Earlier this week I pitched some optimistic thoughts about G2’s new lineup under Ex6tenz. Notably, I talked about kennyS’s rising form, an emphasis on setting up shox, and the aggression we saw out of what should be a tactical roster. Today I’m changing my tune. While all these factors certainly hint at a hidden gem, there are many reasons to meet this roster with scepticism. In this article, I will outline some of the key reasons for pessimism when it comes to G2’s summer.

shox G2 Esports CS:GO Richard Papillon lurker
  1. Shox’s star power

To say G2 lacks star power will strike most as strange given the fact it has two of the best players of all time on the roster. Nevertheless it’s concerning that the second-best fragger for G2 at ECS was Ex6tenz. Other than kennyS, no one had higher than a 0.93 HLTV rating, which belongs to shox. To be fair, shox is coming off an injury, and will likely need time to recover. And yet it is certainly not a good sign that he hasn’t been hot right out the gate. If shox had been a superstar before his surgery, it would likely be a matter of time before he regained his form. But shox hasn’t been a superstar-level player in over a year, showing only flashes of regaining his form in the winter. There’s no beating around the bush: both kennyS and shox need to be 1.20-type players if this team is to contend. As mentioned in the sunshine article, kennyS has already showed signs of thriving, with a 1.13 rating in an event in which G2 got trounced a couple of times. But until shox shows signs of peak form, lack of firepower will always cloud G2.

SmithZz G2 Esports CS:GO Edouard Dubourdeaux

2. Smithzz

For most analysts, it was the pickup of Smithzz that dampened expectations. The former G2 coach hadn’t played professionally in over a year, and didn’t exactly put down the mouse at a high point in his career. Sure enough, Smithzz looks a bit out of his depth so far. The optimistic side of me wants to say that he will get better as time goes on, but god is dead and optimism died with it. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine this team being a contender with Smithzz on the roster. If I allow myself some consolation, it’s that Smithzz had some good moments of team play with KennyS and Ex6tenz at ECS. Of course, this much is crucial if he wants to contribute on the team, and it should be considered when he is criticized. At the same time though, Smithzz is G2’s pit player, a notoriously difficult position to play because it stresses the player’s aiming, utility use and movement. With three people teetering between being ‘pretty good’ and being a liability, G2 cannot shelter players like Na’vi does with Zeus, or Space Soldiers with ngiN. The fact that Smithzz plays such pivotal positions puts more stress on him to perform than a typical support player. Jury’s out on Smithzz, but it’s a worrying sign in conjunction with the next concern on this list.

bodyy G2 Esports Alexandre Pianaro

3. Bodyy

It’s so difficult to criticize bodyy because he’s never been given the space to thrive in any G2 roster. Even in this roster with Ex6tenz and smithzz, bodyy remains the closest the team has to a support player’. It’s an imperfect label in this case, but he does serve as the anchor for many bombsites and puts himself in economic and positional disadvantages to aid his team. There’s a player archetype, shared by Magisk and Niko, who thrive in anchor positions in no small part because of their movement and crosshair placement. While bodyy is a strong aimer, he has never been able to retaliate against pressure with multi-kills in the way these players have. That’s a big ask, but without this ability it’s difficult to justify bodyy’s place in this team above some other players in the French scene; where would this team be if RPK  or NBK could replace him. Ever since shox decided to keep him on his superteam in early 2017, bodyy has been an awkward fit in G2. While he may be a serviceable anchor, he doesn’t seem to have that extra gear that similar players have on the best teams in the world. If you want to beat Astralis, Na’vi or FaZe, you need a Magisk, a Niko or a flamie. Unfortunately it looks like G2 don’t have that in bodyy, though he will continue to be a serviceable player on this roster. The real consequence of this shortcoming is that G2 lack the third star needed to create a balanced firepower threat. Ideally, you have three heavy threats on your team: one on each site and a rotator, ideally an AWPer. Sometimes these stars are the anchors, like coldzera or Niko, and sometimes they are the rotators, like shox or electronic. What’s important is that each site has a player that can respond to pressure with multi-kills to give his team a chance to retake when the incoming execute prevents effective team-play. Because smithzz is on the roster, this burden falls on bodyy. Since bodyy isn’t a star, G2 don’t have that, and this will hinder their success against great teams.

G2 Esports Winning Dreamhack Masters Malmo

4. Upside

Count this as a synthesis of all the observations above. Considering that these three players compose the majority of G2, where is the upside in this team? Expectations are at an all-time low in the French scene, but they shouldn’t be. In 2015, France was one of the top regions in the world. In 2016, G2 was the only team that seemed capable of beating an era-level team in SK Gaming. In 2017, G2 won two substantial events despite inconsistency. Throughout the history of CS:GO, the French have always had a team capable of winning titles, even if they do so sporadically. With this team, one wonders if it has such an upside. Even if both kennyS and shox become elite players, will they be able to outmatch the likes of GuardiaN, rain and Niko? What about the entire Astralis roster? The lack of firepower depth in this team leads me to believe that the best case scenario for this team is the Top 4-8 range. On a good day they may be at the level of Liquid and mousesports, but it’s more likely they’ll match NRG and North. To be honest it’s hard to imagine a world in which this team matches G2’s performance in 2017, which everyone and their mother took to be a disappointment. Some may point to strategic prowess from Ex6tenz, and hopefully that will come with time, though we haven’t seen it yet. Even then, it’s unlikely this team matches the tactical level of Astralis, and it’s even more unlikely they match their firepower level. Of course, matching Astralis is something exactly zero teams can do right now, but it shows that G2 is unlikely to be the ‘best in the world’ at anything. It’s unlikely they have the best strats, even more unlikely they have the most firepower, and hard to see how they could strike a balance that could outmatch FaZe or Na’vi. And if you can’t win titles, what’s even the point of having kennyS and shox on the same roster?

mixwell G2 Esports Óscar Cañellas

Seems like talking about the French has carried me into nihilism. And if even discussing a roster makes you wonder if there’s any point to anything at all, it’s probably not great.

While I clearly need to sort some things out, so does G2. Where are they going? Is this the final form? Ex6tenz suggested that they would peak after a year. How high can we realistically expect this peak to be? For my money, not so high. And if G2 will rise to such mediocre heights, why bother going through with this project in the first place?

One awkward transition later, I hope they prove me wrong. There are few styles of Counter-Strike more exciting than that of shox and kennyS. It’s possible that the lofty heights of years past are long gone for the French, regardless of the roster. That said, the reasons to expect little of this G2 team are overwhelming.

Enjoy this? Check out the optimistic version of this piece here!