Steven R. August 24, 2019
Despite being regarded as a potential candidate to win the StarLadder Berlin Major, Team Vitality now finds itself on the brink of being eliminated from the Challengers Stage.
In one of the opening series of day two, the heavily favored French squad once again found themselves struggling against an unheralded Russian squad. They were narrowly edged out by DreamEaters in a game on Inferno.
The game started in awkward fashion for Vitality. After winning the pistol round, Vitality went for a full buy but failed to convert when Semyon "kinqie" Lisitsyn used his CZ75 and a frag grenade to score a quadruple kill. That kicked off what would be an enormous game for kinqie.
Vitality looked shaky through much of the first half but managed to settle down en route to a 7-8 score at halftime. They found a much-needed five-round winning streak in the second half, which brought things down to the wire.
While Kinqie stepped up big for DreamEaters, Vitality’s top star Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut couldn’t do the same for his team. Despite a strong first half, he scored just five kills in the second. That lack of output allowed Kinqie’s 29-14 game to carry DreamEaters to a 16-14 victory.
Parsing whether this game was a strong performance from DreamEaters or a choke by Vitality is difficult endeavor. DreamEaters is now 2-1 in the Challengers Stage, with their other win coming at the expense of NRG Esports. The Russian squad now has wins over two of the favorites to go 3-0, making it very tough to dismiss them.
Regardless, Vitality now owns a 1-2 record, putting them in an awkward position moving forward. They opened the event with a shock loss to Syman Gaming, but rebounded later on in day one by defeating INTZ Esports. This loss to DreamEaters now requires them to win their way out of the Challengers Stage.
The good news for Vitality is that they are now done playing in best-of-one series. They will likely remain the favorite over most opponents they come across and will have more margin for error moving forward.
That said, Vitality will need to start living up to that favorite status if they want to advance any further.