Eight of the world’s best teams will be in attendance as the Blast Pro Series comes to Miami, Florida
Eight of the world’s best teams will be in attendance as the Blast Pro Series comes to Miami, Florida. Read on as we break down all you need to know about the tournament.
The Blast Pro Series has been running since 2017 and the event has been put together by organizer RFRSH, most known for owning the Danish team Astralis. This will be the second Blast tournament of the year and it will take place in Miami, Florida. The eight teams in attendance have already been announced and they are the following: Astralis, Team Liquid, MIBR, NaVi, FaZe and Cloud 9.
The format will be the same as previous Blast Pro Series events. The group stage will be round-robin and all of the matches will be best-of-one. The two teams with the best record will move to the grand final, which will be best-of-three. The third-place team will get to choose an opponent from the teams finishing below them to compete against in a show match called “The Standoff” for an additional $20,000. This has traditionally been an aim map competition where the players take turns to play with the most commonly used weapons; the AK-47, M4, Deagle, CZ-75 and AWP.
Blast Pro Series Miami will start April 12 and will conclude April 13.
Astralis hoisted the trophy at Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo.
The clear favorite going into Blast Pro Series Miami will be Astralis. The Danes are coming off yet another win at Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo and they have now won three out of the five Blast Pro Series events since the competition’s inception. Due to the format, the other teams were able to avoid playing Astralis on their two best maps; Inferno and Nuke. Astralis were taken to deep waters on Dust 2, but teams were unable to break them as Astralis were able to close it out in the final rounds to advance to the final undefeated. Team Liquid were able to steal a win on Dust 2 in the final, however, they were utterly dominated on Inferno and Overpass which led to Astralis claiming yet another trophy.
The North American team Team Liquid continues to play second fiddle to Astralis, as this is was their sixth defeat in a total of seven finals against the aforementioned Danes— a truly staggering statistic. This was Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip’s third tournament with Team Liquid, and he looked solid throughout the tournament with several impactful rounds. However, it was Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski who stole the headlines as he recorded his career-best performance in a 16–3 smashing of NiP on Overpass. The Team Liquid veteran finished the map on 32 frags in just 19 rounds with an average damage per round of 173.4. EliGE was always one of the team’s top performers, but he has looked increasingly scary since the AUG meta came in to play in October of last year. Meanwhile, it appears as if Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken has taken somewhat of a hit in terms of statistical output. But that is only natural with the introduction of Stewie2k. Twistzz has taken upon the role of B site anchor on many of the maps, a role that Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo was previously assigned with. Team Liquid will have yet another crack at winning a Blast event as they are amongst the participants at Blast Pro Series Miami. They have been the clear number two team for quite some time now, but they have yet to figure out the formula to beating — or even truly challenging, Astralis. Their only win against the Danes came at iBuyPower Masters, a tournament win that has been questioned as it was riddled with delays and other issues. However, the talent that they have at their disposal is undeniable and they will certainly be one of the candidates to prevent Astralis from hosting yet another trophy in Miami.
Blast Pro Series usually features an impressive lineup of teams and this tournament is no exception as Natus Vincere, MIBR and FaZe will also take the flight over to the City of Miami.
The expectations were high for MIBR after they reunited with Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo and João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos, two players who used to be on the roster during their great run in 2017. The Brazilians looked solid initially as they made it to the semi-finals of IEM Katowice, however, they have now followed that up with multiple poor performances. They went out to Windigo in the quarter-finals of WESG in China, a tournament that they were heavy favorites to win. At Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo they failed to win a single map in front of their home fans. They weren’t even able to win a single matchup in the albeit irrelevant standoff show-match against ENCE and Sami ‘xseveN’ Laasanen annihilating Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David 7–2 in the AK-47 duel really capped off what was a terrible event for MIBR and coldzera in particular. In fact, this was the worst performance in coldzera’s career and the first time that he has had a negative K/D ratio since ELEAGUE Premier in 2017. The Brazilians will definitely need coldzera to bounce back if they are to have any chance of challenging teams like Astralis, Team Liquid and Natus Vincere for the title in Miami.
*Update: MIBR’s poor form continued at StarSeries, as they failed to make the playoffs after losing to Renegades, NRG and North. *
FaZe looked shaky yet again at Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo as they went 1–5 in the round robin stage with their only win coming against MIBR. The only shining light in what was a disappointing showing was that they were at least able to string thirteen rounds together on Dust 2 against Astralis. Players like Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács and Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard have looked like a shadow of their former selves as of late, and we have sadly grown accustomed to seeing poor performances from CS:GO royalty Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer. However, FaZe still bolsters one of the most star-studded rosters in all of CS:GO and it is always possible that they could turn things around.
Update: FaZe had yet another poor showing at StarSeries, as they failed to make the playoffs after losing to ENCE, North and Renegades.
Natus Vincere will be making their third appearance at Blast Pro Series. They have a great record in this competition with a win at Blast Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 and a second-place finish to Astralis at Blast Pro Series Lisbon 2018. Natus Vincere often lives and dies on the performance of their star duo Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov. It has become a cliché at this point but most of their wins are going to come off the back of those players. Interestingly, Natus Vincere looked like more of a team at IEM Katowice as Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev and Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev had solid performances. Even in-game leader Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko was having impactful rounds for his team which is a promising sign.
Update: As predicted in the previous article, Natus Vincere were able to win StarSeries. They defeated ENCE and Renegades on the way to the final where they comfortably beat fnatic to win their first tournament of the year.
The underdog for this event will most definitely be Cloud 9. The North American side haven’t been able to catch a break as they have really struggled to maintain a consistent lineup throughout the last year due to unforeseen circumstances. It is honestly a surprise that they haven’t been worse at this competition in the past due to all of the things that they have had to go through. At Blast Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 they were able to snatch a win against FaZe with their coach Valens and at Blast Pro Series Lisbon 2018 they were one round away from making the final with a stand-in. All of this transpired due to the medical situation of in-game leader Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim who was unable to travel with the team at the time. For this tournament, they will be without Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist who has chosen to take a break from the game due to the sudden passing of his mother. This will be a huge loss for the team as flusha was one of the key players during his tenure for Cloud 9. It was recently announced that Cloud 9 will be picking up former Rogue player Daniel ‘vice’ Kim on trial as a replacement for Jordan ‘Zellsis’ Montemurro and their fifth will be the Danish player René ‘cajunb’ Borg, formerly of OpTic.
Astralis will be the betting favorite and deservedly so. It is really hard to argue against Astralis being the best team of all time with the run that they are on. However, if there is any tournament where Astralis could possibly drop the ball it is at Blast Pro Series, simply due to the format. Round-robin is the format of choice and as such, it is possible for a team to miss out on the final due to round-difference as we have seen on multiple occasions throughout the history of the event. Additionally, all of the matches in the round-robin stage are best-of-one so it is possible for teams to avoid Astralis’ best maps; Inferno and Nuke. We saw teams get double-digits against Astralis on Dust 2 multiple times at Blast Pro Series Saõ Paulo. So even if winning is difficult, it is most definitely doable. If teams could either steal a win or snatch a draw against Astralis in the round-robin stage as we saw at Blast Pro Series Copenhagen 2018, then it is possible that they could miss out on the final due to round-difference. This would honestly be the best chance for a team to go victorious at this event because of how difficult it is to beat Astralis in a best-of-three. Outside of Astralis, I like Team Liquid and Natus Vincere the most at this event. Natus Vincere can be had at very long odds, and if you fancy them I would recommend betting them before StarSeries i-League Season 7 concludes, as their odds might shorten if they have success there which is entirely possible due to their excellent history at the event.