shox: "I came to this Major really fresh and with a certain eagerness I had not felt for a long time"
After his team went up 2-0 in the New Challengers stage, we caught up with shox who admitted JaCkz, personality-wise, reminds him of Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux, while also being a worthy asset as a fearless entry fragger.
You've attended all of the Majors so far, what is the feeling coming into this, 15th one, as such an experienced player and the leader of the team right now?
shox: Firstly I will say that every Major is very different, you don't have the same expectation, the same feelings, emotions coming into them, because it also depends on the mood of the team you are coming into the Major with. Coming into this one it feels really different for me because it came straight after the player break. Holidays have always given me fresh blood in CS, I came to this Major really fresh, I can feel it, and with a certain eagerness that I had not felt for a long time. I think it comes from a lot of things, but especially the mix of holidays, where I decompressed a lot, and the fact that I'm really in love with this team and we had a really good bootcamp. I can definitely feel, for the past three months, that we are growing together. It feels really good that we are going in a good direction for the future.
Damien "maLeK" Marcel: Talking about the leadership, he is not the only leader here, this is something that is working really well for him, first of all. He is shox, he is very creative, and it is hard to understand it from the outside. But he is someone that is living day by day, he can be in good mood one day, in another mood the other day, and it can be really up and down. So having me and AmaNEk is better for everyone, but especially for him and for the space he has. He is playing better, but he still has all the input he wants which means that, even though we make gameplans — AmaNEk brings super-good structure with me within the team —, shox can do whatever he wants mid-game when he feels something. So it is perfect, he has all the space a leader would like to have, but in the meantime, he doesn't have the responsibility of the daily tasks you have to get through.
You touched on the bootcamp and kennyS mentioned it in the interview as well. He described it as an intense bootcamp, from what I know you've been practicing very long days. From a general perspective, French Counter-Strike has a tag of being lazy, so why was it different this time, so intense, so hardworking?
shox: First of all, it is true that the French scene had this image of laziness and I believe that somehow, in the past, we didn't manage to do the best that we could. But more than laziness, it all comes down to how you work. We had a lot of players and we still have a lot of players who can put in a lot of hours of CS, but it all depends on how you are going to put it in if you want to improve. People say "lazy" because they don't see a new tactic, a new strategy or whatever, but it might be just because the player is doing five hours of Deathmatch, four of practice and two of FPL. So he is not practicing these kinds of things [tactics, strategies], but that doesn't mean he is lazy. That is the first thing.
Talking about this team especially, since the addition of maLeK we have definitely never been lazy, we always put in the work and tried to find the best solution. We really started to create a proper structure and it is kind of the first time, I guess, for us in the French scene that we have so many tools, structure, and staff behind us that really helps us to just grow together. Of course, when you have something new you are going to learn from your mistakes. We definitely had a sloppy start because we had to understand how everyone works with everyone and maLeK had to deal with every personality, especially myself (laughs). So it takes time to just know each other and find the best way how we can fit together and how we can do something everything is happy with, and deliver the result on the server. But I definitely think we kind of found it, the bigger part of it, it is just coming to small details now.
Talking about the bootcamp itself, we had an intense one, that we wanted to have, especially because we had a two-week break. The staff, the management, they made the choice to let us really decompress since we didn't have any breaks since the winter holidays. I think we had 9 or 10 days bootcamp, something like that, and because we were all fresh, we were up to playing or speaking about CS for at least 12 hours per day. But it was kind of smooth because we were really fresh coming back from the holidays. It was only the last 48 hours that were very hard... (laughs)
maLeK: The last two days were very hard, after eight days without rest, when you start at 9 or 9:30 every day and at the end of the day, we had some individual challenges. So players could top up things themselves, add FPL and Deathmatch on top of it, like a challenge. And they challenged themselves because we are fu**ing French people and we challenge ourselves a lot! So they do 10 hours of work and after they have the choice of going to the hotel and chill or play FPL, play Deathmatch. We were doing that every day and then the seventh and eight days was really tough to win games. (laughs) But it felt good.
shox: So it was a really good bootcamp and I guess you can do this kind of things especially after a break. If you do it in the season, you are just going to burn out.
I wanted to ask a bit about JaCkz, because his addition also pushed you in the right direction, he seems to have a good impact on the team. From the outside it is always hard to understand what a player brings, so that is my question, what does he bring to the team? But perhaps to make it easier for other people to understand, is there a player you played with before that is similar to JaCkz, that brings a similar thing to him?
shox: Yes, I got someone in my mind, definitely. He reminds me a lot of SmithZz because of his attitude, of his smile, of his sense of humor, jokes, stuff like this.
maLeK: He is always up there, laughing, teasing, and if you are in a bad mood he will bully you, and it is funny because when it comes from him, you cannot say anything back.
shox: Yeah, it is really hard to be in a bad mood when he is around.
shox: More than that, what he brings to the team... When he brought him into the team he was the lurker, and then we decided to remove bodyy for AmaNEk and put JaCkz in the entry fragger role. That was definitely a delivery for him because this is where he deserves to be. Honestly, I have never had an entry fragger in my team so talented, skill-wise he is very amazing and he is someone that will never fear to go into the battlefield. That is something really important. When you have someone who is great skill-wise, who will never fear anything and is always smiling — it is a lot of good things he is bringing to the team.
I'll touch shortly on the games you had here, two wins in two matches. Has everything been going according to plan so far at the Major?
shox: So far I'm really happy with what we are delivering because it is never easy to open tournaments and it is especially never easy to open a Major. We managed to win these two games properly, 16-10 and 16-9, which shows that we had some space left. At the same time, it is really important to have a level of consistency, to be able to at least go to the playoffs. Then it is going to be harder, but what we are bringing at the moment is a good sign for [us to be able to do] it.
So I'm really happy about it, and moreover, I don't want to be cocky because it is not in my blood, but I will be honest when I tell you that when I'm in the game with my teammates, and with the bootcamp we had, I can feel that we have a way higher peak than we showed in these two games. It is a really good sign that we are winning games and not showing our full potential yet.