Without a Home: Dan "apEX"Madesclaire
As many may know, the French Counter-Strike scene has been in tatters recently, with every one of the top teams in the region in disarray. Issues spanning from mismatched roles to forced friendships have players like apEX in search of a new home.
Most would agree that the French scene is the most down on its luck compared to regions like the Americas, Scandinavia, or CIS. The upcoming fourth French shuffle has G2 Esports dropping Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and Nathan “NBK-“ Schmitt in favor of previous G2 Esports active player turned coach Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux and legendary Belgian leader Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans.
With the results of this “French superteam” being extremely lackluster for having the talents of Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and Richard “shox” Papillon in the roster, the organization looks to give this new lineup a try. The team’s biggest issue, like many in the scene at the moment, was a missing leader. Winning Dreamhack Masters Malmo 2017 and the 5th ESL Pro League Finals was not enough for the names the organization picked up for their project.
After over a year of disappointing events G2 first attempted to bring in Spanish superstar Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas in place of shox. Shox’s stepping down due to his wrist surgery and recovery allowed NBK- two months to to try his hand at in-game leading in his absence. With the disagreeing on how to lead the team between the two players, NBK- being given this time to explore how he thinks things should go was worth a shot.
When the NBK- project had failed, shox had opted to put his own team into action featuring the aforementioned SmithZz in a rifling role. The scene would also see Ex6TenZ getting another spin at the wheel on another top French team with firepower galore after nearly 2 years leading Team LDLC. However, shox and co. had plans to include NBK- in the roster as their fifth, but negotiations between players had fallen through leaving Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro the spot to claim.
With apEX still being regarded as the best rifle player in France by many, it is hard to say that he can bounce back while staying local, considering the turmoil the scene is known to have. Throughout the end of 2018, Dan’s statistics individually have been respectable both on and offline, rocking a 1.15 opening kill rating, winning his team 74.2% of every round that he finds the first kill in. Retirement is something that most would assume is not an option on the table for him with the amount of talent he still has, so we will go into the choices that he may still have.
Seeing as his English is up to par with most other English speaking international teams, apEX could easily try to make his way onto a team in need of a strong presence of aggression. It could be argued that Mousesports could use a player to take up a more up-in-you-face stance in matches that a majority of the players are unable or unwilling to do, so replacing Martin “STYKO” Styk with apEX would be the way I would go.
Since joining Mousesports, STYKO has held up a 0.92 kill/death ratio in a “supportive role” that does not fulfill very well. When the team is doing poorly, one of the most standout factors of this is STYKO not hitting the shots required or not doing his job properly to fend off the incoming onslaught of players.
Chris “chrisJ” de Jong could easily assume the role that STYKO plays for the team while keeping his impactful secondary AWP role with apEX leading the charges on terrorist sides and making hero plays on their counter-terrorist sides. Throughout the LANs that chrisJ and STYKO have attended in 2018, chrisJ has had the higher rating in opening kills per round as well as flash assists per round, beating him 0.12 to 0.06 and 0.04 to 0.03 respectively. With STYKO often playing anchor and entry roles for the team as the one with the worse roles, chrisJ has proven himself as capable of roles like these in the past and wouldn’t do an awful job in them now.
It is sad to say, but most players at this level of the scene are running out of options due to teams having such mismatched roles that they are unable to efficiently fill. A lesser, but equally possible international option for apEX would be to shift the entry-fragging in-game leader Kirill “ANGE1” Karasov of HellRaisers into more passive play by replacing Bence “DeadFox” Böröcz and playing entry alongside Issa “ISSAA” Murad to make the team a truly competitive roster with the talent they already carry.
By far the lowest rated player of the roster, DeadFox brings no important dynamic to the team beside his secondary AWP capability, which even then does not grant them many impact kills to secure rounds consistently. His 0.84 kill/death ratio since forfeiting the primary AWP role to young Turkish star Özgür "woxic" Eker has proved to be too much for HellRaisers to carry to success. He shown himself to be a liability that apEX could correct by changing up the order of how the team moves their way around the maps.
Entry into North America
It was rumored that apEX was being approached by Cloud9 to replace Pujan “FNS” Mehta at one point, and whether that offer still stands is unknown, but it could prove to be a good move to make. It is odd because Cloud9’s own Will “RUSH” Wierzba had to relinquish his entry role to Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip in the previous iteration of his team, but the role was more so shared amongst all players than designated to one or two specific players.
When FNS joined the team, RUSH was forced to jump back into the front line role, but could not push himself hard enough to find the frags necessary for his team’s consistent entrance into bombsites. You can see that RUSH has not completely dropped off in form, however his ability to take aggressive plays has dwindled. ApEX is still a capable entry-fragger and could improve on the aggression that Cloud9 once thrived with. Not many other North American teams at a respectable level can accommodate for the skill of apEX and he may be better off going international.
Remain in France
With G2 reserving the best AWPer in France, best young support player, best in-game leader, and one of its greatest rifling stars, there are very little scraps for other regional teams to work with. The best case scenario for an option like this would be for apEX to await the next best French talent Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut to finish his schooling to form a new project with the best pieces he can find. To put a player like ZywOo into perspective for those newer to the scene, the 16 year old AWP and assault rifle expert has nothing but positive online and offline statistics since May of 2017. His HLTV ratings range between a low of 1.00 to an incredible 1.48 over the course of the 26th season of the ESEA Premier Mountain Dew League.
Team EnVyUs still has the likes of in-game leader Vincent "Happy" Cervoni, entry-fraggers Cédric "RpK" Guipouy and Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, supportive anchor Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, and young talent in Ali "hAdji" Haïnouss to be chosen from. Each of these players are capable of playing well in the right systems with the right players. The only issue with this would be the notorious politics between French players that may or may not get in the way of certain mixtures of players being possible. These pieces to be put together are on the remnants of the fourth French shuffle to put together, but apEX, ZywOo, and kioShiMa already make three powerful pieces to a strong second French lineup in my eyes.
Other than this, apEX's ability to gain map control and capitalize on and punish opponents misplays should be more than enough to land him a spot on a competitive team moving into the second half of 2018.