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Stories to Watch at the BLAST Premier Spring Finals Group Stage

Zakaria Almughrabi

The first BLAST Finals of the year, BLAST Premier Spring, begins on June 15th. Eight teams will be battling it out in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for a $425,000 prize pool and a spot at the BLAST World Final in December.

BLAST Spring Finals NAVI

How will Na'Vi fare after replacing their in-game leader on such short notice? (Copyright: ESL | Adela Sznajder)

Every team at the BLAST Premier Spring Finals qualified for the event either through the Groups event at the start of the year, or the regional Showdown about a month and a half ago. A lot has changed since the Groups event, so here are some storylines to keep track of at the BLAST Premier Spring Finals Group Stage.

BLAST Premier Spring Finals Format

The BLAST Premier Spring Finals will have two stages. First is the Group Stage, where the eight teams will be split into two groups. They will each play a double elimination, GSL style group. The top three teams will advance to the playoffs, with the first-place finisher going directly to the semifinals. Playoffs will be a single elimination bracket with Grand Finals on June 19th. All matches will be best-of-threes.

Who is playing at BLAST Premier Spring Finals?

Group A Group B
FaZe Clan G2 Esports BIG ENCE
paiN Gaming Team Vitality Natus Vincere OG

The BLAST Premier Spring Finals are being headlined by the trio of FaZe Clan, ENCE, and Natus Vincere. These teams make up the top three ranked CS:GO squads in the world right now. Even so, there are many questions surrounding them all and this event will be a great indicator ahead of IEM Cologne next month.

Also present are G2 Esports, BIG, and Team Vitality. These three teams have been a firm step down from competing for a title in the past few months. While they aren’t favored to take home the trophy, an upswing in play could result in high placement – especially for BIG, who played their best Counter-Strike in a while at IEM Dallas recently.

Finally, we have OG and paiN Gaming. OG showed up strong at the start of the year to qualify for the BLAST Premier Spring Finals in the least amount games possible. Since then, all OG have to show is a top 16 at IEM Katowice and a no-qualification for PGL Major Antwerp. OG has changed their roster as a result, replacing two players just last month.

As for paiN, they did manage to secure a spot here by besting FURIA Esports. While that is no small feat, it will be even more difficult for paiN to make waves at BLAST Premier Spring. They are the biggest underdog in the tournament, and there are no easy wins in a small four team group.

Where do Na’Vi Stand after Boombl4’s Departure?

For those who haven’t been keeping up with CS:GO drama, Natus Vincere recently made the decision to cut in-game leader Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov due to “reputational risks for the club.” The list of potential reasons for this is long and mostly has to do with his now ex-wife, but that’s a story for some other time.

The player who Na’Vi picked as a replacement is Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, who most recently played for MAD Lions. Sdy (short for somedieyoung) is most known for his time competing with Team Spirit in the CIS region. That Spirit team had their ups and downs, but they were a solid contender in what was the most competitive region in CS:GO at the time.

The problem is that sdy is a rifler and not a direct replacement for Boombl4. Na’Vi didn’t have much time to find a permanent replacement, so sdy is simply on loan, with performance being the main factor in his long-term position on the team. It looks like Na’Vi will move the in-game leader duty over to Denis “electronic” Sharipov.

While electronic is certainly an experienced player, he played a core part in Na’Vi’s dual threat fragging alongside Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Interestingly, electronic will likely get help from s1mple as he attempts to transition into the role, since s1mple has IGL’ed before. All of this means that Na’Vi will be in a major transition period as they attempt to integrate a new player and shift around their roles. It would be a surprise if they played up to the usual Na’Vi standard this quickly.

FaZe Falter at Dallas

FaZe Clan are still the top-rated team in the world and are one of the three main title contenders here. After winning the PGL Major Antwerp title in May, FaZe solidified themselves as the biggest threats in the CS:GO scene. Despite this, they still fell short at IEM Dallas a week and a half later and lost the chance at their third notch in the Intel Grand Slam belt.

The Post-Major slump is a very well-known trope for CS:GO teams. They win the biggest award that there is in the esport, then tend to fall off over the next few months. Many people saw FaZe’s 5th-6th place finish at Dallas as an indicator of that. For FaZe, shaking off that narrative here would be exactly what the doctor ordered, especially if they want to sweep IEM Championships this year at Cologne.

ENCE Continue to Impress

The EU Spring Showdown contained five teams all good enough to qualify for the final BLAST Premier Spring Finals slot. With three consecutive wins in a brutal gauntlet against Copenhagen Flames, Heroic, and Astralis, the final team to qualify for the main event was ENCE.

ENCE’s meteoric rise over the past three months has been a surprise to many. They all of the sudden went from a borderline tier one team to a runner-up at ESL Pro League S15. ENCE then made top four at PGL Major Antwerp, solidifying themselves as top level competition. Despite being down their most prolific fragger at IEM Dallas, Lotan “Spinx” Giladi, ENCE still managed to make top two with a stand-in.

With how consistently well ENCE has been performing, its about time that this squad got their hands on a trophy. They have the tools and the momentum to make it happen. With FaZe fighting back up and Na’Vi shuffling their roster, BLAST Premier Spring could be ENCE’s chance.

The BLAST Premier Spring Finals Group Stage begins on June 15th at 5:00 AM ET. The initial matchups are:

FaZe Clan vs paiN Gaming

G2 Esports vs Team Vitality

Natus Vincere vs OG