ZywOo sounds like a person following a very clear and thoughtful plan to capture the CS:GO scene. Meanwhile, being super relaxed and living the time of his life.
In an exclusive interview for the CS.MONEY Blog, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut shared the team’s plans for the near future, talked about the team’s newcomer and how the gang sets up communication, revealed his love for ordinary computer games (Hearthstone and Rocket League!), remembered his childhood and guessed where he could’ve been if not CS, and named his favorite skins.
Matthieu is pleasant and easy to chat with. His English has really improved over the past six months, comparing his previous interviews with how he speaks now. However, there is still work to be done. ZywOo joins the call in high spirits, greets me joyfully, and laughs often and loudly throughout the conversation.
Vitality’s Mood, Spinx & Cultures
Arseny, the interviewer: Tell me, please, how are you and how is the team these days?
ZywOo: It’s going pretty well with the team. With the new player, Lotan “Spinx” Giladi, it’s really good, we have a good feeling with him, so everything’s perfect. BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022 is our first tournament with him, and it’s pretty good. He’s pretty good.
Can you tell me a little about Spinx? Zonic says you guys are working hard to establish good communication.
Of course, we work a lot on it because I’m not used to speaking English a lot, and my English is not that perfect. And in CS, sometimes, it’s really hard because it’s not natural [for me] to speak English, but I try a lot to work on it. And Lotan, I mean, Spinx, has better communication than Misutaaa, so in the game, we feel the communication to be better than before. We feel much better than before.
The first time we met him was our first bootcamp before coming to BLAST. Actually, it was really good, one of the best bootcamps we did. Spinx fit really great with the team. He doesn’t have any problems with adaptation, and also others on the team can say that he’s a great person. Thank you, Lotan! He’s close to me. <laugh>
Since the initial New Vitality announcement in January, what has changed in the team?
What changed? Obviously, the communication. <laughs> This is a big part, of course. But also to play with other players that are not French because this is also another culture. Danish people, now Israeli people—they’re not the same as the French. So we need to work with that. But we don’t have a problem with that. We can feel like everyone can join the team easily. Everyone is really happy in this team, and we have fun playing together. So it’s really good.
What cultural differences do you see besides the language barrier? Do they harm the team?
We don’t have problems with the culture. Obviously, we just… <laugh> Danish people eat like one hour earlier than French, like at 6:00 PM. And us, we eat almost at 7.:30 or even 8:00. So sometimes because of this, when we want to eat all together, like a team, there’s some misunderstanding. <laugh> Sometimes it’s kinda hard, but it’s fine. It’s funny. It’s not like in the wrong way.
New Staff & The System
What have Zonic brought to your team? Can you share your personal expressions of him as a coach?
He gives us a lot, I’m not gonna say “freedom”, but we can do everything we want. I worked only with XTQZZZ before, and they are really different. XTQZZZ was rougher sometimes when we were not like a team, he said what he wanted or what he thought. Danny is more kind. He tries to speak with everyone and tries to make everyone on the team happy. He’s good to have on the team because he also had a good experience since CS 1.6 because he played the game for a long time. So he has a really different vision of the game. And I really like his vision.
Did he also bring the notorious training aspect of Astralis? Gym, diets, all that. Was it hard to adjust to such kind of professional lifestyle?
Obviously, I’m not gonna lie: I’m not going to the gym every day. <Laugh> You can see my body! But now we have Matthieu Péché, our manager, who was an Olympic medalist. With him, we need to eat healthily, we need to do some gym. So it’s not part of Astralis or Zonic or Magisk or Dupreeh, it’s also part of our manager who brings a lot to the picture. So I think the team is following his plan.
Can you tell a little about Lars Robl, your sports psychologist? I saw a post where you guys went through a snowstorm during a team building.
It was at the beginning of the team. It was really hard because, oh my God… Lars and Matthieu Péché are both really athletic. And we are playing CS:GO, we don’t go running every day. So it was really hard, but it was really funny to see everyone supporting each other, doing the teambuilding, and it was really good. And also Lars is a really good person because he’s a mental coach for us and we can ask him everything. If we have a problem, if we need 15 minutes in a week, we can ask him everything. He’s gonna help us every time he can.
Can you tell any other kinds of team building that you have?
We only had that one. We did the second at Stade de France [national stadium of France, ed.], but it was only a talk with the team. But the first one in The Vosges in France was the hardest I have done in my whole life! It was snowing outside already at 6:00 AM, and we were doing the walk for two or three hours. One day we were supposed to sleep outside with all the snow, but there was also a problem with the weather so we couldn’t do it and we had to walk at 10:00 PM for two hours to return to the house. Whew! It was so hard, but we did it, and it was really good with the feeling we had at the end. It was really good.
How did you end up meeting Neymar at the stadium?
A few years ago, we played a show match with Furia, Neymar, his friends, and French streamers. You know, the one where Neymar knived me. <laugh> And we had to add Neymar on FACEIT to play. So after that, I don’t remember how, but we wanted to see a PSG’s match. So we asked him on FACEIT, “Hey Neymar, can we have some place for PSG, please?” That’s how we met him, just because we asked him on a FACEIT chat. We also met his brother and some friends of him, and we speak to them often, so it is really good.
Childhood Memories of CS & First LAN
Looking at you now and you as a child, can you remember how a young little ZywOo got into CS?
I started with CS: Source. My brother and my cousin played this game. They went to a cyber cafe together in France together. After that, my brother bought his first PC, and that’s how I saw the game: I was playing with my brother, and he was playing CS: Source. I was like, “What the f*** is this game?” I was seven years old. <Laugh> And I started to play at seven years old because I wanted to play this game. Maybe also because it was the first game on our computer. Maybe if my brother played Call of Duty, I could’ve become a CoD professional. <laugh>
And do you remember your first LAN event?
I think I was nine years old at my first LAN, two years after [I saw the game]. There was a small tournament in my city named Microlan or something. And all my family, my cousins were doing this LAN, and so I went with them. And my mom asked my brother, “Be careful of your little brother, because he’s really young!” All that people were almost 20, 22. And I was really young.
I remember I played against one team and I was maybe nine or ten my brother said I rekt them. I didn’t know the meaning, but my brother said I rekt them. And people were like 25, 30 years old. And they were coming to me: “Who is ZywOo, who is it?” I was nine, and I said, “It’s me!” You know, with my childish voice! <laugh> And they all were shocked. Like, “What the f***?! We lost a game to a kid, nine years old!” This anecdote is really funny.
Are you happy or maybe nervous a little with LANs coming back?
No, actually, I’m not nervous. I’m really happy to play in front of a crowd again because I think every professional plays for that. Obviously, they want to lift a trophy, but they want to lift it in front of a crowd. During coronavirus, you only play at home or in boot camp, so coming back is something special. It was not the same taste when you win in front of a crowd. I think everyone in CS:GO is very happy to be back in the hotels or doing tournaments and playing in front of crowds.
You’re a huge brand and have lots of followers. Does it affect your life in a bad way?
No, actually. I’m not someone who uses a lot of Twitter or a lot of Instagram, so, no, actually, it’s fine for me. People can like me, or maybe outside, if someone recognizes me and asks to take pictures, it’s totally fine. I mean, it’s kinda our job because we are playing CS:GO, but actually, I don’t care about it. It’s fine.
ZywOo The Gamer
I noticed your Steam profile has 1,200+ achievements. So you’re a true gamer, right?
I play a lot of games! <laugh> But I only play CS:GO for now because we need to get back to the top level. <laugh> But yeah, I’m playing a lot of games. Before doing this interview, I was playing Hearthstone just to chill, you know.
Is it like a breath of fresh air? Aren’t you getting tired of playing PC games?
Oh no, I’m not getting tired, actually. I don’t know. I just like to play other games. Maybe because I used to do it since I was young. I need to play video games, and I have no clue why I need to play them. I just like it.
What have you played recently?
Rocket League. I liked it because I was playing with a friend, and what I liked about this game was that it has competition because we needed to play for a rank and do calls, but it was also very relaxing because if I lost, I didn’t care. I’m not a professional, but I still play for competition, you know? That’s why I like this game, I have like 500 hours maybe in this game.
On Skins, Prices, and LOULOUPEEK
You have a pretty massive collection of skins.
Actually, I don’t own a lot! I ask people to rent me skins, so they’re not mine. And if the guys ask me to give them back, I’m gonna instantly do it, because it’s not mine, of course.
When I was young, like 14 or 15, I wanted to have a lot of skins, I thought they were so beautiful. Like my AWP Gungnir, my AK-47 Fire Serpent. I have been waiting for six years for it! And when I got it in my hands, I was like, finally! <laugh>
Wow. For six years?
Yeah. When I started to play this game, I wanted to have skins, but obviously, I didn’t have enough money for that. But now I can ask people or maybe buy them myself. My inventory is fine. I don’t need changes. I have skins, but not that expensive.
But you said you want a lot of skins, yet you rent them. Why don’t you buy them?
Because it’s really expensive! <Laugh> I think AWP Gungnir from my inventory is like $5k or maybe $10k. Imagine! It’s too expensive. I don’t want to put a lot of money into it because this is only a skin. Of course, it’s beautiful, I want to have it in my inventory, but I’s too expensive.