EnVy’s dismal 2016: Victims of their own success
From reigning major champions to habitual underperformers, analysing the decline of the boys in blue.
Joining the EnVyUs organisation in February 2015, shox and company were at the pinnacle of the scene. Then off the back of two impressive titles their elite level form continued well into the year until a string of questionable results saw tensions rising. Amplified by a leadership struggle between shox and Happy this unrest reached its peak during ESWC 2015: culminating in SmithZz and shox’s departure alongside the addition of Titan’s apeX and kennyS. Hitting the ground running, EnVyUs swiftly returned to world-class form with a victory at DreamHack Cluj Napoca solidifying the Frenchman as the team to beat, and although they would suffer some disappointing placings in coming months, these superlative expectations remained intact entering the new year.
Despite opening 2016 with a second string title results would quickly turn sour for the Frenchmen, reaching the top four of events on only five occasions throughout the entire year. As FalleN’s Luminosity were redefining all aspects of professional Counter-Strike EnVyUs remained stubborn and allowed themselves to fall by the wayside, for their spectacular decline occurred precisely due to the style and philosophy that had brought them immense success in previous years.
A fast-evolving landscape
Perpetual force buying has remained as the defining trait of this EnVyUs core living on into 2018 with G2’s insatiable habits. Combining the individual strength of these lineups with the pace and explosiveness of their infamous force rounds, Happy’s Terrorist side approach revolved around applying financial pressure, and whilst this proved effective throughout 2015, as fellow teams improved their economic calling, refined CT utility usage and acknowledged the predictably in EnVy’s forcing tactics, the effectiveness of these rounds had diminished. Flip over to their aggressive buys on the defensive side and this pattern recurs as their abuse of close angles in otherwise default setups no longer bore the same fruits. With opponents becoming more clinical whilst capturing map control alongside taking fewer isolated duels, aggressively buying on the CT side had become more difficult for all parties.
Simplicity and explosiveness was the name of the game for EnVy’s Terrorist sides in 2015. Defaulting cautiously into untelegraphed execution – sometimes off only a single flash – Happy’s squad looked to put individual CT players under intense pressure. With Cache, Inferno and Dust2 always remaining towards the top of EnVy’s pool, their Terrorist style was likely a major factor behind their proficiency on these maps. Unfortunately, as site anchors mastered giving ground and appropriately using utility to buy added time, such an approach saw lessened success. In addition, with teams implementing more information plays and contests of map control EnVy struggled to adapt into playing down the clock, finding it difficult to excel in attacking at varied paces the Frenchmen had considerable problems on the Terrorist side across 2016.
Dating back the coming together of LDLC following 2014’s Cologne Major spanning over a year into late 2015, there was certainly a case that both iterations of EnVyUs were amongst most skilled teams on the planet and undoubtedly their individual brilliance was a significant bedrock behind the organisation’s successes. Yet, as the playing field leveled out throughout the following year EnVy’s mechanical prowess no longer distinguished them from the crowd. Add in that individually players such as Happy displayed predictable traits that were now being anticipated and exploited combined with Kenny’s inconsistencies relative to his sublime standards – whether that be through misuse or lacking confidence – and firepower was declining across the board for the Frenchmen.
Throughout 2015 the majority of aggression and variation on EnVy’s Counter-Terrorist sides originated from the individuals themselves and in possessing shox, Happy, and kennyS, the variety they could produce alone was nothing to be scoffed at. Though, compared to a team such as Luminosity – now the MIBR core – who were introducing more diverse and innovative CT setups, the regularity and predictability of EnVy’s CT sides was no longer up to par. With the round and bomb timer changes coming at the end of 2015 more emphasis was placed on sharing Luminosity’s traits alongside intelligent utility usage, both of which were far from perfect for EnVyUs.
Old habits die hard
EnVy’s last place finish at Katowice’s IEM world championship alongside kioshima’s weak individual showings across the early stages of 2016 would spell the end for this Major winning lineup. Making way for the largely unproven DEVIL it was cited that internal issues had contributed towards a lack of cohesion within the team, this being a predominant reason behind kio’s removal. Unfortunately, DEVIL’s addition did little to change EnVy’s trajectory and the squad’s vocal critics soon honed in on the newest addition for criticism. Swapping again to SIXER in the latter months of 2016 failures to address their underlying philosophical and perhaps motivation problems lead to the scapegoating of the team’s variable fifth across the year.
Maniac’s short stint as the team’s coach in the early 2016 indicated a lack of receptiveness to outside input due to the squad’s immovable philosophy towards conducting themselves both in game and outside the server. As EnVy’s playstyle emphasised the talent of their individuals over a practiced system this reflected a culture within the team that would ultimately require a total overhaul to display significant change. Lacking direction the Frenchmen tumbled down the rankings with heavy criticism being lofted towards Happy in particular for his team’s flawed approach.
Although many of the aspects mentioned above improved throughout the year, the water level around EnVy was rising just as fast, if not more quickly. This team’s downswing is perfectly encapsulated by their fellow Frenchman in G2, who despite having objectively weaker players overall, superseded EnVy as France’s best team and would ultimately be pulling the strings when the inevitable French shuffle occurred following ELEAGUE’s Atlanta Major. As fond memories of success obscured sight of the evolving landscape around them EnVyUs fell victim to the repeated confirmation that their flawed approach to Counter-Strike would bring further titles. Such trophies came few and far between as EnVy declined into a shadow of yesteryear, it being the shadow itself that spelled their demise.
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