Resources / Esports News
Aug 30, 2018

For many reasons, xms will be forgotten by the destructive waves of history. His name fails to spark a strong emotional reaction from the community or analysts. And there’s no shortage of contextual reasons as to why.

He wasn’t on a great team. Envy in 2017 was the loose odds and ends that didn’t fit-in with the hyped G2 ‘superteam’ and struggled to find success with its strange amalgamation of win conditions. They were drowned in the rising tide of tier two European sides around them. For every stride they’d make, the likes of Space Soldiers, Heroic, or Virtus.pro was there to take their thunder.  For the limited surges of form they found, it was generally at the attention grabbing behest of Rpk or ScreaM. Envy were very much a one headline team. ‘veteran under washed-up IGL and faded star finds 1.3 rating for a playoff finish.’ Or something along those lines. As a team, Envy never warranted deep investigation due to their frequent oscillations in and out of the spotlight. Xms had teammates shining statistically brighter in those brief moments they did actually have success, and remained just ‘another pro’ to many.

He was an under-hyped entity, playing on an exceedingly mediocre team and with famous, at times, over-performing teammates. Xms’s underwhelming place in the community at-large is foregrounded by a litany of contextual factors outside his control. His retirement though, should serve as a trigger to actually delve into his play and story, at which, people will discover the skeleton of an unrealised star.

In a different region, at a different time, and with different forces pressuring him into professional play, xms could’ve been one of those cultishly over-hyped potential talents that hardcore fans and apologists brood over. On-paper, he is defined by an incredible first-bullet shot, radical adherence to the team’s desires, momentum-based entry style and fragility on CT-side; the characteristics we often see in rising talents. For Envy, these elements - whether existing clearly beforehand or being uncovered during his transition into Envy - where leveraged through an entry role. Whether or not this was the most optimised position for star-performances will be one of those ‘what ifs’, especially given his retirement.

CS:GO Pro XMS Mugshot

While ScreaM would often have the highlight clips of working openings from CT-side, or charging heroically forward with flicking multi-kills on T-side, day-to-day, xms was the hard-entry. He was the workhorse for the likes of ScreaM and Rpk who were afforded space through xms’s selfless entry pathways and savage success in opening duels during executes. With the mentality of a young star wanting to conform amongst legends, and raw talent to give these legends room to perform, he found a home as the crucial ugly duckling of Envy’s core game. He wasn’t talked about publically, but internally, in Envy’s strats, he was the integral glue, or base, fuelling their often relied upon looser T-side.

It wasn’t as though he was tasked with bringing a round together through working tightly in 2vX scenarios or assisting in mid-round calls. Envy needed the dogged sacrifice of a talented up-and-comer to allow their more seasoned stars to tackle the rest. Where this would become a problem is in how such a type of player would fit into the individualised - at times, disparate - French CT-side.

With players who expected each of their teammates to operate in a defined individual - if, irrational - style, (read: ScreaM), xms’s inexperience in the crucible of international LAN play was exposed. Not only was his more aggressively inclined decision making exploited by top teams in key positions like plat on cobblestone, but was contrasted by the tight play of Envy’s stars in their preferred spots. The gap between him and the enemy on CT-side was as apparent as it was between his teammates.

xms Counter Strike

This CT-side achilles heel could be attributed to Happy’s system on CT-side and intense focus on Rpk’s success at the expense of himself and xms. Or it could easily be the result of xms himself not possessing the inherent resolve to operate at a successful level in-spite of the clash of the roster’s system. Unlike nearly all stars who’ve broken into the communities clear consciousness, xms did not transcend the in-built faults of his situation. Whereas s1mple had to rise above himself, k0nfig/Magisk above the MSL system, tabseN finding consistent success at many levels of competition, or Hobbit under the pressure of finals play, xms rarely had those ‘canon moments’ or runs of form. He was instead, just a glue player in a team that had a handful of players still basking in the afterglow of their peak’s. Instead of being bigger than the context for his underrated status, he was defined by them.

Even for his faults as a player, given the impact he managed to manifest on Envy, it’s a shame to see a player clearly with so much more to give clapped out of a region in dire need of repair. Slefless adherence to a team style, righteous duelling, and willingness to sacrifice are traits the French scene could use to great effect. But these are not charateristics that necessarily demand attention.

So, even in-spite of his understated impact on the greater CS:GO landscape, xms’s name is one that shouldn’t be totally lost to history. Instead, it should be marked with an asterisk of what could’ve been.

Max Melit
Max Melit

Freelance CS:GO analyst, journalist and VOD grinder. Research assistant for Thorin. Will watch demos for food.