Earl “Earl” Stephenson and Seth “Xeth” Jackson had their European debut in season 43 sporting a majority of Benelux players in the form of Alan “yoom” Groot, Jim “VoxelArc” Schreuder, and Toon “Syther” Snauwaert. The team looked promising after a successful run in season 14 of ESL Proximus Benelux, making it to the LAN finals in October and walking away with a very respectable 3-4th placing. After starting their ESEA Main season with four losses and only one win, insult was added to injury as yoom was enlisted by his countrymen to join forces with his brother, Nils “ReFuZR” Groot in KRC Genk’s journey through ESEA Advanced.
The Brits have decided to return to their roots and invest in proven British talent to round out the team, who, originally named TheSmileyBoys, are now playing under the title of Vitalize. Benjamin “Klay” Hurst has been assigned the AWP, a player who began with quite little experience and notoriety within the UK scene, and has since continued to make himself known as one of the UK’s more premium AWPers. This was shown through his feats in Endpoint’s academy team, whereby the squad qualified for ESEA Main after a top-four run in Season 37 of ESEA Open.
Next up is the UKCSGO MVP of Insomnia 69, Reegan “ReegaN” Ward, who looks to continue improving upon his impressive performances throughout the year during his time in both the Temperate and eMasters camps – riding the high of a 2nd place finish at the most recent EPIC.LAN in November.
Photo credits: EPIC.LAN
Lastly is Rhys “Rhys” Stumbles, the ever-present role player from previous iterations of BLVKHVND who even took up the responsibilities of in-game leading in Clique before his choice to take a brief step back from competition due to personal reasons outside of the game. With these changes, UKCSGO understands that some roles have been changed slightly to accommodate the roster moves, and the responsibilities of IGLing has returned to Earl.
When asked about the impact of these additions, this is what he had to say:
“For me personally it’s been amazing having all the new guys on the team, the atmosphere has been great, and the firepower is phenomenal. Klay has really impressed all of us, from his knowledge of comms to his unbelievable mechanics. ReegaN is an incredible talent, probably one of the best aimers in the UK scene, and he’s putting in a lot of time to learn his new roles. Rhys is definitely one of the hype guys; he’s incredibly solid and is willing to play all spots and roles, and is doing a fantastic job of filling in the gaps.”
On paper, the team has added a significant amount of firepower with these additions and could potentially contend at the upper end of the UK competitive scene against teams like eMasters, Royals, and Arctic Raptors – a hypothesis that is supported by their most recent ESEA season, flipping their one to four win/loss record around entirely, recording an impressive seven wins and one loss in all matches since the new core took control of the spot. This remarkable feat landed the team a spot in ESEA Main playoffs, and gave them a chance to test their mettle against the already established teams who reside in the top end of ESEA Main.
UKCSGO also reached out to Rhys to speak about these changes, and what the team’s goals are for the future:
“With this new team we’ve been making great progress by making playoffs in ESEA, and hopefully we can continue this momentum with the support we’re receiving from the org so we can continue to improve.”
Earl and his squad found early success in playoffs via a forfeit win against KRASAVI in the opening round, and by besting the Spaniards of n00rgCS 2-1 in the second round. Their Advanced dreams were cut short however, losing to Hydra Team in the upper bracket, and SD Invicta for their last chance in the lower bracket. With this, Vitalize looks to follow in the steps of the Arctic Raptors and rebound into advanced on their second attempt.
Vitalize enter the CS:GO scene with:
Earl “Earl” Stephenson
Seth “Xeth” Jackson
Reegan “ReegaN” Ward
Benjamin “Klay” Hurst
Rhys “Rhys” Stumbles
The Kings of the UK have arrived 🇬🇧
Welcome Vitalize CS:GO
— Vitalize Esports (@Vitalize_EU) January 4, 2023