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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s BLAST Premier: Fall Groups 2022 kicked off on August 19, and the next ten days will see the action unfold as the twelve teams battle it out for the coveted title. There is plenty to play for, especially as the World Finals approach and there is a seat at the prestigious tournament up for grabs.
Group B and Group C will have their first matches of the fall held over the weekend. Reigning champions Natus Vincere will play Complexity, and G2 Esports will take on Team Liquid on Saturday. Sunday sees star-studded Faze Clan face off against a new-look Evil Geniuses, while BIG will feature against Heroic. The latter replaces MIBR, whose parent company Immortals sold their partnership in the league for an undisclosed sum.
The Blast fall season opener sees spring runners-up Natus Vincere taking on perennial underperformers Complexity. All things considered, the result of this game is quite easy to call.
2022 has been a memorable year for NAVI. They brought home the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals title in May, sandwiched between a successful PGL Major Antwerp and Intel Extreme Masters XVII in Cologne, where they clinched the runners-up spot twice. Since May alone they have their prize money to a staggering $530,000 USD. The only nagging worry, the perennial thorn in their flesh, is that the indomitable FazeClan has always managed to stay one step ahead. Faze trumped NAVI 2-0 at the PGL Majors, then surged past them 3-2 in the IEM as well on their path to achieving the historical golden trio.
Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov, the mastermind behind the PGL Major Stockholm victory in 2021 was removed from NAVI’s roster in late May, citing ‘reputational risks’. The organisation stated they wanted no affiliation with Russia in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, and initially he, along with electronic and Perfecto, agreed to relocate.
It remains unclear whether Boombl4, changed his mind, but the organisation has been unequivocal that the decision to part ways had nothing to do with his ability. electronic and Perfecto, however remain part of the squad. So far Boombl4’s absence doesn’t seem to have impacted the side much, considering their success at the IEM.
Few other teams have turned in as dismal performances at the Blast than Complexity last spring. They were knocked out in the initial best-of-one stage 12-16 by G2 Esports, then demoted to the lower bracket where they taken apart by BIG, 10-16. The play-in stage didn’t go any better either, losing 0-2 in a best-of-three to the now defunct MIBR.
cOMPLEXITY seeded dead last in both the PGL Majors in Antwerp and the IEM in Cologne not long after, and their frustrated fans have started to question whether they’re even ready for pro play. Their IGL Johnny ‘JT’ Theodosiou is widely regarded as among the worst things that could’ve happened to their roster.
Even in the easier North American region he has a rating of 0.85, and a sub-par average of 0.54 kills per round. Rebuilding their roster from scratch at the start of this year is yet to produce ideal results, or really any kind of results that aren’t the same old middle or bottom seed. However their organisation has decided to give their current roster, who’re all under the age of 23, a longer length of rope to build their experience.
It’s a long-term gamble, and it could work, but expecting a change in immediate results is beyond foolish. And as far as their upcoming back is concerned, there is no doubt NAVI is going to walk all over this young and inexperienced side.
The second game of the season sees G2 taking on a new-look TL.
Many believe that G2’s decision to sign Rasmus ‘HooXi’ Nielsen as their IGL, replacing Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, was the ultimate brain fade moment. The veteran rifler, who achieved some incredible success with the Copenhagen Flages, was benched for the last two months because of his drastic drop in performance across the last quarter, a 0.76 rating and 0.47 kills per round. Of course, if he’s able to help G2 move past their roller-coaster of a year, nothing like it.
Australian lurker Justin “jks” Savage joined the roster in place of Audric “JACKZ” Jug, who was let go to explore other options in GSO. “jks” is young, and his stint this year with FazeClan, whom he helped to win the IEM Katowice over G2, has shown that he’s capable of fulfilling other roles in addition to his own. For a while there was also some talk about whether G2 would sign the controversial Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov after he parted ways with NAVI, but the talks reportedly fell through.
After G2’s loss to Faze in Katowice in February, they’ve blown hot and cold. Their performance at the ESL Pro League was dismal, finishing 17th-20th. They ended the PLG Majors and the IEM in Dallas with middling 5th place finishes, and 3rd-4th in the Blast Spring finals.
Team Liquid has confirmed that Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis will be added to their roster, acting as a stand-in. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that the 22-year-old has already been of value to the team at the IEM in Cologne, Germany they qualified for the playoffs, attaining their best result in the 2022 season so far. Because of this, it’s only natural that the Latvian’s signing as a temporary player has drawn some criticism from fans.
Still, they’ll be mollified by the team’s performance in Germany where they managed to qualify for the quarterfinals. Team Liquid were knocked out by Movistar Riders, losing 1-2. They lost the initial Ancient map despite picking it themselves, and Riders won the initial ten rounds. The next map and equalizer was Inferno, and someone had to step up to keep TL from being windswept out of the QFs. That person was Josh “oSee” Ohm.
oSee has been one of the most promising players to emerge this year, and thanks to him Liquid went on to win five of the next seven rounds, and take Inferno 16-14. Unfortunately Vertigo proved too much for them, and they couldn’t advance to the semifinals. But with talent like oSee and the way they managed to punch above their weight bodes well for TL, and the future looks bright. To believe they’ll beat G2 right away is a tad optimistic, but you can expect TL to have a good tournament.
The powerful Faze take on EG in the third match of the Blast fall, and the chances of EG being able to put a stop to the best team of the year are practically non-existent.
To suggest that Faze have been unstoppable this year would be a gross understatement. The descriptors that spring to mind are more along the lines of superlative, once-in-a-generation, stupendous. In 2022, they became the first team in history to secure the golden trio – the ESL Pro League, the PGL Majors in Antwerp, and the Cologne edition of Intel Extreme Masters.
Håvard “rain” Nygaard may just have a claim as the best player in CSGO in the world right now, after turning in phenomenal performances at two of the year’s biggest events. It was at the PGL Antwerp that fans started to sit up and take notice of the young rifle. He put out 107.9 damage per round in the grand finals, with 52 kills across the series. It was rain who held his nerve to closed out the final map of the Antwerp Major with a 30-bomb.
His jaw-dropping performances in the crunch moments have brought in comparisons to NAVI’s S1mple, considered by many as the world’s best at the moment. Twistzz is another player who finds himself in the spotlight, since in the three months before the break he averaged a 1.14 rating, 0.71 kills per round and only 0.61 deaths
FazeClan have stopped Natus Vincere in their tracks thrice this year. Twice in the IEM, at the Katowice edition and FEbruary and most recently now in Germany, and at the PGL Majors. This hias built an intense rivalry between the two sides which will no doubt produce even more excellent contests during the Blast. Beating them in another Faze-NAZI final, the fourth of the year, would be the icing on the cake.
Evil Geniuses are heading into the fall with a renewed roster. After middling performances, they made ruthless changes to their lineup the most notable of which was letting go of Jake “Stewie2K” Yip. Stewie2K came under the scanner for behavioral issues, especially his treatment of maLek.EG have recently signed Kazakhstani in-game leader Sanjar “neaLaN” İshakov to replace Stewie2K, and also brought on former Copenhagen Flames head coach and esports director Daniel Vorborg to join him at the helm.
The leadership group has been completely overhauled, and should produce interesting results. Jadan ‘HexT’ Postma was promoted to a permanent role as well after talks with Vitality rifler Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier fell through.
All of these roster changes were prompted primarily by EG failing to qualify for the PGL Antwerp Major and finishing in last place in practically every tournament they attended. Stewie2K, RUSH, autimatic, Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte, and Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov were all shown the door after their terrible first half of the season. Their new roster will face the ultimate contest when they come up against the rampaging Faze.
The Blast’s fresh faces, Heroic, take on BIG in their debut match at the blast. It’s going to be an interesting contest, not least to observe how Heroic shape up in their initial season. Considering BIG haven’t been the strongest of teams at the Blast, Heroic hold the edge in this contest.
Heroic debuts in the Blast Premier, after IMBR’s parent company sold their spot in their league. Their performance at the Intel Extreme Masters XVII – Cologne was less than ideal, after they managed to finish at the 13th-16th spot. They did however win the Pinnacle Cup Championship in June, bringing home a $150,000 USD prize.
The PGL Majors, where they ended with in the 5th-8th place were decent as well. The ESL Pro League Season 15 in April didn’t go quite how they’d have liked, but they’ve shown a steady improvement since then. Jakob “Jabbi” Nygard joined the roster as a replacement for Ismail ‘refrezh’ Ali. Heroic’s new roster shapes up quite well, and the new faces will liven up the Blast.
BIG had a decent outing in the Intel Extreme Masters XVII in Dallas, where they finished 3rd-4th, but everything since then has gone steadily downhill. They ended at 7th-8th position in the spring Blast, then finished nearly last at IEM in Cologne. German Tizian ‘tiziaN’ Feldbusch has left the main roster and transitioned to another unknown role within BIG, his place in the squad taken by Nils ‘k1to’ Gruhne who returned to the team after a spell at BIG academy.
After Karim ‘Krimbo’ Moussa’s promotion to the main squad, k1to would spend the next five months with the Academy. He did play for BIG in Roobet Cup and IEM Cologne as Josef ‘faveN’ Baumann took some more time off due to health issues.
|Teams||Natus Vincere, Complexity, G2, Liquid, FaZe Clan, Heroic, EG, BIG|
|Location||Conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Time||Saturday, August 20 at 7 am EST onwards|
|How to watch||Official Twitch channel or HLTV|
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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