Stories to Watch at the BLAST World Final 2022 Group Stage
The last big Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament of the year, the BLAST World Final, is now under way. Eight teams who all had some level of success throughout 2022 will go head-to-head for a shot at the $1,000,000 prize pool. Which team will be able to end their year on a high note at this tournament of champions?
BLAST World Finals 20222 Participants
|FaZe Clan||G2 Esports||Natus Vincere||Heroic|
|Outsiders||Team Liquid||Team Vitality||OG|
A Wide-Open Group A
If you were to say that a group of four teams contains both Major winners of the year, that group would likely be pronounced a group of death. Even that that is the situation right now with FaZe Clan and Outsiders, Group A is still anyone’s to take.
FaZe Try to Find Momentum
The reason is that FaZe Clan, despite being the most successful team overall on the year, has had an incredibly slow back half of the year. Ever since their huge win at IEM Cologne in July, FaZe weren’t able to hit those same highs in any tournament. A top eight at ESL Pro League S16 could have been explained away saying that they were prepping for the Rio Major one month later, but then they bombed out of that without winning a single game.
FaZe did have a little resurgence with a runner-up finish at the BLAST Fall Finals at the end of November, but their trophy cabinet has had no new additions since Cologne. And for a team that was so undisputedly the best in the world before, that has to hurt. FaZe Clan will be looking to find at least a little bit of momentum here at the BLAST World Finals to take into 2023. They’re still far ahead in the race for the Intel Grand Slam after all. Only one more ESL/IEM tournament win would grant them the achievement.
Outsiders Are Champions; Now What?
The IEM Rio Major saw Outsiders claim the most prestigious title in CS:GO after a chaotic tournament full of upsets at every turn. Almost no one could have predicted the lowest seeded CIS team, one that started the tournament in Contenders, to take it all. But they did, and being Major champions is the sweetest taste imaginable in CS:GO.
Winning one tournament, even if it was the Major, doesn’t make you the best team in the world however. Don’t get me wrong, Outsiders played phenomenally at Rio, but they also had an amazing stretch of form and the help of other teams falling short. It’s hard to look at this team and say “these guys are gonna keep winning all the time.”
We also know about the whole “post-Major blues” thing, and while it may be partially superstition, the reality is that Outsiders already have their time in the sun. Their achievement stands alone no matter what else happens, and a late December tournament commands far less effort than the Major, even if the prize pool is massive. Obviously, they won’t roll over. Outsiders will be bringing their best to Abu Dhabi; just don’t expect things to be easy.
Titans Line Group B
As expected of a tournament of champions, Group A containing both Major winners doesn’t mean that Group B is weak. If anything, Group B is probably the tougher group on paper. And with most of the teams having a much smaller taste of success in 2022, they’ll have a lot more to say before the end of the year.
Heroic Have Everything to Prove
The best team based on recent form in Group B is Heroic. The Danish team had a lackluster year for the most part. They did start off with a top 4 at IEM Katowice in February, but then went silent. After a slightly disappointing end to their PGL Major Antwerp run, Heroic didn’t crack a single top eight throughout summer.
Then came the IEM Rio Major. With many tournament favorites falling short and Heroic in their best form since Katowice, this looked like their best chance to earn the biggest trophy in Counter-Strike. Unfortunately for them, Outsiders were the better team on the day of Grand Finals. Being the Major runners-up isn’t a bad result, but they do say that no one remembers second place.
Heroic’s revenge arc started at the BLAST Fall Finals just two weeks after that devastating Major loss. Despite losing to FaZe Clan in the Group Stage, Heroic ran the bracket to make the Grand Finals and win the rematch. This was their first and only trophy of 2022, and it qualified them for the BLAST World Final. Heroic and Casper “CadiaN” Moller are no doubt hungrier than ever. If any team is going to treat this event like they would a Major or IEM Championship, it’s Heroic.
NAVI and Vitality go for Hardware
The other two teams present at Abu Dhabi who have had a small taste of success this year are Natus Vincere and Team Vitality. They each had their own storylines throughout 2022. NAVI had the whole Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov situation that required them to find a new player and change their in-game leader in the middle of the year. Vitality came into 2022 on a rebuild, fusing two halves of championship rosters to try and create a super team.
NAVI’s tournament win came right after they replace Boombl4 with Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev and moved Denis “electroNic” Sharipov to IGL. The immediate honeymoon phase helped them take the BLAST Spring Finals. And with a very narrow second place at IEM Cologne a month later, this NAVI team was making a case for themselves as the best team in the world. Instead, they couldn’t keep up the momentum and haven’t made a top four since.
Vitality had a rough start to the year. When they earned second place at the BLAST Spring Finals and first at ESL Pro League S16 three months later, it looked like things were finally coming together for the French-Danish roster. It turned out that was not the case, as Vitality soon failed to qualify for BLAST Fall and had a disappointing 12th-14th at the Rio Major.
In these BLAST World Final groups, three of the four teams will make it to playoffs, while first seed gets a direct pass to semifinals. Both NAVI and Vitality would love to get another Grand Finals appearance under their belts, and only needing to win one elimination best-of-three to do it would be ideal. As such, expect Group B to be a bloodbath.
The BLAST World Final 2022 Group Stage runs from December 14th to the 15th. Days will start at 1:00 AM ET.