Vitality Defeat Liquid to Win ESL Pro League S16 in Five-Map Marathon
ESL Pro League S16 has come to a close, Team Vitality are the champions after a seven-hour match against Team Liquid for a 3-2 win overall. This series also saw history made, with Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut getting the most kills in a CS:GO series ever at 143. The win marks the first trophy for this new Vitality core, and the first for the org since December 2021.
A Flawless Start
Vitality’s journey at ESL Pro League S16 began in Group A over a month ago. Their campaign was an impressive one. In a group with multiple top teams, Vitality went undefeated to claim first seed and a direct ticket to the quarterfinals.
Their first playoffs match was against Outsiders. While Vitality did have trouble on both maps, they managed to complete the 2-0 sweep thanks to the efforts of ZywOo. The French superstar top fragged on Mirage before dropping a 30 bomb on Dust2 to clutch the map in overtime.
Next up was G2 Esports. Vitality cleanly stole G2’s Mirage pick 16-8, but then struggled to close out on their home of Inferno. Another overtime affair ensued, but G2 would not extend the series. Vitality’s second sweep of playoffs was secured off the back of another banger performance out of ZywOo, with an HLTV rating of 1.42.
Into the Grand Finals
After winning every group stage match and not dropping a map in playoffs, Vitality moved on to the grand finals. Their opponents would be a revitalized Team Liquid squad also looking for their first trophy in quite a while. No matter who won ESL Pro League S16, this would be a huge shift in the CS:GO landscape before the Rio Major.
Map one was Liquid’s Inferno pick. The North American squad started off hot, winning 10 rounds on their T side. Mareks “YEKINDAR” Galinskis made quick work of Vitality’s Banana defense. Vitality tried to claw back in the second half, but couldn’t overcome Liquid. The first map went to Liquid 16-7.
Next up was Vitality’s Dust2. This map mirrored the previous one almost identically. Vitality started off on T side and railed off a big lead. A 9-6 score was the result. Confident on their home turf, Vitality closed out cleanly in the second half for a 16-7 win.
Stretching into Overtime
After both teams dominated their openers, the grand finals were turned up to 11. Mirage was map three, chosen again by Liquid. While starting on the CT side, Vitality actually did well shutting down the NA offense. An 11-4 halftime lead was their reward. Needing a huge comeback, Liquid got to work in the second half.
AWPer Josh “oSee” Ohm got rolling quickly, denying Vitality at every turn. His defense contributions for the game include a 29-13 K-D, 116.3 ADR, and a huge 1.76 rating. Through his frags and some key clutches out of Nick “nitr0” Cannella, Liquid managed to bring the map to overtime.
Three extra periods ensued with the momentum shifting back and forth. No team had a perfect half until Liquid’s third extra CT side. After closing the door on Vitality’s attack, Liquid took round 46 to win Mirage 25-21.
It was now a must-win scenario for Vitality on Overpass. Despite starting on the less favored T side, Vitality got off to a blazing 5-0 start. After that though, Liquid set their feet and edged out an 8-7 half time lead.
It wouldn’t be a grand final to remember without multiple overtime maps. Vitality had the first shot to end the map in regulation, but fell in round 30. This overtime would be much shorter than the previous one however, as Vitality had a perfect opening CT side. Liquid was just one round from extending it, but couldn’t get it done. The 19-17 resulted in a 2-2 tie and a final map.
Securing the Championship
The final map at ESL Pro League S16 would be Vertigo. After winning the knife round, Vitality chose to start on the favored CT side. This decision paid off immediately, as they shot out to an 8-0 start. Liquid wasn’t out of it quite yet though. The North Americans responded at the end of the half, winning five of seven rounds to make the score line manageable.
However, Vitality gained a huge boon to start the second half, winning their second pistol of the map. With a score of 12-5, they were firmly in the driver’s seat. Liquid needed to be nearly perfect on defense, and were for about seven rounds. At 11-13, Vitality was forced onto a low buy with Liquid just two rounds from tying the game.
Instead, Vitality prevailed thanks to a Deagle & MP9 3k from ZywOo himself. After putting a stop to Liquid’s momentum, Vitality calmly closed out the game 16-11 to be crowned ESL Pro League S16 champions.
This trophy win at ESL Pro League S16 was more important for Team Vitality than any in the past. Not only did this org come into the 2022 season with a completely revamped roster made of two championship winning cores, the super team moniker haunted them for over half the year as they struggled to get going.
Vitality management was quoted about this team needing time to work out, but being able to bring home championships when they did. Well, that time is now, and right before the most important tournament of the year: the Rio Major.