IEM Rio – Is Vitality a Favorite for the Major?

1Play CSGO News
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Nov 01

Vitality comes into the IEM Rio Major as a challenger team. Despite their standing as the number-one team in the HLTV rankings, they suffered a surprise loss to BIG and then a seeding loss to Heroic, pushing them out of the top 16. But in the eyes of many, Vitality is a top 3 favourite at IEM Rio. Where do they stand heading into the biggest event of the year?

Anytime you make the case for Vitality, it usually starts with Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. This is the first time that a Vitality lineup has been more than the superstar. The French legend Dan “apEX” Madesclaire is at the helm of this ship, but unlike last year he isn’t leading two rookies into the biggest battle of their life. Instead, he has trained sailors next to him, those who have completed this voyage four times before.

Emil “Magisk” Reif looked lost for years after IGL duties were shoved onto him during the online era. But the rifler has finally found his groove again, looking like the monster anchor we once knew him to be. He now even has those games where he out-frags Zywoo and carries Vitality to the finish.

Then there’s Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, the only man who has made every single major in CS:GO history. And he has been a star player in all but one of those majors. Now on Vitality, he can be a veteran entry, playing with his years of experience to find those openings that younger players might be hesitant in taking.

Finally, we have Lotan “Spinx” Giladi. Much like Magisk unlocked Astralis’ true level in 2018, Spinx has seemingly unlocked Vitality. While the Israeli cannon had a terrible showing at the online BLAST Showdown, that doesn’t take away from his stellar EPL and his impact on the team.

And let’s throw in some praise for Zywoo too, lest we anger the CS:GO Gods. Zywoo has been known to have a slow start to years and then ramp up into a stellar second half. And that’s a pattern he’s following again. But a slow start for him doesn’t mean he has been a bad player. You’d still be hard-pressed to name a better player outside of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev himself. And he is peaking at the correct time to sneak a major away from names like NiKo and deny Finn “karrigan” Andersen and S1mple a chance to double up.

In terms of recent results, the EPL dominates the discussion. Vitality’s run at the event was quite dominant. Not only did they 5-0 their group, they also beat G2 and NaVi on their way to the grand finals. And in the finals, they stayed in the game mentally and were able to snatch the series away from an inspired Liquid.

But the events that followed weren’t quite as convincing. A loss to BIG on Dust2 can be attributed to a fault in the team’s map veto. But the series loss to Heroic was a close map won by Vitality versus an absolute mauling from Heroic. Sure the game might not mean much outside of seeding, but the result still holds some weight. And that loss was immediately followed by a close loss to Astralis. Caveats of an online match do still apply, but you should never be losing to a team of Astralis’ level.

Nevertheless, the team still comes into the Major with their eyes on the prize. In the eyes of many, this is their biggest window of opportunity to win the major. Dupreeh and apEX are still at a high competitive level, and the star trio is peaking together. Top 4 is a minimum requirement, anything less would be a disappointment. But the team really does have what it takes to go all the way. Will the bees emerge victorious at IEM Rio?

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