North threw their hands up in a cry of joy. After a 19-17 thriller of a match, they had finally become Legends again. But something didn’t feel right. As young stars like HObbit and Magisk climbed to center stage, two older ones were left behind. The ELEAGUE Major would be the first without JW and flusha making the playoffs. Over the years, the three-time major champions have made their names as some of the most legendary players in CS:GO history. At ELEAGUE though, they sat on the sidelines.
The Swedish Shuffle
This early exit came 5 months after a roster change the shook CS:GO. In August of 2016, GODSENT acquired JW, flusha, and KRiMZ from Fnatic, breaking up one of the most dominant rosters of all time. Immediately, storylines swirled around the rivalry of these teams and who could outshine the other. GODSENT were the talk of the town.
Unfortunately, those storylines never came to fruition. Neither team has made a final since the swap, and have collectively made two semifinals appearances (one of them being Fnatic at ELEAGUE). Even though Fnatic were on the other side of the Fox Theatre, their 3/4th finish was bittersweet. They would never be able to be as successful as any of their dominant runs of old. On Februrary 2nd, only a couple weeks after the major, flusha and JW rejoined Fnatic, and one of the most legendary teams of all time was reformed.
The French Shuffle
Fnatic was not the only team that emerged out of the ashes of the ELEAGUE Major. After months of rumors and half-baked denials, the French super-team of kennyS, shox, bodyy, NBK, and apEX had finally arrived. The French scene has struggled lately. Other than WESG, which featured lackluster competition, neither G2 or EnVyUs have had strong performances as of late. In fact, other than a short period of G2 dominance in May, France has had a very poor year.
The two teams will be immediately put at odds with one another. Their history of rivalry and simultaneous creation make them perfect enemies. Their battle will become one of the best storylines in eSports. So how do they stack up against one another?
One of the most important keys to a team’s success is their synergy, both in, and out of game. For both teams, this is a bit of an unknown. Fnatic obviously have an advantage because of their experience together. This exact roster played for almost 10 months together, and won a whole lot of events along the way.
Clearly, they can work well as a team. However, it’s difficult to immediately give them the same level of coordination. There were rumors of internal issues that helped lead to their split last Summer, and with so long apart, it’s hard to say for sure how well they will work together as a team. Still, with so much shared experience they have a definitive advantage over EnVyus.
The French scene is notorious for its drama. There are countless instances of players refusing to play with one another because of internal issues. Just a couple days ago, famous in-game leader Ex6tenz publicly ranted about RpK betraying him by not joining his team. Let’s just say it’s not a coincidence that until now there has never been one, definitive superteam in France. It’s hard to say if there are any immediate conflicts within the team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if internal issues arise. While some have played with one another, no one has experience playing with all 4 other members. It will definitely take time for them to adapt to their new environment.
While many have questioned the absence of ScreaM on the lineup, it may actually be beneficial for the squad in the long run. G2’s new roster is already jam-packed with stars. Shox, kennyS, and apEX were all relied on for explosive power on their old teams. Adding ScreaM to the mix would just confuse things further. As it stands, G2 actually makes a lot of sense as a team. Each player easily fits into his role.
Shox is the lurker who makes big plays around the map, kennyS is the star AWPer who gets set up by his support NBK, apEX is the explosive first entry, and bodyy is a bit of a flex who usually follows up apEX. They have fragging potential for days, but don’t fall into the Gamers2 trap where everyone just runs around like idiots. If they remain disciplined, they should fit together as a team quite nicely.
Fnatic is a little bit more loose in their structure, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unlike some teams, they have a bit of flexibility in their roles. This is part of the reason why they can be so dominant. Just when you think you’ve figured them out, they change everything you thought you knew and beat you with surprise. Because of their prior experience as a team, Fnatic have already looked like a solid unit.
KRiMZ has done a great job in a supportive role, allowing for aggressive plays from Olof and JW. They look very coordinated for a team that has only been together for a couple days. G2 has very clean, obvious roles, but that also makes them exploitable. If you can figure out how to exploit their setup, it would be difficult for them to break their mold. With an entirely new roster, and an IGL new to most of their players, it may be difficult to make adjustments. Fnatic have logical roles as well, but they have the synergy to break them.
Neither of these teams have a traditional in-game leader. Flusha and dennis will likely both shot-call for Fnatic, and shox is the IGL for G2. Even though both teams have players who are more focused on fragging than tactics, Fnatic should have a better system in place. According to flusha, he tried to imitate pronax’s style of shot-calling as the IGL for Fnatic.
This system actually worked quite well. Fnatic maintained their reputation of a team that rides momentum in their favor, but is able to recover quickly from failure even after Pronax left the team. Based on an admittedly small, online sample size, this seems to have carried over even after several months on different teams. Fnatic looked like their old selves against G2. That aggressive style that made Fnatic so unpredictable and strong showed up once again on Cache. We’ve also seen some clever strats come out, even after only a few days of practice.
On the other hand, shox’s calling was never a strong suit for G2. The departure of Ex6tenz and shox’s assumption of the IGL role at first led to success for G2. Shox and ScreaM were turned on, putting up numbers we hadn’t seen from the duo in decades. In hindsight though, their performance looks like a predictable example of what happens when you allow a star player to shot-call after kicking your in-game leader. At first, the team looks extremely strong. The IGL as been replaced by someone with better fragging power, and the star players look incredible.
This is because, after assuming the IGL role, the star will call around themselves. With almost complete freedom, they are able to fully showcase their mechanical ability. Eventually though, teams begin to adapt and figure out how to shut down the star player, or at least dull impact. Without real experience learning to adapt, they struggle. Even if the star still looks good, they aren’t able to set up effective roles for their teammates, and can’t put rounds on the board because of that. I am still unsure of shox’s ability to effectively lead a team, especially without SmithZz in the game next to him.
If one is to just go off of skill, I would have to rate G2 over Fnatic. Fnatic just aren’t the superstars they used to be. Olofmeister has never returned to his prime since his wrist injury, JW hasn’t played like the aggressive, showy star he once was, and flusha isn’t the machine he used to be. Most of Fnatic are past their prime at this point. The only exception to this is KRiMZ, who practically carried Fnatic to the semifinals. But for most of the old team, the major was underwhelming.
The reason why both teams failed when Fnatic split was because they relied just as much on synergy and teamwork as they did starpower, if not more. G2 are in the opposite scenario. Shox and kennyS have had their fair share of slumps, but recently they have been absolute monsters. Bodyy, who was heavily overshadowed by ScreaM on the old lineup, has steadily become incredibly consistent and reliable. G2 are on an upward swing, and with all the best pieces of the French scene combined into one puzzle, it’s scary to imagine what they can do.
So far, the two super-teams have played a couple of online matches in the qualifier for IEM Katowice, including one against each other. Fnatic managed to defeat G2 2-0, finishing 16-5 on Train and 16-12 on Cache. Unsurprisingly, G2 looked a little lost and unwilling to adapt at times, but that is somewhat to be expected from such a new team. One major problem with the team was apEX. Out of all the players on the team, apEX was the one I was most worried about.
On EnVyUs he wasn’t performing at the level expected of him, and it was no different this game. What really surprised me was Fnatic. I almost felt like I’d traveled back to early 2016 watching this match. They had incredible synergy, and were willing to go for risky force-buys and crazy aggression with the AWP. JW got the support he needed to go for the plays he’s known for, and I was reminded of him running up mid on Dust_2. It’s ridiculous to jump to conclusions early, especially for G2. It’s not fair to judge an entirely new roster with only a couple days of practice. But if that series is any indicator, Fnatic might be a contender again. We’ll see how they do in Las Vegas.
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