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Team Vitality have won Intel Extreme Masters Winter, defeating the Ninjas in Pyjamas 3-0. Vitality have claimed the mantle as the second best team in the world, at least for the time being, as Natus Vincere — the world No. 1 — were not present at IEM Winter. Vitality net themselves $100,000 and 1000 ESL Pro Tour circuit points. It’s the first significant event win for the team since BLAST Premier: Fall 2020.
“It was pretty comfortable,” Richard “shox” Papillon said in the post-match interview. “We definitely felt like we could take it…When we are playing like this we know we can beat any team.”
The best of five grand final began on NiP’s pick of Inferno. A classic carry performance from star AWPer Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut was enough to propel Vitality to the win, 16-10. Dust 2 also went to Vitality 16-10. Nuke was the closest map of the series, with a split 8-7 game at the half. In the end, NiP couldn’t deal with the trio of ZywOo, shox and in-game leader Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and the map ended 16-13 for the French. Over the whole series, the trio had HLTV 2.0 ratings of 1.40, 1.34 and 1.26, respectively.
While the French team have made significant grand finals appearances in 2021 at the BLAST Premier: Fall Final and ESL Pro League Season 14, they fell short to Na’Vi in both cases. With Na’Vi opting not to participate at IEM Winter, there was no one to stand in the way of Vitality.
“That’s our first trophy of 2021,” apEX said. “I just feel really good. All the work we did together. It just feels really good.”
The win is especially important for Vitality’s young guns, Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier and Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van, who have not had the opportunity to compete in many LANs since joining the team during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“First trophy on LAN,” misutaaa said after the match. “I’m happy with everyone and myself. It was a hard at the beginning of the LAN, but I managed to feel confident at the end.”
NiP were punching below their level with Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz out with illness for the semi and grand finals. He was replaced by NiP’s academy team AWPer, Love “phzy” Smidebrant. While phzy performed well for his first Tier 1 event, dev1ce’s presence was missed.
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.