Oleksandr #s1mple and Mathieu #ZywOo Herbaut The names Kostyliev are instantly associated with extraordinary talent and competence. On Saturday, the two titans of the game will face off on the server as tens of thousands of spectators excitedly watch them launch their teams’ separate campaigns through the #IEMRioMajor’s Legends Stage.
With a duopoly on the No. 1 place for the previous four years, the two heavyweights have been engaged in a competitive struggle for the title of greatest player in the world. However, the two have only ever faced off against one another 20 times in the three years since ZywOo’s debut.
Vitality, is just coming off a 3-2 victory in the IEM Rio Major Challengers Stage, giving them much-needed experience competing in front of the boisterous Brazilian crowd. The other team, Natus Vincere, is arriving in Rio de Janeiro rather rusty because they haven’t participated in an official match since they qualified for IEM Rio over four weeks ago. How will the highly anticipated matchup turn out? It’s an appropriate plot for a Major that has already smashed records.
Just over two months ago, at ESL Pro League Season 16, ZywOo and s1mple last clashed. The European alliance’s close 2-1 victory over the 24-team competition was the highlight of Group A. Unsurprisingly, the snipers from both sides took the top spots on the leaderboard. ZywOo posted a server-high rating of 1.36, and his Ukrainian counterpart wasn’t too far behind with a similarly amazing rating of 1.29.
The success of both sharpshooters’ squads depends on their ability to consistently post stunningly high numbers, which is frequently required for their teams to win by a wide margin. While Vitality and Natus Vincere have Denis #electroNic Sharipov and Emil #Magisk Reif as backup players, they fall short of the levels attained by the aforementioned behemoths.
In the last three months, Magisk recorded a 1.09 rating on the European blend, which is 0.28 points lower than his French counterpart. Things are a little more even on the roster with a large Ukrainian population, where electroNic has a rating of 1.08 but is 0.13 points behind s1mple. It should be noted that s1mple has not been at the top of his game since the player break, but the Frenchman’s level has been the opposite — he has greatly improved since the summer and the signing of Lotan #Spinx Giladi to Vitality.
The quarterfinals of the PGL Stockholm Major are where the two rosters previously clashed in a different Valve-sponsored competition. On their road to a playoff position, Natus Vincere easily defeated their opponents in three one-sided victories, showing that they were in their element at the time. In the Swiss stage, Vitality’s then-all-French team had a more difficult time getting past Entropiq, and despite making it to the playoffs with yet another 3-2 record, they had to win all three maps to defeat them.
With over 1,300,000 peak viewers, their closely watched match was a genuine carnage in which Natus Vincere just barely defeated their rivals by winning Dust 2 (16-11) and Nuke (16-13). ZywOo led the pace for his side once more, posting a team-best 1.15 rating and a 44-40 K-D. The Frenchman played a key role in allowing his team to battle back against the Russian-Ukrainian assault, a group that would go on to win the Major in its entirety.
S1mple wasn’t the best in this series; instead, Ilya #Perfecto Zalutskiy stole the show. Even yet, the Ukrainian superstar was able to earn his team’s much-needed victory with a powerful 1.25 rating. The tournament itself wasn’t peaceful, despite the fact that this particular game was by s1mple’s standards on the quiet side; he went nuclear the entire tournament, dominating with an absurd 1.47 rating to win the Major MVP award.