Breaking down all the action after the first two days of competitive CS of the year
CSGO is back, and it’s been quite the return for the most beloved esport of all time. In the first two days of BLAST Premier Spring Groups, we have seen a couple of upsets and some expected results, but what has been a constant throughout is high-quality, hard-hitting CS action. Before the start of the next couple of days of matches in Copenhagen, we thought we’d wrap up the start of the tournament.
A total of five series were played, but these matches belonged to three different groups — Group C still has one more Upper Bracket Semifinal to go. The scheduling of the event has been somewhat erratic, so we’re taking things two days at a time.
Group A Recap
Group A contains Heroic, Evil Geniuses, Team Vitality and Astralis, and while everyone expected it to be heavily contested, few expected the upset we saw therein. Heroic is the only in-form team in the group, with Vitality having been struggling for a while, Astralis a shadow of their former selves, and EG being the biggest underdogs of the entire tournament at #32 on the HLTV ratings. However, things wouldn’t be that simple.
Heroic vs Evil Geniuses
The first top-level competitive match of the year came in the form of Heroic vs EG Heroic were coming off of a recent BLAST Fall Final win, while EG have very little — if anything — to show from the past year. Most people expected this to be one of the shortest matches of the tournament.
Things didn’t begin well for EG as they were absolutely smashed on their map pick of Inferno. After a dominant 11-4 half on the CT side, Heroic finished things off quickly on a 16-7 scoreline. Casper “cadiaN” Møller was in imperious form while Rasmus "sjuush" Beck and Martin “stavn” Lund provided strong support for the Danish side as they ran circles around their American opponents.
Things wouldn’t go so smoothly for them in the next game, though. Despite solid performances from stavn and René "TeSeS" Madsen, it was EG who triumphed on Heroic’s pick of Ancient. After a strong 11-4 CT-side, they were initially locked out by Heroic’s defenses, but managed to eke out five rounds just within regulation play, with Sanjar "neaLaN" İshakov and Timothy "autimatic" Ta providing the best efforts.
Going into Overpass, Heroic were still the favorites. However, after a brilliant 9-6 half from EG on the T-side of the CT-sided map, things swung back in their favor. Heroic wouldn’t let them off that easily, though, and with the score at 13-11 in their favor, they were close to having the last laugh. At that moment, a late resurgence from EG saw them move on to close the map at 16-14. It was a hard-fought game, but despite a great effort from cadiaN, autimatic and his teammate Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte who stood taller.
Team Vitality vs Astralis
Old teammates facing off against each other is always a thrilling spectacle, especially when they have a lot of history together. Astralis vs Vitality, especially since the return of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, was always going to be a cracker, and although the series didn’t go all three games, it was a close match and a much better effort from Astralis than we have seen in recent times.
Astralis’ map pick of Overpass started pretty well for them as they got to a 6-5 lead on the T-side, but Vitality struck back to close the half 9-6. Despite a strong start to the second half that saw them leading 11-9 at one point, the four-time Major champions couldn’t hold the lead, and ended up losing 16-12. Benjamin “blameF” Bremer was in scintillating form with a 32-kill performance that received a 1.73 rating on HLTV, but it was the efforts of Lotan "Spinx" Giladi and Emil “Magisk” Reif that counted for more instead.
Vertigo began very strongly for the Danish organization, with the team leading 9-1 at one point and ending their defensive half at 10-5. However, despite leading 13-7 at one point, they couldn’t capitalize on their advantage, and were only able to push the match into Overtime by winning the last two rounds. Sadly for Astralis, Vitality were clinical in OT, and won 19-15. Once again, Spinx was on top of the charts, but this time Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut and Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen were close by while dev1ce top-fragged for his team.
Group B Recap
There's no doubt that FaZe Clan are the favorites to win this group, and their performance against Complexity strongly hinted at such a possibility, but after what OG pulled off at the World Final, nothing could be taken for granted. As Team Liquid would find out the hard way, OG aren't just here to stay, but they seem to be here with the intent of moving up — way up.
Faze Clan vs Complexity
This was another matchup that was expected to be a one-sided game, and thankfully for FaZe it was exactly that. Despite a surprise early exit from the BLAST World Final, FaZe are still undoubtedly one of the strongest teams in the world, and they flexed their considerable muscles as they steamrolled Complexity despite having to play with a substitute.
Starting things off with a 9-0 lead on the T-side of their map pick Inferno, FaZe made their intentions clear early on. Despite a slight comeback by Complexity at the end of the first half, FaZe quickly wrapped things up in the second for a 16-6 result. Helvijs "broky" Saukants and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken were both on point, with the former boasting an HLTV rating of 1.69 for his 25-kill performance.
Overpass was a slightly closer affair, but stand-in Patrick “es3tag” Hansen rocked the stage with a ridiculous 2.02-rated performance to lead FaZe to a 16-9 win. He wasn’t the only one playing well, though, as Twistzz and broky also pulled off decent scores to help their team to a comfortable victory and a spot in the Upper Bracket Final.
Team Liquid vs OG
It may be a classic matchup in the Dota 2 world, but battles between OG and Liquid almost always end in Liquid’s favor in the realm of CSGO. OG are still struggling to establish themselves as a team of substance, while Liquid are a storied clan with plenty of achievements under their belt — albeit no Major title. There was no doubt that the North American side were the favorites to win the matchup.
OG’s map pick of Ancient began with decent attrition between the teams, but with the score at 6-5 in their favor, the European side set up a strong defense and ended the half 10-5. Once on the attack, OG ransacked OG’s defenses and waltzed to a shock 16-6 stomp over the team that’s one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. Abdulkhalik "degster" Gasanov, Adam "NEOFRAG" Zouhar and Maciej "F1KU" Miklas all came alive to boost OG to this famous and important win.
In sharp contrast, Liquid’s pick Nuke was a hotly-contested affair. Both teams struggled to string more than a few rounds together, and after 9-6 halves on both ends of the match, it all devolved into a chaotic Overtime. Even one OT wasn’t enough to solve this puzzle, however, and it was only in the second OT that OG finally managed to end the match at 22-20. Team leader Nemanja "nexa" Isaković stepped up big for the winners alongside the aforementioned NEOFRAG, while Keith "NAF" Markovic’s efforts for Liquid went in vain.
Group C Recap
The question on everyone's mind was whether G2's form would hold up or not, and at least for the time being, it seems to be in no danger of vanishing. Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas would have to wait another day to play thanks to the wonky fixtures, but at least G2 and BIG had a solid game between them.
G2 Esports vs BIG
Arriving on the back of their surprising win of BLAST World Final, G2 were the out-and-out favorites for this matchup. That being said, BIG have been looking better in recent months, and would be no pushovers. At the same time, many considered G2’s big win to be a fluke, and this would be a good first step in finding out just how good they really are.
BIG’s pick of Mirage seemed to have gone horribly for them when G2 started off with an 8-0 lead, but then the Germans clapped back with a 7-round streak of their own for a well-balanced half. G2’s attack, however, was much more consistent over the half, and they were able to close the game 16-14 after not allowing BIG to string too many rounds together to build up a solid economy. Karim ''Krimbo'' Moussa was solid for the Germans, but it was Rasmus "huNter-" Nielsen and Justin "jks" Savage whose efforts counted for more.
G2 came back strong to flex their true strength on their own map pick of Inferno. Starting things off with an 8-7 half on the T-side, they didn’t let much in on the defense, and were able to secure a comfortable 16-9 victory. This time, it was Bosnian superstar Nikola "NiKo" Kovač’s time to shine, with the prodigal Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov not far behind.
Join us again soon for more news from from the Danish capital, and take a look around our CSGO section for more content about your favorite game.