Vitality revitalized as apEX and ZywOo dominate in IEM Rio grand final

Vive le AWP.

Photo by Adela Sznajder via ESL Gaming

The primarily French-Danish superteam secured their first big trophy in front of an arena crowd in IEM Rio on April 23, defeating Heroic 2-0 after a near-flawless run throughout the tournament, which included a memorable comeback against Cloud9 in the semi-finals. All eyes are now on the BLAST Major, with the stakes continuing to rise in CS:GO esports.

Vitality selected Vertigo for the series, the venue of their heroics against Cloud9 in the semifinal. This time, no miraculous comeback was needed to secure the victory, even if things did tighten up a bit in the end: the bees buzzed to a 7-1 lead and won the first half 8-7, then stabilized at a two-round deficit after losing the pistol round. The 9-11 scoreline was as good as things got for Heroic, who were only able to put up two more rounds as Vitality established a near-airtight defence, with Magisk topping the charts.

Related: FaZe CS:GO star ‘exhausted’ after early elimination from IEM Rio and ‘too many days on low sleep’

If Vertigo revolved around the Danes, then Inferno was a story of the Frenchmen. Vitality’s in-game leader, apex, who finished the first map with a 0.2 rating and a 13-19 K/D, delivered a standout individual performance in conjunction with ZywOo’s high-calibre AWPing, taking a comfortable 10-5 lead on the CT side and putting themselves in pole position for the series.

Heroic did have enough mental reserves to fight back, though, winning the pistol round and then five of the next seven bouts to even up the scoreline at 11-11, even with TeSeS and sjuush struggling in the fragging department. However, a pace change from Vitality turned the tide for good, with cadiaN and co. having no answer to an extra-spicy aggression from their international opponents. After exchanging two rounds, Vitality won back-to-back battles to break the Danes’ economy, and they never looked back, deservedly winning IEM Rio.

ZywOo and Spinx were the two highest-performing players during the tournament, and the team’s cohesion and mental readiness has never been in better shape. That said, both teams should have positives to take away from this tournament as they head into the BLAST Paris Major, the final such competition to be played in CS:GO esports before the transition to CS2 begins in earnest.

It was clear that Heroic and Vitality were the best-performing sides at the event, but apEX and co. are especially in fine form right now despite the tons of matches that they had to play in recent weeks, and they will no doubt be looking forward to the Major on (partially) home turf.

About the author
Luci Kelemen

Having made a career out of writing about video games as early as 2015, I have amassed a track record of excellence since then in covering a wide variety of subjects from card games like Hearthstone and MTG to first-person shooters, business, chess and, more. Unsurprisingly, if I'm not busy writing about one of them, I'm probably playing them.