Top 20 players of 2016: shox (6)
Coming in the 6th spot of our Top 20 players of 2016 list is Richard "shox" Papillon, the in-game leader and star player of G2. shox was rewarded with his highest finish since 2013 due to elite level fragging and exceptional play in big matches.
Richard "shox" Papillon's first Counter-Strike steps were taken in CS 1.5, but the start of his professional career came in CS:Source. shox played in Creativ' in 2008, moving to VeryGames in 2009 where he established himself as one of the best players in the world, but he would still end up being released by Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans's team before the end of the year.
shox then tried on CS 1.6 again, but came back to Source shortly after, joining up with Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom for a period of time before moving back to VeryGames. His second stint with the team wasn't much longer than the first one - as he was once again removed in late 2011.
At the start of CS:GO, shox and ScreaM united in Imaginary Gaming, but this time around it was the Belgian that would get the call-up to join VeryGames, leaving shox to wander between second-tier French teams and international mixes such as TCM-Gaming, where he played alongside Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács for a brief period of time.
In May of 2013 shox got another chance in VeryGames, his first one in CS:GO, and ended up elevating the team significantly - finally allowing them to best NiP. With Papillon in the lineup, the French team won multiple titles and finished the year as the #1 team overall, despite falling to the Swedes in the last tournament of the year - DreamHack Winter 2013.
shox placed 3rd in HLTV.org Top 20 players of 2013, but had a troublesome start to 2014 as he once again departed from the Titan line up, this time on his own terms, citing difficulties with living in a gaming house as the main reason.
"I always had my specific vision about how to play CS and had a lot of confidence in it. By not being the in-game leader, I sometimes had to play in a manner that I didn't want to (which is normal when you are a player, you can't always do what you want)."
"Sometimes I had a loss of motivation for like one or two months, but as I was always a key player in my teams, I couldn't take some rest because my captain always had big expectations from me and I couldn't disappoint him, something that was not always easy to deal with. When you are an important piece in your team, you always have to be on top, something which was hard to understand for me. Overall, I lacked maturity, I think that's the main reason why I had troubles staying in teams." - shox about his departures from VeryGames in Source and Titan/EnVy in CS:GO
shox struggled to stay in teams earlier in his career
shox joined Epsilon shortly after, and despite being in a lower tier team, he was able to achieve some good results with the roster such as the second place finish at DreamHack Valencia 2014 (where he was also the MVP), and a top8 at ESL One Cologne 2014.
His good form was noticed by other players in the country, getting him a place in LDLC in the upcoming French shuffle. It took some time, but the team stabilized under the leadership of Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer and turned out to be the best one coming out of the roster swap - taking over the title of the best team in France from Titan.
2014 was a fruitful year for the LDLC squad - spearheaded by shox and Happy, the team was winning titles - including a Major - DreamHack Winter 2014 -, but was overall the second best team in the world behind fnatic.
After placing 8th in our rankings for 2014, shox looked good at the start of 2015 as well - winning MLG X Games Aspen with his team before the squad moved to a new organization - EnVyUs. shox peaked at Gfinity Summer Masters 1, where he was the MVP of the tournament, but hit a rough patch after that, with the team's form suffering as well. As a result, in the middle of 2015 it was time for another farewell from shox - moving from EnVyUs back to Ex6TenZ's Titan.
The reunion didn't go as planned, as Titan was first eliminated in the groups of ESL One Cologne despite shox's best efforts, finished 5-6th at ESL ESEA Dubai and then had another disappointing 9-12th placing at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca. The team's best finishes of 2015 came at an event that was plagued with issues, Gaming Paradise (3rd), and CEVO Professional Season 8 Finals (3-4th) - both lower tier events.
shox didn't have a great start to 2016 - at the first event of the year, SLi StarSeries XIV, he was the best player on his team, but still had a below average rating (0.95) in their 7-8th place finish. Global eSports Challenge in Vilnius, Lithuania was a good event in terms of his personal contribution, as he finished with a 1.08 rating (second in G2 behind ScreaM), but his team had another underwhelming result, losing to CLG in the group decider match.
"It was really hard [in the beginning of 2016], the kick from EnVyUs was the hardest one in my whole career, I cried a lot because of it, especially because I knew what I was losing and I didn't see [the kick] coming so it was really hard dealing with the emotions. Coming up to Titan, I knew the road to results I was achieving with EnVy was going to be really, really hard. The first months were not my best as I was still thinking about my kick from EnVy so my mind was definitely not clear to play my best CS."
"My goals were, and will always be to be the best individually and as a team. Every loss was painful cause when you are used to losing in semi-finals or finals and then you don't even pass the group stages, that's the worst feeling ever. I tried to do my best to give the team the maximum I could and help it as I can, but it wasn't enough. My “real” goals began when bodyy joined as I was really confident we could do something way better than the past few months."
shox had a tough time transitioning to Titan/G2 at the start of the year
The ESL Barcelona Invitational followed, a tournament at which G2 finished third - but with only one win over a top tier team, Astralis - and with shox having an average showing himself (1.00 rating and 3rd in his team overall).
"Hmmm, for me there were two main reasons [for removing Ex6TenZ]. The first being no-one in the team was trusting him and his leading anymore so it was really embarrassing. When your players don't trust the captain then you can even have the best tactics, but it won't work, it's all about confidence. He agreed on the point that if we don't trust him anymore, it's pointless to continue like this and said that he would prefer to play with other players - who are maybe less strong, but who trust him, something totally understandable."
"The second reason from my point of view is that he had a lot of pressure coming up to the Majors and he was not leading the same way as usual, he was not bringing enough calmness and serenity to the team, something that is really needed when you want to conclude matches with high pressure. I also asked my teammates about the leadership, and they said that they had more confidence in my calls than those of Ex6ZenZ, so coming up to this discussion, it was clear we had to do something."
With the storied leader gone, the in-game leader role was permanently transferred to shox, who picked up Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro to fill the gap and adapted a loose, free-form style of play that saw both ScreaM and shox flourish in the coming tournaments.
G2's latest pickup bodyy had his debut at DH Masters Malmö
"We were searching for a 5th player, and of course EnVyUs at that time would not change for any reason, so I had to search in sub top French teams. I looked at a lot of demos from LDLC White, and I saw real potential in bodyy. He was really intelligent in-game, had a good game sense, could be versatile as a rifler/pistol/AWPer if needed and was playing almost all the positions we were searching for from our 5th."
"So I was definitely confident about picking him, I always knew it was the best choice. Talking about me, I think taking the in-game leader role and the control of team as I wanted in terms of tactics/roles gave me a lot of confidence, something I really needed at that time. Also, coming back to my past role as a lurker boosted my confidence even more."
The improvements were apparent as soon as ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals in May, the second event the new roster attended together. At the tournament that was held in London, UK, shox was the best player on G2 and put up impressive numbers in all notable categories - yielding him an EVP award in his team's second place finish. The Frenchman especially stood out in the grand finals, where he had a great showing on three of the five maps in the grand final against Luminosity - but it wasn't enough for G2 to get their lift the trophy.
"The ESL Pro League Season 3 was my favorite moment of 2016, because even though we didn't win the event, we managed to fight against Luminosity on five maps and even went to an overtime on the last one. We worked, we came there without any expectations and just had the faith in our game style and in our team, we were like 5 fingers of a hand fighting for the same cause. Even though we lost, I had never been so proud of my team then at that moment."
Highlights from the ECS S1 grand final against Luminosity
After a trip to Atlanta for the ELEAGUE Season 1 group stage, where G2 was unable to take down NiP in the decider match despite beating them earlier in the competition, shox and co. returned to London for the ECS Season 1 Finals.
G2 had a slow start to the event, losing to Liquid on Cobblestone 16-6, but recovered by comfortably taking down NiP and getting revenge over Liquid to make it out of the groups. shox contributed highly in all of their map wins in the group stage and only dropped off towards the end of the tournament, where G2 were able to best both fnatic and Luminosity with 2-0 scores.
"Regarding [ECS Season 1 and ESL Pro League Season 3], that's something I will always be proud of. We worked a lot before them, I tried to put the maximum effort I could so my teammates would understand the way I wanted to play as a team."
"We didn't have any expectations, passing the group stages was already a good thing for us. So going to semi-finals and even more was really satisfying, but we didn't take the pressure or whatever, we just kept playing our game and doing what we worked on, remaining as calm as possible - it was really enjoyable and everyone were doing their job perfectly."
Even though G2 was coming into the second Major of the year in such good form, their group of death with SK, fnatic and FaZe was still an extremely hard one to advance from. And after defeats to SK on Cobblestone and fnatic on Train, G2 were out of the Major once again. It was another underwhelming Major showing for shox, who only managed to keep a fairly high ADR (72.8) in the two best-of-one defeats.
"My main regret will be ESL Cologne, as I really wanted to do something good here, we just won ECS and everything was in our hands. We lost two close games and I think I had one of my worst Major performance in my CS career. If I had the level I should have, I guess we would made it out of the group stage and got to the quarters. I have a lot of regrets about that."
"[The thing I would change] is my individual performance I would say, but talking about the leading I can't say the same. I'm still a new in-game leader and I'm learning from my mistakes after every match."
G2 were out of the Major after just two maps
Another blow hit G2 before the first half of the year ended, as they were forced to attend the ELEAGUE Last Chance Qualifier with Simon "Fuks" Florysiak instead of the injured Cédric "RpK" Guipouy - and ended up losing in a tight match against mousesports.
"Well we had two good events with ESL Pro League and ECS, going to the Major it was really sad for us at that time that we had the group of the death because I think we could've definitely done something big there. Going up to ELEAGUE, we needed to get back our confidence and just forget about the Major, and playing with a standin was clearly not the best way - and we also started being tired from playing a lot before the summer break."
"Thinking again about it today, I'm not sure we should have gone to this event with a standin, it just made us lose our confidence more than anything else. Though, we tried to forget it because RpK was not there, so the loss didn't affect us "that much"."
The team was back on their feet after a summer break, cruising through the group stage of SLi StarSeries Season 2 Finals with victories over MVP Project and FaZe. The quarter-final bracket saw them face off against EnVyUs on LAN for the first time of the year, in a match that will go down in history as one of the best French derbies due to the incredible displays from shox and Kenny "kennyS" Schrub. After a tight Dust2 victory by G2, the action moved to Cobblestone where we witnessed what almost seemed like a 1v1 match between the two French stars. In the end, it was shox coming on top in both the individual and team department - 37 kills just on Cobble and +25 K-D, 106.4 ADR for the 2-0 win in the series.
"I always have a lot of pressure in French matches and always want to prove that I'm in the better team, it's all about the rivalry. The only thing I remember from that game is that everything went well for me, I was hitting my shots, had the good timings and the confidence. Once I have these keys, then I can almost do everything I want on the map and it will work because I know the enemies are starting to fear me so I have way more space to play with."
shox picked up another EVP award at StarSeries Season 2
shox was key on their victory on Cobblestone against dignitas as well, grabbing his team a spot in the grand final, but he dropped off against NiP in the final series of the tournament which saw G2 finish in second place once again. However, he was still G2's best player of the tournament as a whole, boasting a 1.26 impact rating and 0.85 kills per round - earning himself another EVP award.
G2 entered a shaky period after StarSeries, as they disappointed in their next tournament showing - ESL One New York. The French team kicked off the Swiss group stage with a match against Astralis on Dust2 which they lost 16-13, followed that by a one-sided defeat to Liquid on Train (16-7) and were ultimately eliminated by OpTic on Cache (16-7). Even though the tournament was a blowout for G2 and a bad showing for shox (0.89 rating, 65.3% KAST), only the map against Liquid was a really bad showing for Papillon, who finished with an above average on the other two.
At EPICENTER: Moscow, a tournament featuring a high prize pool and elite competition, G2 were put in a group with NiP, Natus Vincere and Dignitas. shox was the best-rated G2 player in two out of the three maps his team won in the group stage, with another great showing on Cobblestone standing out, this time against Natus Vincere. Thanks to a good level in the round-of-six series G2 lost to SK, shox was once again the best-rated G2 player of the tournament with 1.07 rating (12% above team average), a very high ADR (89.8) and 2 PotM awards.
The Frenchmen hit a bad patch as the end of 2016 came near
shox's last EVP of the year came at Northern Arena, a lower tier tournament at which G2 were upset by Heroic in the group stage, which set them on an early collision course with Envy, the other favorites of the tournament. After dispatching of their French rivals with another 2-0, G2 were defeated by OpTic in the finals 2-1, winning only on Cobblestone where shox had another masterclass performance (36-21 K-D, 119.7 ADR, 1.63 rating).
"It was always tight against [EnVyUs], we were lucky because the French clash is more like 50-50 since we know each other so well. So, after we won the first game we started to have a confidence boost compared to them and I guess that's what made the difference. If it was the other way, if they started to win against us, I'm pretty sure it would have been the easier for them and really hard for us."
IEM Oakland was the last big tournament of the year for G2 and one of the weakest ones for shox personally. After squeezing past Astralis on Nuke, G2 were demolished by Immortals on Cobblestone, with shox being poor in both maps. He did show up against an unimpressive TyLoo side though, and then again in the last match of the group stage against Liquid - where he combined with ScreaM to edge out the North American side in Overtime.
"Coming up to the 2013-2014 VeryGames/Titan lineup, [me and ScreaM] were just teammates but weren't really playing together in the game so I can't say anything about it. About 2016, I tried to put him in the best positions so he could can have a maximum impact as CT and T. I wanted to use him as the best possible way and I think I did something good here because that's also something he always wanted."
"I also tried to give him more responsibilities, because he was always "just a player” in his teams and I wanted it to change, so I gave him the responsibility of calling some rounds in duo with SmithZz, something that he did good the first months and I guess that boosted his confidence."
With another date with SK scheduled for the round-of-six, there was a chance for shox to redeem himself for a bad group stage showing - especially as the series came down to the decider, Dust2 - but the French star was completely missing, going 6-18 on what is known to be one of his best maps.
Improving as a leader while remaining a strong individual player has been a tough task
Overall, it was still a very successful year for the Frenchmen, who took over the reins of his team for a long period the first time in his career. shox was already known as a player that could do it all - showing prowess with pistols, SMGs, rifles and the AWP, playing as both an entry player and a lurker - but added another degree of versatility in 2016, showing himself as a competent in-game leader as well. shox talked about what he worked on the most during 2016:
"Taking the in-game leader role for more than two months was clearly a challenge for me and I'm at the moment really proud of what I did and how I evolved. I still have a lot of things to learn but I'm confident to say I'm on a good path. The most change I had and the area I improved the most is definitely the teamwork. By being the captain, you need to always have an eye out for all your players and try to fit everyone in positions that are good for them. I'm way more observant about my teammates being in good conditions than myself, I'm trying to make everything good for the team so everyone is happy with the way we play. I gained a lot of maturity by taking the captain role and I'm learning new things every day. Being a captain is not all about tactics on the server, it's also about knowing your players as people and knowing how to manage them - it's a lot of work."
Looking forward towards next year, shox is aiming at more titles and clinching the #1 spot for the first time:
"Talking about 2017, I want to lift more trophies and finally climb to the 1st spot individually, I know I can do it and will continue to work harder to get it.
Main goal for 2017: more trophies
Why is he the 6th best player of 2016?
shox's contribution to G2 can be seen through three EVP's at big events - ESL Pro League Season 3, ECS Season 1 and SLi StarSeries Season 2 - each of which were awarded for his extremely impactful play. He also received an EVP for his showing at Northern Arena, but that award didn't count as much toward his final ranking.
Even when his team performed poorly and he underperformed as an individual, shox was still able to pick up a lot of frags, making him one of the few elite fraggers of 2016 with 0.78 kills per round (6th overall) and at least one kill in 52.6% of the rounds he played (1st).
G2 relied heavily on shox over the course of 2016, as could be seen by him having 107 ADR in the rounds his team won and also getting a kill in 67% of those rounds - ranking 3rd out of the top 20 in both categories.
In addition to his impact, the key reason why shox is ranked so high in spite of his inconsistency is his play in big matches - he was the highest rated player in them with a 1.16 rating.
What stopped him from breaking into the top 5 of 2016 is his aforementioned tournament-to-tournament inconsistency, as well as his poor play at the Majors at which he finished with a 0.93 average rating.
We asked shox to name a young player that maybe reminded him of himself in an earlier point of his career and that he thinks could end up in the top 20 players of 2017. shox picked the latest addition to his team - bodyy.
"I would pick bodyy. It's only the beginning for him as he is playing in a top team since April and is only 19. He reminds of myself if the way he plays, really good at clutches, really versatile player, good skill wise and he knows how to play CS. Sometimes he reminds me of myself from a few years ago, so yeah, I definitely think he’ll be there next year as its only the beginning for him - he is the future."