IEM Chicago is the first event of the Intel Grand Slam Season 3. It is down to its final four teams, each of whom has a great chance of securing the winner’s prize pool of $125,000. As we head into the last few days of IEM Chicago, there is one semifinal match that stands out. Team Liquid will face off against Vitality, in what is a repeat of the ESL One Cologne Grand Finals. There is little doubt that Team Liquid is the best team in the world at present. However, their victories have not always been convincing and Vitality is a team that is always knocking at their doors.
The final four teams at IEM Chicago 2019 are:
The first semifinal between team Liquid and Vitality will be a repeat of the Grand finals at ESL One Cologne 2019. ESL One Cologne was probably the most balanced event, one stacked with the best teams in Counter-Strike. Moving past the crowd and reaching the Grand finals was a huge achievement for Vitality.
Vitality entered Counter-Strike when they signed the French roster in late 2018. The organization could not have had better timing with its decision to enter Counter-Strike. French CS: GO has been languishing and been unable to put up decent results. It needed an infusion of fresh blood and the type of talent that players like KennyS and Shox were in early 2014-15.
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) July 20, 2019
Zywoo is this person and more. The young humble player has proved to be up to the task with the very best in the industry. He is able to match-up to the best teams in terms of raw skill. The team is still evolving and with Alex at the helm, they are figuring out their perfect playstyle. Alex was able to identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Allowing Zywoo to trade frags based on their excellent entry-fragging capability meant that the stage is always set for Zywoo. Of course, there are occasions when Zywoo can decide to take the risk and go for an aggressive peek to get an advantage for the team.
However, they have a system, its working and definitely a key component in their gameplay for this match.
Vitality’s performance at ESL One Cologne was incredible. They had some amazing performances and it was not only limited to Zywoo. In fact, RPK and Alex stepped up in a big way for the team. There were multiple instances in the tournament when RPK was able to clutch really difficult and disadvantageous situations into a victory for Vitality.
However, Vitality was simply not at the same level as that of Team Liquid. The North American squad has a very even distribution of frags across the board. This is quite different from Vitality’s playstyle which revolves around enabling Zywoo.
Over time, the team has moved away from a four protect one strategy. In fact, Vitality has multiple pillars but Zywoo pulls ahead of the pack consistently. There’s nothing wrong with Vitality’s performance, but if Zywoo does not have a good day it creates problems for the team. The rest of the squad simply cannot fill Zywoo’s shoes and produce similar results for the French team.
Team Liquid is the better team when it comes to raw firepower. Zywoo is the best player on the server in the match, however, on an average Team Liquid has the advantage. The spread of skill on the team ensures that they have a similar defense wherever they are placed on the map.
Vitality relies on Zywoo to provide the firepower to the team. The team does have excellent synergy and some great entry-fraggers. However, the onus of providing the firepower to the team relies on Zywd to put up extraordinary performances.
The Vitality team plays on all seven maps. However, there are a few maps where the team is exceptionally good. We have seen top teams ban Nuke against Team Vitality. When you see a top team banning Nuke against Vitality, you know that their Nuke is something to be envious about.
VItality has a good spread of the map pool, it is something that they can pride themselves on. However, at no point in their game does it seem like they are exceptionally dominant on these maps. The team relies on individual gameplays and some fast-paced playstyle to surprise and counter their opponents.
Overall, Vitality is still a relatively new team. They have just started emerging as a top tier team in the CS:GO Scene. As the top teams understand and analyze their gameplay, Vitality will have to focus on other areas in their playstyle. Securing an advantage elsewhere while your opponent is counter-strategizing against you is the first step to become a top tier team. During the Astralis era, the Danes were renowned for reviewing their own gameplay. They would always improve their gameplay by understanding their weaknesses and working on them.
The French Counter-Strike Terrorist side strategy is to move as a unit. It works wonders in most situations unless the opponent is able to delay the onslaught. As we witnessed during the ESL One Cologne 2019, Team Liquid was able to often hold off five members of Team Vitality.
As Vitality would wait for the smokes and Molotovs, Team Liquid would push through other areas of the map. On a map like Overpass, we would see Team Liquid pushing through to T-spawn and move across the map on their CT side. So much space on the CT side only helps the Counter-Strike side gain information and provide the necessary advantage to the defense.
As a team, Vitality needs to plug these loopholes. Attacking a bomb site as a unit of five members is a sound strategy. However, it is important to punish Team Liquid from pushing aggressively for information. Team Liquid was able to get away with their aggressive pushes on multiple occasions in their match against Team Vitality. The French players can punish Team Liquid’s inquisitive nature by placing a player to watch out for such flanks.
Team Vitality needs to put forth a much better performance on their Terrorist side. It is rare for Team Vitality to play from an aim disadvantage, but that is exactly the case against Team Liquid. In the Grand Finals of ESL One Cologne 2019, Vitality’s T side suffered a lot. They were unable to win one single round on their T side overpass. On Inferno, they managed just four rounds. This does not speak well for the team’s morale on their Terrorist side.
Rémy “XTQZZZ” Quoniam needs to focus on the Vitality T side against much stronger teams. XTQZZZ is their coach and he works in tandem with the veterans on the team to plan Vitality’s playstyle.
Team Liquid is the best team in the world. They have already established their dominance with four straight victories at Intel Grand Slam victories. The $1 million prize pool is just a formality, one that cements Team Liquid’s place in the grand scheme of things.
However, Vitality is the team that is on every top team’s radar. The team is still very young and are improving with each passing tournament. The constant tug-of-war between Vitality and Team Liquid is just the start of a new rivalry in Counter-Strike.
Team Vitality will play against Team Liquid on the 21st of July 2019 at 01:20 CET. You can catch all the action live on Twitch.