Written by: Sam Nordmark
Counter-Strike has seen its fair share of legendary snipers. In its previous iterations, names like Yegor “markeloff” Markelov and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs defined how essential it was for any top team to field a player that could wield the AWP, also known as the big green gun. Being able to pick off an opponent almost instantly is one of the best ways to ensure a round, offsetting any momentum the opposing force may have had, and completely disrupting whatever strategy they were about to execute.
Needless to say, this train of thought is essential in Global Offensive, and when discussing the potential impact of a world-class sniper in the game, one can’t help but look at Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. The 21-year old is the game’s most legendary main AWPer, as his skill throughout the year has made even the most established pros and experts question exactly what one should come to expect of anyone who wants to be considered a world-class sniper.
But the story of kennyS is not one of constant fanfare. Despite his success towards the end of 2015, where he managed to finally win a Valve major together with EnVyUs, the theme of the young frenchmen’s career has been that of enduring the harshest of losses and the pain of never being able to secure a large victory despite his incredible skill.
Towards the middle of 2014, kennyS found his way back into the upper echelon of competitive CS by rejoining his former captain Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans in Titan. Schrub and Ex6TenZ had played together previously on the legendary french VeryGames squad, but the sniper hadn’t yet reached the peak of his abilities at that time, and was eventually replaced on the team.
In April of 2014, however, kennyS was ready for the next step in his career, and following a series of top placings in international tournaments, Schrub was finally allowed to taste victory after defeating their french rivals LDLC (now EnVyUs) at DreamHack Stockholm. Finally his time in the shadows had come to an end, or so we all thought, but it was only the calm before the storm, and in a heartbeat, Schrub would soon find himself at the lowest point of his entire career.
The topic of cheating in esports is a controversial one. As in most sports, professional Counter-Strike players are often expected to hold a higher standard, and any kind of unfair interference often leads to the cheater becoming exiled and ostracized. But these days, the traits of said cheats are so advanced and subtle that being able to definitively brandish someone a cheater becomes harder and harder. So when it was revealed that one of kennyS’ teammates on Titan had, at one point, been utilizing cheats, all hell broke loose.
Aside from the outrage of fans, this also saw Titan lose their spot at the upcoming $250K Valve major at DreamHack Winter. What followed was agony for Schrub, who had reached his peak as a player, but was unable to secure any victories with his french brethren. One would think that any team with Schrub in the fold, who at the time was delivering some of the most mind-boggling and impressive performances ever in CS:GO history, could still overcome the huge task laid before them. Despite Schrub’s best efforts, the team fell hard.
Again and again, fans saw their hopes dashed as Titan continuously fell short of winning tournaments. Schrub eventually became the absolute focal point of this roster, as his teammates set out to help him in any way they could, but not even that could push Titan over the edge.
Seeing a player of Schrub’s caliber deliver consistently amazing performances, yet never be rewarded for his efforts was hard enough for spectators. What the man himself must have felt during those times? Indescribable. Then, in the middle of 2015, a little more than a year after it looked as if Titan would climb to the top of the world, kennyS and his teammate Dan "apEX" Madesclaire joined their former rivals EnVyUs.
In sharp contrast to their countrymen, EnVyUs had gone on to become one of the most successful lineups in CS:GO history, as they won DreamHack Winter 2014 and consistently vied for the top spots at the several international tournaments they didn’t win outright. But after internal conflicts began to arise within the team, the decision to bring in the heavyweights of Titan was made.
Now surrounded by some of the biggest individual performers from France, it seemed as if the stars had aligned, finally the star AWPer would have his time in the spotlight. At long last, his dreams of being crowned a world champion would become a reality.
In the month leading up to ESL One Cologne, the second Valve major of the year, EnVyUs looked reborn and decimated the IEM Cologne Invitational. While the tournament wasn’t considered a premier event due to the unconventional format, the team defeated names like mousesports and Team SoloMid (currently Astralis). Once in Cologne, Schrub and EnVyUs didn’t let up and quickly secured their spot in the playoffs, a career first for Schrub.
Once in the playoffs, they disposed of Na`Vi and tournament favorites Team SoloMid. Their opponent in the grand final, Fnatic, looked poised to take their third major title, and become the first back-to-back major champions. One would expect that after an entire year in the shadows, this would be the moment Schrub was ready to be crowned a world champion.
But following one of the most incredible comebacks in CS:GO history, the french AWPer broke. For the first time in seemingly forever, Schrub’s aim was anything but true and his stats for the series stand out as some of the worst in his entire career.
The toils Schrub endured at this point would have broken a lesser man. But at the end of 2015, the moment finally came. At the last major of the year, Schrub and EnVyUs sealed the deal, disposing of Na`Vi in the grand finals. At long last, he was where he was destined to be: at the top of the world.
Now, in 2016, the team's plight takes another turn as EnVyUs goes through their biggest slump yet as a team. When the team aimed to defend their title as world champions, an embarrassing performance led to a last place finish without scoring a single map win. Such a fall from grace is unprecedented in CS:GO, and heading into ELEAGUE, the former major champions have to once again show the world they are able to stand the test of time.
Despite the outcome of these past months, one thing is certain: you can never count kennyS out. Even though he may not always live up to the title of the greatest sniper, his abilities and consistency can’t be underestimated. Will EnVyUs’ journey through the ELEAGUE signify the resurgence of Schrub and his teammates, or will they slip even further?