Credit: Michael Konkol, BLAST

The mentality of a champion: How ZywOo’s mother helped him get the right mindset

Have you ever wondered how it feels to be number 1 in the world? And how you deal with the pressure, attention, and recognition that follows? For ZywOo it’s simple.

Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut is undeniably the best Counter-Strike player in the world right now. Often called “The Chosen One” due to the mind-blowing fact, that the Frenchman is born on the exact release date of the game that would come to define his life. The now 23-year-old Team Vitality player was recently celebrated as the best player of 2023 after another year with insane performances topped by a Major MVP run at the Major on home soil in Paris.

Before the start of the 2024 season at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups in Copenhagen, interviewed the talented Frenchman on what he had learned in 2023, and how he dealt with the mental side of Counter-Strike and the pressure that goes alongside being the best player in the world.

The Ego

Where is ZywOo’s ego? The question has been raised multiple times by analysts, who want the French superstar to show his emotions and demand more from his teammates to further elevate his game. The answer to the question was given by ZywOo himself in an interview with HLTV last year. The ego came out after Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut had gotten off to a subpar start to CS2, and he wanted to show everyone that he could also perform in the new iteration of Counter-Strike.

- A lot of people were texting some bad things on Twitter. I wasn’t really following it, but I knew inside I wanted to show, that I don’t care if they change up the game, for me it’s going to be the same. I am not going to change my mindset or gamestyle. I just want to show, that even if it is another game, I can still play at my best, ZywOo explains and points at his competitive nature as a contributing factor to his success.

- If I would not play CS, I would compete in something else, because I love to compete.

“My mom educated me like this”

Perhaps the reason why we have never seen the true ego of ZywOo is, that he has never had any issues living up to the expectations that he has set for himself with his performances in-game. The so-called rivalry between ZywOo and s1mple has never really been a motivating factor for the young Frenchman.

- My mom educated me like this. She never told me to have an ego or to act like a bad guy whenever I win. She taught me to think about yourself and not about someone else.

Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut lived with his mother, brother, and grandmother from the age of 10, after the divorce of his parents. The French CS star opened up about his upbringing in the mini docuseries by GUCCI last year.

The sort of easy-going mentality that surrounds ZywOo when you speak with him is the same attitude that has helped him stay true to his nature despite the increased pressure the Frenchman has experienced during the past years when he has broken through on the CS scene.

- I’m living my life day by day, and not thinking about the future. I think it has helped me to perform and also not to feel the pressure of being number 1.

The most important lesson of 2023

- The most important thing I learned was in the Major. We didn’t play against the strongest teams in the world in the playoffs, but we still played good. It has been a problem before that we were struggling against underdogs or lower-ranked teams. Before the Major, we were really focused on that, and we learned from our mistakes. At the Major we learned how to play against underdogs, ZywOo says.

The BLAST tournaments have in history been good to ZywOo and Vitality. Besides the Paris Major win last year, Vitality also took home the World Final and the Fall Final in Copenhagen. In 2020 they also won the Fall Finals. But two trophies that are not in the trophy cabinet of Vitality and ZywOo are Katowice and Cologne. Two tournaments that the 23-year-old has set his sights on for the coming season.

- I keep going. I want to stay at the top and keep winning tournaments. I obviously want to win one more Major, but also Katowice and Cologne, because I have never won one of them, ZywOo states.

In the coming days you can read about ZywOo’s thoughts on s1mple’s hiatus from competitive Counter-Strike, and who the Frenchman ranks as the G.O.A.T of CS:GO.

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