If you were looking for an answer about who was the best CS:GO player of 2019, your search ends today. HLTV announced Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, a 19-year-old AWPer for Vitality as the best CS:GO, player of the past year, and with that archived their annual top-20 CS:GO players of the year list.
ZywOo's career as a CS:GO player started in 2014 at only 14-years-of age when he joined his first team - dizLown. At that point, he played CS:GO on and off and while his career did not take off until years later, even then, he was regarded as one of the biggest talents that ever entered the Counter-Strike battlefield.
The French prodigy joined E-Corp Bumpers in January 2017, when he properly launched his incredible career as a CS:GO player. Since he signed for E-Corp, ZywOo started to compete in the CS:GO more regularly, which not only helped him develop his skillset, but also helped him gain international recognition. ZywOo left E-Corp after less than two months later and joined with WySix Team and later teamed up with against All authority in September 2017.
At this point, ZywOo postponed playing on a professional level in order to finish high school, but that did not stop him from wreaking havoc in the French league, eventually helping aAa pick up the domestic ESL National Championship - Summer 2018, where he averaged astounding 1.70 rating across the series against MaciSaucisse and Team LDLC.
Despite his remarkable achievements with aAa, ZywOo opted to make a move to Team Vitality on October 8, 2018, which marked the day when then 17-year-old CS:GO prodigy finally turned pro.
ZywOo joined Vitality, who at the time featured core of Team Envy, which had won DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca Major in 2015, which offered ZywOo an excellent environment in which he continued to develop as a player. Despite his young age and the fact he has never before played on the highest level, ZywOo needed little time to demonstrate his ability as a player, as he helped his team win DreamHack Open Atlanta 2018 where he put up 1.49 tournament rating, having also finished with a 2.00+ rating in two back-to-back maps in the semi-finals against Complexity.
When asked why he chooses Vitality as his first professional CS:GO team, ZywOo stated:
"Vitality was an easy choice. I wanted to continue my journey to the top, and Vitality was the best opportunity for me, especially because it was a French project with some of the best players in the world… How could you refuse to play with the 'Tank' (Cédric "RpK" Guipouy)?"
Following Vitality's triumph at DreamHack Open Atlanta, the French squad also claimed silver at LOOT.BET Cup #3, WESG 2018 North-West Europe and StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7 - European Qualifier to finish 2018 on a positive note. Before the year ended, Vitality also replaced Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer with Alex "ALEX" McMeekin in a bid to enter 2019 stronger than ever.
Vitality picked up where they left off in 2018 and attended the Europe Minor Championship in late January, where they bested Valiance and North to secure a silver medal and a spot at the Major. At the said tournament, ZywOo averaged 1.36 rating, which was 32% better than the team's average.
The French CS:GO star continued putting up incredible ratings up to IEM Masters XII - Katowice Major 2019, where Vitality started slow but managed to recover and made it through the New Challengers Stage with a 3-1 record. Unfortunately, their troubles resurfaced once they entered the latter stage of the Major. Vitality completely dropped the ball in the New Legends stage and finished the Major at an underwhelming ninth-11th place after suffering defeats to Natus Vincere, NiP and Renegades. ZywOo ended the Major with an underwhelming 1.14 tournament rating.
Following a poor performance at Katowice Major, Vitality continued to struggle. At StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7, which took place two months later, French outfit reached the quarter-finals, but lost to NRG and ended the tournament at the fifth-eighth spot. ZywOo once more failed to impress with his performances and while he did end the tournament with 0.83 KPR and 87.1 ADR, his rating was far from a standout performance. But the things would change in the months that followed.
Later in April 2019, Vitality hoisted Charleroi Esports 2019 trophy, which was their first A-Tier title since DreamHack Open Atlanta 2018. While the said CS:GO tournament was a rather small one, ZywOo shone bright and headed home with a tournament-high 1.32 rating.
Vitality's next big tournament came in May 2019, when they attended cs-summit 4 in Los Angeles, where the stakes were much higher compared to Charleroi Esports 2019, seeing how Vitality were now facing the cream of the crop of the CS:GO scene. Despite the stacked roster, however, Vitality did not fail to impress. The French squad finished the round-robin stage as the first seed with 8-2 record and extended their superb form to clinch the cs_summit 4 title by decimating Team Liquid in the finals.
ZywOo once more played a pivotal role in his team's success, ending all but one of the 15 maps played with above-average ratings. He ended the tournament with 1.33 rating, 86.6 ADR, +111 KDD and 0.86 KPR, which earned him the first MVP medal of his career.
A couple of days later, Vitality entered DreamHack Masters Dallas, where they dropped the ball and crashed out of the tournament at a fifth-sixth place after losing to FURIA. Despite their premature exit, however, ZywOo earned an EVP tag, as he finished the tournament with 1.33 rating.
At the start of June, Vitality entered ECS Season 7 - Finals, where ZywOo stepped up once more and led his team to their first big event victory of the year. The French prodigy started the tournament slow but kicked his performance into a higher gear in the playoffs, where he averaged a breathtaking 1.76 rating to help his team hoist the trophy by defeating NRG and FURIA. ZywOo ended ECS S7 Finals with 1.41 tournament rating and 1.46 impact rating, which earned him his second title of the event's MVP.
A month later came ESL One: Cologne, which was one of the most stacked CS:GO tournaments of the year. Vitality struggled to look as dominant as in ECS in the opening stages of ESL, where they found themselves on the brink of elimination. That said, ZywOo once again stepped up when it mattered and went on a tear in the playoffs, where Vitality met with NRG. In the said match, ZywOo averaged 1.87 rating, 108 ADR and 31 KDD, to which he added a 1.36 rating game against Astralis in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, ZywOo failed to carry his team through the grand finals against Liquid, who bested the Frenchs squad 3-1, meaning ZywOo ended the event with a 1.33 tournament rating, a silver medal and his third tournament MVP award, despite not being in the winning team.
Before the player break, Vitality attended IEM Masters XIV - Chicago, where they had to settle for a third-fourth place finish, following yet another crushing defeat against Team Liquid. Unfortunately, ZywOo was not himself in Chicago as he finished with a 1.20 tournament rating, which is still a very respectable number, but a below-average for ZywOo.
After the player break, it was time for the second Major of the year - the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019, where Vitality struggled in the New Challengers Stage, but still managed to limp their way into the New Legends Stage. There Vitality improved but ultimately failed to go further than quarter-finals, after suffering a 1-2 loss to AVANGAR, who went on to reach the grand finals. ZywOo ended the major with a 1.22 tournament rating.
"I would say that our main opponent at this Major was ourselves. The result was not so bad despite the disappointment of losing to AVANGAR. They were in very good shape but we clearly had a chance, " said ZywOo.
At the start of October 2019, it was time for DreamHack Masters Malmo, where ZywOo returned to his best form and helped his team clinch silver with an impressive 1.53 rating. His team were, unfortunately, no match for the new and improved Fnatic who bested them 2-1 in the grand finals. ZywOo ended the grand finals series with a 1.38 rating and his fourth MVP award, but due to the departure of Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt in September, it was clear the team lacked a true supporting cast.
Vitality went on to miss out on qualifications for ESL Pro League S10 and finished StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8 seventh-eighth, however, had some better luck at IEM Beijing, where ZywOo and co. reached top four after losing to 100T.
The last tournament of the year was EPICENTER 2019, where ZywOo truly shined. Vitality won the tournament, losing only one map en route to the title, and even that loss came against mousesports in the grand finals. The 19-year-old prodigy averaged 1.53 tournament rating, which is his career record at "Big Events", posted 1.65 impact rating and 97.3 ADR, which were also both his year-high stats. For his remarkable performances, ZywOo also lifted his fifth and final MVP award of the year.
ZywOo ended 2019 as one of the top performers in the biggest stages with 1.30 rating, five MVP awards and just as many EVPs. The numbers he has put up throughout the year are just remarkable and leave no doubt whether he deserved to be crowned as the best player of the year.
ZywOo finished the year with 86.1 DPR and 0.8 in KPR, which are best and second-best records out of all CS:GO players throughout 2019. However, where the French pro really shined was his impact rating (1.40) which was far above any other player in the scene. His opening kills per round ratio (0.14) was second-highest, while his opening duels (61.3%) was fifth-best.
While his impact rating was breathtaking, ZywOo's key factor for his success was his consistency. He was ranked sixth in KAST (74.5%) and second for map-to-map consistency. Furthermore, his lowest tournament rating was 1.14, which only goes to show that even on his worst day, ZywOo is still an excellent player. What's more, are his numbers in big events. ZywOo boasted with the highest-ranking overall (1.28) across Big Events, and 1.33 average rating in the playoffs of the Big Events, which was by far the highest out of all other CS:GO players.
MATHIEU "ZYWOO" HERBAUT STATS FOR 2019:
Written by KrajnikT
Tit Krajnik (KrajnikT) is an esports writer for onlineesports.com, where he reports news, features and writes other content related to the players, teams, industry and the esports scene as a whole.
He has previously worked as a news and betting-related articles writer in the "traditional" sports scene but later opted to turn his attention to esports, where he managed to combine his love for video games and the growing esports industry with his work.
Krajnik has started his journey as an esports writer by covering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, which he also played since its launch, but later broaden his skill-set to include other major esports titles including Dota 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Call of Duty.