The Evil Geniuses reached all new heights this year in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. After placing Top 4 at the Berlin Major, the American team continued to grow and claimed victory at both ESL One New York and StarSeries Season 8. A huge part of these successes is Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte, a 21-year-old rifler finding incredible form recently. But where did he start and how did he get to where he is now? Brehze showed quite a meteoric rise to the top of the competitive Counter-Strike.
Early Signs of Skill
Brehze’s first professional contract was with Obey Alliance, primarily a Call of Duty brand trying to expand into the CS:GO space. They began trying to attend big tournaments and competed in the MLG Americas Minor, the DreamHack Austin 2016 Qualifier. After failed outings in both instances, Obey dropped the roster completely. But the players were not deterred. They went on to compete in the online qualifier for the inaugural season of the Esports Championship Series. At the ECS qualifier, 17-year-old Brehze outperformed top pros like Cédric “RpK” Guipouy, Chris “chrisj” de Jong and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač. His final series against Selfless highlighted his skill, securing 120 kills across four maps and maintaining a 98.7 Average Damage per Round.
After competing in ECS Season 1 under the name “Without a roof”, a reflection on their lack of an organization, the ex-Obey roster was picked up by Team Kaliber in May 2016. But Brehze wouldn’t remain for long since the team he dominated in the qualifiers looked to recruit him in August. Under Selfless, Brehze continued to dominate the local American opposition. Unfortunately, his statistics were poor when facing off against high tier international opponents. At the World Electronics Sports Games 2016 finals in China, Selfless placed 9th – 12th. Brehze however, had a monstrous performance at the event, averaging 105 ADR across almost 300 rounds played. This would be his final tournament for Selfless before seeking greener pastures.
The Arrival at NRG
Of the final iteration of the NRG roster, Brehze was the first player to join the organization when he signed on Dec. 19, 2016. Brehze’s initial outings for the NRG roster were initially a mixed bag. It was his first time living in a team house and the quality of his team meant he would face higher tiers of opposition. His online play was great, but his lack of experience at top tier LAN’s meant he was inconsistent when tackling the toughest teams. Additionally, the spotlight was taken away from him in August with new AWPing prospect Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov. 2017 was a tough year for the NRG side as they failed to place in Top 4 at any LAN and couldn’t qualify for a Major.
In 2018, the NRG organization looked to make changes. Damian “daps” Steele transitioned from coach to In-Game-Leader and Ethan “Ethan” Arnold join the roster. These changes revitalized the team and they began stringing together Top 4 finishes in StarSeries Seasons 5 and 6, ECS Season 5 and even managed to pick up trophies at IEM Shanghai 2018 and cs_summit 3. In this period, Brehze really began developing his form and claimed his career first MVP award at the summit.
From Support to Star
While he showed moments of potential in the past, 2019 is the year Brehze transforms into the star talent fans know today. This year, he developed into an outstanding player with serious impacts on the server. Under the NRG banner, Brehze’s lowest rating at a LAN in 2019 was 1.04, showing the incredible level of consistency that the rifler has developed. Brehze was instrumental in NRG’s Top 4 run at the Major and was the best statistical player on his team. But his best performances were yet to come.
New Org, New Plays
Evil Geniuses acquired the NRG roster just ahead of ESL One New York this past September. Brehze was keen to impress the new management, attaining his career-best form on home soil. He had over a 70 kill differential across the entire tournament. Not to mention this was against the best players in the world. In the final, he experienced no issues dismantling Astralis with a 31 kill differential in that series alone. Brehze won his career second MVP award at the tournament and received well-deserved praise.
Since New York, Brehze played well at Star Series Season 8 but showed poor performances at DreamHack Masters Malmö and IEM Beijing. However, both tournaments required long-haul international travel shortly after a grand-final victory. This could indicate the travel taking its toll rather than an individual drop in form. Brehze’s brilliance at StarSeries Season 8 alongside both Beijing and Malmö requiring international travel soon after the other, suggests the poor performances were from physical fatigue rather than a dip in form. Fans will soon find out which is the case at the CS:GO Asia Championships in Shanghai next week.
Written by Benjamin Hodge