“Playing with shox? We’re friends, we want to play together one day or another. That seems inevitable, we will play together one day.” – KennyS
Counter-Strike has entered the era of super teams. Eight teams have the potential to win premier championships on their best day: Astralis, Virtus.Pro, SK Gaming, FaZe Clan, Natus Vincere, North, Fnatic and G2. Among those, only G2 hadn’t played a LAN since its formation. That ends with StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3. This is incredibly exciting for two reasons: We can finally see this French super team in action on the big stage, and we can finally see the two best French players, Richard “shox” Papillon and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, together.
The team-up of shox and kennyS has been a long time coming. The two French superstars circled around each other in their local scene like magnetized poles. There was never any direct rivalry, but it always seemed that you could never get them working together: if you got one, the other would go to another team. Shox revealed in an interview that he tried to get KennyS to join him twice before and he was rebuffed. That makes it all the more fascinating as in an odd way; their respective histories in CS:GO mirror each other.
Shox is the original monster of the French scene. As a player, shox has shown he can do it all. He can entry, AWP, lead, read the mid-round, clean up bomb sites and win any clutch. He is one of the all-time great players, and his addition to the VeryGames lineup was the edge they needed to overcome NiP and win tournaments. There is no French player who can compare — well, almost.
KennyS is one of the greatest AWPers of all time in CS:GO. When he was at his peak, he carried the 2015 Titan team to wins it frankly didn’t deserve. Even the best players in the world were scared to play KennyS in the server. At ELEAGUE, Olofmeister famously said, “I don’t think I’m the best, but I can’t think of anyone better.” One year prior to that, at the peak of his powers, Olofmeister also said, “I’ve never been scared of anyone, but I’m scared of KennyS.”
Fear is what makes the best players even stronger. Their very name carries the weight of expectation, history and feats ingrained into their opponents’ minds. Shox showed that when he led G2 to the finals of ESL Pro League Season 3. He played Luminosity (now SK), the best team in the world on Inferno at that point. Despite it being a 1-v-4 retake in overtime, the Luminosity players were so afraid, they refused to peek. Shox proceeded to slay them one by one as they huddled in their corners, afraid of losing their lives if they peeked out. That run, and the ensuing win at ECS Season 1 a few weeks later, was G2’s peak last year and showed that shox had returned. But that wasn’t enough. Shox had gone far above expectations for his G2 roster, but he couldn’t push it any further.
Meanwhile, everything collapsed around KennyS. No matter who EnVyUs kicked, how the players switched roles, or who took over as in-game leader, nothing seemed to boost them out of their slump. In one last ditch run, KennyS did what he always did when his teams stagnated: he tried to carry them on his shoulders. He returned to power in 2016 and tried to force EnVyUs forward through sheer dint of will. It wasn’t enough. It was time for a change.
For the third time, shox asked kennyS to join him and this time, he agreed. It was a union that was again orchestrated by Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt, the Kingmaker of France. It was a team-up long anticipated, but never expected. Too many circumstances had stopped it before, but the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. KennyS has matured a lot since his young days as a star. Shox no longer loses motivation now that he has taken the leadership role. The rest of the roster has a strong balance of roles and support players. Both stars know that this is the last chance. They’ve tried working under the other leaders in France, they’ve tried other combinations of players, and they believe these are the five best possible players for the long haul.
But the world has become more fierce. We are in an era that has the potential to be the most competitive in CS:GO, but that makes it all the more fitting that shox and KennyS have finally teamed up. Shox is now the King of France and KennyS is the sickest AWPer alive. It it time to see what happens when they collide.