Welcome back, to the second part of our StarLadder Berlin Major preview. Unfortunately, it’s already getting difficult. I had to think for a while who I would be talking about second. The field, beyond Liquid being the clear number one choice, is incredibly competitive. I’ve decided to follow Liquid up by talking about Vitality, as I think they have one of the most interesting arguments to make a deep run at the StarLadder Berlin Major, so I figured I’d tackle them first.
Again, do check out our guide on How to bet CS:GO.
Last Six Months Stats (on LAN)
Team K/D: 1.05
- Overpass – played 22 times, 72.7% win rate
- Nuke – Played 15 times, 66.7% win rate
- Dust2 – Played 16 times, 62.5% win rate
- Mirage – Played 21 times, 61.9% win rate
- Inferno – Played 17 times, 58.8% win rate
- Train – Played twice, 50% win rate
- Vertigo – Played once, 100.0% win rate
- ZywOo – Rating 1.28, K/D 1.35
- apEX – Rating 1.06, K/D 1.04
- NBK – Rating 1.04, K/D .94
- ALEX – Rating 1.00, K/D .97
- RPK – Rating .97, K/D .97
Like I said in the intro, Vitality are one of the most interesting teams in attendance. As you can see, their team K/D ratio is 1.05, which is going to be much worse than any of the other teams we look at in the top five. However, their best player has a K/D of 1.35, which will likely be the highest K/D we’ll see until we take a look at Na’Vi.
Vitality are a team that’s largely centered around ZywOo, their best players and a potential candidate for top three players this year. If you haven’t seen him play yet, I’d highly recommend it. Vitality have quickly become appointment viewing since the Katowice Major, with ZywOo routinely generating highlight plays like no one else in the game.
Beyond ZywOo though, the team is relatively uninspiring. NBK and apEX both have their good games and their bad, and ALEX is a largely unimpressive fragger (although he is a valuable as an IGL, and is a big upgrade from Happy). The last member of their roster is RPK, who is the biggest disappointment on the team, as well as the biggest disappointment for me personally. But I’ll get into that later.
What can I say that hasn’t been said already? This 18 year old kid is already one of the best players in Counter Strike with just a year or so of high level play. He’s a clutch god, one of the best entry fraggers in the game, and he dominates in the server. The way he forces his will onto his opponent while using the AWP is a thing of beauty to watch.
apEX has been ZywOo’s best teammate so far in their run, which isn’t saying much. The French veteran has been a serviceable rifler on Vitality, and plays off ZywOo well. The gravity of ZywOo’s AWP gives apEX space to play in, not unlike when he played with KennyS. apEX is one of the players on the team who has been able to take full advantage of playing with a generational superstar.
NBK is the proverbial adult in the room. He’s a two time Major winner and an experienced support player, which is exactly who I’d want to pair with ZywOo. He does all the little things that a professional team needs done, and is an integral part of Vitality’s success.
ALEX is the guy that elevated them from upset team to real contender. Under Happy, their last IGL, their results were inconsistent and unimpressive. ALEX managed to take a talented(ish) core, and turn them into a group that was contending at tier one tournaments, which is a big deal.
RPK bums me out. I thought that he was the perfect final piece to this team. He could back up ZywOo and apEX, taking duels without fear, and using his excellent aim to eviscerate opposing teams. Essentially, I was hoping for the return of Le Tank. What we got instead was 65 ADR and lackluster performance after lackluster performance.
Vitality’s map pool is middle of the road. They’re one of the best Overpass teams in the world right now, which all but guarantees us not seeing them play it anymore. The bottom two maps in their map pool are both shaky, which will lead to problems in best of threes.
Perhaps Vitality’s best asset in their pool is Nuke. It still isn’t a terribly popular map, and they have one of the best Nukes in the game. They convert almost 80% of rounds after getting the first pick, which is relatively easy when you have ZywOo on their side. As long as they clamp down on CT side, Nuke can be one of their best maps.
Beyond that, expect to see a lot of their middle maps. Vitality doesn’t have much of a preference beyond Overpass, which likely won’t see much play. They rely heavily on their aim to beat opponents, which means the maps don’t matter much, which is why they play so much Mirage, Dust II, etc.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Obviously Vitality’s number one asset is ZywOo. He’s exceptionally talented, unstoppable with the AWP, and an intimidating player to go up against on the server. There really isn’t much else to say about him at this point.
Best player wins
While this is also pretty ZywOo related, I thought it was important enough to get its own spot here. Counter Strike is a top heavy game, like basketball. The team with the best player is always going to have an advantage, due to the nature of the game. One really talented player can do an outsized amount of damage in CS:GO. All it takes is for ZywOo to go nuclear at the right time, and Vitality could find themselves going deep into the playoffs.
Everyone else on the roster
Once you get past ZywOo on the depth chart, none of the other players inspire much confidence. While everyone on Vitality is at least passable, they aren’t going to stack up favorably against the other teams. Everyone in the top five at least has a more impressive roster top to bottom than Vitality, which is a big problem for the Frenchmen.
Vitality make me nervous. They have ZywOo, which is a big plus, but not much else. I like them as a playoff team, and I like them to take a map off of anyone in attendance, but I certainly wouldn’t put any money on them taking home the trophy.