With the BLAST Premier Spring Final seedings and first-round matchups revealed, all we have left to do is wait for the event to finally start. In the meantime however we can go over the teams playing, the storylines for these teams and potential favourites to win it all.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The Beasts from CIS
The world’s number one and number two return to the international stage, again as rivals. With Natus Vincere looking like they’ve solved Gambit Esports, going 5-0 in their last 5 maps played against the world’s best, but in exchange for the inability to claim themselves as the best in CIS. NAVI recently finished the first RMR tournament of the CIS region at 5th place, an unexpected result in contrast to Gambit finishing first despite losing to NAVI 2-0 in their group stage matchup.
In fact, the two teams that knocked NAVI out of the playoffs, Akuma and Team Spirit, were easily handled by Gambit in the Upper Bracket. This begs the question if NAVI can beat the best in the world, can they beat the rest of the world?
Gambit on the other hand continues the dominance, garnering 1st in the recently concluded IEM Summer 2021, continuing their path to an Intel Grand Slam trophy.
Europe remains competitive
Despite the rise of the CIS region this year, Europe remains competitive, though be it with different faces than last year. And despite the champion of EU’s first 2021 RMR tournament’s absence from the event, the region is still as fierce as ever, with who might be the 2nd and 3rd best teams in Europe right now taking part. G2 Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas are both looking to improve their game as much and as fast as possible before the upcoming Stockholm Major.
In March, G2 took a chance by benching kennyS to bring JaCkz back into the lineup, and it was a bet that paid off. The international team has seen the best results they’ve had in quite some time ever since the start of the online era. In their most recent tournament IEM Summer 2021, they finished 3rd-4th, making it all the way to the semifinals where they swiftly lost to eventual tournament champions, Gambit Esports. Will G2’s kennyS gambit pay off to finally overcome their struggles and earn them that potential first-place finish?
Ninjas in Pyjamas made headlines with the biggest news the CS:GO community has seen this year when they announced the signing of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, a star AWPer from the prestigious core of who many consider the greatest CS:GO team of all time, Astralis. With this new change, they managed to reach the grand finals of Flashpoint 3, a promising look for the team. But apart from this, they’ve already made a more recent change to their roster by swapping Erik “ztr” Gustafsson with Linus “LNZ” Holtäng, to allow ztr to develop more as a player, and to give a chance to rising youngster LNZ. With a top 3 player, star AWPer, in dev1ce, can NiP find what they’re looking for in LNZ? or will they just falter as a mismatched collection of talent?
Complexity has yet to show much of the promising form they had the year prior. They still have some moments when they seem like they’ve finally figured it out, and lately, Justin “jks” Savage has been able to produce results close to when he was still in 100 Thieves. Though it seems like he will have to really step up if Complexity wants a shot at even a top 3 finish in this tournament. They did qualify for this BLAST Premier Final, so they definitely have what it takes.
FaZe is unfortunately the most likely last placers of this tournament. Not only have they failed to produce Tier-1 results since the addition of Finn “karrigan” Andersen, but they have been unable to get even a slightly promising result in their last few games. This led them to make the decision of moving Marcelo “coldzera” David to the bench, with Olof “olofmeister” Gustafsson taking his place. If FaZe wants a chance at even competing in the major, this is the proving grounds for them to do so. Even just finding confidence will be important for this squad after their recent performances, especially with olof back in the lineup, albeit temporary or even until the major.
BIG Clan, have shown mixed results, so it’s hard to exactly count them out, but it’s also difficult to expect them to outshine the likes of G2, NAVI and Gambit after their recent showings. Their results may have been shaky but they are still the same team that became the world’s number 1 at some point. They are still the same team, they just have to find that form again, and this will be the perfect place to showcase what they have prepared, before the player break and the Stockholm Major.
NA’s new Geniuses
Evil Geniuses have a very different roster now, from when they qualified for BLAST Premier Spring Finals. Now, instead of Ethan “Ethan” Arnold and Tarik “tarik” Celik in the North American squad, they now have Owen “oBo” Schlatter and Michał “MICHU” Müller playing under their banner. So whatever brought EG into this tournament, is at this point mostly gone. They may still have the same In-Game Leader, but with these two new recruits, they definitely have a bit more work to have the pieces fit just right.
Coming from a last-place finish at cs_summit 8, they bounced back in their next and most recent event IEM Summer 2021, where they managed 2 upset victories in the Group Stage, beating both Virtus Pro and Heroic. This led them to the playoffs, where they quickly lost in 2 maps to eventual tournament champions Gambit. But for a moment it seemed that EG may have found just how to make the team click, and if they can recreate and improve on that during this tournament, then we may be in for some upsets or two.
I don’t expect too many upsets in the top three, apart from NAVI beating world number one Gambit, if they do make it to the finals. I have FaZe and BIG at last, which will come at a surprise to those who believe Complexity will come last, but I think Complexity has shown enough for me to predict them not going out first.