The first stop of the Blast Pro Series will be Saõ Paulo, Brazil. MIBR will be hoping to impress in front of their home crowd, but they will be facing tough competition from the likes of Astralis and Team Liquid.
The first stop of the Blast Pro Series will be Saõ Paulo, Brazil. MIBR will be hoping to impress in front of their home crowd, but they will be facing tough competition from the likes of Astralis and Team Liquid. Read on as we break down all you need to know about this year’s tournament.
Organizer RFRSH will be running their fifth tournament in the Blast Pro Series. This time, it’s Brazil’s turn to host the event which will take place in the land of the drizzle, Saõ Paulo. Eight teams have been invited to compete for their share of the $250,000 prize pool.
SK (now MIBR) won the first Blast Pro Series event back in 2017.
The first tournament in the Blast Pro Series was played in Copenhagen, Denmark back in 2017 when we saw the Brazilian side SK Gaming (now known as MIBR) take down home-team Astralis in a three map series. MIBR, which was the second team to be invited, are no strangers to this competition as they have competed at all of the Blast Pro Series tournaments so far. They will have huge support in Saõ Paulo and will be incredibly motivated to win their second Blast Pro Series title in front of their home crowd.
Astralis is another veteran of this competition, as they have participated in every Blast Pro Series event so far. This is due to the fact that they’re owned by the tournament organizer, RFRSH. They have won this tournament twice and they are the current holders of the competition after taking down Natus Vincere in the finals of Blast Pro Series Lisbon last year.
The event prior, it was Natus Vincere who found success as they defeated the Swedish side NiP in the finals of Blast Pro Series Copenhagen 2018. Despite only attending two Blast Pro Series events so far, they have finished no worse than second place. These three teams have been dominant in this competition since its inception back in 2017. All of them have at least a win and a second place finish on their record.
The Blast Pro Series uses a different format to most other tournaments, with a twist for the third-place decider. The eight teams will compete in a round-robin format with all of the matches being best-of-one with no overtimes. Once the points are all added up, the two top teams will advance to the finals which will be best-of-three. The team that finishes in third-place gets to choose an opponent to compete in a show-match called ‘The Standoff’ for an additional $20,000. For all of the previous Blast Pro Series events, this has been a 1on1 aim map competition where the players take turns to play with five different weapons; M4A4, AK-47, Deagle, CZ-75 and lastly AWP. The teams have to decide before the match starts which player uses which gun, and the teams have to use a different player for each matchup. Aim maps are a different game altogether and it’s always amusing to see the reaction from the fans when a player who is considered lesser skilled trumps a superstar in this competition. One example of this was at Blast Copenhagen 2018 when Cloud9’s in-game leader Golden, often times slated for his performance, took down dupreeh from Astralis in the AK-47 duel.
Astralis won the first major of the year.
The clear favorites going into Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo will be Astralis. The Danes have now won back-to-back major championships after having defeated surprise finalist ENCE 2–0 in the final of IEM Katowice. They only dropped a single map throughout their tournament run and they are looking increasingly dominant. Since adding Emil ‘Magisk’ Reif back in February of last year, they have been on an absolute tear — winning eleven titles in total. It’s hard to find a single weakness in this Astralis side and it will take one hell of an effort to prevent them from hoisting another trophy in Brazil. The most impressive thing about Astralis is that every single player on the team is consistently performing at a very high level. In particular, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth is someone who has elevated his game to another level in recent months, making Astralis all the more difficult to beat.
The Cinderella story of the major was ENCE. The Finns overcame all the odds to make an incredible run at the major, beating the likes of Team Liquid and Natus Vincere on their way to the final where they were ultimately taken down by the aforementioned Astralis. ENCE’s performance at the major earned them an invite to Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo, and they will hope to be on the winning side of the equation this time around.
MIBR will, of course, be one of the main talking points of this tournament, as they are set to take the stage in front of thousands of Brazilian fans on home turf. We’ve now gotten to see MIBR play with their new, yet old, lineup which includes Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo and João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos — two players who played on this team back in 2017. They looked promising at the major, and the likes of Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David and Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga seem to have benefitted greatly from the changes as they showed good performances all throughout the tournament for MIBR.
FaZe, Liquid and NiP all qualified for the final eight at the major, but that’s where the journey ended as they were knocked out immediately by NaVi, ENCE and Astralis. A disappointment for Team Liquid in particular, as many believed they would have a good chance of making it all the way to the final. We got to see a brand new Team Liquid that opted to play more of a conservative and slow-paced style under the leadership of their new coach, Eric ‘adreN’ Hoag. They had a smooth run in the legend’s stage, going 3–0 before going out to ENCE in the quarters. One of the team’s biggest stars, Keith ‘NAF’ Markovic, had an unusually poor performance by his standards in the match against ENCE and he will need to return to form if Liquid want to challenge the likes of Astralis for the title in Brazil.
FaZe had a very lackluster showing at the major as they struggled to close out games and dropped maps to lesser competition. This could be the last tournament for Dauren ‘AdreN’ Kystaubayev if FaZe are unable to have better results in Brazil, as the Kazakh is currently on trial.
The Swedish team NiP showed signs of hope throughout the major, as Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg was brilliant for the ninjas. Ultimately, it was not enough as they went out to eventual winners Astralis in the quarters, something which they are unlikely to be ashamed of. The fact that Fredrik ‘REZ’ Stern had some excellent games in the tournament is a promising sign, but the Swedes have yet to figure out how to get the best out of Dennis ‘dennis’ Edman who has struggled for NiP since Jonas ‘Lekr0’ Olofsson joined the team. After the major, it was announced that dennis will be taking a leave of absence due to fatigue. The former NiP and fnatic player William ‘draken’ Sundin has been announced as his replacement for the upcoming tournaments. He will be picking up the AWP for the team and will be traveling with NiP to Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo.
It is worth noting that a patch was just released which reverted the price of the AUG back to its original price of $3,300. However, it appears that this has not changed much, as teams continued to favor the AUG over the M4 at WESG §and in recent online matches. In addition, the M4A1-S has received an additional five bullets per magazine. This should benefit f0rest of NiP, who has been one of the few people who has frequently favored the M4A1-S over the M4A4. In addition, price reductions have been made to three of the shotguns; the Sawed-Off, the Nova and the MAG-7. Slight buffs were also made to the seldom-used Sawed-Off and Nova, as Valve continues to make changes hoping to incentivize people to try lesser used weapons. Changes were also made to the loss bonus system, so we should see far more buys moving forward as opposed to teams going for ecos as a result of being hard-reset.
It’s incredibly hard to go against Astralis in this one. They are the number one team for a reason and they have won two Blast Pro Series events in the past. However, the Blast Pro Series events are best-of-one all throughout the group-stage so upsets are not out of the question. We have already seen Astralis miss out on the finals once at Blast Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 when they were upset by NiP to miss out on the finals. Cloud9 also lost out on the finals by a single round at Blast Pro Series Lisbon, as a draw would have been enough to clinch a spot in the finals. So it goes to show how narrow the margins are in a tournament with this type of format.
MIBR had yet another disappointing showing at WESG, as they went out to eventual winners Windigo in the quarter-finals — a tournament that they were heavily favored to win. The Brazilians will be making the long flight over to Saõ Paulo from Chongqing, China. The rest of the teams will have the advantage in this regard as they will come well prepared and well rested. However, the support that the Brazilians will have from their home fans should not be underestimated. Team Liquid is a team that has really embraced the new meta with scoped rifles and they looked very promising at iBuyPower Masters going into the major. I personally think it would be foolish to disregard them completely due to one poor showing. The North American side will definitely have a really good chance of challenging for the title alongside MIBR who will be boosted by the crowd on home soil. Those two teams are definitely worth a shout if you want to take a chance at a bigger number.