Will Astralis Be Back to Their Best at BLAST Pro Series: Madrid?
Six of the world’s best CS:GO teams are set to descend on Madrid Arena, including Astralis, ENCE, and Natus Vincere. Normally fans would be counting the days for such an event. Not so for the upcoming BLAST Pro Series: Madrid 2019.
Drama has already begun swirling around the RFRSH-hosted tournament, and possibly for good reason. These six major teams are headed towards a potential $125,000 USD payout if they defeat their five rivals, but it all feels a bit deadened. The attendance of teams at the BLAST Pro Series is definitely a division topic in the world of Counter-Strike. Some believe the world’s best teams are missing important events to play in the ongoing BLAST series because of payment agreements. Others think it’s just the organizations’ leaders choosing some events over others.
Despite all of this, it all comes down to one thing: six fantastic Counter-Strike teams are arriving in Madrid this weekend with $250,000 on the line, and boy, are there some interesting matchups ahead of us.
The format of the tournament is interesting too. Unlike most events, where upper and lower brackets see the major rosters avoid each other until the pointy-end of playoffs, the BLAST Pro Series throws every team in attendance against each other right off the bat.
Astralis and Na’Vi, alongside Cloud9, Ninjas in Pyjamas, ENCE and one of either Movistar Gaming or Giants Gaming will all play each other in a single round-robin format. The top two sides will then play off in a best-of-three grand final.
The action gets underway ahead of the main event with the BLAST Pro Series: Iberian Play-In Qualifiers. This will see Movistar and Giants battle it out in a best-of-three series to determine which of them takes the sixth slot at the Madrid Arena.
Then it’s right into the race for the title. With international powerhouses like Team Liquid and FaZe Clan skipping over the Madrid event after their deep runs in Sydney just a week ago, the two heavyweights in the Iberian tournament are Astralis and Na’Vi.
For Na’Vi, their tournament chances all come down to whether Olekansadr “s1mple” Kostyiliev—currently regarded as the best CS:GO player in the world—is on-song in Madrid. Without s1mple’s domination, Na’Vi have never reliably matched up to Astralis.
Astralis is currently ranked first in the world according to the HLTV.org points ranking on 992. Na’Vi sit not far behind in third, but with just 549 points. To back their domination up, the Danish world leaders have also won three of their last five BLAST Pro Series events.
There’s hope for their Ukrainian rivals, however. Astralis crumbled in Miami, finishing fourth. However, the single map the two teams faced each other on, Inferno, saw Astralis bag a 16-7 win. It was one of just two victories the Danish side scored at the event.
Outside of the two major titans battling it out in Madrid, ENCE, C9, and NiP lie in wait. NiP comes into the tournament off the back of a quarterfinal run in Sydney, while ENCE and C9 both last played in São Paulo in March, and Miami in April respectively.
The bottom line for the tournament is clear-cut, however—Na’Vi may have the best player in the world at the moment, but Astralis is likely the best Counter-Strike team to have ever played the game. It takes a brave pundit to tip against the Danish juggernauts, especially when they’ve been focusing all their power on BLAST Pro Series in recent months.
Expect a few interesting clashes between the middle-tier teams like C9 and ENCE in Madrid, which will make the tournament a great one to watch for sure, but also keep in the back of your mind that Astralis has one hand already on the trophy.
BLAST Pro Series: Madrid 2019 begins on Friday, May 10 with the Play-In match between Movistar Riders and Giants at 3:15 pm (UTC+1). The main event begins later that day from 7:45 pm. C9 plays the qualifier team, ENCE faces Na’Vi and Astralis matches up with NiP.
BLAST Pro Series Madrid Predictions
Final standings: Astralis (4-1), Na’Vi (4-1), ENCE (3-2), Cloud9 (2-3), Ninjas in Pyjamas (2-3), Movistar Riders (1-4);
Grand Final result: Astralis 2-1 Na’Vi.