ZywOo asserted his dominance in the quest for HLTV's Player of the Year by 1xBet, leading the charts in more than a dozen statistical categories.
Top 20 Players of 2023: A Comeback Tale
Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut reclaimed the throne after two years in the shadow of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, matching the Ukrainian as the only player to be crowned Player of the Year three times. ZywOo initially topped the list in 2019 and replicated that success the following year.
Expressing his sentiments, ZywOo remarked, "It's incredible to have three HLTV Player of the Year awards. However, my main focus has always been on maintaining consistency for my team and not being a hindrance to them."
Since joining Vitality in 2019 after completing high school, ZywOo consistently held the title of the best or runner-up, winning five MVP medals in his debut year and leading his team to three trophies. Despite facing challenges in 2022 as Vitality struggled, ZywOo continued to shine as the second-best player globally.
Triumph at the Paris Major
All eyes were on the Paris Major in 2023, the sole CS:GO Major of the year and the last one before the transition to CS2. Vitality cruised through the BLAST Premier Spring Groups, overcoming teams like Astralis and Heroic. ZywOo commenced the year with an impressive 1.42 rating.
Following decent showings at IEM Katowice and ESL Pro League Season 17, ZywOo excelled at the Major RMR, leading Vitality to a third-place finish and securing a spot in the Legends Stage. The momentum carried into IEM Rio, where they rebounded from an initial loss, ultimately securing victory in the playoffs. ZywOo's outstanding performance earned him the tournament MVP title.
The long-awaited moment arrived with the Paris Major, the last CS:GO Major. Vitality dominated, not dropping a single map. ZywOo, earning his first Major MVP award, exhibited stellar stats with a 1.39 rating, 86.7 ADR, 1.47 Impact, and 78% KAST.
Reflecting on the experience, ZywOo shared, "Winning the Paris Major was the best experience of my life. Playing in front of our home crowd was insane, all of the fans were crazy. My dream came true."
Challenges and Adaptations
Vitality continued their success at the BLAST Premier Spring Final, but a roster change saw flameZ replace dupreeh after the summer break. Although facing struggles, ZywOo maintained his peak form, achieving the highest rating at the Fall Final.
The team faced setbacks with the departures of zonic and Magisk before ESL Pro League. Despite these challenges, they reached the playoffs but were eliminated by Monte. ZywOo secured one last EVP in CS:GO before the transition to CS2.
"The worst moment this year for me was losing dupreeh, but also Magisk, zonic, and Lars. We had created something incredible around this team, so for me, it was hard to lose them; they were a big part of my success this year," expressed ZywOo.
Transition to CS2 and Year-End Triumphs
The shift to CS2 posed difficulties for Vitality, culminating in a disappointing exit at IEM Sydney. However, the team rebounded with back-to-back victories at BLAST Premier Fall Final and the World Final. ZywOo's stellar performances earned him two MVP awards, bringing his total to five.
Closing the year on a high note, ZywOo emphasized, "For the last two tournaments, we wanted to end 2023 on a high note and we did. We played our game from start to finish, despite losing half of our staff/team; we still stayed focused on our goals."
Unmatched Dominance and Achievements
ZywOo's 2023 performance was unparalleled, evident in his top-rated player status, highest KPR, impact, KAST, KDD, rating at Elite Events, and more. With five MVP awards and consistent EVP mentions, ZywOo's excellence extended beyond statistics.
His extraordinary plays, including the best play of the year, showcased his undeniable talent. ZywOo's third statuette for AWPer of the year further solidified his standing.
ZywOo now joins s1mple as a three-time HLTV Player of the Year, a remarkable feat by the age of 23. Undeterred by the transition to CS2, ZywOo remains a gaming colossus, setting the bar high for individual and team achievements in 2024.