IEM Global Challenge: What Happened to Team Vitality?

Astralis expectedly made it to the Grand Finals, but Team Vitality surprised everyone with an early exit in the... Fabio | 22. December 2020

Astralis expectedly made it to the Grand Finals, but Team Vitality surprised everyone with an early exit in the Group Stage. After two impressive tournament victories, they have now not even come close to defending their first place. How did it come to this?

Their campaign through the IEM Global Challenge began with the BIG Clan. The Germans had been middle-of-the-pack in their recent events. Talking to the press, Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz had revealed that the team was running out of steam. Maybe this was what cost Vitality the victory in the end. A false sense of security, which ultimately may have made them let their guard down.

The BIG Clan was more than just prepared. On Vertigo, they had already won versus the Frenchmen before and they showed up great once again. In overtime, they managed to secure the first map, but they quickly folded on Inferno. Granted, the 7-16 scoreline was still a much better result than the 1-16 loss they suffered back at the BLAST Premier: Fall Finals.

So Nuke became the Decider of the match. There, Vitality subbed in Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom for the first time. The young Belgian had only played Dust2 and Inferno for them before. This soon proved to be a mistake, as their Nuke setup wasn’t ready for prime-time just yet. On a narrow 16-13 scoreline, BIG managed to overtake them and mounted a monstrous upset to start the event off.


Even under optimal circumstances, Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and his men shouldn’t be able to beat a team like Vitality. On top of that, Valentin “poizon” Vasilev had to undergo an emergency operation and was unable to attend the event. So the Complexity squad entered IEM with a severe disadvantage already and had to compete against Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut and his French colleagues. This didn’t go down well.

Kevin “misutaaa” Rabiér sat out both maps. However, this didn’t hurt the Frenchmen in the slighest. Nivera and ZywOo were more than capable of outgunning blameF and company to secure a swift 2-0 victory. At the very least, Vitality made sure to not go out in last place. But their next opponents, Astralis, were already lying in wait.


The Danes had surprisingly lost out to BIG Clan, heading to the Decider Match afterwards. There, they faced Team Vitality, who only had this one last chance to qualify for playoffs. They entered this match with calm and clear heads. On Nuke, they shot Astralis down for a 16-2 victory. Dan “apEX” Madesclaire effortlessly secured a 1.89 rating, but Nivera impressed with 20 kills on his own as well. Emil “Magisk” Reif got into this important match with just three kills to his name and a 0.28 rating.

But on Dust2, the Danes finally woke up, securing an impressive 10-5 first half. However, Vitality used their CT side to the exact same effect and often times kept Astralis from even planting the bomb. ZywOo and Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen gave their all for their respective teams, still they had to enter overtime. There, Astralis narrowly came out on top on a 22-19 scoreline.

So the overall match was tied again and the teams headed onto Inferno to decide the winner. There, Astralis quickly got the lead. Even misutaaa, who had finally been swapped in for this map, couldn’t really do anything, as Astralis jumped onto a 10-5 half-time score and then ran away with the remaining six rounds. This meant that Vitality were out of the tournament for good and Astralis had just narrowly made the playoffs.


The superteam isn’t completely untouchable. There were only a few days between their BLAST match versus BIG, in which they managed to win 16-1 and 16-2 maps, and their defeat to the Germans at the IEM Global Challenge. Maybe the Frenchmen had a false sense of security on the very last leg of their 2020 journey. Maybe they were just overwhelmed from the constant struggle of online tournaments and ran out of steam.

Even though Nivera’s debut on Nuke was less than stellar, they showed instant improvement in the following games. A 13-16 loss to BIG quickly became a 16-2 victory over Astralis. So if they continue to work on integrating Nivera more, they will still have a great future ahead. The work of this six man roster has only just begun. Until their next tournament comes around, they’ll have plenty of time to get back on their feet and fight for the top spot again in the coming year.