BLAST Pro Series – Preview

This weekend the BLAST Pro Series takes place at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen. With what is arguably the six best teams in the world present at the event, we are guaranteed to see some high-quality Counter Strike. BLAST Pro Series is unlike any other tournament we have seen in CS:GO before. Not only will it have a unique stage setup with three matches going on at the same time, but more importantly, the pick/ban phase has already been done in advance, allowing the teams extra time to prepare for specific matchups. Let’s take a look at the teams and some of the critical matches going into the event.

SK Gaming

Billedresultat for sk gaming wins epicenter

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Cobblestone 7-3
Mirage 6-3
Train 6-3
Inferno 4-8

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Astralis 2-1
FaZe Clan 2-1
Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-2
North 1-2
G2 Esports 1-2

 

SK is going into the event, coming off of a top-four finish at IEM Oakland and a first-place finish at EPICENTER. With Ricardo “Boltz” Prass seemingly fitting right into the lineup, SK has been looking like a more balanced team than previously. When you also have a superstar like Marcelo “Coldzera” David in good form, SK is going to be difficult to stop for any team.

Key Matches

SK vs. Astralis – Inferno

SK and Astralis have been two of the best teams in 2017, with both teams taking the number one spot in the world at different times. Astralis is looking weak going into the event as they have to play with a stand-in in the form of Dennis “Dennis” Edman, instead of their superstar player Nicolai “Device” Reedtz. With the veto, SK and Astralis have ended up in the middle of their map pool, playing Inferno. Inferno has been a very shaky map for SK with a 4-8 record over the past 3 months. With Boltz in the lineup, the map has been looking slightly stronger for the Brazilians, but it’s still not at the top of their map pool. Usually, I would favor Astralis, but with the Danes having to play with a stand-in, SK might be able to take a win on an otherwise weak map.

SK vs FaZe – Mirage

When the number one and number two ranked team in the world face off, it’s always going to be a key matchup. Mirage is one of the most reliable maps for both sides, and while FaZe initially were undefeated on the map, SK stopped their winning streak at EPICENTER with a 16-8 victory. It’s going to be very difficult for SK to repeat that performance, as the CT side of FaZe looked unusually weak, allowing SK to take the win with relative ease. Håvard “Rain” Nygaard, who typically locks down the A site for FaZe, had a weak performance at EPICENTER, something that is unlikely to repeat itself. With a win here, SK does not only get a crucial victory for themselves, but they also take away a win from one of their main rivals to win the event.

 

FaZe Clan

Billedresultat for faze wins eleague premier

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Inferno 9-1
Mirage 7-2
Train 2-3

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Astralis 3-0
North 2-0
G2 Esports 1-0
SK Gaming 1-2
Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-4

 

In spite of a weak performance at EPICENTER, FaZe have generally looked very strong. With their wins at ELEAGUE Premier and ESL One New York, FaZe has to be considered one of the very best teams in the world. FaZe has firepower that no other side can match and with stars like Nikola “NiKo” Kovacs and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs at the forefront, they are a tough team to beat. One of the main issues for the team has been their map pool, making some of their vetoes at this tournament look very bizarre.

Key Matches

FaZe vs. NiP – Train

In a rematch of the IEM Oakland finals, FaZe will begin the tournament taking on NiP. Despite the result at Oakland, this should typically be a winnable game for FaZe, but with the map being Train that could very well change. Train has been a very troubling map for FaZe, with the only convincing win coming off of an excellent CT side again Cloud9. Even with a 13-2 CT side against Renegades, FaZe still had trouble closing out the game on their T side. If FaZe does not have a monster performance on their CT side, it’s going to be very difficult for them to defeat NiP on Train, which could make them start off with a 0-1 record.

FaZe vs. G2 – Mirage

Two of the most skilled teams in CS:GO will face off for the second time in history on LAN. While their last encounter ended in a 16-14 victory for FaZe, the map was different. Last time, one of G2’s weaker maps, Overpass, was the battleground, but this time the teams will be playing Mirage, a joint strength for both sides. Mirage used to be the permanent ban of G2, but ever since they started playing it, they have been undefeated on the map, taking wins against strong Mirage teams like North and SK. With FaZe having to play Train twice in the group stage against NiP and North, it’s going to be crucial for them to get a win in this difficult matchup.

 

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Billedresultat for nip wins iem oakland 2017

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Train 4-1
Overpass 4-2
Cobblestone 2-1

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
FaZe Clan 4-2
Astralis 1-0
SK Gaming 2-2
North 0-0
G2 Esports 0-2

 

NiP managed to shock the world at IEM Oakland, as they won the event with victories against some of the best teams in the world. After a monstrous performance from Fredrik “REZ” Sterner, along with a little bit of NiP magic, the Swedes are looking stronger than expected going into the event. Had you asked me before IEM Oakland, I wouldn’t have given NiP much of a chance in this tournament, but after their victory in Oakland, NiP are in with a shot of taking another win.

Key Matches

NiP vs. SK – Train

One of the key victories for NiP at IEM Oakland was their win against SK Gaming in the semifinals. In that series, their wins came on Overpass and Inferno. This time the map will be Train, a map that SK banned in the Oakland series. While SK did remove Train, it’s by no means a weak map for them, as they have managed to defeat the likes of Astralis, Cloud9, and Virtus.Pro on it. NiP are no slouches on Train either with victories against FaZe, Gambit, and Virtus.Pro. While NiP managed to pull off the upset last time the two teams faced, it’s still tough to favor them in this match. With SK being one of the teams with a good chance of taking a top two spot, this game will be crucial for NiP.

NiP vs Astralis – Overpass

This is another Oakland repeat, albeit under slightly different circumstances. NiP managed to defeat Astralis on the map at IEM Oakland, with Astralis having their coach Danny “Zonic” Sørensen standing in. This time Astralis will have a stronger stand-in, in the form of Dennis, making it a more difficult task to defeat the Danes. With three victories at IEM Oakland, Overpass is suddenly looking like one of NiP’s stronger maps, but under the leadership of Lukas “Gla1ve” Rossander, Astralis have always been difficult to beat on Overpass. Even with Zonic standing in, Astralis still managed to take 11 rounds on the map in Oakland. Although the communication might suffer a bit with Dennis standing in, there is no question that he is a more skilled player than Zonic, and NiP will have their work cut out for them against Astralis.

 

North

Billedresultat for north cs go valde

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Mirage 5-3
Train 3-1
Overpass 1-0

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
SK Gaming 2-1
Ninjas in Pyjamas 0-0
FaZe Clan 0-2
Astralis 0-2
G2 Esports 0-4

 

North was the only team who had last weekend off, allowing them extra time to prepare for BLAST Pro Series. With the addition of Valdemar “Valde” Vangså, North has been looking better, and with Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke they have one of the best players in the world to their name. North is still looking to get the first tournament win under their belt, and with the extra preparation time along with the event taking place on home soil, there can be no excuses this time.

Key Matches

North vs. FaZe – Train

North is a team that likes to play to their strengths, playing Cobblestone and Mirage every time they have the chance. But in this matchup against FaZe, Train is an ideal map for the Danes. As previously mentioned, FaZe are looking weak on Train, while North themselves have wins over the likes of SK Gaming and Cloud9. As long as North don’t allow FaZe to run away with the game on their CT side, they should be considered the favorites in this game. If North wants to advance from the group stages, this game is going to be crucial, as they aren’t favored in a lot of their other games.

North vs SK – Mirage

Mirage is usually one of the most reliable maps for North. But recently, they have had some crushing losses on the map, including a 1-16 loss against G2 and a 8-16 loss against Astralis. With that said, North still considers Mirage one of their home maps, and they hold victories over the likes of Fnatic and Team Liquid. However, in this match, they are going up against one of the best Mirage teams in the form of SK Gaming, and as a result, it’s tough to favor the Danes. One thing that is in their favor is the extra preparation time, which might have allowed them a chance to watch how SK plays the map. It’s unlikely that SK has had a lot of time to change things up with their travel schedule, which might allow North to capitalize.

 

G2 Esports

Billedresultat for g2 wins dreamhack masters malmo

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Mirage 5-0
Overpass 2-2
Cobblestone 2-3

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
North 4-0
Astralis 4-1
Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-0
SK Gaming 2-1
FaZe Clan 0-1

 

Ever since their victory at DreamHack Masters Malmö, G2 has been looking very up and down. While they certainly have the potential to compete with every team in the world, they often end up showing disappointing results, as they did at IEM Oakland with a group stage exit. Kenny “kennyS” Schrub is still one of the best players in the world, and with the likes of Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and Richard “Shox” Papillon to back him up, G2 has the firepower to match any team they face.

Key Matches

G2 vs. NiP – Cobblestone

While G2 doesn’t have the most reliable map pool, as they aren’t unbeatable on a lot of maps, they have at least shown that they have the ability to play most maps. One of their strengths is Cobblestone which is traditionally one of their most reliable maps. For NiP, Cobblestone is also one the maps we historically think of, with the team having invented several strategies on the map. However, over the last few months, neither side have looked very strong on Cobblestone. While NiP does have a victory over FaZe, Cobblestone is the weakest map for Karrigan & co. G2 themselves have lost to the likes of Cloud9 and Renegades, making this a very unpredictable matchup. If G2 wants to advance from the group stage, this is one of the few matchups where I would favor them, making it crucial for them to get a victory against NiP.

G2 vs. FaZe – Mirage

Just like with FaZe, this is also a crucial match for G2. G2 came very close to beat FaZe on Overpass at IEM Oakland, and this should be another close matchup. G2 are a better team on Mirage compared to Overpass, which should give them a better chance to take the win. FaZe on the other hand are perhaps slightly weaker on Mirage, as SK and Gambit have shown with their wins against them. Mirage is a map that could go either way, making it a key matchup for both teams.

 

Astralis

Billedresultat for astralis wins eleague major

Maps played at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
Overpass 5-2
Inferno 4-4

 

Opponents at BLAST Pro Series Record on LAN over the past 3 months
North 2-0
SK Gaming 1-2
Ninjas in Pyjamas 0-1
G2 Esports 1-4
FaZe Clan 0-3

 

While this could have been an excellent event for Astralis, the team has been crippled by their superstar player Device going down with an illness. Instead, the team will be bringing the former Fnatic player, Dennis, to the event. Had Astralis been at full strength, this could have been an event right up their alley. Being a team very focused on preparation, knowing the maps in advance might have given them the edge they needed to take home the trophy. Unfortunately, bringing in a Swedish player brings inherent communication issues, which means that we are going to see a different Astralis than we are used to seeing.

Key Matches

Astralis vs G2 – Overpass

Despite the stand-in, this is one of the few matchups where Astralis might still have a slight edge. Astralis have always been one of the strongest teams in the world on Overpass, while you can’t exactly say the same for G2. Peter “Dupreeh” Rasmussen is well known for his performances on Overpass which has always been one of his strongest maps. But with Device out of the lineup, it’s very likely that Dupreeh has to take up his spots which might hinder his usually great performances. His teammates Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth need to perform above their usual level to compete with the firepower of G2.

Astralis vs. North – Overpass

If Astralis and North faced off with their full lineups on Overpass, I would undoubtedly give Astralis the edge. Despite Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen having the ability to lead his teams on Overpass, this North lineup have only played the map once on LAN. Meanwhile, Astralis have a 13-7 record on Overpass across 2017, making it one of their most played maps. While you might still give Astralis the slight edge because of the map, it’s hard to favor them in any matchup because of the stand-in situation.

 

Predictions

With the lineup of BLAST Pro Series, we might end up seeing one of the best CS:GO tournaments of 2017. While the lack of BO3’s is disappointing, I won’t complain about seeing the best teams in the world compete against each other. Overall, I slightly favor SK and FaZe to make the finals, but teams like NiP and G2 have shown that they can win events if they hit their form. Astralis and North should have some extra motivation with this being the first massive event in Denmark. With such a stacked field, this is one of the most difficult tournaments of the year to predict. But if you held a gun to my head and forced me to make a prediction, I would predict these standings:

  • SK Gaming – 4-1
  • FaZe Clan – 3-2
  • Astralis – 2-3
  • G2 Esports – 2-3
  • North – 2-3
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas – 2-3

 

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Mygind

I have been following CSGO esports since the game first came out and also enjoy playing the game. If you enjoyed the article please hit the twitter button under my icon to keep up to date with new articles when they are posted.

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