The three best players in the world take on the most swole man in CS. Who will come out on top?
FaZe came out all guns blazing during the first week of the BLAST Premier Spring Series, taking down Team Liquid to win Group A. In this article we will be previewing the second match-week, where teams like Astralis and NaVi are set to duke it in Group B.
FaZe surprised many with their performance this weekend, dominating Team Liquid in the finals to win Group A. However, Team Liquid will be able to take the plane back to the US with good spirits, since they will join FaZe at the Spring Finals regardless as a result of getting second place.
For those who are unaware of what BLAST Premier Spring Series is all about, here is a quick rundown of the tournament, the format, and the schedule:
The BLAST Premier Spring Series is hosted by tournament organizer RFRSH Entertainment. The event kicks off with the regular season at the 3 Mills Studio in London, England, where twelve teams will duke it out hoping to qualify for the upcoming Spring Finals in Moscow later this year.
With FaZe and Liquid having already qualified, four more spots will be up for grabs in the two remaining groups. This weekend, Astralis and NaVi will be taking on BLAST newcomers Vitality and Complexity in Group B.
The format has been vastly improved compared to many of the BLAST events in the past. There are three groups of four, with each group featuring a double-elimination (GSL) style bracket. There will be BO3s from start to finish, so you will need a strong map pool to come out on top. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Spring Finals, a separate tournament that will take place in Moscow in June. The bottom two teams will get a second chance of sorts, as they will advance to a tournament called the Spring Showdown, where two additional spots will be up for grabs.
The Schedule for the BLAST Premier Spring Series is as follows:
Group A (Match Week 1) January 31 - February 2 (Finished)
Group B (Match Week 2) February 7 - February 9
Group C (Match Week 3) February 14 - February 16
Astralis are the overwhelming favorites to win Group A and for good reason. The Danes had a fantastic 2019, winning both the Katowice and Berlin major in addition to a number of other tournaments. With the exception of a rocky start to the year, they looked much like the dominant force that they were during 2018. The map that sums up Astralis perfectly is Inferno, where gla1ve and Xyp9x have the B site completely locked down with utility usage. If you choose to hit the other site, one of the most consistent trios in the world awaits in the form of device, Magisk, and dupreeh. What makes Astralis so strong is that their strat book is so deep, their roles so defined, and the mental game that used to be their biggest weakness has turned into one of their biggest strengths.
As of the writing of this article, NaVi are battling it out at the ICE Challenge in London. NaVi’s latest addition to the team, Perfecto, has now made his debut for the team and he looks quite good so far. In the preview for that event, I speculated that NaVi would put Perfecto into more of a defensive role on the team, and it appears like that is indeed the case based on the matches that they have played so far. The biggest standout on the team at the ICE Challenge has been electronic, who is putting up big numbers for the team. They still look rather disorganized at times in typical NaVi fashion, but if electronic continues to play like this, they will be a force to be reckoned with in Group B.
Vitality’s 2019 was nothing to be scuffed at - they won a very competitive ECS Season 7 Finals and closed out the year with another big win at EPICENTER. The main man of this team is, of course, ZywOo, who was a complete monster for Vitality all throughout 2019. The Frenchman had an incredible rookie year, leading his team to multiple top placings, earning him the number one spot on HLTV’s Top 20 ahead of s1mple and device. How this guy was not awarded Rookie of the Year at the Esports Awards, I will ever know, because what ZywOo did this year is something truly unique. The rest of the team deserves some praise as well; ALEX, in particular, should be given a lot of credit as the in-game leader. The main criticism of Vitality has mainly been the fragging from the remainder of the roster, as no one really stands out as a second star on the team. The former G2 player, shox, was brought in at the end of last year hoping to fill that role, but he has not quite delivered on that front yet. However, I do think that he adds a lot in clutch scenarios and he can certainly improve in the fragging department.
The last team in the group is the newly formed Complexity roster. Jason Lake, CEO of Complexity, announced that he wanted to build a juggernaut after bombing out of the Berlin major. They booted everyone off the roster except their youngest player, oBo, who had shown signs of promise despite his tender age. Their first big signing was the Danish rifler blameF, who is perhaps most known for his swole physique - a literal juggernaut you could say. This was perhaps not the type of name people were expecting, but if you have read any of my previous articles, you will know that I am a big fan of this guy’s skillset. They later proceeded to pick up RUSH and k0nfig, two veterans who had become free agents after their respective teams had disbanded. Their final signing was the Bulgarian AWPer poizon, one of Europe’s biggest prospects. This will be their first LAN together, having only played some online qualifiers thus far. This team definitely has some potential, but unfortunately, they find themselves in the group of death. It would be a huge upset if they were to get second place, let alone win the group.
In the Week 1 preview, I highlighted the possibility for an upset due to the fact that the Top 2 teams qualify for the Spring Finals regardless of who wins the group. As things turned out, FaZe blitzed through Liquid twice to win Group A. We could potentially see something like that happen again, although I think that it is not as likely to happen as in the two other groups.
However, you would get a nice payout on NaVi (6.40) or Vitality (6.20) to win the group if you wish to take a gamble. We saw Vitality take down Astralis once in a BO3 during 2019 in the semi-final at ESL One Cologne, so we know that they are capable of doing it. As for NaVi, they played Astralis three times in BO1s during 2019, with two losses and one tie. Despite this, I like them a bit more as a potential upset pick at the longer number. They will be heading into BLAST Premier all warmed up, having attended ICE Challenge which is just a 15-minute drive away from the studios where BLAST Premier will be played.
I would also take a look at the odds offered on Complexity in their matchups. Astralis should be too much to handle, but they might be able to steal a map against Vitality or NaVi.