The 2019 Counter-Strike season was a difficult one for Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub and his G2 teammates. However, with Group C action at the BLAST Premier Spring Series about to get underway, the French phenom is feeling confident, and that should scare everyone.
kennyS is a legend of Counter-Strike. Some would still argue that his peak form with Titan in 2014 has never been matched by another player. The sniping sensation has been a star for so long, in fact, that it’s easy to forget that he’s still just 24 years old, with endless new challenges ahead of him.
In the latter half of 2019, after a string of sub-par results, G2 made the decision to add Bosnian Nemanja ‘huNter-’ Kovač and Serbian Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković to their roster. For kennyS, this was one of those new challenges — for the first time in his professional career, the Frenchman is playing on an international roster.
So, how was the transition? How confident are the G2 players about their chances in 2020? How has he adjusted his playstyle over the years? Does he believe he can ever reach the number one spot again, and who does he think is the best AWPer in the world right now? Kenny answered all of this and more ahead of G2’s first LAN event of the year.
You're playing in an international lineup for the first time in your career - with a non-French speaking IGL - have you found that difficult to adapt to and how has it affected your own play?
kennyS: It’s been quite a transition! So yes, speaking a different language that isn’t the one you’ve been using your whole career is something to get used to, it took me a few weeks before being able to naturally communicate and feel comfortable, it affected my own play at the beginning when I had to think about the call outs or initiating a move on the map, there is that time lapse between what you want to say and your brain processing it. You have to think about it which makes everything mechanical also more difficult. But, you get used to it, I’m always really happy when I get to do or learn something new, it’s new experiences!
The team has been together for a few months now but the switch to an international lineup must have been tricky to adapt to. Do you feel like G2 is reaching prime form yet or are you expecting it to take a while longer?
kennyS: Well, we changed our roster mid-season and as I said before, it was quite a transition for all of us! We really wanted to focus on having visibility and LAN experience, which we did last year. We barely had time for practice, which led to a lack of freshness and training due to the large volume of events we had attended. But once again, we made that choice and we might have not made all the results we wanted but we’ve gone through a lot in a really short time and that’s really precious for us. We’ve had more time to practice now that the 2019 season is over and it was definitely needed.
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Nowadays, it takes a lot of time for a team to find the perfect chemistry and work together in the most productive way. That’s what we are trying to achieve, I know what we are capable of, but did we reach our prime yet? No, we have to be a little bit more patient with ourselves first.
What do you like about playing with huNter and and nexa? What have they added to the team?
kennyS: We felt really good knowing that they would join the team, especially considering that a couple of teams were looking at them as well and they made the decision to join us.
huNter is incredibly skilled, a great teammate and mentally strong. Beyond his impact in the server, he’s really disciplined and serious when it comes to CS and always ready to fix things really quickly. He’s always kind to everyone and he’s willing to help any member of the team, he wants everyone to feel comfortable, he’s really supportive. I don’t remember playing with someone like that in so many years. He’s not perfect, no one is, but pretty much like nexa, he’s made for the highest level and he’s surprisingly looking really experienced as well despite the fact that it’s only his second season as a professional player.
Nexa is a really smart dude, really open minded as well, a trustworthy leader. He’s young but already seems really mature and experienced, the way he talks to us before games always gives me positive feelings.
We have a great atmosphere within the team and we are really lucky to have them.
When it comes to your own individual play, you seemed to be making some big improvements at the end of 2019. Do you think you can continue with this form and perhaps reach the level that you once showed in Titan?
kennyS: I don’t know, I’m a different player and a different man. The way I approach the game is really different from the early days of my career. The beginning is always the easiest, especially when you start really young like I did. I'm not looking at the past, I'm working to find the best possible fit with the meta and to be as effective as possible with the player I'm constantly evolving into.
I want to keep improving and reach the objectives I have. I fell down heavily and all I’ve been focusing on in 2019 was to climb. Well, right now, I just want to keep climbing. Sometimes you have to start over, realize you aren’t where you used to be or where you want to be.
You've always had a unique AWPing style. When you were learning the game, did you study any other AWPers or did you learn your own style from day one?
kennyS: To be honest, I didn’t really have idols back then, markeloff was the one I liked the most as a young guy but I have a really unique style and I think I’ve made it myself by having the experience of playing multiple games (FPS mostly) where I was handling the sniper really well such as DoD, TF2, CS 1.5/1.6 so I think I’ve learnt from all of those games to finally ending up with my own style. It’s always been kind of natural for me and it seems like I brought a new way to play that weapon on CS and that’s definitely something I’m really proud of. I see more and more people trying to play like that and I’m really happy about it.
We often hear about players like dev1ce studying their opponents and adapting their AWPing for specific players and teams. How do you prepare for matches and are there any teams or players that you find it difficult to AWP against?
kennyS: Mhm, yes absolutely, I’m watching everyone nowadays, I’m particularly interested in device because he has kind of the opposite gamestyle and I think it’s important for an AWPer to feel comfortable in any situation. I’m learning from the current AWPers of the scene in order to make myself a better and more impactful player, but not necessarily in order to counter them. I trust my abilities enough for that, even though it’s always interesting to know your opponent’s patterns and moves!
I think the most annoying opponent for me to play against might be 100 Thieves, they’re really structured and hard to play against.
Regarding AWPers I don’t know to be honest, it used to be hard to play against ENCE as well, but I think we are now more aware of their game style. They were really surprising at first.
Who would you say is the best AWPer in the world right now?
kennyS: Without any doubt, dev1ce. He’s always playing just and fits perfectly in his team style.
In the modern game, the best players in the world are hybrid players like s1mple, ZyWoo, and dev1ce, who can dominate with a variety of weapons. Do you think it's still possible for a classic dedicated AWPer to be the best player in the world like you were when you played on Titan?
kennyS: I don’t know, but one thing for sure is that AWPers need to be able to master rifles as well or they might end up being limited.
The AWP nerf is one of the most infamous updates in the history of CS:GO. How long did it take you to get used to the change?
kennyS: Roughly, I would say 3 months or something like that, but to accept it, much longer haha! I’m not gonna lie, I felt a bit screwed when it happened, but it is what it is. Things change and the AWP isn’t the only thing that changed in CS and you have to adapt. It’s the same for everyone.
What do you think would happen to the game if the nerf was reverted and the 2014/2015 AWP returned?
kennyS: Don't give me false hope ;) No that doesn't make me necessarily nostalgic, I believe it’s more balanced now anyways, but it was fun times still!
Your loss against Mousesports at cs_summit must have been difficult to take, but your team bounced back and won the Champions Cup Finals. How did you manage to overcome the loss so quickly?
kennyS: Yes, that loss could not have been worse. Thankfully, we bounced back and won the event convincingly right afterwards. It was a relief - that shows character and we were proud of ourselves. Such a defeat is hard, especially at this stage of the tournament, but it just reminds us that CS is above all a game where you play against yourself. If you're not playing to your full capacity, you can easily lose, and the other way around, I think that's part of the beauty of this game.
What can we expect to see from kennyS and G2 in 2020?
kennyS: Our preparation has been great, so far one of the best I've ever had, so I'm confident we can do a lot of damage. It will depend on how we make the switch to competitive mode. One thing's for sure, it's an exciting 2020 season ahead of us and we don't want to miss it!