ZywOo returns while NIP flop in ESL Pro League S17 Group C

ESL Pro League Season 17 Group C saw some of the best CS:GO plays of the tournament so far. After comebacks and clutches, Vitality, FaZe, paiN, and 00 Nation are the teams through to the playoffs.

After the snoozefest of ESL Pro League Group B, there’s plenty to discuss this time around.

Vitality post-game EPL S17

Good times all around. | Credit: Adela Sznajder/ © ESL

ZywOo is back

If there’s one word for ZywOo so far in ESL Pro League Season 17, it’s “wow”. He’s been unfortunate to have existed somewhat in the shadow of s1mple. In 2023 so far, there’s simply no competition between the two. ZywOo is playing like a man on a mission to reclaim his crown, backed by a Vitality who look poised for big things with star stand-in JACKZ.

The jewel in the crown of the Group Stage was an astounding Anubis comeback against FaZe, winning the map after losing the first half 14-1. As it became clear what was occurring, the comeback went from memes to dreams in the Twitch chat, spearheaded by a solid ZywOo performance.

With his team finally performing on a similar wavelength, expect ZywOo to dominate the rest of the tournament. Even if they don’t go all the way, his form comes at the perfect time, giving Vitality an incredible chance at May’s CS:GO Major.

Plenty to NIP in the bud

This was supposed to be different for NIP. With Aleksib as the experienced IGL, headtr1ck as the new m0NESY, and k0nfig as the star rifler, this was supposed to be a new-look NIP, a NIP that could compete at the top again.

What we received was disastrous, as they crashed out to 00 Nation, with coldzera rolling back the years to send NIP home. Aleksib looked devoid of ideas, and the inexperience of 18-year-old headtr1ck was clear. Even REZ and Brollan were anonymous for large parts of the tournament, a defeat to Grayhound a particular low.

Much has been made of Aleksib’s performance as NIP IGL. He was criticized for not getting much from his previous star-studded G2 roster, which under HooXi has seen a change in fortunes. Yet he’s been given another team of superstars, and results need to improve fast. It’ll be very difficult for NIP to take many positives from this showing in Malta.

OG’s degster problem

It doesn’t have to be like this for degster, one of competitive CS:GO‘s most clutch players. OG’s AWPer-turned-IGL was their shining light of Group C, top-fragging for OG in all but one match. OG crashed out to this NIP, and you can’t help but wonder if degster deserves better. While a defeat to Quarter-Finalists Vitality can be forgiven, they should absolutely be beating paiN and NIP.

Stepping up as IGL in nexa’s absence, degster has done an admirable job. He’s even tweeted about the difficulties of the new role, but it hasn’t affected his individual performance. So what’s degster’s long-term solution?

Whether they know it or not, Liquid needs an AWPer. Current AWPer oSee has struggled, and it’s hard to think he’s not holding them back. While Liquid has traditionally been an NA team, the addition of Latvian YEKINDAR suggests an openness to change. The language barrier won’t be a concern, either – degster is Russian, but speaks strong English. He’d be perfect to take Liquid to the next level.

If there’s one thing to take from OG’s performance in Group C, it’s that degster needs to get out of there if he wants to win tournaments. He certainly has the skill to do so.

The conclusion of ESL Pro League Season 17’s Group Stage begins with Group D on March 15th.

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