While on a train going to ReSo 2008 at 15 years old, Richard 'shox' Papillon first met Edouard 'SmithZz' Dubourdeaux. The older player taunted and ribbed shox initially, but the two quickly became firm friends. From VeryGames in 2011, EnVyUs in 2015 and now G2 Esports in 2018, when shox left these rosters, SmithZz has followed.
The duo have played together in one form or another for a decade so it isn't surprising that their friendship is so strong when their careers have been so entwined. As part of VeryGames before Global Offensive, they helped ensure a flawless ESCW 2011 victory. They were both on LDLC when they won the DreamHack Winter 2014 major, boys in blue with EnVyUs for the win at Gfinity Masters Summer 1, won The World Championship 2015 as part of Team France and in G2 colours when lifting the ECS Season 1 Finals trophy in 2016.
A 'superteam' and a dream
The start of 2017 looked to be the end of SmithZz. Following a disappointing dip in his own performance, it was no surprise that when G2 picked up Kenny ‘kennyS’ ‘Schrub, Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire and Nathan ‘NBK’ Schmitt, he wouldn't remain on the roster. However, he took on the coaching role for the first time instead. The players had talked about how SmithZz' weakness was that he didn't often push the team hard enough and had a relatively gentle approach. While he had a lot to offer the team from a tactical position, he had playing again on his mind rather than a coaching career.
After the harsh criticism SmithZz throughout his Global Offensive career, many forgot SmithZz’ incredible talent not so long ago. In 2011, he was voted ‘Sniper of the Year’ in VaKarm’s annual awards above NBK and was in the running for ‘Player of the Year’, which was won by shox. Since 2012, the honour has instead gone to kennyS, who has said SmithZz had helped him a lot during his time on G2 due to both of them being snipers.
When SmithZz was removed from the G2 line-up, it was obvious he needed to go. It wouldn't be impossible for him to be a strong support player once again as a more experienced figure who has had some time away from the scene to build confidence and regain his competitive drive. He wanted to play again and shox, despite his wrist issues, has vowed to return to the game as a player, not a captain as soon as he is well again, while sitting on the G2 bench.
So where do the duo go from here if G2's trial with Oscar 'mixwell' Canellas is successful? With shox’s reputation, many organisations would be keen to pick up the star or sign a roster he puts together. Paired with the experience of SmithZz and Ex6TenZ, shox's likely IGL for a future roster, the trio could find themselves in a strong position to take on talent both new and old, creating a competitive roster.
One uncertain thing would likely be a solid coach. While SmithZz performed the role within G2, he had the support of manager Jerome 'NiaK' Sudries and analyst Niclas 'enkay J' Krumhorn. While Ex6TenZ would be the IGL for any potential shox roster, the coach would likely be an important factor working with the Belgian to keep the players in check. One potential figure for that role remains as a potential wildcard: Ex6TenZ's Source rival, Sébastien "krL" Pérez. shox has claimed he was the best IGL he had ever worked under, while clashing with pretty much every other leader, suggesting he does something right that shox clearly respects. The experienced leader and coach also took part in VaKarM's documentary 'shox - Journey of a Legend' to speak about shox and the two still play matches together to this day.
Talent from EnVyUs Academy could definitely be acquired for a team as EnVyUs expressed a desire sell the roster back in February. The main branch of EnVyUs, who only just re-signed Fabien 'kioShiMa' Fiey, picked up nV Academy’s Ali 'hAdji' Hainouss for their own roster so are unlikely to part with any of their players. An old stomping ground in the form of LDLC also raises some interesting possibilities. The French duo Francois 'AmaNEk' Delauney and David 'devoduvek' Dobrosavljevic who were part of the Misfits roster that dissolved following ELEAGUE Major: Boston also remain free agents.
The French-Belgian core could take a leaf from mousesports book and recruit rising talent from FPL. Potential picks include Mickael 'Jok' Romme, the best player in France on FACEIT right now and Mathieu 'ZywOo' Herbaut, the FPL rising star who is being hailed as a prodigy at the game, but will not be fully available until he finishes school in a few months. Robin 'ropz' Kool was in a similar position when he rose to prominence in the FPL and received offers from teams while still in full-time education and he finished school before joining a pro team, which ended up being mousesports, the winners of StarSeries Season 4 following a steady rise to within the top five teams in the world. With shox potentially out for a couple of months due to surgery at the end of March, there is time for ZywOo to finish school before becoming a highly lucrative potential prospect for the French scene and beyond.
As far as organisations are concerned, Misfits is a UK-based organisation so the chance to once again pick up an established roster with strong French talent and perhaps some familiar faces could encourage a return to CS:GO. It would be interesting to see if kennyS’s brother, Cyril ‘WindZ’ Michel would still take on coaching and management roles for an entirely French roster that could rival his brother's own. Organisations old and new could all throw their hat into the ring for a team including shox.
Any solid plans probably won't emerge until shox's surgery and subsequent recovery. All of this speculation is based on the assumption the new G2 with mixwell on the team will do well and exceed expectations. If the project fails, shox explained in the first episode of the G2 Podcast that his vision for G2 would keeping kennyS and bodyy and re-adding SmithZz and Ex6Tenz. If that is the case, the same question about the future then falls to NBK and apEX.
While NBK has often been a lone wolf in the scene, moving between successful rosters, apEX has often been with kennyS throughout his career. With kennyS likely to always have a future in G2, even if there is no place for apEX, the French scene might once again split with big names in multiple rosters until the next inevitable shuffle or the emergence of future talent.
How do you feel about the potential for shox's potential prospects? Comment below!