We caught up with Richard "shox" Papillon, who opened up after his team's victory over Virtus.pro about the atmosphere in the team, how the players are adapting, and how all of the pieces are starting to come together.
G2 had a rough start in Valencia, losing their opener against Luminosity, who were considered underdogs in that match-up. After beating Virtus.pro, shox & co. will now have the chance to go back up against Luminosity in a BO3 for a spot in the playoffs.
In the interview, shox talks about several topics, including the mental toll his surgery took on him, Kenny "kennyS" Schrub' current form, Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans's leadership, and the mistakes he himself maded when he was leading, among others.
Let's start with the atmosphere in the team. After the struggles in the French scene and the whole G2 back-and-forth. Now that you're settling in, how is that going for you guys?
Really well, actually, that was one of the wishes we had, to have a team with really good chemistry. I have to say everyone is happy and even when we lose or whatever, like yesterday against Luminosity, that was tough to handle, we immediately watch the demos together and there are no negative attitudes. Everything is going good so far.
Actually, you've been playing better than I think a lot of people expected. Were you confident coming here?
Definitely not, we are aware that we did a pretty decent job with three weeks of preparation, so we were pretty happy about it, but because Cologne and Valencia are so close we didn't have time to practice, so it's been like five days without practice. Especially as a young team, you can lose the automatisms you try to create really fast, so coming to this tournament is actually really hard.
Also, in Cologne, we saw a lot of things we have to work on but we didn't have the time before Valencia, so it's about adaptation and talking to each other and trying to agree on how to play the game against certain opponents and stuff like that, you know? So no, we're not that confident. In our mind this event is even harder than Cologne. We are definitely fighting with our heart, and we can't wait to be back home because we definitely know what we have to work on. Yeah, we need to practice!
As a young team you say you can lose these automatisms. What do you think will make this team successful in the long run? How do you make it sustainable?
I think Ex6TenZ will really help us in the long run. As a captain, one of my mistakes, one of my flaws, was that it was really hard for me to rewatch the games, work on details and go step by step. Ex6TenZ is already like this, his style of leading and how to manage a team is not about having three weeks of preparation and then winning because what you work on was good at the time, or something like this. He's more about principles, how we see the game together, and the small details that become automatic with time.
Ex6tenZ watches all of our demos, he makes videos for us explaining what happens and what we need to fix... He's very involved and this work can pay off in the long run. In that way, the more time we have, the stronger we will get thanks to him.
You mention it was hard for you to go back and watch your games and work on the small details. Why do you think that is?
Why? That's a really good question, I think it was just in my blood. One of my flaws is that I sometimes want to change drastically, which is also why we had good peaks and bad peaks last year with the old version of G2. From one event to another my brain goes off and I just want to make drastic changes. I don't know why, it's just one of my flaws.
Do you think it's an emotional thing?
Probably, I think it's because in my mind it's very easy, when you lose, to say "OK, let's erase everything and get new things." You know? I love new things, when they're new you really believe easier in what you do because you know no one will expect it. In the end, it's good to have new things but you shouldn't work like that if you are a captain and you want to be good in the long run.
Tell me a bit about how your wrist is coming along, are you starting to feel better?
I'm starting to feel better. I get some pain when I'm playing, for example, over half an hour of deathmatch. It will come with time, I think, because my muscles need some time to learn that I'm using my wrist a lot, so it has to come back. I've been working with a mental coach since last week because after the three-month break I expected my comeback to be way easier, but I discovered that a lot was going on in my brain. I lost a lot of confidence and I had a lot of doubts. So far it's good, I'm enjoying the work with the mental coach and I hope it will continue this way, it definitely helps me a lot.
We talked a bit about Ex6TenZ's leading, but how has it affected KennyS? He's been showing up big, having really good matches, showing himself like when he was at peak form. How is the team structure helping him?
I think it's mainly because of two things. One is that Ex6TenZ gives him a lot of freedom. I work with bodyy a lot and Ex6TenZ works with SmithZz a lot, and of course, we have to work with Kenny, but he's free to do anything. It's more like we try to play for him and not have him play for us.
On top of that, he's a very emotional person, the same as bodyy, who has improved a lot since making the team. People were talking shit about him a lot in the past few months and if he's showing up right now it's not by chance, it's because he and Kenny are emotional players that are way better when they feel good in the team, when there's a good chemistry and atmosphere.
How about SmithZz, he hadn't been playing for a while, how is he feeling after some time back?
It was a bit harder at the beginning because he was trying to do his best for the team. I think that's because he was a coach, and when he was coaching he saw that a lot of players can make mistakes that will put the team in bad positions. Because of that, he wanted to not be that guy. In the end we had a talk, the whole team, and we told him that we totally trust him and that being a good player today means that if you want to do something because you feel it, you should do it. You're a good player. Even if it's not always in the game plan, if you feel it, just do it, because if you do something you don't believe in, you're going to be bad. Since then it's way better.
He was very focused on himself in the beginning but he's becoming someone who talks about the strategic side of things more and more, which is something he always did in the past and I think being a part of this conversation makes him better. When he's more involved in the team life, he's better. That's all about confidence, I think, but yeah, he's coming back and it will get better after time, he's on the right track.
To close out, DreamHack Valencia is your tournament for the taking, you're one of the favorites here. How important do you think it is to have a solid finish, to lift the trophy?
I think it's really important for our confidence because even if we know that we have a lot of things to work on, it will be a lot easier to work on these things without adding more. For example, losing here... So yeah, we would gain confidence and not add mistakes or things we need to work on, because we already have plenty. [laughs]