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Esports Illustrated’s Charlie Cater recently had the opportunity to speak with Anne Banschbach, Director of Esports at Team Vitality. They discussed the BLAST Paris Major, and the impact of it being held in Vitality’s home town, the IEM Rio Victory, plans for CS2 and much more.

What does it mean to Team Vitality to have the final CS:GO Major hosted in their hometown?

“The major being in Paris is incredibly exciting for us. It does mean a lot as it coincides with the 10th anniversary of CS:GO, plus the first ever Major in France, plus it being in Paris where our headquarters are. And finally it's the 10 year anniversary of Team Vitality as well. So all of those are pretty big milestones.

For the players themselves, it's of course incredibly important for the two French players. It's a big deal to play in front of their families, their friends. And then for players like Dupreeh, it's important because it's his first event playing in front of his son. So, overall I think we're not just excited. We are freaking thrilled.”

How has the team prepared for the Major?

“It was easier for us since we have boot camp locations in Paris, so we didn't have to rent anything other than that. But there was not a lot of difference except the fact that we had access to the headquarters, which meant that we could do a really cool meet and greet with our fans and the players.

At the end of the day, they're in a hotel, they're in a bootcamp, they're in a studio location, and then they're in an arena. I think it's the whole flare and atmosphere around it that changes things.

Of course they can feel it. They have access to the internet, they see what the fans are saying. They have their own family and friends, their own thoughts about this. Of course, there's additional pressure. Outside of that, we are really trying to keep it business as usual because at the end of the day, they've done this before, right?”

What did the IEM Rio victory mean for the team and Vitality as a whole?

“I think that win was not expected for us. It shows that we are where we were supposed to be, that we are peaking. We said to go in, try their best, but play without pressure to just really click into cohesion to be ready for the major. And I guess we saw that our efforts for the last months were not in vain, that we're reaping the benefits right now because you can see that they're performing incredibly well.”

Vitality went from an all-French roster to a Multinational roster. What was that process like?

“It was a super long struggle. Initially when we had the roster last year in January, everybody was expecting us to struggle, right?

Everybody was expecting to have communication issues for the French roster specifically to play in English. And then after a while we were performing, but we were not winning. And a lot of people did interviews and asked why is it not working? Players kept saying communication and people were a little bit frustrated with that answer. But really for the team, when we say communication, that's not just a language barrier, that's a communication style, a team culture.

It took us a while. But ultimately they all worked incredibly hard. I'm super proud of the whole team, specifically apEX, who really dug deep and went above and beyond in this.”

What are Vitality’s expectations and plans for CS2?

“I think that's hard to answer because we have a lot of assumptions and hopes, but we don't have a lot of facts moving forward.

Fact is that CS2 for us is not a fundamentally new game, right? It's more like an extension, an update, a mod, whatever you wanna call it. It will be a breath of fresh air for everybody. Also, a point of uncertainty for a lot of players.

As a company, we're committed to Counterstrike. No matter if it's called CS:GO, CS2, we are here for that and we're super excited to take that next step.

All in all, we're super excited and believe that our players will do well in the next game!”