Top 20 players of 2014: shox (8)
Richard "shox" Papillon earned the 8th place on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking presented by Xtrfy while playing for three different teams throughout the year. He had a couple of MVP worthy performances at DH Stockholm #1 and DH Valencia, but he also had his moments at almost every other tournament.
Richard "shox" Papillon has a rich history in CS:Source which he started playing at a high level back in 2008 as a 16-year-old. Ever since then he was always considered one of the most skilled players in the game, and that didn't change when the switch to CS:GO came.
In his third stint with VeryGames during 2013 he climbed to the top of the world and led the French team to several titles, and more importantly to defeating Ninjas in Pyjamas numerous times, which resulted in his 3rd place on our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking.
We described some of his history on that occasion last year, and he went into 2014 considered by many to be the best player in the world at the turn of the year.
When the year began the ex-VeryGames squad was signed by Titan and they moved into a gaming house in order to get full-time practice. There wasn't that much time to prepare though as they attended their first event, ESEA Season 15 Global Finals, already in mid-January.
Even though they had lost to NiP in the DreamHack Winter semi-final at the end of 2013, Titan were still considered the best team in the world. So they came into the North American event as big favorites, considering neither the Swedes or any other European team were in attendance.
However, it turned out being a rocky road in the North American surroundings. Even though the Frenchmen were able to fight off iBUYPOWER and compLexity initially in the upper bracket, they were outmatched by iBP in two best-of-three series.
shox was the team's only constant, as he did well in every map they won and put up a good fight in the grand final. He had the team's highest 1.08 rating in the tournament and was the only one to contribute in above average amount of rounds (64.8%).
Titan had to figure out what went wrong, and they had a month to do it before the next trip that took them to Sweden for DreamHack Stockholm Invitational to battle NiP, fnatic and dignitas.
The first clash with NiP was already an exciting one, and powered by shox's performance – especially in the overtime – Titan won the opening match 22-19. shox ended up Man of the Match with a 38:30 score (7 assists, 1.26 rating, 6 entry kills, VOD).
He had another two great matches as Titan disposed of fnatic, and once again NiP in the grand final so it was an MVP worthy performance by shox with a 1.32 rating.
That triumph restored Titan's reputation, so they went into the first major of the year, EMS One Katowice, as number one favorites to win it all.
shox played well in Katowice, but the team not so much
Despite a great start against mousesports, where shox put in another Man of the Match performance (29:10, 1.94 rating, VOD), Titan bombed out in the group stage following the losses to Virtus.pro (7-16) and HellRaisers (14-16).
But they still had a chance against HR, where shox was back to his dominant self, contributing in every round win they had, the team couldn't handle the pressure and they ended up on the wrong end of a 16-14 score.
He ended up with a 1.26 rating for the tournament despite the underperformance against the Poles, and had at least one kill in an incredible 81% of Titan's round wins.
In the aftermath of the Polish event, shox continued reigning supreme in online matches, putting up some crazy scores and highlights against big opponents, such as 37:14 against NiP (POV) and one of the highlights of the year against Virtus.pro:
shox's AWP ace against Virtus.pro
But while he was by far the team's most valuable player in Katowice and online, it was almost the opposite at their next event, Copenhagen Games. It was a month after their disappointment in Poland, and even though the Titan squad this time made it to the final eight, they were in for another surprise.
Their countrymen LDLC knocked them out two maps to none (14-16, 12-16) in the quarter-final and effectively put an end to Titan's race for world's number one spot.
shox still played well and contributed in team-high 70.1% of rounds, but he was far less dominant this time as he ended up with only a 1.02 rating as fourth in Titan.
Shortly after that he surprisingly decided to leave the team, explaining that the gaming house practice regime doesn't suit him.
He quickly found a place in Clan-Mystik, left empty by Kenny "kennyS" Schrub who replaced him in Titan. The team went on to represent Epsilon starting from DreamHack Summer, and they immediately recorded a semi-final finish, outplacing his old team who ended up 5th-8th.
It wasn't that impressive of a placing though, as they lost to NiP in the group stage and then defeated Lemondogs, who lucked into their group's first place, in the quarter-final.
shox was surprisingly not the star of the new team, instead the youngster Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey was doing the most damage this time. He still ended up contributing second most in the team with a 1.08 rating and had played well in every match except the NiP group stage loss.
Incredible performance at DreamHack Valencia
But that was just the calm before the storm that followed at DreamHack Valencia, where shox put on the most dominant performance of the year. Although Epsilon lost in the grand final to LDLC, shox was the MVP of the event with a 1.43 rating which was the result of incredible play throughout the entire tournament.
He was Epsilon's best player in 6 of their 8 map wins, including the first map of the final, while the performance he put on in the semi-final against HellRaisers was unmatched the whole year.
The Frenchmen had actually lost map one, and then powered through map two with shox of course topping the scoreboard with 28:16 (1.53 rating). But that was nothing compared to his display on the deciding map three, Dust2, where he put up 30 kills and had only 3 deaths, leading Epsilon to a historic 16-0 win with an even more historic performance (2.95 rating, 7 entry kills, VOD).
Despite his heroic performance the team concluded they lacked something as they were unable to overcome LDLC in the final, so they added an AWPer Joey "fxy0" Schlosser instead of Valentin "mistou" Balbastro.
Their first event after the change came already a few weeks later in form of Gfinity 3 in London. shox started well by leading the team to a 16-14 win over NiP with a Man of the Match performance (25:15, 7 assists, 1.26 rating, 4 entry kills, POV), and he looked good even in the fnatic loss and the subsequent Infused win.
shox's POV vs. NiP at Gfinity 3
However, as Epsilon required only one point from the remaining two matches against iBUYPOWER and London Conspiracy, they ended up losing 13-16 and 12-16 and not making it out of the group stage, not least thanks to shox who was suddenly the worst player in both matches with 8:26 and 13:19 scorelines.
He ended up with his only below average rating of the year, 0.93, and his underperformance couldn't have come at a worse time in the tournament.
The chance for redemption was just around the corner in form of the year's second major – ESL One Cologne – and shox had taken over the in-game leader duties for this event.
It resulted in an tremendous group stage for Epsilon, with shox himself putting in another Man of the Match performance against HellRaisers in a 16-1 win (19:4, 1.93 rating, POV) and then leading the team to a 16-6 win over NiP to top their group.
However, they couldn't match up against dignitas in the quarter-final so it was a short ride for the Frenchmen.
Despite their playoff run, the team had obviously shown its limits, so shox didn't hesitate when the opportunity to form a new team with his old comrades Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux arose. As Titan and LDLC shuffled players, the old VeryGames trio teamed up with Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer as well as kioShiMa and became the new LDLC.
shox swapped jerseys again and moved to LDLC
The new team's first event was DreamHack Stockholm and they ended up placing second to Titan. shox was the team's best player on this occasion with a 1.13 rating, mostly due to playing well in every match, but also for putting in a MotM display in the 16-3 win over NiP in the group stage (23:10, 9 assists, 1.79 rating, VOD).
There wasn't much room to shine in this star-studded lineup, which was best shown at their next event SLTV StarSeries XI Finals. The Frenchmen ended up getting revenge on Titan in a dominant fashion (16-4, 16-6) and winning the event ahead of Natus Vincere, while all of their members put up big numbers.
shox had the same 1.13 rating as in his first tournament with the new team when he was the star, only this time that ranked a mere fourth in LDLC. Nevertheless, he had a great outing and didn't underperform even on a single map even though he actually became the team's in-game leader in this period.
But after their first win came their first disappointment, a loss in the semi-final of FACEIT Season 2 against iBUYPOWER. shox had another stable display, playing well on each map, although only recording 0.70 kills per round as it was once again hard to stand out.
He continued with the solid but not explosive form at ESWC, before which he was stripped of the in-game leading duties. This time he was the team's best performer with a 1.14 rating, and he stood out with a good display in the quarter-final against Titan (40:26, 1.30 rating, VOD).
Disappointed LDLC at the end of ESWC
But as they were once again unable to win the event, losing to fnatic in the final, LDLC decided to swap some more roles in the team around and shox became the team's main entry killer.
That didn't bring any fruit initially as they once again lost to fnatic in the final of Fragbite Masters Season 3. shox's play suffered from the new role and he ended up being very inefficient on the T-side, having a 3:16 entry duel score. He was still very good on the CT-side so he ended up with an average 1.01 rating for the tournament.
But after having another two weeks of practice before the final major of the year, DreamHack Winter, he looked more comfortable in the new role.
He started off with a great performance against ESC (21:7, 1.73 rating, CT side POV) and he also did well in the win over NiP that secured LDLC the top spot in their group (24:18, 1.12 rating).
Although he didn't stand out much for the rest of the tournament, while the team went all the way and grabbed the biggest prize, he did end up as one of the best T-side entry killers of the tournament with a 14:12 score, as well as overall entry killers with 35:19.
Champions of DreamHack Winter
In the end he wasn't one of the stars of the big triumph, only scoring 0.68 klls per round – one of his lowest productions of the year – and recording a 1.03 rating, but he was very useful to the team nevertheless.
Why is he the 8th best player of 2014?
Richard "shox" Papillon played well at almost every tournament he attended, managed to reach the podium on no less than 10 occasions and had a few excellent individual displays throughout the year, so his place in the top 10 was never in question.
During his time in Titan for the first four months of the year he was one of the best players in the world, although he only led the team to win DreamHack Stockholm #1, while otherwise recording disappointing results.
After that he moved to Epsilon and took on a slightly less impactful role – except during DreamHack Valencia where he had the most impressive display of the year – and had moderate success by reaching the semi-final at DH Summer and quarter-final at ESL One Cologne.
In the LDLC period after that, he shuffled through roles and more often than not didn't stand out much. He was still the second best player of the team in that period during which they almost as a rule reached the grand final of every tournament.
However, one of the reasons why he isn't higher in the ranking is that his peaks were at the least competitive event he attended - DH Valencia, and another relatively small event - DH Stockholm #1. Moreover, while his play in Titan was on a superstar level, he didn't really stand out often during the more successful period in LDLC.
Nuke was his favorite playground in 2014 as he recorded the second highest rating on it (1.28), while he was also notably one of the best pistol round players (1.31 rating).
What is your take on Richard "shox" Papillon's performance in 2014? Is the 8th place the right one for him?