Play It Back - The Under-Appreciated Genius of XMS
I don’t know about you guys, but watching CS both really makes me want to play CS, and really overestimate my own ability. It’s a stunningly obvious application of the Dunning-Kruger effect - the concept that ‘lower-ability’ people have an illusion of superiority (“even I would have got that kill you BOT!”) - and I’m sure we all know one person who will tell you how they would have played a situation differently.
Now, normally, this is true for me. I watch FalleN no-scope 3 people in 3 seconds and think ‘well he can’t miss from there’, and immediately I assume that I could do the same thing in the same situation. I’ve hit no-scopes before; I’ve played on the same map as FalleN; why couldn’t that be me?
Today I’m going to talk to you about the clip that made me realise I’m genuinely terrible at this game. I’m going to talk about Alexandre ‘XMS’ Forté ’s five bullet ace against Kinguin. It’s a really under-appreciated clip, and I maintain that is one of the most outrageous displays of skill I’ve seen in any disclipline. The showmanship; the raw aim; the calmness under pressure - it’s a pretty ridiculous display of raw skill.
Now, this isn’t the most high-pressure clutch of all time, but in the context of the game it was pretty damn important. As Sadokist touches on in the closing moments, XMS’ side, Team EnVyUs are 10-9 down to Team Kinguin with the economy hanging in the balance. nV were on the brink of exit at the Europe Minor. This was a side with serious pedigree at the top level of Counter-Strike; 1-0 down in maps, 10-9 down on score; on the brink of exit before even making the Major Qualifier; and on an eco round.
XMS and his doppelganger Happy (seriously, they look so similar) are left in a 2v5 situation on entry to the B site of Overpass with a Deagle and P250 respectively. Mouz on the Kinguin side sprays down their three team-mates from the water position, but XMS swings round the pillar and executes him with one swift .50 caliber bullet to the dome. Michu sees this, and tries to peek the Frenchman, but he immediately decapitates the Pole at a similar angle.
So far, so good; but there’s so much more to do. XMS grabs a dropped AK47 off the ground, and so does his in-game leader, and they rush to boost into heaven. Happy gets spotted on his rise to heaven, and swiftly gets sent to hell with an express ticket by Hyper.
Now, XMS is in a 1v3, and he only knows where one of these players is. He hasn’t had time to reload his AK47, and as such has only five bullets to play with. Hyper wants to get this round over with early, and swings to find the player who boosted Happy up to heaven.
XMS sprints wide, counter-strafes and uses 20% of his bullets to end the life of Hyper, casually burrowing a hole in the skull of the Counter-Terrorist before immediately waiting for a peek from heaven.
At this point the casters start to realise what they’re witnessing. Harry exclaims “oh XMS, he’s a master of the taps right now!” which is a rare real-life case of the literary technique known as foreshadowing.
What makes this clip so utterly outrageous, however, is that XMS; through arrogance, showmanship or for stealth, nobody knows; doesn’t reload. You almost expect him to fire one into the wall and claim it’s ‘two bullets too many’. Alas, he gives up the opportunity to reload, or plant the bomb on the B site he blew open - instead, he makes his way up the halls towards A.
Unfortunately for our hero, there waits Rallen, waiting for this exact play, playing an awkward off-angle. XMS walks into his crosshair, unknowingly, but before Rallen can wipe him out he’s met with XMS’ fourth bullet of the round, landing somewhere between his right and left ear.
The A site is open, but knowing the last player is likely to come from connector, XMS plants at the truck on A site, and makes his way to inspect the dead body of Rallen in heaven.
Now would be a perfect time to reload - at least for you, I or 99% of professional counter-strike players. This is the bit that blows my mind, and really made me realise that I’ll never be good at this game. The sheer, unmitigated gall of the man, to not reload, to keep the two bullets in the clip in a 1v1, is absolutely obscene. That is something I wouldn’t even dream of doing in matchmaking - to do it with his team’s major life on the line requires an absurd amount of confidence, composure, almost delusion in your own ability.
Again, our hero is met with adversity, in the face of SZPERO’s molotov, which lands in-front of him at the stairs. SZPERO throws the flames in XMS’ face, taps the bomb and looks for his peek from bank. Stairs is on fire, he can’t peek from there, right?
What are flames to a man who is on fire?
He’s already one-tapped your four team-mates then not reloaded in a 1v1 with three bullets in his clip. Flames are not something which scare this man. Alas, XMS takes a second to compose himself, charges through the fire, and uses just one bullet to end the round, dying in a fiery blaze like all heroes should.
In fact, five bullets was two too many. He doesn’t even have time to reload, or fire the next bullet and ruin a perfect game. He just dies, with two bullets left in the clip of his stolen AK47, bodies littering the sites; a trail of destruction in his wake. He fired five bullets, in a crucial round, and killed all five players.
And yet, this is rarely talked about as the best clip of all time. But it should be; it’s incredible. XMS is one of the most unlikely, unassuming heroes of the story of the best Counter-Strike clips of all time, but my god does he deserve the title for the audacity to even try it.
They say that geniuses can hit a target most can’t even see, and to me, XMS is a genius. XMS really made me feel like I’ll always be a terrible CS player, and it’s a rare example of a crazy clip you can’t even dream of recreating in your own games.
Like all superhero stories, this one has a happy ending… sort of. nV went on to win the map, and buoyed by one of the most impressive individual clips of all time, the series. However, it all came crashing down as they were beaten by BIG, who went on to the Major Qualifier ahead of them. Anybody know what happened with them?