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Happy monday! Hope you saw some action this weekend. We’re talking about BLAST obviously. But good on you if that’s a double yes. Catch up on: Spring final location for BLAST, who've already qualified and ESL's temporary shock to the system.
Mr. BLAST was elected president and NA teams struggled with Sluggos. NA readers, will get this. We hope.
This weekend BLAST announced that their Spring Finals are taking place in Washington D.C. on June 7-11. Not only is this the first big CS event in the US capitol but it’s the second top tier event on American soil this year, following in the heels of IEM Dallas.
NA fans must be buzzing to watch their teams at home again – if any of them qualify.
Spring Groups haven’t been kind to ‘Murica. All three teams have been thrown to BLAST purgatory AKA the “Showdown” where the remaining 2 finalists will be found in April.
Complexity struggled in their opening games which included a 0-2 loss against Liquid. But by beating EG in the knockout stage, they at least cemented themselves as NA’s #2 before getting kicked out by NAVI in a close 3-map series.
EG surprised everyone by beating Heroic in their opener, then un-surprised us all after getting a beating from Vitality. Still, they took another map off Heroic in the lowerbracket match before meeting their end versus COL. Even if those map wins versus Heroic didn’t win them the series, it’s a massive change from last year when they couldn’t win a round.
As for Liquid, well... Not only did they lose to OG (twice), but BIG absolutely terrorised them in the knockout stage. Everyone’s favourite hot item right now, YEKINDAR, really had a series to forget. On Nuke he got a 0.55 rating, which landed him an event average of 0.96. For a rifle often compared with NiKo and Ax1le, he’s simply not consistent nor self-sufficient enough to lift the team on his own.
Who knows, maybe Liquid was overrated this whole time. Complexity number 1 #CantStopTheFlop
Source: Astralis / Ferja Borne
While NA was imploding, the Europeans left in BLAST Spring Groups were more steely, more professional.
Well, sort of.
And this is where it all got a bit... American.
If you thought Complexity vs EG was a fight to see who would lose first, then Astralis vs OG for the last Spring Final spot was even worse.
A ‘brawl’ is a generous way of describing the ‘match’. There were so many blunders you’d send HenryG back to NFTs and nearly outcompete my Chess.com 500 ELO slugfests all at once.
OG are the type of team to drag you into the mud with them. They 4-man pack into the A bombsite on Ancient 10 times a half. You either out-brawl them there or lose. It’s that simple.
But boy did Astralis get down and dirty. The deciding map had 9 clutches, a 2v5 from Buzz, and some vintage device entry frags to close it 19-17 in the Danes’ favour. It was classic OG: Awful CS, incredible entertainment.
OG’s magic seems to have run out. They have built an entire career out of winning in BLAST Groups. So what happens now they can’t even do that?
For Astralis, it’s a sign of promise. blameF and device, as anyone with eyes could have predicted, are one of the world’s best duos already. The old starship is starting to turn its cogs again.
BLAST Spring Final Attendees:
Both Showdowns begin on April 14.
The RMRs, with all their open qualifiers, are a highlight of the calendar.
We get Astralis losing to los kogutos, mix teams like smooya’s Benched Heroes making it all the way, and stream teams like GeT_RiGhT and f0rest’s d00m.
It’s a bit of fun — and everyone can get involved. Yes, even you.
But ESL nearly ruined all that.
Under certain interpretations of "Section 2.2.2 of their CSGO Roster Restrictions”, players that were registered as a substitute for EPL would not be allowed to compete in the RMR under a different banner.
So free agents and perennial substitutes (looking at you, NaToSaphiX) would have to pick between competing in EPL as a 6th man, and the RMR.
Yep. ESL had a rule that affected a BLAST-run and Valve-sponsored Major.
Even their SVP, Ulrich Schulze, did not seem to be aware of the rule, with a quickly-deleted tweet re-surfacing.
ESL, to be fair, did move fairly quickly to change the rule. Now, players’ ‘contracts’ (official or otherwise) always begin two days before the first tournament they play in.
That conveniently covers the RMRs, meaning those sixth men are now free to get knocked out of the RMR before they play 0 rounds for their EPL team. Hurrah!
ESL Pro League in 2022 was a snooze-fest, two seasons and eight weeks of boring jeopardy-less round-robin group stages and studio playoffs. It seemed to exist just to make Katowice and Cologne look better.
In 2023 that is supposed to change. There’s a shiny new 32-team format, with GSL-style double elimination brackets in four groups of eight teams to replace the old Round Robin system.
There are more spots for non-partner teams, matches should mean more, and dead rubbers are a thing of the past.
But it still takes up five weeks of the calendar, time where that could be a big EPICENTER, StarLadder, or MLG (let us dream, okay). It’s got 32 teams, of which you’ve heard of about 20 and care about 10.
There are some highlights in the announced groups, in fairness.
G2 are in the same group as Cloud9, FaZe are with Vitality, Liquid and Astralis with NAVI. There’s gonna be some good games, and upsets are bound to happen.
But they’re not exactly barnstormers. The best teams in the world need to have their backs against a wall before they kick it up a notch, not offered a sunbed and cocktail on a Malta beach while they run through a lower bracket of Rooster and SAW.
The purpose of a group stage is to get the best teams into the playoffs. It’s an appetiser, not the main course.
It’s just that most appetisers don’t take an entire month to eat. We need some meat and potatoes at some point.
Look, we get it. EPL exists for the Louvre teams to get some guaranteed screen time, and for ESL to farm their hours watched. It’s a revenue maker. It does exactly what those behind it want it to do, without competing with the big IEM events for prestige or attention.
We just wish there was another, less time-consuming, way to do it.
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