Stories to Watch at BLAST Spring Finals
The BLAST Spring Finals are about to get underway. Eight teams from the European, NA, and CIS regions will be battling it out for the $425,000 prize pool, a ton of BLAST Premier points, and a spot at the BLAST World Finals later this year. The Counter-Strike world has been shaken up quite a bit in the past couple of months, making for a very unpredictable tournament.
CIS’s Tournament to Lose
Gambit and Na’Vi come into BLAST Spring Finals as the two favorites to win the title. They are ranked number one and two in the world with only two other teams from the top 10 present. These expectations are further bolstered by the fact that Gambit and Na’Vi have won the previous two Intel Grand Slam events.
Gambit and Na’Vi will be starting on opposite sides of this double elimination bracket. It is a very real possibility that they run through their halves, meet in the Upper Bracket finals, then rematch in the Grand Finals. It will take a very strong upset performance out of one of the underdog teams to stop the CIS dominance.
Ninjas Rising Up
The BLAST Spring Finals will be the third tournament for the Ninjas in Pyjamas since they acquired legendary AWPer Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedzt. While NiP came up just short at Flashpoint 3 and had a disappointing end to their IEM Summer run, they have clearly shown great improvement as a team. The recent addition of youngster Linus “LNZ” Holtang has also brought an increase in firepower to the squad.
What NiP needs now is to be able to play at a consistently high level. Two months might not be long enough to get their entire game in order, but NiP’s breakout performance could come at any time. BLAST Spring Finals could be the perfect event for it to happen. There is a very clear divide between teams who are competitors for the title and teams who are massive underdogs. NiP will certainly be looking to solidify themselves in the competitor tier.
G2 Hitting their Stride
When G2 signed star player Nikola “NiKo” Kovac in late October of last year, expectations for the roster shot up immediately. Unfortunately for G2, things didn’t go smoothly early on. Clashes in playstyle due to Kenny “kennyS” Schrub needing every AWP forced NiKo off of his hybrid preference. After their initial disappointing results, G2 committed to NiKo and moved kennyS to the bench. Audric “JaCkz” Jug returned to the main roster in March and things have been looking up for G2 ever since.
Every event G2 has attended since ESL Pro League in early April has ended with a top four finish. As a result, G2 have climbed all the way back to rank four worldwide, their highest ranking in 10 months. Now, G2 are hungrier than ever for their first title in a very long time. However, they’ll have to overcome their biggest obstacles to make it happen.
The last three events, G2 have been eliminated by Gambit twice and Ninjas in Pyjamas once. Coincidentally, both teams are here at BLAST Spring Finals across the bracket. G2 will need to pull out something new if they want to jump over the final hurdle in their revival story.
FaZe’s Fall Continues
The FaZe Clan CS:GO team is one of the most tragic stories in the game. The once fearsome powerhouse once competing for Major titles has been on a downward spiral with no signs of stopping. FaZe’s last tournament win came a year and a half ago. Since then, the squad has undergone many changes with the intent of bringing that success back.
At the start of the year, FaZe Clan acquired star NA rifler Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken in an attempt to bolster the team’s firepower. A month later, their long-time in-game leader Olaf “olafmeister” Gustafsson chose to step down for a break. FaZe used this opportunity to bring back their previous IGL who they had great success with, Finn “karrigan” Andersen.
These changes that were supposed to be moving the squad in a positive direction turned into anything but. FaZe Clan just recently fell out of the top 30 teams for the first time in the org’s history. Marcelo “coldzera” David also announced that he will be moving to the bench to analyze his options for the future. Unless FaZe Clan is able to muster up some kind of miracle performance, we could be watching the team’s final days together.
The BLAST Spring Finals begin on June 15th with the Grand Finals taking place on June 20th.