In hindsight, the French roster shuffle just after the ELEAGUE Major was a pretty weird situation. It was easily the worst kept secret in esports, with the new French super team – which eventually became G2 Esports – rumored for months beforehand. All that gossip meant a lot of people assumed both G2 and Team EnVyUs would put in a poor performance at the Major, knowing their careers were about to change dramatically.
This is exactly what ended up happening, with both teams struggling in Atlanta, and as expected in the days following the event it was confirmed that EnVyUs and G2 would be making roster changes. While it initially looked like there was going to be one new top team in town, we actually ended up with two, thanks to one of the wildest switch-ups in CS history.
G2 struggle at first
G2 were always going to get the best end of the deal. By bringing in NBK, kennyS and apEX, they managed to keep the core of the EnVyUs line-up together, which secured them a spot in the PGL Major Krakow qualifier. Having secured three of the best French players ever, they were then able to put them next to French legend Shox and up-and-coming superstar bodyy, truly creating a super team that should have shot to the top of the scene. Add in the fact that they managed to keep Smithzz around as a coach and they looked unstoppable.
G2 struggle in Week 5 of the ESL Pro League, losing heavily to HellRaisers
But things didn’t quite start out that way. When they first joined forces, the results weren’t there. They started the season poorly in the ESL Pro league, putting them in what looked like a fierce relegation battle. People were shocked, and questioned whether building a team of superstars could actually work, or whether G2 had just blown a ton of cash on a line-up that seemed to be going downhill.
A stroke of luck for EnVyUs
Meanwhile, the seemingly decimated EnVyUs were slowly but surely rebuilding. When the shuffle happened they were left with Happy and SIXER, which certainly isn’t a bad base to form a team around, and they also picked up RPK, who was kicked from G2 to make way for the new stars. RPK had never been a true star himself, but was a very consistent player.
However, with a seeming lack of talent available in the French scene, the organization then had to look to the slightly lower leagues. First up they signed XMS from LDLC, a team which had struggled for a long time, and they brought in the relatively unknown devoduvek. On paper the roster didn’t look that great, and many predicted a difficult season for them.
ScreaM puts in a huge performance as NV’s stand-in against G2
But it turns out the gods of Counter-Strike were on their side. ScreaM, who was also left out of the G2 super team, was seemingly on his way to FaZe Clan, but then they got word that NiKo was up for grabs and sent ScreaM packing before he ever got started. Around this time ScreaM had been doing his old buddies on EnVyUs a favor by standing in for them, and their results were good. They knocked off big names and impressed a lot of people, which eventually led to ScreaM replacing devoduvek.
During these first few weeks, it was EnVyUs who looked the better team. They were the ones who always seemed to beat their French counterparts, and were the ones who would take maps off the big-name teams. Meanwhile, all G2 could manage was taking occasional maps off fellow struggling teams like Heroic and Fnatic.
Changing of the guard
Then the StarLadder qualifiers rolled around, and everything changed. G2 managed to destroy EnVyUs 2-0, and for the first time looked like a dominant team. StarLadder was G2’s first LAN showing and they were on fire right out of the gates. In the Swiss-format group stage they went undefeated, taking wins over NiP, HellRaisers and SK Gaming. In the quarterfinal, they got a super unlucky draw against FaZe Clan, who eventually won the event, and crashed out early. But this was G2 making a statement that they were ready to play with the big teams.
As G2 were rising to the top, EnVyUs were falling lower and lower. They failed to win a single match at both the CS_Summit and DreamHack Tours, showing they really were struggling to perform on LAN. Their online form was and still is OK, but they certainly haven’t progressed at the same speed as other teams. A 2-0 defeat to G2 at Tours really summed up how much things had changed in just a few weeks. While EnVyUs ended up in last place, G2 won the entire thing, giving this line-up its first trophy.
G2 show their true potential, winning ESL Pro League Season 5
Fast forward a couple of weeks and G2 were again collecting silverware, this time from the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals, with a dominating performance against the top teams. While Tours was their first win, this was the championship they wanted. After a poor start online, they made it to LAN and beat the hell out of everyone.
The combination of all the French stars seems to have worked wonders for G2 Esports. Too much firepower can be a bad thing, but here that simply isn’t the case. Moving Smithzz to be the coach seems like a stroke of genius, as this team are pulling off strats we could only dream of thinking up, and bodyy has been a revelation. Sticking with him might just be the single best move the organization has ever made.
While they will get a lot of stick for those first few weeks, their slow start probably should have been anticipated. With so many big names all accustomed to playing in a certain way, there was no way they would be able to figure out a winning formula straight away. It was always going to take time, but now they’ve found that winning formula, they can easily be considered a top-five team in the world.
NV beat a resurgent SK Gaming 16-3 at the Pro League Finals
As for EnVyUs, they continue to be an unpredictable, middle-of-the-pack team. Sometimes they pull off crazy results, like beating SK 16-3 at the Pro League Finals, but then they go and lose a match they really should win, like their match against Fnatic Academy at the European Minor this morning.
While G2 seem to have a working system for the whole team, EnVyUs seem to be relying on their stars to carry them through to a win. If one or two of the EnVyUs players have a big map, they will probably win, but if not then you can expect a loss to come their way. This probably explains why they got off to such a good start, but have since fallen off as other teams improve as well.
Onwards to the Major
With the French shuffle now long in the history books, things have almost settled down. G2 have taken their rightful place at the top of the scene, and head into ECS and the Major as undoubted favourites. Team EnVyUs, meanwhile, still feel like they have a way to go. They have the potential to challenge their French rivals, but it feels like they need a new system to play with, one that relies a lot less on individual skill.
Regardless of what happens though, we can safely say that for both teams, the French shuffle has actually worked out pretty well.