KennyS has been one of the best CS players in 2020
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub has been one of the best CS players of 2020. He has fully resurrected his individual form and G2's superstar in their 2nd place finish at IEM World Championship. Since going online, kennyS has continued that form and is now impacting the game in ways no other AWPer can match. The most recent example was G2's game against Na`Vi on T-side Mirage. In that game, kennyS played dual roles as he was the AWPer and lurker for G2 in multiple rounds. This dual role is an enormous burden on kennyS and proves what an incredible impact the French AWPer has.
The Role of AWP Lurker
The AWP lurker is an esoteric role that never became mainstream for good reason. The AWP is the most expensive gun in the game, it has limited mobility, and among all the guns, it's the most punishing if the player misses a shot. For a player to succeed as an AWP lurker, they need incredible mechanics, game sense, mobility, combat AWPing prowess, and a team/system that gives them the space to work. While the role is esoteric, it is a role we've seen played around with in the past. In Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's prime, he sometimes played this role to confuse the defence. More recent examples include Frederik "acoR" Gylstrand or Casper "cadiaN" Moller. In the Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen iteration of MAD Lions, they had a tactic where acoR played the lurk entry AWPer on Nuke T-side. Now that HUNDEN coaches Heroic, cadiaN has started to play the AWP lurker in a few set spawn plays on Dust2 T-side.
What differentiates kennyS from the rest of these AWPers is that G2 has built an entire strategy around the idea of kennyS as their AWP lurker. In the upper bracket of DreamHack Spring EU 2020, G2 played against Na`Vi on Mirage. In the T-side regulation, G2 had kennyS play the AWP lurker in four of the rifle rounds to incredible effect.
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KennyS vs Na`Vi
The four rounds where kennyS plays as the AWP lurker are: the fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth. What's key about all four rounds is that kennyS takes a different route in each round, which implies that kennyS AWP lurking is a core strategy to the T-side of their map. In the fifth round, kennyS went for an early pick from palace, in the sixth he went for a pick from T-con, in the eighth he helped take mid control from underpass, and in the tenth, he played a normal three-man take from top mid.
What's remarkable about kennyS is the versatility and sense he has a lurker. In the fifth round, G2 failed to get the first kill, so they went for a typical set A execute. When the hit came, the main force stalled. In these types of executes where the AWPer is in the middle, they hold the area and cut off reinforcements. In KennyS case, he played like he was Fernando "fer" Alvarenga with an AWP. He exploited Na`Vi's attention on the main hit, got into connector, killed two of the defenders before swinging around to kill the third coming from cat.
In the sixth round, G2 fake A-pressure with some nades and kennyS looking for picks from T-con. This forces Na`Vi to keep a static defence and crucially keeps Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev rotating from window to kitchen (which is a standard rotation when you don't see anything in middle or A). This gives G2 enough time to execute onto the B-site before he is in a position to gun them down.
The eight-round seems fairly normal with G2 using a fairly normal mid control scheme. What isn't normal is after the initial trades when the game goes into a small 3v3. In that situation, kennyS lurks into a window and backstabs s1mple from behind. This key kill opens up the site and lets G2 win the round.
The final round I'll examine is the tenth. In this round, G2 uses a standard mid control setup. What isn't normal though is that when they vacate the area, they leave kennyS to control mid. Standard AWPers play a safer angle and rely on the long-range of the weapon to cut off reinforcements. KennyS took a much more aggressive stance as he played it like a rifler, which allowed him to cut off reinforcements, get info, and look for aggressive fights.
KennyS Brilliance and Tactical Impact
What struck me after reviewing these rounds was kennyS brilliance and G2's supreme confidence in his ability. G2's strategic schema has kennyS play two of the hardest roles in the game at once: AWPer and primary lurker. In this match, kennyS displayed all of the abilities of a highly-skilled primary lurker. In the fifth round he proved he could play in a set execute and find the gap in the defence. In the eighth, he showed his ability to read the round in an impromptu 3v3 round and find the gap that Na`Vi wasn't expecting. In the tenth, he controlled all of mid with only initial help from his teammates.
What's more, the amount of leeway that G2 has given kennyS proves how much confidence they have in his play. They want kennyS to find the initial picks, control areas as a lurker, be the play-maker in small-man situations, and be the closer as an AWPer.
A final thing to consider is the tactical impact an AWP lurker has. As I stated previously, FalleN played this role to keep defences from knowing what was coming. As I've pointed out in the eight-round of the game, this is exactly what happened to Na`Vi as they couldn't rotate s1mple over to the B-site before the hit came. This role creates a huge amount of ambiguity in reading what tactic G2 are going to use at any single moment as the defence don't know if kennyS is playing a typical standard move or is the lurker. It's akin to the ambiguous double entry/lurker setup that Vitality used with Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Alex "ALEX" McMeekin. Finally, by putting kennyS in such unorthodox roles, G2 has created new lines of attack that most other teams just can't expect.
Candidate for Best Player in 2020
The analysis of this article focuses on one specific side of one game, but the broader impact of KennyS game parallels the microcosm of his game here. KennyS has been one of the most consistent and impactful players of 2020. This may seem blasphemous in a world with s1mple and Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, but kennyS has been building up a resume in 2020 that could challenge either player. If his consistency and impact continues to grow, kennyS could be the best player of 2020.
Image via ESL & Blast