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Shox on Smithzz as a coach and why G2 struggles as a favorite

Shox talked about G2 Esports' win at the ESL Pro League, Smithzz as a coach and changes to the EPL format.
Shox (Richard Papillon) talked about G2 Esports' win at the ESL Pro League, Smithzz as a coach and changes to the EPL format. Photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack/

G2 Esports claimed the championship at ESL Pro League Season 5 finals, and Slingshot’s Jarek “DeKay” Lewis caught up with Richard “shox” Papillon during the event. They talked about EnVyUs’ performance at the event, the impact of Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux as coach and hies ideal format for the ESL Pro League.

Jarek “DeKay” Lewis: What did you think about EnVyUs at this event? Were you surprised by how well they performed?

Richard “shox” Papillon: I’m not so surprised. I thought they did decent at the tournament. I thought they had a good group stage (in a tough group). It was a good performance. In the quarters, they could maybe fight better against Liquid. I think they might have some regrets about it. But still they are improving. I think this is their real performance. I’m really happy for them, and they’re working really hard. It doesn’t surprise me.

JL: I started as a Source player, so for me it was great to see RPK play like the best player on that team at times. Is it good to see someone like him show out that way and get more comfortable?

RP: Yeah. With RPK, having him in my team, he’s proven he can have a great peak, but he sometimes lacks self motivation. He’s the kind of player if he’s not playing a lot, he won’t be good. He needs to play a lot. He needs to work a lot, and if he does that, he will be good. Right now, I know he’s working really hard, so I’m not surprised by how he’s playing. The only thing is will he continue to work like this? If yes, he will continue to be really good. If not, he will step down.

JL: One thing I’ve noticed with you is how good Kenny is at the AWP. Some teams are good at it. Some teams aren’t. With Kenny, is his current form because of a way you guys have utilized him? Or is it just because it’s Kenny and he’s that good?

RP: It’s just because it’s Kenny.

JL: Do you think he’s maybe more confident than he used to be?

RP: I think his only weakness is him. When he’s not hitting his shots, sometimes he misses but shots are really hard, but for him (he thinks) he should have done it. So sometimes he’s too hard on himself. If he’s starting to have a bad game, it’s really hard for him to come back. That’s why I’m really happy (with his performance in the EPL semifinals) because when we played SK on Overpass, he had a really had a hard T-side. So when we went to CT side, Smithzz, our coach, talked to him. “If you want to win this match, then do what we worked on. Prove us. We need you.” And he had a fantastic CT side. I’m really happy about it. It’s his only weakness. But if you can have a bad match but still fight and try to find the solution and don’t be afraid to still peek, that’s good.

JL: Earlier I talked to GuardiaN and asked him what team was difficult to face. He said Fnatic because it’s you can’t predict what they do. Do you agree with that or is there another team or player you find hardest to play?

RP: A player, I don’t really know, honestly. Considering the teams, I don’t have any specific teams that I don’t like (to play). When we are playing an underdog team, (we struggle). When we are supposed to win, we still lack something against them. For example, in group stage, we lost against Cloud9 and Immortals, and we won against SK and Fnatic. We have problems with those (underdog) teams.

JL: What do you think about Smithzz as a coach?

RP: I think he still needs a lot of experience and time. We need time to push him. Sometimes, Smithzz is a person who is really calm, a happy person, a nice guy. Being a coach is sometimes really hard because you have to be the bad guy. You have to tell people “You did wrong. You have to do this.” That’s not really natural for him. He still needs some experience, but he’s trying. He’s getting to it step by step. It’s slow, but it’s coming.

JL: As we’ve seen teams like Astralis and FaZe, they didn’t make it to the finals. There’s been this debate about the format for this event. Do you like it?

RP: It’s a difficult question, honestly. I think ESL doesn’t want to make a separation between NA and Europe, which is respectable. They don’t want Europe to be the favorite. But still, if you look at the level of the team, either you go for eight slots in Europe and four in NA, or you expand the (number of spots). Maybe to eight in each region, so you have 16 teams at the event. I don’t have any solution, but definitely I understand ESL. But in the end, when you look at the group stage, you are looking at some teams in Europe that are better than some of these but can’t make it because Europe is stacked. It’s sad for them.

JL: Is there anything outside the game you like to do to relax or unwind?

RP: Definitely just having time with people I love. Family, friends, girlfriend. Stuff like this. We travel a lot. When you are not seeing your girlfriend for three weeks, it’s hard. For me personally, I moved from my initial place with my family. It’s really hard to find some weekend to travel to see them. It’s probably three months I didn’t see my parents, brother, sister. It’s really hard.

Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack, illustration by Slingshot