One for the future: ZywOo
France is no stranger to prodigies, and Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut has recently emerged as one of the most intriguing young talents in the country.
From Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, who became the MVP of the ELEAGUE Major when he was only 18, to Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, who was a superstar candidate before coming of age, the impact of young players with raw fragging power increases day by day in every tier of competitive Counter-Strike. Today, we will take a look at one of those young players —Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut —, who plays for WySix.
Let's rewind the tape to March 2008 and go to Roubaix, France, where a $3,400 CS:Source event took place — EPS France Season IV Finals. There were four teams in attendance, all of whom featured familiar names to today's fans: Cédric "RpK" Guipouy, who played for BiGGeR, Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans from Epsilon, Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux of WebOne, and Richard "shox" Papillon, who was with Creativ'. These players had yet to mature, but they all looked promising. However, there was one particular youngster that grabbed everyone's attention—a player with massive potential.
That boy wonder was shox, whose team would go on to win the tournament, when he was just 16. However, this story isn't about him. This story is about another 16-year-old, ZywOo— the young French sensation whose moves remind shox of himself. If a world class player such as shox 'loves' somebody's game, you can rest assured that the potential and capacity to become a star are there.
What has ZywOo done to receive such praise? His semi-pro activity can be traced back to 2014, but his main achievements have only come this year. ZywOo's team, who played under the name E-Corp Bumpers at the start of 2017, attended Pasino Gaming Days in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, France. The prize pool was $9,000 and they had some quality opponents, including Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom's Sector One, Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon's MAXISAUCISSE and Vexed. Even though E-Corp Bumpers won the grand final against Sector One, ZywOo & his squad did not receive much attention from the community and media alike.
ZywOo & co. played their first event under WySix's banner a month later, near Lyon, where EPSILAN 14 took place. This time, they finished third after losing to Epsilon France, but French journalists at the event were impressed by ZywOo and mentioned him as a prospect to keep an eye on. He was finally noticed.
WySix then finished second at Gamers Assembly 2017 after losing to DEVIL's MAXISAUCISSE, and ZywOo had an MVP-worthy performance after the first day of the competition. After seven maps, he had a combined 159:47 KDD and six clutches to his name. The crowd behind him grew as the tournament progressed, and quite a few people wanted to watch this 16-year-old in action. WySix played to ZywOo's strengths as he frequently changed roles, playing as an entryfragging rifler in one round and as an AWPer in the next one.
Damien "maLeK" Marcel, the coach of Envy, was also at Gamers Assembly to scout young talents for his organization's academy team. In an interview with Vakarm, maLeK said he thought ZywOo was a very good and calm youngster. Envy were eager to acquire ZywOo's services, but the fact that he was still in school meant that talks ended swiftly. ZywOo wanted to finish his education, and, even if he decided to start a journey with Envy, his family wouldn't allow it. With that being said, his family is supportive of ZywOo's career and are behind WySix whenever they are available. This balanced approach to education and CS from ZywOo's parents is a great foundation on which to build for a young player looking to go professional.
However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for the 16-year-old. For instance, despite putting on great numbers at Gamers Assembly, he couldn't carry the weight in the grand final against MAXISAUCISSE. Moreover, he averaged a 0.44 rating against Tricked when the teams faced each other in the semi-finals of ESEA Main Season 24 playoffs. And last weekend, his team WySix got crushed by MAXISAUCISSE once again, this time in Lille, in the grand final of Geek Days 2017. ZywOo is unstoppable when he faces below average teams, but he has to get more experience to be able to dominate games against sturdy opponents.
It is essential to remember that ZywOo is still in the development stage of his career. He is too young to be a full-time player, and even after he has finished school, he will find himself in uncharted territory. To begin with, it is uncertain how he will perform in a team that is not built around him. In addition, if and when he joins a better team, his opponents will be much more challenging.
So what makes ZywOo more special than many other prospects and why does he have the potential to cross the aforementioned hurdles? First of all, he is extremely confident. Even when he is struggling, which is not often, he keeps trying. This might seem like a not-so-rare characteristic but it is one required of every pro player. His calmness, which has been pointed out by people who have watched him perform live, is another great speciality, which means that he can be relied upon in clutch situations.
To top it all, ZywOo is exceptionally versatile. He belongs in the scarce group of hybrid players who are great at using both the AWP and rifles. Likewise, he can be quite scary when using pistols, both in pistol rounds and force-buys. In order to have a better understanding of these characteristics, you can watch this frag movie, which was done by paperC:
All in all, ZywOo is a gifted young player who is in the stage of writing his own story. He has shown his capacity and the damage he can do, but potential is meaningless until it becomes reality. ZywOo possesses the necessary tools to achieve this task; nevertheless, he still has it all to do.
Special thanks to Vakarm's Bastien Mesnil for his help with this article.