Vitality: "This is not a short-term project; we want this team to reach Majors and the top 10"
We caught up with Vitality owner Fabien "Neo" Devide and CEO Nicolas Maurer to know more about the organisation's foray into CS:GO and their goals for the team.
Vitality officially entered the world of Counter-Strike last Monday with the signing of a French team headlined by three Major winners, Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt, Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer, as well as hot prospect Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut.
The move marks a new chapter in the history of Vitality, one of the most decorated esports organisations in France, widely known for their accomplishments in League of Legends and Call of Duty.
The level of expectation surrounding Vitality is extreme, and understandably so. We need to go back a year to see a French side last winning a big international event, and the country did not have any representation among the top eight teams at the recent FACEIT Major.
"This is not a short-term project," the Vitality chiefs assure. "We want this team to grow and eventually reach the Majors and the top 10 in HLTV's ranking, but we acknowledge that it will take time for things to click, we are not here to pressure players for no reason.
"We expect the players to work very hard from the get-go to capitalise on the honeymoon phase and create a very solid group. We strongly believe in the squad and are confident we can achieve international success, one step at a time."
The announcement came after "a few months" of discussions, the Vitality bosses explain. "At the beginning, it was just a distant idea, but the more we discussed and interacted with this group, the more we wanted to work with them." After watching the scene from the outside for long, Vitality are confident that they have finally found a team who tick all the right boxes.
"We had always looked into the CS:GO scene, we highly respect the game and its competitive ecosystem," Devide and Maurer noted. "Bear in mind that we were a FPS organization originally, coming from the Call of Duty roots and adding Rainbow: 6 Siege quite early in our development.
"When we unveil a new team, we need to make sure it has enough potential for international success and to compete at the highest level. Even if we are the biggest French organization, we are not in a game to dominate a local scene – there is no point. So we kept a close eye on the market, and when the opportunity arose – we moved in."
The biggest question mark revolves around ZywOo, a player for whom many have high hopes. A four-time FPL champion, the 17-year-old has the ability to develop into a star player for Vitality, but it is important to keep in mind that this will be his first challenge at this level.
To make sure that the former aAa player unlocks his full potential, Vitality will be looking to repeat the formula that has proved so successful with their League of Legends squad, who were able to reach this year's World Championship despite having a fairly inexperienced group of players.
"We have learned how to surround young players with the right environment and coaching staff, and we aim to use that knowledge with ZywOo," Devide and Maurer say.
"Him playing with four veterans who have seen it all and are committed to developing him is very promising."