kennyS: "We're at a period, perhaps, shox and myself, in which we need consistency as a team to be able to play our best individually"
We sat down with Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and Damien "maLeK" Marcel ahead of their ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals match which will pit their G2 against FaZe in a quarter-final rematch from DreamHack Masters Dallas.
G2 will be looking to take revenge on FaZe, whom they lost to at DreamHack Masters Dallas, in the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals quarter-final match slated for 15:00. To make it this far, G2 beat Grayhound in their opener, but then had to crawl back from the lower bracket, where they beat Cloud9 and Heroic after a loss to NRG.
In the interview, kennyS and maLeK talked about a variety of topics, including their match against FaZe and the matches they played to get to the quarter-final, giving François "AmaNEk" Delaunay more leadership duties, finding consistency and working on getting better tournament to tournament, and gave us some insight into some of the team's inner workings.
You're the home team here, so was there a particular motivation coming into these Pro League Finals?
kennyS: The thing is, we don't play that many events during the year, so the motivation is pretty much the same. We were very motivated for DreamHack Masters Dallas, for example, because we know we have this obligation to perform so we can get higher in the rankings and go to more events and prove that we have a good team and can establish ourselves in the top 10.
To be able to play in France, in front of our home crowd, it's a bonus because we don't have many events here, especially events as big as an ESL Pro League Finals, so we want to enjoy this atmosphere as much as possible. It would have been a really big disappointment to not make it out of the group stage.
Talking about making it out of the group stage, you did it in Dallas, now here, are you starting to find your game, are you starting to get more comfortable?
kennyS: At tournaments that work with GSL we get stronger as the matches go on, although it's frustrating because we know how important it is to win the first matches, but I do think we're starting to find our cruising speed and even when we're not playing very well we can still win matches, which is something that we had trouble with before, and that's very positive for us. Have we found our rhythm? I'm not sure, but at least we're starting to find a little bit more consistency, which is something that has been hard for us lately.
You made it through the groups here, but you haven't gone up against the strongest opposition. Now you're up against FaZe, how do you see yourselves going into this match-up?
kennyS: Looking at the teams we played here, Heroic just qualified to Cologne and they more or less crushed fnatic, while NRG made the semis. It was a bit of a frustrating match against them, but we played mostly well for the most part. We had problems closing it out, which is something we're working on because it happens often that we have these matches that leave a bitter aftertaste, but the good thing here is that we don't regret that match too much, it would have been much worse had we lost it on days two or three.
I don't think too much about who we played or not, but rather I just focus on the fact that we're in the playoffs and that we're going to play FaZe in the arena, and I'm more or less confident. Even if we didn't beat the most impressive rival yesterday, we still played a good game and if we can reproduce that today, FaZe is a team we can beat, too. That's the way we have to think, be confident in ourselves and our game and know that when we play to our full potential it doesn't matter who's in front of us, we can play a great match.
We've seen a little bit more consistency, particularly in you and shox, in the past couple of months. What dynamics in the team allow that?
KennyS: I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I know that for this event we've focused a lot on the team and the synergies we can have in the hard times. For example, even if we ended up losing to NRG, we fought until the end and that's very good for us. When you have a team that keeps fighting and is going in the same direction, the players also perform better.
Yesterday, for example, we played very well, and even though we have players with a lot of skill, we click a lot better when we're all playing together because the core of CS is about the team. When we can play well collectively everyone is more comfortable and the rest follows. We're at a period, perhaps, shox and myself, in which we need consistency as a team to be able to play our best game individually.
The roles have changed a bit with shox and AmaNEk, can you tell me a little bit about that?
maLeK: At the moment, shox doesn't have this idea of being the king of a team and do everything by himself. Naturally, he takes up a lot of space because he has a certain charisma and aura in a team, which is something that comes with the way he is, but nowadays, in 2019, the level of play is very high, the pressure is very high, and he also has a lot going on in his life and it's a lot for just one person, so the idea is that we built a team made around him, and he's the leader, but we also have AmaNEk who is my right hand, he's someone who pays a lot of attention to detail and is very organized, which allows me to take some more responsibility when it comes to vetos, gameplans, the direction we're taking, the way we approach certain matches, our pace in the game, our strategies... All of that is now in AmaNEk's head.
shox is someone creative, and the second I try to force gameplans, analysis, and so on, it doesn't work. He loses his creativity, he loses his individual skill, so having AmaNEk helping with that is very good because it allows shox to keep his voice and his creativity, he's still the natural leader, he's still the one who talks the most, but now I also have a better communication with the team before matches through AmaNEk.
To end it off, you've made two playoffs at Big Events now, so what are the short term goals for the team?
maLeK: We're very much looking inward as of late. We're not trying to have an incredible method or something, the way we work, for example with what's going on with AmaNEk and shox, it's all very personal, it's not something that you can apply to other teams, so what we're trying to do is find our personal identity, play to our strong points, and to be conscious of how this team works.
As far as strategy goes and so on, we have all of the tools we need, we have JaCkz opening space, kennyS AWPing, shox as a creative piece in the attacking trio, AmaNEk who is now giving a lot of input, and Lucky who is a very mature and calm player, which helps a lot. We have what we need, and it's all about figuring ourselves out. We want to work our way through situations that would have been impossible at previous tournament, be it psychologically, tactically, or whatever. Every day we write these things down and the next day we talk about them once we've cooled off and we say, "OK, what do we need to do to win today?" And that's how we're pushing forward. We want to get revenge on FaZe. After them, it would be NRG, and our goal would then be to get revenge on them, as well.
kennyS: And then Liquid! They beat us a few days ago, so... [laughs]
maLeK: That's the idea, we made quarter-finals in Dallas and lost to FaZe. We're going to go into the match today having learned from it, and you'll see that on the server. Will it be enough? We'll see, but we're going in with a purpose.
kennyS: It's all about making progress. We know our potential and it doesn't matter if it takes time as long as we keep feeling like we're making progress. If we do, we'll eventually we'll hit our objectives. We don't have some fixed ones right now, the objective itself is to feel like we're always moving forward. After that, we'll be able to talk about our next goals. We're players with a lot of ambition, but right now, as maLeK was saying, we're very focused on ourselves and on what we have to do to consistently make the playoffs at Big Events, to potentially hit semis, and that's where we're at right now. We're making progress, we enjoy ourselves when we play, and if we keep it up we'll eventually get there.