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Fabio | 14. December 2020

IEM Global Challenge: Vitality Have to Win This!

The IEM Global Challenge will conclude 2020 CS:GO. The Top 5 of the HLTV world rankings is in attendance. In the midst of all of this, Team Vitality are about to establish a legacy. But in order to do this, they’ll have to win this last event of the year.

Just yesterday, the Vitality boys stood in the Grand Finals of the BLAST Premier: Fall Finals. There, they set themselves on top of Astralis in a Best-of-Three. On two of the maps, the Danes didn’t even get past five round points. On Dust2, they only narrowly scraped by on a 16-14 scoreline. The majority of the playing field was there just a week ago as well, so the Frenchmen are the obvious favorites to win this tournament now. How much damage can the other teams really do here?

THE UNDERDOGS’ CHANCES

Complexity have been dealt a striking blow on these last few metres. After they had already compensated for the loss of Owen “oBo” Schlatter in the summer and played with a stand-in, they are now in need of another temporary replacement. Valentin “poizon” Vasilev had to undergo emergency surgery. Although he fortunately isn’t in danger, he definitely won’t be playing this event. So far, Complexity have not announced their fifth man for the IEM Global Challenge – but one thing is certain: The team won’t be able to unleash its full potential. In a group alongside BIG, Astralis, and Vitality, this means that they will be fighting for survival from the get-go. The chances of them actually making it out of their group alive are incredibly slim.

The same holds true for Team Liquid in Group B. They stand alongside their top opponent of recent months, FURIA. The Brazilians have repeatedly beaten them out of tournaments now. This happened at a few North American events, but most recently, they did this at the BLAST Premier: Fall Showdown in Europe. Even though Heroic are struggling, they have put up a much better show in the past couple of months than Team Liquid. Granted, the North Americans haven’t really had a chance to prove themselves yet. In their BLAST bracket, they mostly just played their domestic opposition. At DreamHack Masters Winter, they had to admit defeat to mousesports and Astralis. Maybe they have learnt and gained form since then. Heroic and FURIA are definitely not safe from being upset, even though Liquid don’t inspire a lot of confidence in their abilities right now.

WHERE DO HEROIC AND FURIA STAND?

With their victory run through the BLAST Premier: Fall Showdown, the Brazilians have proven that they are in the best shape out of all the American teams right now. But as soon as they reached the Fall Finals, they showed that this form is absolutely not enough to take on the top brass of Europe. Even though they would be the clear favorites in a hypothetical match-up with Liquid, this is hardly enough to make playoffs.

Their chances against Heroic actually depend on how well the Danes have coped with their November slump. Following some fantastic runs in October, they have now repeatedly been eliminated in the Quarter Finals already. At DreamHack Masters Winter, they were defeated by none other than GODSENT. If they show up at the IEM Global Challenge on this kind of level, FURIA will tear them to shreds. Maybe even Team Liquid could strike them down at that point.

CAN NATUS VINCERE AND ASTRALIS FINALLY BREAK THE CURSE?

Ever since the first appearance of Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom under the Vitality banner, the team has consistently made first place. It actually doesn’t matter which opponents they meet along the way. With every new tournament, they seem to gain form and their Grand Finals matches have become shorter and more decisive. Even though Natus Vincere and Astralis have made great strides in recent months, they Frenchmen are still moving ahead at a much higher pace.

It is obvious that these two teams have no way to beat Vitality on an individual level. So they have to try to ouplay them – which just doesn’t seem to work at all. The Frenchmen are always one step ahead. Now, they’re at a point at which they can strike 16-4 and 16-5 map victories against Astralis.

WHY VITALITY HOLD ALL THE CARDS

Obviously, the latest tournament results speak volumes for Vitality. Even an Astralis that is in absolute top form simply cannot compete with them and it is highly unlikely that the Danes will improve this much until the weekend arrives. At the moment, Natus Vincere appear to be at a stand-still. The debut of Valerii “B1T” Vakhovskyi was a failure in almost every regard. The player just couldn’t match the output of Astralis and the rest. Obviously, this is totally understandable for a player this young and inexperienced, but it doesn’t bode well for NaVi’s six-man strategy, at least for the coming few months. They had hoped for the kind of breakthrough that Vitality had with Nivera, but that hasn’t set in so far.

Vitality’s highs are higher and their lows aren’t as low as the ones of Astralis, BIG, or Natus Vincere. These teams regularly flunk out of maps on single-digit scorelines. If players like Cédric “RpK” Guipouy and Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier can put up world-class performances, the likes of which even Nicolai “device” Reedtz struggles to compete against, how are their opponents supposed to secure the kills necessary? And if Natus Vincere can’t compete with Astralis, who themselves stand no chance against Vitality, who is supposed to beat them now?