Vitality Knocks Off FaZe’s Win Streak to Win BLAST Premier Fall Finals
The BLAST Premier Fall Finals have concluded. The Grand Finals saw Team Vitality take down FaZe Clan, ending their 18-match win streak in CS2 to claim the trophy and $200,000. This win is especially important for Vitality, as they came into the BLAST Fall Finals with both a roster and coaching change. Being able to best FaZe here shows that they are immediately returning as top contenders.
An Unknown Variable
While FaZe Clan was tearing up the CS2 circuit with three consecutive tournament wins, Vitality was taking a back seat. Their only CS2 outing up to this point was IEM Sydney, where the defending Major champions bowed out in dead last. Granted, their elimination was at the hand of FaZe in a three-map affair.
Still, we didn’t see any of Team Vitality for over a month. Meanwhile, rumors swirled behind the scenes that Emil “Magisk” Reif would be leaving the Vitality roster for the Falcons developmental super team. Also tied to the Falcons deal was coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen. Vitality still had the BLAST Fall and Worlds Finals on their schedule to close out 2023, so emergency replacements were needed.
In came William “mezii” Merriman, a British rifler who played for the likes of Cloud9 and Fnatic previously. Mezii always showed star potential, but never quite had the rosters to help elevate him to top tier rifler status. Vitality also snatched up Rémy “XTQZZZ” Quoniam, their previous head coach during the 2019 to 2021 years.
With their new roster in tow, Vitality entered the BLAST Fall Finals as a strong contender, but exactly how strong was still up in the air. Their opening match was a stomp of a patchwork Heroic squad. After that, Vitality beat out Complexity in the winners match 2-1 with convincing wins on Anubis and Inferno. Complexity has been a much-improved team in CS2, so this victory re-instilled confidence in new-look Vitality as a title threat.
Battle of the New Additions
The 2-0 record in Group Stage gave Vitality a first-round playoff bye. They would face the winner of Cloud9 vs Heroic. Heroic tried their best with what they had, but it was not to be. Instead, a reinvigorated Cloud9 was set to hit the Royal Arena. Their acquisition of Kiril “Boombl4” Mikhaylov was a much needed one, as it brought a true in-game leader to a previously directionless squad.
Cloud9 had only been knocked to the first round of playoffs after losing a double-overtime battle to FaZe Clan in the Group A finals. They looked hot to trot at their first event together, and Vitality was now all that stood in their way of a Grand Finals berth. Of course, Vitality had the same aspirations in similar circumstances.
Map one of Mirage opened with a pistol round 1v5 clutch by C9’s Sergey “Ax1le” Rykhtorov. Despite a, 0-3 start, Vitality quickly built back up on their CT side for a narrow 7-5 lead at the half. The second half saw Vitality win the pistol, but then similarly fail to capitalize with a long-term economic victory. Cloud9 got to match point first off of back-to-back retakes, but couldn’t stave off Vitality’s push for overtime.
With map one on the line, Vitality were the ones who eked out rounds in the clutch. And when the time came to put C9 to rest, it was handled by Mathew “ZywOo” Herbaut’s AWP. Vitality stole away C9’s Mirage pick 16-13 to go up a map in the series.
Vitality was poised to close out the series on their Nuke pick. With a favorable six rounds on T side, that premise looked solid. However, Cloud9 won their T side pistol and managed to keep rounds rolling in. The result was a Vitality that never even had a chance to get set on defense. A confident 13-9 win tied the series at two maps apiece.
Inferno was the tiebreaker. Vitality got off to a fast start on the CT side. They were poised to take over the map, but then Cloud9 found their groove towards the end of the half to cut the 1-6 deficit to 5-7. They then won the second pistol and used the momentum to garner a 10-8 lead. With their tournament lives on the line, Vitality stepped up and won five of the last six rounds to clutch out a 13-11 series ending victory.
V for Vertigo
After that burner of a semifinal, Vitality was set to face off against FaZe Clan for the title. FaZe were the favorites coming in due to their back-to-back-to-back Finals appearances and wins, but Vitality wasn’t huge underdogs by any stretch. Additionally, the map veto went heavily in Vitality’s favor. First up was their pick of Vertigo.
FaZe Clan had been working on their Vertigo ever since CS2 came out. They garnered wins over MOUZ, Virtus.pro, and Ninjas in Pyjamas which gave them some confidence on the map. As such, they let it through and banned Inferno. This would be a huge mistake for FaZe.
Vitality cut holes all over FaZe’s paper thin defense on Vertigo. Their T side campaign won nine rounds despite losing the pistol. Aside from that pistol, Vitality planted the bomb in every single round. Headlining their brutal attack was Shahar “flameZ” Shushan. With 20 kills and 152.4 ADR in the first half, flameZ clocked in a 2.61 HLTV rating. FaZe simply had no response at all. Only Robin “ropz” Kool earned a rating above 0.60.
The 13-3 victory was the biggest stomp of the BLAST Fall Finals playoffs, and it put Vitality on championship point nice and early. FaZe’s map pick was Nuke. They could have picked Anubis which they had a perfect 5-0 record on over the past month, but they went for Nuke instead due to Vitality picking and losing the map to Cloud9 in the semifinals.
Holding off the Comeback Kings
FaZe may have been down, but they were not out. They had made a brand from pulling off the most egregious comebacks in CS2. This comfort zone mentality showed when, despite losing the first three rounds, FaZe took a 7-5 lead on T side at the half.
Vitality took the second pistol round as well, and despite losing round three to a full-bought FaZe, were able to break them right back. The result was an 11-9 lead that put Vitality on the precipice. That was when FaZe’s comeback magic seemed to activate. Two consecutive defenses brought the score to 11-11. To make matters worse for Vitality, it was now their economy that was in shambles. With almost all pistols, they flocked towards Ramp in round 23.
FaZe couldn’t respond properly to the rush, losing two players and handing over guns to the broke T’s. Now locked out of the B site, FaZe had to cede match point to Vitality. Having broken the FaZe magic, Vitality crunched them on the A site in the final round to close it out 13-11 and claim the BLAST Fall Finals trophy.
With this win, Vitality has started their legacy in CS2. Getting a trophy in the game’s first few months is a great sign, as Vitality now has a complete roster that will only get better with time. As for FaZe, they had to lose some time. An 18-match win streak is nothing to scoff at and making four Finals in a row has them locked as the best team in CS2 right now.
Both Vitality and FaZe Clan will be making an appearance at the BLAST World Finals in December. It’s there that we could see this head-to-head blossom into a full on rivalry for CS2 dominance.