Things have gotten more interesting as the qualifier enters a deeper stage
The third and fourth days of BLAST Premier Spring Groups yielded far more conventional results than the two before, with every matchup going to the team that would normally be expected to win it. That’s not to say everything was one-sided, though. There were 3 series that went all 3 maps, and with plenty of action still to come, every result matters. Here’s what happened in Copenhagen over the last two days.
There were 3 matches on Day 3, with Ukrainian juggernauts Natus Vincere taking on storied Swedish side Ninjas in Pyjamas, American hopefuls Evil Geniuses going up against the might of French organization Vitality, and a Danish civil war in the form of Heroic vs Astralis.
Natus Vincere vs Ninjas in Pyjamas
Na’ Vi weren’t just out to get a good start for their new squad — revenge was also on their minds. NIP had shocked the world by knocking them out of the BLAST Premier Fall Final last year, and then proceeded to recruit a former Na’ Vi academy player. It turned out to be another 3-game series, but this time a lot less was on the line and not every game was as eventful.
Things began with NIP’s pick of Inferno not turning out to be what they’d have hoped for it to be. They began well enough, not letting Na’ Vi string rounds together and picking up a rock-solid eight on the attack. However, they couldn’t mount a solid enough defense on the CT side, and Na’ Vi simply dominated them on the offense. In the end, Valerii "b1t" Vakhovskyi had led his side to a 16-9 cruise, helped by rookie Andrii "npl" Kukharskyi.
On to Na’ Vi’s Mirage, things were quite different. After a pretty even first half, it looked as though NIP would take it easily with a rapid string of T-side rounds, but Na’ Vi closed up shop and took the game to Overtime. Once there, though, they couldn’t stop the Swedish march to victory. Ex-Na’ Vi Danyyl "headtr1ck" Valitov starred for NIP, but superstar Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev wasn’t far behind.
It was as though he woke up on Mirage, because s1mple proceeded to devastate NIP on the decider Overpass. Pulling off a 1.77 rating, he and Denis “electroNic” Sharipov were instrumental in Na’ Vi’s 11-round T-side, which left NIP very little to work with on the attack. They managed to get four rounds on the attack, but that’s all she wrote because Na’ Vi ended the game at 16-8.
Evil Geniuses vs Team Vitality
After their shock defeat of HLTV #1 team Heroic, many may have thought a little too much of EG, but the American side was quick to dismiss any misconceptions with a quick 2-0 loss against Vitality. It’s not that they didn’t play well, but they seemed to simply be outclassed by the might of the French squad — particularly in the second map.
Overpass was a relatively hard-fought game, with EG doing well to pick up 6 rounds on the T-side of their map. However, when things were switched, it took Vitality much less time to reach and surpass the same number for a smooth 16-11 win. Lotan "Spinx" Giladi was on fire with a whopping 28 kills, and Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut also played an important part with some beautiful rounds of his own. For the Americans, Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte played well but didn’t get much support from some of his teammates.
Inferno was a ZywOo masterclass, though, as the GOAT contender pulled off an absolutely beastly 2.35-rated performance as Vitality bodied EG 16-1. To make matters worse for EG, they started on the CT-side. Emil “Magisk” Reif was also brilliant, but ZywOo’s brutal performance almost made a pro-level game look like a Deathmatch as Vitality closed out the series 2-0.
Heroic vs Astralis
The Danish Derby has produced some insane battles over the last few years. This one had its moments of glory, but it mostly went the way of Na’ Vi vs NIP from earlier, but with a different order. Astralis seem like a team that expected to do well immediately after the return of their prodigal son, but seem to be crestfallen now that it’s not going the way they’d have hoped it would. Heroic, on the other hand, showed great resolve as they came back from being a game down to emerge triumphant in the series.
Astralis’ managed to justify their pick of Inferno as they mounted a powerful 8-round attack, with Liquid unable to string rounds together despite getting off to a 5-1 start. Heroic started strong on the T-side as well, but Astralis put on a defensive masterclass courtesy of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz that harkened back to their glory days for a 16-10 win. It should be noted that newcomer Christian "Buzz" Andersen was also pretty solid considering his lack of experience.
The fun ended then and there for Astralis, though, as Heroic showed just why they’re at the top of the world with a thoroughly professional 11-4 bludgeoning of their old rivals on the T-side of their map Mirage. They followed this up with a clinical 5-round finish on the defense, making it a 16-4 win. René "TeSeS" Madsen and Casper "cadiaN" Møller led the charts for the currently bigger Danes.
Vertigo was almost identical as the Danes pulled off a veritable heist on the CT-sided maps attack with a powerful 12 rounds. Astralis could only collect isolated scraps as they were outclassed again and again. Despite winning the Pistol Round on the T-side, Astralis couldn’t do anything more, and Heroic finished off another 16-4 game to move on to meet EG. The map featured solid performances from Jakob "Jabbi" Nygaard and Rasmus "sjuush" Beck.
On Day 4, only two matches were played. Last year’s scene dominators FaZe Clan took on underdog hopefuls OG, while Complexity and Team Liquid locked horns to move forward towards the CSGO version of the American Dream.
FaZe Clan vs OG
After OG’s routing of Liquid, many people had high expectations from the team. Although they couldn’t go all the way, OG were certainly able to make FaZe sweat — if only temporarily. This match once again followed the pattern of the earlier 3-game series described, but the mere fact that OG are regularly taking games off of FaZe is something for them to be proud of and work towards improving.
On FaZe’s pick of Mirage, the Major-winning team’s might was on full display. Robin “ropz” Kool and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken were imperious as the multinational superteam waltzed to a 10-5 T-side half despite losing the first three rounds. This was followed by a relatively easy 6 rounds on the CT-side for an easy 16-7 finish.
OG came back strongly on their map Ancient, picking up a decent 6 rounds on the T-side before closing the gates on the defense. Try as they might, FaZe couldn’t string rounds together despite a fantastic individual performance by Twistzz that saw him drop a 30-bomb. OG proceeded to win the map 16-11, with Shahar "flameZ" Shushan and Adam "NEOFRAG" Zouhar both starring.
Sadly for OG, their elation and happiness were both short-lived. Inferno was a disaster as FaZe ran riot on the T-side to pick up 12 rounds in total, and once the tables were turned, it didn’t take them long to collect the remaining 4 rounds for victory. To add insult to injury, OG had won both Pistol Rounds. This time it was Helvijs "broky" Saukants’ turn to shine, but we would be remiss to leave out ropz’s efforts.
Complexity vs Team Liquid
This all-American matchup has produced some classics in the past, but there was no such game this time around. Complexity looked utterly lost most of the time, and although they put up a good fight on the second map, it wasn’t enough to save them from a rather humiliating 2-0 loss from their regional rivals. Team Liquid on the other hand look ready for the second encounter with OG they earned from this win.
Complexity picked Anubis as their map, and following what we saw unfold therein, it’s hard to imagine why they would do that. Liquid began the game with 12 defensive rounds on the trot before Complexity could finally crack things open, and the former ended the half on a unilateral 13-2 before closing the game out 16-2 with ease. Keith “NAF” Markovic was in scintillating form, while Joshua "oSee" Ohm fired up the old AWP for a decent performance.
Overpass initially looked like it would follow a similar pattern when Liquid went 8-1 up on the T-side of their pick, but Complexity managed to bring things back for a nice 6-9 half on the CT-side. Surprising many with some decent attacking strats, Complexity made sure Liquid had to work for their win, but work Liquid did and the game ended 16-12 in their favor. This time around, it was Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski doing the heavy lifting, with Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis providing good support.
Join us again in two days’ time for further recaps, and keep an eye on our site for previews and predictions for the upcoming Intel Extreme Masters Katowice.