With his team on their last legs in the Challenger Stage, the young star Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut put Team Vitality on his back in their first round against Grayhound Gaming.
This has certainly not been the most impressive Challengers stage for Team Vitality. The French squad (with lone Brit Alex ‘ALEX’ McMeekin) came into the StarLadder Berlin major as the number two ranked team in the world, and were an overwhelmingly popular pick to go 3-0 and advance with ease to the Legend stage.
That’s not what happened. The Challengers stage kicked off with an upset that sent shockwaves through the CS:GO community, as Syman Gaming knocked off the French favorites in a commanding 16-8 win on Dust II. Maksim ‘t0rick’ Zaikin dropped 30 kills on Vitality to secure the upset.
As many scrambled to alter their Pick’Em selections on Photoshop, Vitality rebounded with a win over INTZ Esports, but would again get upset in a best-of-one in round three, losing 16-14 to DreamEaters. Semyon ‘kinqie’ Lisitsyn was pivotal in that map, with 29 kills and vital triple kill in round 30 to secure it for the Russian team.
Down 1-2 and on the brink of elimination, ZywOo raised some hell against some HellRaisers with 31 kills on map one on Inferno.
Veteran Nathan ‘NBK-’ Schmitt carried the torch in the second map, setting up Vitality for a round five, best-of-three, last chance opportunity against the Aussies in Grayhound Gaming to qualify for the Legends stage.
It’s fitting that Vitality plays the last series of the stage after opening the stage with such a dud. But ZywOo made it clear from round one on Dust II that he’s not interested in this being Vitality’s last series of the tournament:
As Grayhound rounded the corner onto long A during their first T-side, ZywOo met them with two USP pistol headshots in quick succession, with a couple of flashbang assists from Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire.
Chris “dexter”‘ Nong got eliminated when he tried to push in from short, and another flashbang from apEX allowed ZywOo to pick off the final two panicked players next to pit.
Vitality had a dominant T side, and their momentum carried them to a 16-5 map one victory.