At this point, a French roster shuffle should be nearly inevitable. The slow drop of G2 from elite status means there is no French team in the top four. EnVyUs hasn’t been at that level for a long time. As both teams are incredibly competitive, neither should be satisfied with its current standing in the world order.
When analyzing a potential roster shuffle, four things have to be taken into account. First, one of the teams must be in some amount of turmoil. Second, the relative star powers of the team can sway the shuffle one way or another. Third, which team is better in the grand scale of things. The fourth is money.
In the case of G2 and EnVyUs, both have been in turmoil. G2 had a kick start after kicking Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans in the spring and reverting more to Richard “shox” Papillon’s leading style. This coincided with the resurgence of shox as a superstar player and Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom not too far behind him. The increased skill and change in leadership ended with G2 winning Esports Championship Series and taking second at ESL Pro League Season 3. The performance of the team is largely dependent upon shox and ScreaM to carry games, so when they fail, it looks disastrous. So now G2 is in a strange feast or famine scenario where if those two catch form they can go deep into a tournament. If not, they drop out instantly.
EnVyUs, meanwhile, has trended downward since the start of the year. Nothing seemed to work, whether changing in-game leaders, booting players or mixing up roles, until adding Christophe “SIXER” Xia to the lineup. EnVyUs has stabilized and become a solid top 10 team, but the initial premise of the organization was to create a French team that could beat anyone in the world. The current iteration is far from that.
So we have two teams both in turmoil. G2 is highly explosive but inconsistent. EnVyUs is a consistent top 6/7 team, but its overall ceiling isn’t a championship contender. Both teams should be looking to find a way to improve their standings. Both have tried internal things like role swapping or increasing tactics with limited success. The one clear, easy proven way to do it is with a roster swap.
Star power is the second thing to consider in team trades. Being a star attracts younger, potentially future stars. In the case of EnVyUs and G2, there aren’t any who should be swayed one way or another. Both teams have top veterans from the French scene.
The third thing to consider is the relative strength of teams. So if both teams want to roster swap, who is in a better position to get the better trade? If we go back to five months ago, the clear answer was G2. Now? I still think it’s G2, but they’ve lost a lot of stock recently. In contrast, EnVyUs is a bit back on the rise.
G2 in its last four events took second at Starladder and in doing so bear MVP (non-factor), FaZe 1-0, EnVyUs 2-0, Dignitas 2-0 and lost the finals to Ninjas in Pyjamas. G2 bombed out of ESL New York losing to Astralis, Liquid and OpTic. Its campaign at EPICENTER was a bit better, having gone 1-1 against NiP, Natus Vincere and Dignitas before being eliminated by SK Gaming 2-1. ELEAGUE was unfortunate in that G2 drew NiP and lost all three maps played against the Ninjas.
EnVyUs in its last three events placed top 8 at Starladder, losing 1-0 to Cloud 9, took a map off Virtus.pro (which was in terrible form that event), beat VG 2-0 and then lost to G2. At DreamHack Bucharest, EnVyUs dropped a map to Heroic, beat Gambit 2-0, beat Heroic 2-1 and then lost to Cloud 9 in the semifinals. At ESL Pro League Season 4 they beat an ailing Immortals, a terrible looking Liquid, OpTic and then lost to NiP.
G2 has dropped a lot from back when their peak form in 2016. It can still play close to the top teams besides NiP. In contrast, EnVyUs is kind of pulling out of a slump but isn’t good enough to challenge the next level of teams. If a trade were to happen today, it would — and should — favor G2.
And that comes to the final problem: money. Buyouts are so expensive that it’s better for teams to wait out the expiration of a contract rather than buy out a player it wants from another team. Waiting for the contract to run out is the smart and correct move to do. But this costs time.
And given that contracts for both French sides seem to end around February, there are still three months to play. A lot can happen in three months, especially if G2’s trajectory continues to go downward and EnVyUs’ rises.
The roster shuffle problems are exacerbated by the way French Counter-Strike politics work, with shox on one side and the Vincent “Happy” Cervoni/Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt duo on the other. These two forces can’t seem to work together, in which case the other players on the team will be the ones who will decide the future of French CS:GO.
The four main prospects are ScreaM, Cédric “RpK” Guipouy, Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. The biggest piece on the board is kennyS, as he is France’s best AWPer and he has been looking to get back into form recently.
Because of all of the different variables, the upcoming LANs will be incredibly important for the French teams’ future. G2 needs to keep its position as the country’s best team to get kennyS, and EnVyUs needs to raise its stock to potentially poach one of G2’s players instead.
The big test will be at the Major early in 2017, but in the immediate future both are headed to Northern Arena, where they are clear favorites to get to the finals. The potential matchup isn’t just a grudge match between rival teams, but a clash that could potentially decide the future of French CS:GO.
Cover photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com