, with dollars to spare, haven’t yet realized is a myth. The myth is “They’ve done it before, they can do it again.”. Rosters are constantly filled with players who are on their fourth or maybe even fifth chance at a huge salary with a big-name organization and the invitations to major events that come with it.
I don’t think this is more painfully evident than in the French CS:GO scene. One look at the two biggest rosters, G2 and Vitality, and you’ll be wondering how you’ve been magically transported back to 2015. “Wait, Happy still plays?”. Yes, he does, and he just went 43-64 over three maps in Vitality’s first official match against OpTic Gaming. “Wait, RPK is still on a big team? LE TANK!”. Yes, RPK has snuck himself into another big opportunity even after his failings on nV in the last year. “Smithzz is a good coach I’m glad he’s still around. Wait, he’s playing?!?”. Don’t ask me how.
Maybe its players valuing friendships and comfortability over winning. Maybe these young players really aren’t better than the dinosaurs of yesteryear on G2 and Vitality. Maybe all the young players in the French scene worship Satan and the big orgs have a strict no Satan worshipping policy. I honestly struggle to think of a logical reason so I’m sticking with the theory that they believe the myth.
It’s at this point where anyone not watching lower-tier CS could be forgiven for thinking back to all the late-night FPL matches they’ve watched and say, “I can’t name a single young French talent that isn’t named Zywoo.”. Let me help.
Francois Delaunay, known as AmaNEK, has been excelling both online and on LAN for both Misfits and LDLC. If you look at just his LAN stats in the past 12 months, he has a 1.18 HLTV rating and a stunning 73% 1v1 clutch win rate. AmaNEK was first noticed towards the tail end of the now-defunct Misfits roster which was led by Sean "seang@res" Gares. If a legendary leader and analyst like Sean believed in him enough to bring him to North America, it’s a good bet he saw something that seemingly all the French teams must have missed. AmaNEK is a very strong rifler who seemingly always made the right peek or the right move to give himself a chance in a clutch in his time on Misfits, he was the pick of the players to watch on a roster that included ShahZam and SicK.
Since the release of AmaNEK and devoduvek from Misfits they have gone back to France to start again, this time on another international roster, LDLC. People who are really paying attention might have wondered if at least AmaNEK, and maybe devoduvek, would be given a shot in the French scene after their standout performances with Misfits especially with G2 slowly circling the toilet and NBK, Zywoo, and Apex being a strong core needing some key pieces to complete their lineup. Alas, it was not to be, the old guard was brought in for Vitality and G2 was handed new two-year contracts right before bombing out of the Faceit Major in London.
LDLC have been making small waves in the EU scene with the additions of AmaNEK and devoduvek. They’ve qualified for ECS Season 6 where they have split maps with both FaZe and mousesports. Just last weekend LDLC won the ESL Pro European Championship LAN in Poland, beating the likes of Epsilon and AGO. AmaNEK went +59 over the 10 maps played. Most notably the lineup defeated OpTic Gaming in the finals of the GG.Bet IEM Chicago Qualifier after beating Heroic and the aforementioned G2.
Some of that may not be impressive to you, I get it. The Vitality roster is brand new, and the verdict is still out on them. And maybe, just maybe, Shox can somehow get the last few drops of talent out of bodyy and SmithZz and they can make some sort of superhero movie-esque return to save the once great French CS kingdom. Or maybe it’s time to start being realistic and give some young French-speaking players their first chance instead of believing the myth.
Do you agree on our take? Comment below your thoughts!