Team Vitality plans a decade of CS2 dominance with ZywOo

Carver Fisher
ZywOo team vitality king of counter-strike

Ahead of ZywOo’s confirmed renewal with Team Vitality through 2026, Dexerto sat with him, as well as both the org’s co-founders, to discuss the now-legendary Counter-Strike player’s history and their reasons for re-signing the ‘King of Counter-Strike’. He may be staying with the org even past 2026.

Though there are a number of old-school Counter-Strike players who have been dominating for over a decade and have cemented their names in the annals of CS history, the later half of CS:GO’s life cycle was dominated by Mathieu ‘ZywOo‘ Herbaut.

So, it should come as no surprise that Team Vitality have decided to renew his contract through 2026, perhaps with plans to keep him for even longer than that.

Dexerto caught up with both of Vitality’s co-founders, CEO Nicolas “Nico” Maurer and Chairman Fabien “Neo” Devide, as well as ZywOo himself, to get the story from both sides on why he’s such an important part of Team Vitality.

Only as good as your last match

Through our time with ZywOo, his focus was made crystal clear. He doesn’t really have any long-term goals or plans, no grand aspirations, and no desire to be put on a pedestal above other players based on achievements alone. Even if he’s being crowned the King of Counter-Strike.

That isn’t to say that he lacks motivation, but more that ZywOo focuses solely on the match in front of him. Regardless of what he’s accomplished so far in Counter-Strike, a loss on the day makes him the worse player.

“I’ve never actually thought about that, what it feels like to play with me or play against me, anything like that. I’m just living day by day, not thinking about the future or the past and doing my best. Trying to be the best player, be the best version of me, of myself. That’s been working for six years, and I won’t change.”

However, there are some things that have changed over the years. ZywOo was, at one point, a rookie on a hot streak. As time went on, though, people began to realize that he just played that well all the time.

Every big tournament win and MVP award came with even more expectations being heaped upon him and the team, to a point where the pressure really started getting to him.

“[There’s] a bit more pressure. Because, you know, we don’t want to do the same mistakes from 2022.” ZywOo explained. “Something changed about the mentality, about the pressure, because we start to think about, ‘What if you lose against this small team?’ Yeah, we had a bit of pressure. We are the biggest team, and we need to prove it.”

That said, the same mentality ZywOo vowed to stick with is what brought Vitality back from their slump. Though they placed among the top teams at Katowice 2023, this finish wasn’t good enough for him.

“After we have a good talk about what we need to bring, what we need to put up for our game, for anything, I didn’t feel any pressure. We just play our game, we just think about what Vitality needs to bring to the table to win the game.” ZywOo claimed.

“We didn’t want to give anyone the throne.”

After talking to team owner Neo, this mentality was just as much a reason for keeping ZywOo with the team as his insanely strong performance in-game.

Finding and refining Team Vitality’s approach

ZywOo has gone from a rookie to a seasoned veteran during his time on Team Vitality. Both him and apEX have been with the club from the very start, and Vitality co-founder and chairman Neo feels that they’ve chosen the right players to build around.

“It didn’t come that quick, to be honest. It took years and years of construction and frustration, especially for [winning] majors.” Neo claimed when reflecting on his years with the club. His approach in taking things game by game closely mirrors ZywOo’s.

Winning is only the beginning.

“Of course, you will live this moment and pure happiness, and it’s magic. But then, you’re just focused on the next objective. That’s the beauty of Counter-Strike. When you’re lifting a trophy, two weeks after, you have to fight again to show that you deserve it. For us, it’s sometimes like a cycle that never ends. That’s why we needed to address the competitive calendar in an appropriate way.”

Neo’s approach is a unique one. He takes a close look at the calendar for the competitive year and determines which tournaments are most important to win, encouraging his team to try new things and build confidence in new strategies to prepare for the battles that matter most.

“There is no tournament where we go in saying, ‘Hey, we will lose on purpose,’ but some tournaments will be used to practice certain things or win confidence in certain aspects.” he explained.

The concept of “peaking” in esports is hard to nail down. Some of the best underdog runs across every esport have been carried on the backs of a team that really found their stride at the right time.

No team is going to be playing at their best all the time, but Neo’s approach gives them the best chance of peaking at majors with strategies other teams don’t know how to respond to.

“It’s good sometimes to release a bit of pressure and make sure we can peak at the right tournaments. I think performance and winning is all about communication and having a process where everyone is on board.”

Team Vitality’s future rests with ZywOo

Team Vitality co-founder and CEO Nico spoke with us a bit about ZywOo as well, particularly about how he feels that his story of starting with the club and going from a rookie to a star is representative of what he feels Team Vitality is all about.

Considering Team Vitality’s newfound success in Rocket League is built off of them scouting and developing rookie talent in a similar way to what they did with their first CS roster in 2018, it’s no surprise that Vitality’s CEO is invested in building their organization around their star players.

People are just as loyal to players as they are to orgs, if not even more so in favor of players, so holding on to top-tier talent is just as good for winning as it is for building a fandom.

And, while Team Vitality has struggled with League of Legends, they’ve managed to make their mark on a number of other esports through their tenure as an organization.

“There’s no secret recipe or secret sauce formula to winning. Everyone, at some point, thinks they have found one. But no, it’s not that easy, especially performing well in multiple titles. But we’ve still learned a few things.” Vitality’s CEO mused.

“It’s not only about the addition of talent, you need to create that chemistry. You think you’ll be able to do it, but sometimes doesn’t work. And sometimes it works perfectly, as we’ve seen in Counter-Strike, notably. You can try to build the best collective, but you need a special level of talent to elevate your teams.”

ZywOo has been the player Team Vitality have rallied behind, and Nico sees him as the perfect example of what they want to do in Counter-Strike 2 and other esports.

“ZywOo is not enough to win everything, but he’s a key factor. Our goal and mission is to surround him with the right people that compliment his talent and skills.”

When asked further about what it was like when ZywOo got brought into the organization, Nico claims they instantly knew that they had something special on their hands and that they made it their goal to build something around ZywOo.


For those hoping that this now-legendary Counter-Strike player is going to stick with Vitality through Counter-Strike 2 and beyond, you’re in luck; Nico sees a future where they keep ZywOo for the next decade.

“We instantly knew that we had something special, and then our goal was to make sure [ZywOo] would be able to contribute at the best of his potential, and also be comfortable and find the right home at Vitality. And that means a lot of things. Yes, absolutely, that means that you treat your players well, that you compensate them well, you know, adjust to their market value, but also that there is a special connection that goes beyond having a good contract, all the right coaches, all the right partners.

“He needs to feel at home, and I think that’s what we demonstrated. ZywOo is Vitality, Vitality is ZywOo, and we had to build that relationship brick by brick. And there is nothing more satisfying than seeing him being still in the same club after, what, 6 years now? And hopefully for the next 5 to 10 years. That’s our mission, he needs to feel at home, he needs to think that he wants to build his own legacy and story around Vitality and vice-versa.”