ScreaM's CSGO story: The enigma of Adil Benrlitom

“We had two options for the line-up, that was ScreaM and NiKo. ScreaM is an amazing player, but I feel the way we had replaced aizy's role, NiKo was the obvious choice for us.” Finn ‘Karrigan’ Andersen, 16/02/2017

The quote above was given to The Score Esports just over 17 months ago, at the start of the saga known as ‘The FaZe Clan’. Back then, the team were choosing between NiKo and ScreaM for their new star, having seen a star man called aizy leave for North, but today those three are in very different places in their careers. Aizy is still with North, where he has been a dead weight most of the time, NiKo is a top-five star, and ScreaM was eliminated from ESL One New York on Wednesday night, as a stand-in for a struggling Fnatic, having been without a competitive team for more than a year.

So, how do you go from a name to be considered alongside NiKo and one of the gods of the French scene to this current, unworkable version of ScreaM? Wealth, fame, and love have all come the way of the Belgian player, but in 2018 ScreaM is no longer a superstar of CSGO, he’s an enigmatic problem, and one that nobody seems to want to try to fix.

Style and crazy aim

Bursting on to the scene in 2011, alongside Richard ‘shox’ Papillon, Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom instantly wowed the world of Counter-Strike: Source with his style, flair, and absolutely out-of-this-world aim. A combination of natural talent, reaction time and a play style built around the famous one-taps meant that the young Belgian kid with Moroccan roots was an instant fan favourite, and when his 3DMAX team dethroned then-giants VeryGames, he and shox were the new young hotness in French CS, for good reason.

A perfect display of tap-firing that made the game seem almost absurdly simple

Both players had insane aim, and the combination of the two was proof, if proof were needed, of the absolute primacy of talent over all else. If you could run into a bomb site and remove the heads of every player the opposition sent, what else could they do? No amount of tactics seemed to negate the impact of aim, and ScreaM’s aim was something else, a perfect display of tap-firing that made the game seem almost absurdly simple.

There is also the fact that shox and ScreaM are both very handsome men, and back then were just a pair of handsome teens, who loved to party, play and prove their ability to do both time after time. Fate would tear them apart for a while, before they reunited under the Tt Dragons banner in CSGO, as well as Epsilon and a few others. Back then, ScreaM, shox, and a few more from the French scene were names on the level Niko is today, but now most of them are faded or have failed to reach their ceiling, and none more so than Mr One-Tap himself.

“Everyone got at the highest level by loving the game and the competition, not for the money, and players with that philosophy will always be good and keep on competing. If you lose your passion, nothing can save you even if you play 24/7.” NBK, 1/08/2018

As we said, ScreaM is not the only person in the French scene with bags of ability and a head that seems to hold him back. KennyS is arguably one of the most talented players to ever touch a CS game, but his own short-sighted inability to see the value of practice has prevented him from hitting the heights, and may do so forever. Even shox has made decisions that are counter-productive when it comes to winning, with the consistent theme being players focusing more on what makes them happy than anything else.

For ScreaM, however, Happy was the punishment for a few years spent believing the hype, as he ended up in the French IGL’s EnVyUs squad shortly before that org finally admitted they were treading water at best, and quit the CSGO scene forever. How is that possible though, for a player to go from such a height, and such hype, to being in the pariah team of French CSGO and finally a unemployed sub? And is there any way back for the player who falls into that trap?

Well, a lot of what happened to ScreaM can be described by the above NBK quote. His playing style, focused entirely on one-tap headshot rifle kills, is incredibly thrilling to watch when it comes off, but is also very one-dimensional. It earned him a huge social media following, mouse deals, and other such financial rewards that many players would love to have, as well as a spot on the money-driven G2 Esports, run by Carlos ‘Ocelote’ Rodríguez Santiago, a man who seems to love money above all else.

He had it all. The CV was full of the biggest names, from VeryGames to Titan to G2, and the money was rolling in. However, as time passed in CSGO, a growing feeling began to pervade the French scene that something about ScreaM was off. Nobody wanted to outright slate him, but more and more players were unwilling to join projects he was attached to. Then the noises from big names in CSGO began, that the thing ScreaM had made his calling card was actually his biggest problem, the one-taps. He’d styled his way into a corner, and become a player too one-dimensional to succeed in modern CSGO.

Spray and pray for redemption

Today, ScreaM is a stand-in for a Fnatic team that is going nowhere, and one which went out of ESL One New York on the first day of the event, while the likes of Richard Lewis and Thorin publicly deride him for being a one-trick pony. Opinions among professional players are a bit more nuanced, as you would expect, but there is still the feeling he is past the point where you might want to pick him up and the days of being considered alongside NiKo for a team like FaZe are a different memory.

He’s one of the most insanely talented people ever to touch CSGO

In his defence, the player has recognised his weakness and vowed to work on "holding down mouse 1", if that is possible. ScreaM admitted himself that when he was learning the game, he never did anything other than tap, and that will be a tough habit to break, but break it he probably must if he is to succeed. First-bullet aim is a fantastic skill to have, of course, but in the current meta you need to be able to spray transfer, kill multiple enemies and do more than just produce highlights.

The alternative is to take the n0thing/shroud route, where you essentially quit CSGO and live on your stream income, which is not out of ScreaM’s reach. It would just be a shame to see the pretty young thing of French CSGO go out this way, as a sub on a shit Fnatic, and a face on Twitch that used to have a chance in CSGO. ScreaM is not a Summit, n0thing, or Shroud, he’s one of the most insanely talented people ever to touch CSGO, and if this is how it ends for him his story will have gone from an action movie to an arthouse tragedy - stylish, but more about loss than glory.

Main picture: YouTube