When the online format was tearing down Counter Strike: Global Offensive teams in 2020, Team Vitality emerged as an absolute powerhouse, carrying French CSGO on its stalwart shoulders. A look into Vitality’s performance in 2020 shows that coach Rémy “XTQZZZ” Quoniam might be the driving force behind Vitality’s vigor throughout the year.
Vitality attempted seven grand finals in 2020, more than any team in tier-1 CSGO. The Frenchmen then powered through the top 5 of the world rankings to stay there for most of the year, and eventually secured the top spot. Safe to say, XTQZZZ’s decision-making brought the team to the forefront of the CSGO scene.
“I might be dumb to say this but players are here… to play. They don’t have to have the power (to decide).” XTQZZz said.
2020 wasn’t the year to experiment with rosters, in-game leaders, and play styles. It was the year that made or break the teams. While other teams struggled to get used to the changing atmosphere, Vitality was busy experimenting. Changes and swaps failed for others, but the French squad now led by Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, went through a metamorphosis.
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XTQZZZ chose the new IGL within three days
The coach had two options: he could fill in for ALEX and get through the matches till they have a better option or do his job as a coach and take some bold decisions. XTQZZZ chose the latter.
Vitality kicked off the year with several losses with Alex “ALEX” McMeekin calling the shots. The team posted sub-par performance across different tournaments including ESL Pro League Season 11, resulting in ALEX eventually stepping back. The team lost its IGL. ALEX’s departure shook Vitality to the core as he led the team to many wins including cs_summit 4, ECS Season 7 Finals and EPICENTER 2019. XTQZZZ confirmed that he had to resolve the issue of his absence within three days with no IGLs available in the market.
Vitality’s coach chose apEX to call the shots. With zero experience as a captain, picking apEX as an IGL was a massive and hastened risk that XTQZZZ was daring enough to take.
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Adjusting misutaaa in a tier-1 roster
As soon as ALEX stepped down, the coach introduced many changes to the team. apEX instantly took control of former captain’s office, and the French organization recruited a fresh talent Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier to its roster. The coach had his hands full with trainees, apEX new to the role, and misutaaa new to tier-1. For the layman, it was a recipe for disaster, but XTQZZZ had a strategy planned.
When put against the likes of G2, NAVI, and Astralis, Vitality was not the favorite pick. But the new arrangement worked well, with Vitality placing 1st-2nd in BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 European Showdown under apEX’s leadership and 17-year old misutaaa on the roster. The coach had previously confirmed that misutaaa wasn’t their first pick, but he was confident enough to train him. The grind for XTQZZZ and the quintet continued, as the rumors of Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom joining the Frenchmen started to surface.
The brief struggle didn’t waver the coach from taking an even bigger step; a six-man roster.
Historic display of mid-match substitution
While teams like FURIA and Cloud9 discussed extended roster, Vitality went ahead and signed a sixth player. The team already had a tight roster of five, and that’s when XTQZZZ announced that Vitality would field a rotating roster in BLAST Premier Fall 2020 featuring Nivera.
This was history unfolding, as Vitality displayed the first official mid-match substitution in the history of CS: GO after winning a match against complexity.
2020 at a glance shows that XQTZZZ was the uncrowned coach of the year. He may not have won The Game Awards, but Vitality’s stats speak volumes about the leadership at the French office.
It wasn’t the changes and developments that set Vitality apart from other tier-1 teams. It was the fact that Vitality had a leadership strong enough to make these changes work. The team succeeded to acquire a top spot on the world ranking multiple times while continuously going through changes, whereas many other teams went farther away from the top 10. For example, Astralis’ Emil “Magisk” Reif did a mediocre job at retaining the team’s position at world ranking. With no IGLs available in the market, FaZe improvised with Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, but that didn’t pan out well either.
Today Vitality continues to dominate the top-tier CS, with an IGL that has a striking rating of 1.03. The organization hasn’t revealed what it aims to do with a six-man roster in the coming months. Rest assured Vitality will be okay with XTQZZZ being a guide on the side.