Every time Astralis shows up for a tournament there is almost a sense of inevitability.
BLAST Pro Series in Sao Paulo was yet another example of their dominance. Perhaps some thought their fortunes would change after losing Dust2 against Team Liquid in the finals, but aside from that slight bump in the road it was business as usual.
Team Liquid seemed confident throughout the event. Their fans might have gotten their hopes up after some convincing victories in the group stage, but on the last two maps in the final, they barely had a chance at all. Astralis came through with their usual great level of play, and the narrative of the Danes being the greatest Counter Strike team of all time continues. Many people are looking for a team that can finally dethrone Astralis, but the reality is that a team at that level may not even exist.
With nearly every other top contender in attendance, BLAST Pro Series could have been the type of tournament to cause issues for Astralis. Every group stage match being a BO1 and the veto process making the Danes unable to play Nuke and Inferno should make for a prime opportunity for an upset.
Despite Astralis having to play the traditional upset map Dust2 in four out of five of their games, they came through the group stage undefeated. A lot of the games were close, and every opponent got double digits, but their spot in the final never seemed to be in jeopardy.
The tournament in Sao Paulo also showed some massive flaws in the BLAST Pro Series format. With both ENCE and Team Liquid having lost to Astralis, but beating everyone else, we were set for a perfect matchup in the fifth round to determine the second finalist, a nd the game delivered in a big way, going all the way to thirty rounds. Unfortunately, we never got to see a winner, as the BLAST group stage doesn't feature overtimes. The game ended 15-15, allowing Team Liquid to advance due to a better round difference.
We can only speculate as to what would have happened if ENCE made the final, but they were unfortunate to say the least. Not only did Team Liquid get two huge victories on Dust2, a map that traditionally allows you to win with huge scorelines, but ENCE also had to start on the terrorist side of Nuke twice, making it very difficult for them to get a better round difference overall. On the bright side, the Finns showed some positive signs overall, as they are beginning to prove that they belong at the very top of the CS:GO rankings.
BLAST Pro Series Sao Paulo also had three other teams in attendance, but NiP, FaZe and MIBR would probably prefer to forget this event as quickly as possible.
MIBR did not win a single game in front of their home crowd, and despite some people believing they could be the ones to dethrone Astralis, they didn’t look like they belonged at all. FaZe continued their downward spiral, while NiP slotted in right around the placing you would expect.
Now let us look at the six grades from BLAST Pro Series.
Astralis - It’s getting difficult to find superlatives to describe the Danes. For now, the greatest CS:GO team of all time will have to suffice. If they can continue their dominance, it’s hard to imagine another team surpassing them for that title in the future. Luckily for the rest of the teams, Astralis will not be in attendance at StarSeries Season 7 or IEM Sydney, allowing us to establish who is the best among the rest.
Team Liquid - Their performance in Sao Paulo showed a lot of positive signs. From a statistical perspective, Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski delivered his greatest individual performance of all time in the game against NiP, reaching 32-9 scoreline in just 19 rounds, and if you talk about pure skill, Team Liquid are looking stronger than ever. IEM Sydney at the end of April will be their chance to finally win an event on a big stage, as Astralis have decided to skip the event.
ENCE - Finishing 3-1-1 in the group stage is about as good as you could have expected from ENCE at this event. The Finns were just one round away from a finals rematch against Astralis, before getting their hopes crushed by Team Liquid. ENCE will be in attendance at the upcoming StarSeries Season 7, and with both Astralis and Team Liquid not present at the event, it’s a great opportunity for ENCE to get their biggest victory to date.
NiP - With William “Draken” Sundin standing in, it was hard to know what to expect from NiP. As it turned out, they played about as well as you would expect them to play with their normal lineup. They defeated FaZe and MIBR, the two teams in trouble, and were never really a threat to beat the teams above them. Overall, NiP are in a strange position at the moment. They are good enough to consistently make top eight of big tournaments, but it’s going to be very difficult for them to get big victories with their current roster.
FaZe - FaZe look like a team at the brink of implosion. Their experiment of making Nikola “NiKo” Kovac the in-game leader has been unsuccessful to say the least. Ironically, NiKo himself still puts in some of his classic performances, while the rest of the team are very far away from their peak. One positive sign from FaZe was their willingness to play Nuke against MIBR, a map that both teams have traditionally stayed away from.
MIBR - This tournament was a complete disaster for the Brazilians. Despite massive support from the attending fans, MIBR could not get a single win. Coupled with the shocking exit against Windigo at WESG, the team is showing some worrying signs, and are looking far away from past glory. MIBR will have to show better form at their next couple of tournaments, or a roster change could be inevitable.