The French CS:GO scene consists of a muddied pool of player relationships that would rival most geo-political summits and put to shame any Game of Thrones fan forum. Within this complex web of friendships, rivalries, and circumstantial amnesties, lies an unmistakable pool of French potential and talent. Unlike any other regional scene in the world, this pool of talent exists in an ebb and flow of roster and positional changes that in the right conditions will produce an elite team capable of contending for titles or upsetting top teams. This ebb and flow of the French scene has made some of the greatest teams in the history of CS:GO, like 2013 VeryGames and 2014 LDLC. Also, it has produced some of the most disappointing teams, such as the recent 2016 EnVyUs lineup and the faded memory of a broken Titan squad at the back end of 2015. This paradigm of the seemingly inevitable rise of a top-tier French team in CS:GO is set to remain with the G2 eSports roster. They are now catalysed into the top echelons of international play, following the removal of veteran in-game-leader, Ex6tenz. With the absence of Ex6tenz’s strict, execute focused strategic style of calling, a new system was needed. Star player shox took up the leadership and adopted a significantly looser type of calling, that has benefitted the playstyle of him and his star counterpart, ScreaM.
ScreaM, just like the very nature of the French scene itself, has had his brief moments in the limelight. For the majority of his career, he has been playing under the weight of his own reputation and potential. He first gained a name for himself in the dominating VeryGames lineup of 2013 along with legendary players NBK, SmithZz, shox, and Ex6tenz. ScreaM acted with NBK as the reserve firepower to shox’s transcendent performance at LAN tournaments. For some time they were considered the best team in the world, and were the first group of players to not only match, but truly overcome the indomitable reign of NiP. However, changes to the mechanics of CS:GO greatly limited the success of ScreaM’s infamous stutter strafing movement and emphasis on headshots. Due to a clear drop in form, his stock value as a player dropped considerably. He was not at the discussion table during the first major French shuffle of players, and as such was cast out into the wild of second-tier French talent, as part of Epsilon in late 2014. He would then be saved from this low level of professional play by Team Kinguin, and their strange conglomerate of nationalities and fallen stars. However, after almost exactly a year of absence from being on a top level French team, he would make a triumphant return to Titan in late 2015. The Titan organisation crumbled soon after ScreaM re-joined, and the roster would be picked up by G2. If ScreaM left Titan in 2014 as an inexperienced boy, then he became a seasoned man with his former in-game-leader and mentor Ex6tenz.
The first tournament where the world would finally see a much more matured, and more rounded ScreaM would be at the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals in London. After failing catastrophically at Dreamhack Malmo, where ScreaM’s team was knocked out in consecutive fashion by Godsent and CLG, the expectations on G2 going into the Pro League finals were not high. Predicted to be knocked out in the group stage, G2 shocked fans and analysts with vintage performances from Rpk, ScreaM and shox. This allowed the slumping Frenchmen to beat both Optic and Luminosity, and leave their group in first place. ScreaM and shox, an extremely powerful and consistent duo, had emerged from their group stage momentum. This was the driving force behind their tight three game win over Fnatic in the semi-finals. The full five game series against Luminosity in the grand finals, was even more suprising. This match saw shox and ScreaM drop a combined 242 kills to narrowly lose the series 3:2. Although ScreaM and G2 left London with a silver medal, they showed a breakthrough of form that had been sorely missing within the top two French teams for months. These two gamers, shox and ScreaM, pushed their side to qualify for ESL One Cologne 2016, following two shaky performances against Mousesports and Gambit. Also, they nearly had a clean sweep in their ELEAGUE group, before losing to a resurged NiP in the grand final. However impressive these tournament runs for ScreaM were, the crowning jewel would be his tournament MVP performance at the ECS Season 1 Finals.
Scarily consistent every game, ScreaM showed off a completely evolved playstyle that relied more on individual one vs ones and smart positioning, rather than his infamously fast twitch one taps. The ECS Finals highlighted a changed mindset towards playing Counter-Strike from ScreaM. This mindset brought his career around full circle, from his gaudy, potential, saturated beginnings where he built up a loyal fan base from his unique style, to creating a more matured and cerebral feel for the game. This is what makes ScreaM unique as a player. He transformed from being a godlike aim talent – which comes a dime a dozen in professional play – into a nuanced beast of positioning, that can still at any point draw upon a bank of muscle memory and create insane highlight reel plays. This is the X-factor that he brings to his side, whereas shox remains on top as one of, if not the best player in the world. bodyy is still a developing talent, and both Rpk and Smithzz act as role players in the machine that is G2. ScreaM can act as a patient, but volatile force, until a controlled flurry of aim emerges to catch the opposing team resting on their laurels.
ScreaM’s roster history, tumultuous relationship with the short end of French talent, and transformation as a player makes him unique in his own right. His ability to recognize and fix his own shortcomings, and then overcome opposition using these fixes is a glaring characteristic missing from many French players. The evolution of these changes, can be seen over his many failed and successful tournament runs. From role filling for shox on VeryGames, to acting as a co-star with shox in G2, ScreaM has come full circle as a player in game. However if he wanted to fully complete the overarching story of returning to the glory days of VeryGames, then a top four finish ESL One Cologne 2016 would’ve put his team on par with the VeryGames top four finish at Dreamhack Winter 2013. So although the seemingly cursed G2 lineup once again failed to make it out of groups at Cologne, it was not directly ScreaM’s fault. Instead it was a failure of his star counterpart shox to continue his own hot streak of form. This result does in the end however put a remarkably poetic inference on the end of the last two months of ScreaM’s career. This is similar to the very nature of the French scene itself, where ScreaM and his previously thought incompatible mixture of teammates came together to create a team that on one day rivalled to be the best team in the world, and then were sent packing in last place at what could’ve been the biggest tournament of their careers.
Photo Credit -hltv.org
Written by Max Melit – @max_melit