Liquid.shox Interview: new challenges, self-improvement, CS epochs differences, and much more

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By Arseny Kuzminsky, CS.MONEY

Shox talks about his influence on the new team, facing the language barrier for the first time, his central life goal, and more.

In his late 20s, Richard shox Papillon is one of the most experienced old-school players of the CS:GO scene. His career started more than 15 years ago, and he’s not even thinking of stopping. Moreover, thrown into new circumstances and environment, he accepts this challenge with his head held high. 

Shox is an extraordinary person. Statistically the best clutcher at the moment, for the first time in his life, he is faced with a situation where he has to communicate with teammates in a language other than his native. There is a proud acceptance of the challenge in his voice, and he’s excited about what lies ahead. He is determined to win no matter what.

We talked with him about what it is like to go through such a drastic change in life, how he manages to cope with difficulties, how he helps teammates develop, and the difference between modern Counter-Strike and what was a dozen and a half years ago. Indeed, there is more. 

At the moment, shox, along with Team Liquid, is located in the Netherlands at TL’s Alienware Training Facility. The squad is playing BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2022 from there. Richard is happy to start playing some officials finally.

“It’s definitely going to be nice to have some official games together and to get the feeling of it. I mean, coming from zero, having to work on six maps, 12 sites, it’s a lot of work. So we have been putting in hours of work, but it’s definitely not going to be in one week or ten days that we are aiming for results. So I’m excited to play an official match, but I’m also excited just to keep working and to keep improving in our game”.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves first. Before moving to Team Liquid, shox played with Vitality for several years. He won titles, and he played great. And leaving the team was quite difficult. Nevertheless, many organizations wanted to sign him. But Liquid came first, and they suited best. 

“When Vitality just told me they wanted to go international and that I will not be part of the team anymore, some teams were interested in me. And Liquid just came directly to me. They were first and since the contact with them was pretty nice and everything felt natural, I didn’t want to waste time talking to other teams or organizations as I directly knew it’d be Liquid that I would choose. So I’m really glad and proud to be a part of Team Liquid today”.

Still, he didn’t lose any self-confidence when he left Vitality. On the contrary, shox finds this new step motivating and encouraging. And there were no hard feelings. 

“I knew I did everything for the team, and I think I did pretty well overall with them. This is one thing that I’m really proud of. So when Vitality’s CEO said that I’m not gonna be a part of the project in 2022, I could easily just watch him in his eyes and just tell him that that’s his choice. I just had to respect it. I gave everything, and I don’t have any regrets or whatever. From that moment basically, we still had that last dance for a couple of weeks. But it was not a hard page to turn, a new chapter to start, since I did not have any regrets. I had to just move on. I know what I’m capable of, and it’s definitely still not over. I’m aiming for way more years to compete in. It didn’t affect me at all. Definitely not”.

Shox has been playing lurker and support mostly. Asked if his roles had changed after joining Liquid, Richard says he’s learning new things every day.

“I’m still playing some positions that I used to, some are new as well. Every team has its style, and Liquid and Vitality are surely different. So I need to get used to it, but so far I’m enjoying it. It’s about getting in the habit of it. With Vitality, we definitely had a unique style, so I just need to get used to the new one. So far I’m feeling pretty comfortable. It’s been a pretty good and exciting beginning, I would say”.

Team Liquid can theoretically meet Vitality this BLAST Premier tournament. Shox thinks it would be fun to encounter his ex-team. 

“It’ll be hard not to have any emotions facing the guys again for sure. But it is going to be in a good way. It is going to be just fun to play against them as I believe it’s going to be fun for them also to play against me”.

Indeed, besides getting fit for the new team, there’s one colossal challenge shox has to overcome. We’re talking about the language barrier and communicating with the team. 

“I knew it’s definitely a big challenge for me. When I met the guys for the first time and we started to speak altogether, it was definitely not the easiest thing for me. And I still believe that I did pretty good, even since the beginning, but after one week at the bootcamp, I can already see the improvements I made. I can understand everything the guys say mostly,  more than 95%, I guess. They do also understand me. I would say it’s the most challenging thing right now because my English is improving day by day. Gamewise, when a lot of people are sometimes talking at the same time, it’s harder for me to understand everyone, of course.

I’m trying nowadays to speak faster. Because if I take my time, of course, I will be able to say anything I want, but when you’re playing a CS game, sometimes you don’t have the time. And then someone would do a mid-run call, for example. And it will take 20 or 30 seconds for me just to figure out and just to talk about what we’re going to do with the guys, you know? So it is one of the improvements I’m aiming for, just to shorten this time. So if I want to do a call, whatever, just lower the time I’m going to speak and get the guys into what we want to do in the shortest time possible”.

As the most experienced person on the squad, shox can share tons of things and teach a lot, but he decides to balance it. Not to tell much, but give advice when needed. 

“I believe everyone got their own personalities. Everyone is a person. Everyone is a human and a player, and they’re all good humans and players. So I don’t want to put too many things in their heads because they got where they are today thanks to their own strengths. I’m more like trying to get my input, my vision, not to say what we should do or whatever. It’s a lot of conversation there between like players in the team. And this is something I really love. Everyone is sharing ideas around, sharing opinions, and then after it, we just agree on one thing we think is the best. No one is saying anything like ‘We are gonna do this, and that’s it’. When we are questioning ourselves about something, the CT or the T side or whatever, what should we do, etc.—we just discuss it together. And this is where I’m going to also put on my ideas and how I see things and why”.

But when it comes to playing a match, there’s one person who players should listen to. We’re obviously talking about IGLs. In Team Liquid, it’s Nicholas nitr0 Cannella, who went to play VALORANT in 2020 but came back to join the team recently. Shox compliments nitr0 and says that his decision-making is good.

“So far, he has been doing an amazing job. From my point of view, it’s been one year and a half that he hadn’t been on CS. Coming back after that to the current meta, with how fast CS is evolving every day, is pretty tough for sure. And the man is doing the job in a very good way. He’s running every day, he’s running really fast. He already started to have some really good calls, so it’s only the beginning. He’s very smart, very good. And I’m really proud, and it’s a pleasure and honor to play by his side”.

Given the fact that he’s the best clutcher in the world statistically, shox can’t really believe it. 

“It’s probably because I’ve been there since the early days. So, of course, I have better stats! [laugh] More than that, I just think a clutch is a situation that I just like to play. Being alone on the battlefield against all the enemies and you don’t have to communicate anymore or whatever. And you just let yourself and your instinct do the work because you are alone in that s**t, and you are in your own bubble. This feeling is funny. And I like to play them. 

I think overall it’s definitely easier and not only for me but for everyone to play alone. Because when you’re not alone, you have to figure out what your teammate is doing, you have to communicate a lot of things, and you need to speak. So you want to do it together, right? When you are alone, you just don’t have to speak at all. You are only focused on yourself. I think it gets things easier for every player. When I was younger, actually it was definitely some excitement. To be honest, I just like to be in these situations. And now, I don’t really think much about it or whatever the numbers say. 

I’m not nervous. I’m excited.”

However, let’s go back in time for a moment. Richard, a 14 years old boy, is visiting his first LAN in Paris. He’s playing a tournament with his friends, and all of a sudden, they finish second, stealing a map from the winners, who back in the day were the best in that game. 

After that, people just started to invite shox everywhere. He recalls a special moment: a Team Speak gathering, ten men pick up, they had to play together, and it just came from there. And after six months, shox raised in style. He was already 15, and people asked him to join teams here and there. It continued team by team, day by day, month by month. Shox says that growing up is always pretty much it.

Comparing his early years to what is nowadays happening in the scene, Richard sees two main differences: business and professionalism. 

“If you look at M0nesy, he’s in G2, he’s 16, right? When I was 16, I was still at school [laughs]. I did a lot of school while still playing video games and trying to mix both, which was definitely not the easiest thing to do. And so, yeah, it is definitely a huge difference.

You can defintely see the business part how it is. It changed a lot. And of course, today there’s way, way, way, way, way, way more money. And I will say that’s a good thing, right? Because we are lucky to just live from our passion. But there is also the professional side: today, everyone wants you to be an athlete. 

Back then, 10 years ago, or even 5, 6, 7, maybe, we were still studying. We didn’t definitely have that much amount of money. But it was, I would say, a different mentality. I got the feeling we were sometimes playing more for fun, for the competition itself. I’m not saying we’re not doing it right now, but I mean, the business came to our world. It’s really hard to explain, but what I think changed most is definitely the mentality. But it’s also logical, I would say”.

Asked if the CS:GO scene has lost its atmosphere of friendship and family with all the business coming in into it, shox agrees, but with a caveat. 

“Definitely, yeah, we lost it a bit. I won’t say we lost it totally, though. It can come back any day for sure. But it’s less than in the past, for sure. Before, during a LAN, every player was just so happy to see each other, spending a lot of time together, even if they were not in the same team. Speaking about the game, about everything, just enjoying the same passion. Which is different from CS nowadays. You can’t really do that because you will have to get to bed pretty early, you have to take care of your health, to consider the amount of hours you sleep, you have to be ready for your match. So every player, every team are in their bubble. And so you don’t share the same things. 

“And also all this COVID era for two years definetely didn’t help. Hopefully, we can wait for the day when it’s going to be better, we can start enjoying what we are doing again.”

One of the last questions I asked shox was about his main goals. He has been a pro player for a lot of years and has achieved a lot. But everything’s going to end eventually. Is there a specific line on his achievement list that he has to tick off one day and peacefully turn the page? 

“I still have plenty of goals for sure. That’s why I’m still here. The most important right now, as for an individual, is that I want to break the limit of the age that everyone is in the CS scene putting in their heads. Organizations, media, players, whoever makes you think that around 30 is going to be the end of your career. I don’t agree with that mindset. I believe that if you want to compete, if you still put your work in, and if you are still bringing things that is needed to win to your team, then why can’t you just continue?

This is my biggest individual goal. Break the limit, not only for me but for all the players who are coming after me. So the players who are now 24, 25, 26 today, who in four or five years will come across 30. And if I can show [that it is possible to play after 30], I will be really proud. It’ll be very insane for me if I can just show this path, so people can still do it. I’m aiming for my biggest dream, honestly. As I said, if you got everything needed for it, you can still compete in CS till, I would say, at least 35.

But if players want to stop, that’s fine. You know, sometimes at 30 you got more responsibilities, this is also when you’re going to try to make a family or stuff like that. And it takes a lot of time, so maybe you don’t want to travel that much anymore, but that’s the player’s choice. One of my biggest goals is to show everyone that for me and for the players who will come after that if you still want to compete at 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, at least, you can do it.”

Team Liquid Shox’s Top Three Favourite Skins

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