More Than Meets The Eye

I know that people see me as a “tactical” in-game leader, but I do not have the same view of myself.

I try to work on many different things when I lead a team; yes I can be good at the tactical side of the game, but there is more to the way I call.

I didn’t plan to become an in-game leader, but the role came naturally to me.

I started out just playing with friends like everybody does, and I had a lot of ideas about how to play the game, so I told them my ideas.

Step by step my friends were looking to me to lead, and one day they told me “hey man, you are already doing it in game, so you need to fit into this role and work on it”. The role just fit me naturally.

People think that I had a big advantage in the early days of GO because I switched from Source. They thought the game was more similar to GO than 1.6.

I do not think this was the case.

In Counter-Strike: Source, French teams took advantage of the way flashing worked, but they are totally different in CS:GO and this was an important aspect of our game.

In GO, Grenades were more like the ones in 1.6 than Source. I believe that 1.6 players had a little advantage in this area, but the difference everywhere else was pretty much the same.

During my time with VeryGames, we had a lot of specific tactics. One example was something we called “CPL strats” in France which are tactics that involve lots of smokes. We liked the big tactics, but this was maybe 10% of our game.

We had a more complete view of the game than that. We realised the importance of team play, we had a view on how to play pistol rounds and the following eco round, but people only saw the set-piece tactics.

It was quite easy to lead during this time with VeryGames because Shox and I had a very similar view on Counter-Strike and talked a lot about how to play. Because we always dominated we were very confident in our play style and never felt the need to change anything.

It is also not fair to say I am just a “tactical” leader since I have adapted my leading style to suit the players on my team. For example, my leading on Titan was different from VeryGames because we had such different players and personalities. I felt like we had less of the teamplay strength that VeryGames had, but we had very strong individual players like Apex and KennyS.

You also cannot play a style with heavy teamplay because you need to give players like Apex and KennyS some space to express themselves. In order for us to be good as a team, I had to adapt my leading style to accommodate to this.

That was difficult for me as it is not the way I naturally approach the game and leading a team, so I had a hard time finding my own space and role within the team.

I actually think this was also our biggest problem as a team because I would tell Apex and Kenny where to go, but then they played their own game from there. This meant that the team was not always working towards the same end goal in the round, and this is not the best way to play.

I have some regrets about this period because it was the first time I was working with these kinds of players.

Importantly though, they were very good, and it was not their fault that we didn’t reach our full potential. I needed to learn from the experience and find different ways of working.

After Titan, I had a lot of different offers to consider.

A few weeks after we became G2, I was dropped from the team and Shox took over the in-game leader role. EnvyUS were doing well at the time, so I did not have an option on either of the top two French teams. I had some offers from good American and European teams and maybe could have joined a team that would have been considered higher in the world rankings.

But I wanted a different challenge.

One of my strengths as an in-game leader was providing good teamplay structure for the teams that I led, and this was something that I had lost during my time at Titan. I needed to rediscover my confidence and refine my strength, and so I wanted to take a smaller team and win thanks to our team play.

LDLC was the perfect team for this; if we wanted to win against the best teams in EPL, our team play had to be much better than theirs because we were not as experienced or skilled. My first priority was to pick up smart players for LDLC and to make sure that everyone was playing for the team. This meant that I could lead in a similar way to VeryGames.

It was not always easy on LDLC because we were not playing in very many tournaments. We were not good or big enough to get invites to tournaments or closed qualifiers, but we were not bad enough to participate in smaller tournaments. It can be boring to only play practice. It is often frustrating to play against smaller teams online because of how they play.

I enjoyed my time with the team though, and it was good to play with players who were hungry to play. For example, in the first season of EPL, we played 2-4 practice games before we even played our EPL matches. After our 2-4 games in EPL, we would then sit down and watch our games, analyse our mistakes and speak about how we should be playing the game.

We improved so much over this period, and I did not realise how much of an improvement could be made in such a short space of time.

Now that I am with G2 Esports, we are focused on the team play structure. We have three teamplay players who have a lot of ideas on how to approach the game. There’s myself, Shox and Smithzzz, and we have the “factor X” in KennyS as my manager likes to call it, who we facilitate.

It is not like Kenny is a selfish player, this is definitely not the case; if I ask him to play in a certain way, he will do it. Often players who have an individual style like he does will be selfish, but not Kenny.

There are some moments that come from Kenny that you are not ready for, that take you by surprise. He can be unpredictable not only for the other team but even for our team! I think this is definitely a good thing because if you have five team players who always do the logical thing, the other team can read you easily.

I think every team should have one player like Kenny, and we have the real deal.

Bodyy has a very simple style, he plays the B side on CT and plays on the extremities on T side. This is great for us because he does not need too much room or focus, and he is a very skilled player so you do not have to worry about him.

Shox, KennyS and I work even better together now than we have done in the past. Shox in the past was not always easy to utilise because he demanded so much to change; he was always trying new things to make the difference, and it meant he needed a lot of space and sometimes I would have to say, “No, you cannot try this now.”

Now he has a much more complete view of the game, maybe because he has been leading for the last two years, it’s much easier to get the best out of him… well, maybe not easy, but much easier than before!

Kenny is the same player, but he has improved on the smaller details like his clutches, and he is a much more experienced and confident player from winning so many tournaments since we first played together.

The big thing for me was understanding how to refine my ideas of how to play, and learning how to improve.

Astralis is the team I look to for inspiration. In a lot of ways they are playing the style of Counter-Strike that I want to play, and it is a simple question when we ask who should we look to for the best style of Counter-Strike.

When you are on a top team, it often feels like you have finished the game and all you need to do now is practice what you know; this is not the case.

Even if you are top three in the world, you can still refine your idea of how to play.

Image Credit: Dreamhack, ESL, Titan, G2 Esports

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