Top 20 players of 2013: SmithZz (17)
The support player of VeryGames, Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux, occupies the 17th spot on our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com. Even though his role of the team's primary entry killer often goes unnoticed, the Frenchman was an important component in their continuous success throughout the year.
Basic info and history
Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux first joined VeryGames back in 2008 and went on to have great success in the CS:Source scene through the years. With some on and off time in the French giants, he finally returned in August 2012 to replace Dan "apEX" Madesclaire, and complete the lineup that would around a month later together switch to CS:GO.
The team immediately showed that they will become one of the best in the world at this new game that united the two scenes, ending up second only to NiP at events like DreamHack Valencia, ESWC, DreamHack Winter and AMD Sapphire Prague.
In the beginning of 2013 one of VeryGames' star players, Cédric "RpK" Guipouy, decided to hang up his mouse. To replace him, the team added Belgian hot prospect Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, who prior to that represented Imaginary Gaming.
Shortly after, a 3rd place in Fnatic FragOut online league followed due to a loss to Virtus.pro in the semi-final. And before heading out to Vienna for the first Mad Catz event of the year, they also lost to Imaginary in one of the RaidCall EMS One cups.
It was maybe a sign of things still not clicking with the new lineup, and the team eventually went on to place 3rd in Austria, losing to Danes Anexis two times including in the semi-final.
Starting the year with a 3rd place at Mad Catz Vienna
Dubourdeaux himself was doing well fragging-wise, posting a 0.72 KPR and starting a rise in form in that period. Before Copenhagen Games he helped the team win Cup #4 of RC EMS One Spring with his year-high 0.92 KPR, including an incredible performance against mousesports in which he had 38 kills (38:15, 2.09 rating).
He brought that form to LAN as well, becoming the team's top fragger in Denmark with 0.86 kills per round. But yet again, it didn't prove to be the formula for success as the French-Belgian squad ended at their lowest place yet, 4th, featuring losses to NiP in the upper bracket and then the same Danes they lost to in Vienna, now called Western Wolves, in the lower bracket final.
Still, Dubourdeaux ended up as one of the best players of the event, having the 7th highest rating overall (1.28, his best in 2013) and topping the charts in entry kills (0.17 per round).
Welcoming the first title of 2013 at Mad Catz Birmingham
Just a week later, VeryGames went to the second Mad Catz event in Birmingham and finally won their first international CS:GO title, although without meeting their new nemesis Western Wolves either, as they were knocked out by fnatic in the semi-final. Dubourdeaux was once again practically flawless, being the team's second best player behind Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and the 4th best rated in the entire tournament (1.21).
"[Adding ScreaM] didn't change much in my playstyle, because RpK and ScreaM had the same role in the team: madfragger. So I kept doing my supporting job to help him make the headshots he's famous for.
Concerning why I was in a good shape at this moment, I think adding a new player boosted the team, cause you will lose some teamplay so you need to make up for the difference by individual performance in this period. So most of the time, you play more greedy than you usually do, and sometimes it pays off." - Dubourdeaux about the first few months of 2013 when his form peaked.
But despite climbing to the top of the podium in Birmingham, VeryGames still didn't completely prove themselves, as neither NiP nor Virtus.pro attended that event. The next chance for them to challenge the Swedes came only a week later at RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals.
After besting British side Anexis 2-1 in the quarter-final, the French-Belgian squad was paired up with NiP, but similarly to all of their past encounters, the team led by Richard "Xizt" Landström came out on top (16-3, 16-14) and they finished 3rd-4th once again.
Another loss to NiP at RC EMS One Spring Finals
The busy month of April was not over yet, as a trip to Dallas, Texas for ESEA Season 13 Global Finals was one week away. It was another chance to challenge NiP, but although they came closer than ever with two 16-14 losses in the upper bracket final, VeryGames were still defeated. They also lost the consolidation final to Quantic (22-20, 16-14), so another 3rd place was in the books.
That was obviously not good enough for the team with the highest aspirations, so they decided to make a lineup change, removing Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and adding Richard "shox" Papillon, which would prove to be the right move in the long run. It also meant that Dubourdeaux would now take over the AWPing duties in the team, something he was quite known for in his CS:S days but had no experience with in CS:GO.
"Adding shox was really good thing, even though switching back to AWP was quite hard because I was so late in comparison to other AWPers. It also helped me a lot in my co-leading role, cause now it was three of us, with Ex6TenZ and him participating in making tactic calls and stuff like that.
The difference between adding shox and ScreaM is that shox fills the spot you need him to fill, and ScreaM is a player that you need to support and put him in good spots for him to do what he does best." – on how adding shox affected the team compared to adding ScreaM, and how it affected Dubourdeaux himself.
The team started with some shaky performance online in the RC EMS One Summer season, but after some losses in the cups they eventually qualified for the finals as second in their group behind Virtus.pro. They also decided to skip DreamHack Summer in order to have more time to get the new lineup ready for the challenges ahead.
And the plan worked, the team came to RC EMS One Summer Finals and conquered the event. Although they didn't meet NiP on their way to the title, they defeated Copenhagen Wolves, fnatic and NiP-slayers Virtus.pro, winning their most meaningful trophy in CS:GO yet at that point.
Dubourdeaux's form had fallen off in the period post Birmingham, but he wasn't distraught and knew it would come back.
"I don't have regrets about my performances during the year, maybe I performed badly at ESEA + EMS in the middle of the year, but that happens to every player so I didn't change any of my mindset or motivation. I just kept doing what I do the best and it came back."
The team then went on a summer break during July, meanwhile cancelling their participation at ESEA Season 14 Global Finals due to traveling costs. In August they would return to winning ways, adding a title from Mad Catz Cologne where they beat fnatic in the final on LAN.
DreamHack Bucharest in the middle of September was the next big LAN event with all the top teams, and as EMS One champions VeryGames came in with the highest expectations. However, NiP once again proved to be a thorn in their side when the two giants met in the quarter-finals and the Swedes won with ease (16-10, 16-2).
Defeated by NiP once again in Bucharest, for their worst of the year 5th-8th finish
It was back to the drawing board for Dubourdeaux & co, and only two weeks later they would find a solution. It was the MSI Beat it European Finals where they will finally defeat NiP, albeit online. It was a semi-final match for the trip to China, and the result was convincing in favor of VeryGames, 16-8, 16-7.
One of SmithZz' contributions in their first win over NiP
Two weeks after that, they would confirm that the curse is lifted as they finally defeated the Ninjas on LAN (16-14, 16-6) after over a year of trying. The occasion was SLTV StarSeries VII Finals, which VeryGames would go on to win over Astana Dragons, with Dubourdeaux being the man of the match in the final against the CIS-based squad (48:32, 1.32 rating).
"I think it's my first victory against NiP offline, at SLTV. I wasn't feeling so good in my personal life at that moment, and breaking that psychological barrier made me forget about my problem at that time." - on his best moment in 2013.
They would defend their throne at RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals in Cologne two weeks after that, once again outplaying NiP, and this time with a comeback in the final (5-16, 16-14, 16-6).
Dubourdeaux shined in his entry killer role at this event (best of all players with 0.17 per round), as well as at the SLTV VII Finals before that where he was 2nd best (0.13).
"I think people who watch CS:GO are more focused on madfraggers such as ScreaM or f0rest, or clutchers like shox and GeT_RiGhT. They like the show. But sometimes they forget that someone has to make the entry kill to make things happen, and that is one of my roles.
I've always done it with my previous teams, it's kind of a dirty job. You don't get as much fame as madfraggers and clutchers, but people who you play with know that in order to win, you need someone to do it well." - On his entry killer role, and if it goes underappreciated by the public.
Dubourdeaux's form overall was back on the rise, as he put up 0.74 kills per round in Germany, which he would even improve on the weekend after on home soil at ESWC, having 0.80 KPR and 0.17 entry kills per round.
VeryGames notched up their third win in a row over NiP in the semi-final of the French event (16-13, 19-16), but then they unexpectedly fell to their compatriots Clan-Mystik on the big stage (11-16, 12-16).
"First of all, Mystik are really strong team, they proved it with their last performance. They are French, and we have always struggled against French teams in the past, even in CS:S. I can't explain it so much, but it's like NiP against Swedes.
We don't underestimate them, but it's like we are scared to lose to them during the game. In the future we will face any team with the same mindset." - explaining the loss to Mystik.
The team's busy schedule then sent them to Beijing, China, for the MSI Beat it! Grand Finals where they returned to winning ways after topping fnatic in the final (16-12, 16-10).
Winning their 6th title of the year at MSI Beat it
DreamHack Winter's $250,000 tournament was next, only days after their return from Asia. However, the team was upset already in the group stage by compLexity so they moved to the playoffs as 2nd.
After overcoming Copenhagen Wolves 2-1, they met NiP in the semi-final, but this time the Swedes were ready to get their revenge and they knocked the Frenchmen out of the biggest tournament of the year with 16-13, 6-16, 16-5.
"After ESWC, we didn't train enough in order to be prepared for DH Winter, some of the players had a lack of motivation cause of the loss against Clan-Mystik, and cause of the fact that we played a lot to win the events we won earlier. So we kinda screwed up our preparation for DH Winter. I think that's what cost us the LAN, at least our match against coL.
It doesn't change anything about our rivalry, we will always be rivals, cause we are all competitors and we all want to win. So we will see next year how it goes between us." - about the DH Winter loss to NiP and if it changes the rivalry now.
Dubourdeaux's individual performance was certainly not to blame for that loss, as he was the team's best rated player overall, and even the event's 2nd best rated in the playoffs with a 1.20 rating (largely thanks to great play against NiP). He also looked to finally settle into his AWPing role, having his best average yet of 0.21 AWP kills per round.
December didn't bring anything spectacular from the VeryGames camp in terms of tournaments, apart from a loss to über G33KZ in Fragbite Masters quarter-final, and defending the throne on home soil in EPS France XI.
But there was one piece of news about them that shocked the world back in November, when the organization announced it would be closing the doors at the end of the year, and that the team will have to look for a new home.
But even though Dubourdeaux's squad will be playing under a different name in 2014, they will not have different ambitions.
"For myself, I would say work harder, keep my motivation to do it, and work on my AWP skill, to find it back :D. I hope we will all stay together, and we have to become stronger and perform well in 2014."
Why is he the 17th best player in 2013?
Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux is at 25 years of age the most experienced member of the team formerly known as VeryGames, and as their support player he unsurprisingly spent the year being overshadowed by some of his more noticeable teammates.
Nevertheless, he had a number of great performances throughout 2013, and his entry killing ability is almost unmatched in the whole world (5th most total entry kills with 341, and 6th most entry kills per round with 0.14).
He did, however, have a dry spell in the middle of the year, and was "only" the fourth best player in his team with the second lowest rating in our ranking (1.06), which are all the things that kept him on the 17th place.
In the end, he was an integral part of a squad that spent a good period of the year on top of the world, so having a place in this ranking was never in question for him.
Dubourdeaux's bold prediction didn't go far from home, as he thinks that Clan-Mystik's rising star AWPer Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian can go on to achieve great things in the future.
Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian
"I would say KQLY! What I saw of him was pretty good, and if he keeps working he can probably make some damage in the future."
How did you see Dubourdeaux's 2013 performance? Did you notice his excellent entry killing abilities? Is the 17th place on our Top 20 the right one for him, or should he be higher or lower?
Tell us what you think in the comments below, and in case you missed our previous articles follow the links in our Top 20 players of 2013 by eSportsventure.com ranking. Stay tuned to HLTV.org for our announcement of the 16th best player of the year tomorrow.