Steven R. September 5, 2019
One of the favorites to win the StarLadder Berlin Major has been eliminated.
In the quarterfinals of the Champions Stage playoffs, Avangar defeated Team Vitality in impressive fashion. Though Vitality was regarded as the better team, Avangar was able to impose their will and keep the pressure high en route to a 2-1 victory.
The first half suggested that game one on Mirage would be a tight one. Vitality scored the opening frags to secure bomb plants but Avangar was able to counter with strong one-on-one duels and well-executed retakes. Individual skills started to shine brighter as the game progressed, with Dan "apEX" Madesclaire stealing rounds for Vitality while Sanjar "SANJI" Kuliev answered with big plays for Avangar.
The second half saw the lack of production from Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut start to take a toll on Vitality. The star player was a driving force in Vitality’s rise up to elite status in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but he hasn’t been able to consistently perform at the Berlin Major as he had in months prior. Rival AWPer Ali "Jame" Djami turned up the pressure as the game went on and ZywOo just couldn’t match his output.
Avangar took control and closed out the game 16-9.
Timur "buster" Tulepov exploded out of the gate for Avangar in game two on Inferno and pushed them to a strong 6-2 lead. Eventually, the switch flipped for ZywOo. A triple-kill hold with his AWP allowed his game-changing skills to finally show, blowing the game open for Vitality. They took seven rounds to advance to a 9-6 lead by halftime.
Avangar won the pistol round but Vitality denied a rally by closing in on map point. Avangar kept things tight and teased a comeback, but Vitality tied the series with a 16-11 win with ZywOo boasting a 28-12 K/D.
While Vitality played a tight game of CSGO on Inferno, that wasn’t the case on Dust 2. Avangar dominated A-long on the T side, which stopped Vitality from establishing any sort of defense at the A bombsite. The lead grew larger and larger, and Vitality seemed more resigned to defeat as the game wore on.
The second half started with Vitality showing some fight. The team won the pistol round, converted, and found another streak that closed the gap. Ultimately, the deficit proved to be too great and Vitality fell 16-10, losing the series 2-1.
What went wrong for Vitality at the StarLadder Berlin Major?
Vitality has been regarded as a top-five CSGO team over recent months, but uninitiated fans wouldn’t have known that from watching them at the Berlin Major. Throughout the event, the team looked flimsy and often struggled in games that were seemingly quite manageable.
A solid Legends Stage performance and a few days off suggested that Vitality may have found its footing, but the struggles of the Challengers Stage popped up once again in this series. Those issues also shined a light on the team’s reliance on ZywOo’s playmaking and inability to adjust if he isn’t operating at peak performance. Even when he performed well in game three, they weren't able to keep step.
Avangar certainly did its part in this series, as the Kazakhstani team won duels, made clutches, and often overwhelmed Vitality. Still, Vitality’s top-eight finish will likely go down as one where the French side under-performed.
Avangar will have the chance to prove itself in the semifinals on September 7 as it takes on Renegades.