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Team Spirit Ends CS2’s First Full Season with Win at BLAST Spring Final

Zakaria Almughrabi

The final event of Counter-Strike 2’s inaugural competitive season, the BLAST Premier Spring Final, has ended with Team Spirit as the victors. The CIS squad opened the season with their huge arrival championship at IEM Katowice and now ends it with another trophy lift.

Spirit BLAST Spring Final

Image Credit BLAST

Tempered Expectations for Spirit

Though Spirit is known to be a top-tier squad with the potential to win trophies, perceptions of the team have fallen ever since their Katowice win. In the two true top-tier events they have played since then, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by FaZe Clan at the Major and in the semifinals at IEM Dallas by Team Vitality, both of whom were in attendance here in London.

Additionally, G2 Esports and Natus Vincere had made Grand Finals appearances more recently than Team Spirit. This is all to say that while Team Spirit was definitely being looked at for a trophy lift at BLAST Spring Finals, nothing was for sure. That was until they stepped into the server.

The Group Stage kicked off with Spirit facing off against G2 Esports, who were admittedly in a bit of a vacation mode following IEM Dallas. Though Spirit lost map one against G2 with a coach (albeit a former legendary player) playing, they quickly bounced back to take Dust2 and Anubis in convincing fashion 13-7 and 13-4.

In the Winners’ Match, Spirit faced off against Virtus. Pro for a direct ticket to the semifinals. The Russia vs Russia grudge match began completely in Spirit’s favor as they rolled map one 13-4.

VP’s Dust2 got much closer, but Spirit still came out ahead thanks to Molotovs not working against Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov. A 13-11 gave Spirit the win and a round-one playoff bye.

Reaching Their Potential

Now, in the BLAST Premier Spring Final Playoffs, Spirit faced their first real test of the tournament. Team Vitality, the team that just knocked Spirit out of IEM Dallas, was here and ready to make a second straight Grand Final. Spirit’s Mirage pick was up first and went about as disastrously wrong as possible.

Starting on the T side, Spirit got shut down hard by Vitality’s defense. They lost multiple advantaged rounds and couldn’t get a clutch to save their lives. A 2-10 deficit was the result. Spirit couldn’t make up the deficit and lost their own map 13-11. Back against the wall, Spirit moved on to Vitality’s Dust2.

When Spirit lost the opening pistol to another 1v3 clutch from Vitality, you got the feeling that this one would be a slow bleedout. Instead, Spirit showed remarkable resilience. They turned the opening deficit into an average CT campaign, winning multiple retakes to tie the score at 6-6. Despite losing the second pistol, Spirit forced up and busted the door down. They steamrolled through Vitality’s defense to tie the series up this time.

The final map was Anubis. Despite a hot 4-0 start by Vitality, Spirit dug in on the CT side and made a manageable 5-7 half. On offense, AWPer Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov led the way for Spirit to dominate. His 12-3 KDA, 97.4 ADR, and insane 2.03 T side rating helped Spirit clean up Dust2 13-9 and take the series.

Back to the Grand Finals

Team Spirit’s opponent for the BLAST Spring Final trophy was Natus Vincere. The defending Major champions were looking to claim a second trophy of the season, as were Spirit. When the match started, it was clear who showed up stronger.

Spirit launched an all-out T side campaign against NAVI on Ancient. Everyone on Spirit ended with a 1.19 rating or higher in the first half, as they held a 10-2 lead. The remaining rounds trickled in on the CT side, and soon Spirit had their map 13-9.

NAVI’s Dust2 was up next. Sh1ro and Danil “donk” Kryshkovets were fragging hard from the outset. They both ended the match with 22 kills and 1.50+ ratings. As for NAVI, the star player that stepped up to match them was…Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen.

If your in-game leader is topfragging your team in a Grand Final, chances are that you’re not winning the map. NAVI truly fell silent on map two. Despite a 13-9 final score, the map was not that close.

At this point, a clean 3-0 was the expectation. Spirit was shutting NAVI down, and Spirit’s Mirage was map three. To the surprise of everyone in the arena, the script looked totally flipped. All of a sudden, NAVI’s stars were showing up. The duo of Justinas “jL” Lekavičius and Ihor “w0nderful” Zhdanov were playing lights out on the CT side. NAVI won the first 9 rounds in a row and ended the half up 10-2.

Soon, NAVI was on the board in this Grand Final, with the most one-sided map victory of the entire thing. The 13-4 shocker delivered us to map four.

A Well-deserved Trophy

While momentum could have easily shifted in this Grand Final after that thrashing on Mirage, Spirit was determined to put it behind them. Nuke was up next, a map where anything could happen. NAVI took the pistol round, but Spirit found ground early.

The teams traded blows in the first half, giving Spirit’s defense a narrow 7-5 lead. When the second half began, any semblance of closeness, along with NAVI’s chances, was tossed out the window. Pistol turned into a gun round, which turned into an economic break. The match point came after six rounds, which Spirit closed out instantly. A convincing 13-6 finish saw Spirit lower the curtain on the CS2 season with a trophy at the BLAST Premier Spring Final.

With this win, Spirit has taken the first and last trophies of CS2’s first full season of play. Their young superstar, Donk, has won two MVPs at age 17, setting the pace for a legendary career. That’s to say nothing of Spirit’s other parts. Sh1ro is playing his best Counter-Strike since the Gambit days. Spirit’s support and anchoring are top-level, and IGL Chopper is leading this young squad with expertise. Expect to see more of Spirit when Counter-Strike resumes after the Summer player break.