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The BLAST Fall Finals kick off on November 23. The eight competing teams have been among the world’s top performers leading into the tournament, so it promises to be highly competitive. The top six from the BLAST Fall Groups in August were seeded through to the Fall Finals, and two more have been invited from the Fall Showdowns.
Given the year Na Vi has had, it’s hard to look past them as favorites no matter the competition. They’ve made it to the playoffs of every single tournament they’ve played in 2022, and though it hasn’t translated into titles - the only event they managed to win this year was the BLAST Spring Finals - they’ve maintained a level of consistency that has been impossible to match. With the year almost at an end, this is their chance to make it a double at the BLAST despite being eluded by Majors.
Heroic have been on an upward trajectory these past few months and are now ranked world number two after they made the finals of a CS: GO Major for the first time in their history.
They’re a solid side, most of their roster members having spent well over a year with the org. Heroic surpassed expectations with their runners-up finish at the Rio Majors, the closest they’ve come to winning any premier S-tier tournament in their history. An actual title is just one small step away, and Heroic finally look like they’re ready to take it.
Na Vi are heading into the BLAST Finals after a disappointing - by their standards - showing at the IEM Rio Major. They crashed out in the quarterfinals, dealt a 1-2 defeat by Furia. After that, their HLTV ranking slipped down to number four, the lowest it has been all year.
The two Valve-sponsored Majors for the year are out of the way, and Na Vi were a finalist in one and a quarter-finalist in the other, unable to recreate the magic of Stockholm 2021. Over the last two months, they’ve played two major tournaments, the ESL Pro League and IEM Rio, and couldn’t finish any higher than 5th-8th, so they’re due for a win.
Let’s not forget this is the same team - apart from stand-in sdy - that spent 37 continuous weeks at the top of the rankings between 2021 and 2022, so all they need to do is get their heads back in the zone.
Heroic’s 7th-9th seed at the Fall Groups meant that the European Showdown was the only chance for them to attend the Fall Finals, and they seized that chance with both hands. That destructive campaign saw them destroy each of their opponents in turn and go unbeaten across six maps and three series.
Heroic have put itself on the map as serious contender and have moved from strength to strength, consistently improving their results over the year. During the Rio Majors they lost to only two opponents, Cloud9 during the Legends Stage and Outsiders in the Grand Final.
IGL Casper 'cadiaN' Møller has been leading the charge for Heroic, holding a 1.17 HLTV rating across the last three months. Their recent surge has made the tournament dynamics so much more exciting now that they’ve been earmarked as serious competitors.
If you think about how indestructible Faze were in the first half of the year, it feels funny to include them here as outside picks. They won the ESL Pro League Season 15 and Antwerp Majors back in April and May but cut to three months later, and they could only place 5th-8th at Season 16 of the Pro League before crashing out of the Rio Majors in 15th-16th place.
Faze’s 1-2 loss to Bad New Eagles in the Legends stage was a huge upset, and put faze at an all-time low following their sobering defeats to Cloud9 and Vitality. They’ve had some time to regroup, and this is the same Faze that won the golden trio - IEM Katowice, Cologne, and PGL Major - earlier this year, so writing them off because of recent struggles probably isn’t a great idea.
G2 have still not been able to cross a major title off their list, though they’ve continued to come tantalizingly close. They were outstanding at the ESL Pro League in October, finishing as 3rd-4th seed after they were knocked out of the semi-finalists by Team Vitality, who would later go on to win the tournament.
They looked formidable in that competition, but their schedule left them with only three days to get to the Road to Rio: European RMRs in Malta and their form took a drastic turn. a 2-4 record meant they could not place any higher than 12th-14th, ending their qualification hopes. But their performance at the Pro League showed that they are spirited, determined contenders as capable as any of winning the BLAST Fall finals outright.
Na Vi and Faze Clan continue to be the de-facto picks, as they have been for pretty much any tournament they’ve contested this year. These two teams have faced each other twice in Grand Finals this year, first at the PGL Majors in Antwerp and then at the IEM Cologne. Both times Faze emerged steely-eyed as winners, while Na Vi struggled to contend with being second best.
Of course, now the dynamics have changed somewhat. Both Faze and Na Vi were pretty much non-entities at the Rio Majors, while the underdogs took centrestage. It was Heroic who made a name for themselves after the IEM Major in Rio, and they evolved from being seen as capable but underperforming competitors to genuine favorites.
The situation was for all and intents and purposes the same at the ESL Pro League, where the two superteams Na Vi and Faze couldn’t do any better than a 5th-8th seed but G2 marched all the way up to the semifinals.
We’ve seen the Na Vi roster pull off incredible things since the start of last year. S1mple, ElectroNic and perfecto are the embodiment of consistency, and Na Vi really don’t have to look too deep to recover their dominance from not so long ago. As for Faze, their performances over the next few weeks will reveal whether or not their incredible streak from the first half of the year was just a flash in the pan.
Heroic and G2, on the other hand, have successfully discarded their dark horse and underdog titles. Over the last couple of months they have proved that they are capable of performing at the same level as the world’s best.
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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