Vitality edge out Team Liquid in ESL Pro League S16 Finals

October 3, 2022

Team Vitality got the best of Team Liquid in ESL Pro League Season 16’s epic best-of-five final that saw the newly assembled international roster take home their first trophy of the year.

After a host of underwhelming showings this year, Vitality have been a force to be reckoned with ever since they signed Spinx, and, with their talisman ZywOo stepping up to levels unknown to anyone, the silverware was inevitable.

ZywOo finished the Finals with an incredible 143 kills over the five maps while dropping his K/D rating to under 1.0 only once in the tournament and was quite deservingly crowned as ESL Pro League Season 16’s MVP. The win also sees Vitality’s Danish trio of Magisk, dupreeh and coach zonic become the most successful players/coach in ESL Pro League history with four ESL titles.

With Vitality finally rising to the occasion, a new force in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has risen ahead of the Rio Major next month. It remains to be seen if they can take their form into the season’s biggest showdown in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

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Group Stages

International roster Team Vitality kicked off the Group Stages in Group A against Endpoint, sweeping the latter a clean 2-0. Vitality topped the group, going 5-0 in the Group Stages, taking down the likes of Ninjas in Pyjamas, fnatic, Natus Vincere and Spirit.

Along with Vitality, fnatic qualified for the Playoffs as well, winning three out their five games, while faltering against Navi and Vitality. Ukrainian team Natus Vincere (Navi), who were one of the favourites to top the group, suffered a shock 0-2 loss to Endpoint and just managed to make it out of the Group Stages, securing the third and final Playoffs spot. 

The proverbial “group of death”, which was Group B, had the likes of tournament favourites and World No. 1 FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Outsiders, BIG and MIBR. While FaZe qualified with a 4-1 record, it was G2 who stunned everyone with a clean 5-0 sweep and didn’t even lose a single map in the Group Stages. Outsiders were the third team to make it through to the Playoffs after getting the better of German team BIG, who lost out as a result of their loss to Outsiders.

Group C saw the tournament’s first upsets as four-time Major champions Astralis failed to make it out of the Group Stages, while MOUZ, Heroic and Complexity got through to the Playoffs, with Complexity making it through only on the final day as a result of Astralis’ loss to Heroic. While ENCE and HEET didn’t qualify, HEET’s only win against Astralis was eventually the match that cost the Danes a spot in the Playoffs. 

The final group, Group D, with the likes of Cloud9, FURIA, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, Eternal Fire and Movistar Riders, was probably the most competitive group out of the lot. While Cloud9 and FURIA secured the two spots for the Playoffs, the final spot in the group came down to a close fight between North American teams Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses and Turkish superteam Eternal Fire. All three went into the final day of play with a chance to qualify for the Playoffs. While Evil Geniuses had their hopes dashed after a loss to FURIA, Eternal Fire’s win wasn’t enough to see them through as Team Liquid clean swept Cloud9 in a shock result to qualify for the Playoffs. 


The first Playoff game saw 2022 Antwerp Major champions FaZe Clan take on Complexity. With the likes of karrigan, rain, Twistzz, broky and ropz, a clean 2-0 was expected from FaZe.

The start, though, was anything but. Complexity, powered by a heroic performance from Grim, took the opening map 16-9 on Overpass. Grim started strongly on the second map of Inferno as well, with Complexity heading into the break 10-5.

Staring at an early knockout from the Playoffs, the Major champions dug deep with Twistzz, rain and ropz all stepping up and FaZe took the second map 16-14, with the series tied at 1-1. Once we reached Nuke, it was a whitewash with rain and Twistzz causing chaos all over the map. FaZe overcame the 0-1 deficit to head to the Quarter-finals by beating Complexity 2-1. 

fnatic faced Team Liquid in the second Playoff game. In the opening map of Inferno, even though fnatic pushed Liquid all the way, the North American team managed to pip fnatic 16-13 to take an early 1-0 lead. On Overpass, Liquid were taken to the cleaners, with nicoodoz, roeJ and the veteran KRIMZ stepping up as fnatic took Overpass 16-9 to push the match to a third map. On Ancient, even though it was a close first half, with Fnatic leading 8-7 but Liquid’s defence in the second half was impenetrable and their two stars YEKINDAR and EliGE stepped up to help Liquid through to the Quarter-finals with a 16-10 win on Ancient to wrap the series 2-1. 

It was Natus Vincere against Heroic in the third Playoff; with both the team’s having a strong history against each other, an exciting match was expected.

Navi had a slow start on their pick of Mirage, and it seemed like the Danes would run away with the opening map, but it was Navi’s talisman and superstar AWPer s1mple and in-game leader (IGL) electroNic who stepped up.

The scores were reversed on Heroic’s pick of Inferno as we went all 30 rounds. This time, even though s1mple tried to carry his team through, it was Heroic’s IGL cadiaN and sjuush who managed to take the series to a third map. The third and deciding map of Overpass saw a lengthy delay of over two hours, and when the map finally got underway s1mple, b1t and sdy wasted no time in cleaning Heroic up, brushing the Danes aside with a comfortable 16-7 win. 

FURIA faced Outsiders in the final Playoff game, and while FURIA started off with a 16-11 win on Outsider’s pick of Ancient, Outsiders took FURIA’s pick of Vertigo 16-10 to send us to a third map. On Inferno, FURIA was outplayed by Jame and FL1T, with the Outsiders taking the series 2-1 after a 16-6 win on Inferno. 

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Cloud9 took on FaZe in the first Quarter-finals, and it was FaZe’s pick of Inferno that kicked things off. Strong performances from their AWPer broky, Twistzz and ropz saw FaZe take the opening map 16-13, but FaZe were outclassed on Ancient as Cloud9 bounced back with a 16-8 win as Ax1Le, sh1ro and interz stepped up.

As we headed to CS:GO’s most played map of Mirage for the decider, Ax1Le, HObbit and interz put up a solid defence for Cloud9 as they got the better of the World No.1 team 16-11 to take the series. 

The second Quarter-final had Liquid face MOUZ. The North American team rode on strong performances from oSee, EliGE and NAF to clean sweep MOUZ 2-0, taking Inferno 16-10 and Ancient 16-11.

G2 went up against Natus Vincere in the third Quarter-final, and with G2 having not dropped a map in the Playoffs, they were the favourites. While Navi took the opening map 16-13 on Dust2 thanks to a strong show from s1mple, Inferno and the decider of Mirage were complete blowouts as G2 won both maps 16-9 with NiKo and jks stepping up on Inferno, while former Navi junior academy member m0NESY single-handedly carried G2 on Mirage with a stellar performance to seal a Semi-final spot.

Vitality faced Outsiders in the final Quarter-final. The new international superteam kicked things off on Mirage with a 16-13 as ZywOo stepped up Vitality. The superstar AWPer stepped up for his team once again on Vitality’s pick of Dust2 as they secured a 2-0 win, taking Dust2 19-17 in the first overtime. 


It was a North American derby in the first Semi-final as Cloud9 took on Team Liquid, and with Liquid having gotten the better of Cloud9 in the Group Stages, they were upbeat about their chances.

Liquid started strongly on their pick of Inferno, taking the opening map 16-11. It looked like it was going to be an easy 2-0 sweep for Liquid as they were 12-3 up during the half-time on the second map on Ancient. Cloud9, though, weren’t going to give up that easily, and with the entire team stepping up, they won 13 of the 14 rounds in the second half to secure the second map 16-13 and take it to a third map.

On the decider of Dust2, it looked as if we were heading to another overtime, but YEKINDAR and oSee stepped up for Liquid along with their IGL nitr0 as they secured the decider map 16-13 to book their first LAN final since 2019. 

The second Semi-final had the old French rivals Vitality and G2, both of whom are international rosters now, facing off against each other. Vitality swept G2 aside on the opening map on Mirage, with their new signing Spinx and ZywOo stepping up to secure a 16-8 win. A third map was inevitable when G2 led 10-5 on Inferno at half time and had eight map points going 15-7 up, but Vitality didn’t give up without a fight. Their Danish duo of dupreeh and Magisk stepped up for them as they took the game to overtime, and with ZywOo in prime mode, Vitality took down G2 19-16 to book a spot in the Finals with Team Liquid.

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The best-of-five Finals kicked off on Team Liquid’s pick of Inferno. Liquid got off to a strong start as they went 5-0 up and ended the first half on the T-side 10-5. Their defence was as good if not better than their offence as they took home the opening map 16-7, with YEKINDAR, oSee and EliGE all putting up strong performances.

The second map was that of Vitality’s pick of Dust2, and like Inferno was for Liquid, Vitality blew their opponents apart on their own pick. It was the usual set of suspects comprising ZywOo, Magisk and Spinx, who stepped up for the international roster as they cleaned up Liquid 16-7 to tie up the series 1-1. 

On the third map of Mirage, which was Liquid’s pick, it looked like Vitality would be going 2-1 up after going 11-4 in the first half. Liquid, though, through their IGL nitr0 and oSee, fought back and took the map to overtime, coming back in a spectacular fashion. Liquid pushed Vitality all the way, and with NAF and YEKINDAR stepping up in overtime, Liquid finally managed to pip Vitality on third overtime, winning 25-21 in a gruelling match which tested the mental strength of both teams. For Vitality, their superstar AWPer ZywOo dropped an inhumane 51 kills on the map, but it wasn’t enough to take this team through as Liquid took the lead in the finals. 

Vitality started on the T-side of their second map pick of Overpass, knowing that nothing other than a victory would keep them alive in the Finals. They started off well, taking a 5-0 lead, but a strong comeback from Liquid meant the first half ended 8-7 in the North American team’s favour. Liquid were threatening to run away with the map through solid plays form NAF, oSee and YEKINDAR, but it was once again ZywOo who stood in the way of Liquid’s path to victory. A NAF clutch meant Liquid managed to the map to yet another overtime, but it was Vitality’s veteran dupreeh who put his hand up when his team needed it most to help Vitality secure the map 19-17 in first overtime. 

Vitality got off to an absolute stellar start on the decider map of Vertigo, being 8-1 up in the first half at a point, with ZywOo once again up to his usual shenanigans. The French AWPer in the first half became the player with the most number of kills in a Finals event ever in a CS:GO series. Liquid, though, managed to salvage the first half, finishing 10-5.

The second half was much better for the North American team, and with NAF, oSee and YEKINDAR stepping up, Liquid managed to bring the score to 11-13. Just as it seemed like we might be heading for yet another overtime, it was ZywOo and Vitality’s two of the most experienced and decorated players in Magisk and dupreeh who stepped up to help Vitality secure the map 16-11 and take home the Championship.  

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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