Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson

Nick "Lesona" Johnson is an esports journalist with a focus on CS:GO and the OWL. His interest for esports started with CS:S and grew into a career as both an esports writer and an avid fan, giving him a unique perspective on both the casual and professional scenes. Twitter: @Lesona_

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CSGO: Four Things We Learned from BLAST Pro Series Miami

Blast Pro Series
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FaZe Clan unexpectedly took home the trophy from BLAST Pro Series Miami, defeating Team Liquid 2-0. BLAST Pro Series’ format can be a little unpredictable, but there are still insights in these matches if you know where to look form them. Let’s break some things down and see what we can find!


FaZe picked the right time to look like a super team

Let’s be honest, here. Even with FaZe’s win in Miami, they’re not a great team right now. Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer looked abysmal on Mirage, and Håvard “rain” Nygaard went completely nuclear on Dust 2. We all know the level of Counterstrike that FaZe can play when all of their players are on the same page. The problem is, however, if they rarely are. There have been whispers of tough team dynamics and competing egos on this team, and that never ends well.

That said, FaZe did dismantle Team Liquid pretty completely regardless of their internal strife, and looked a true international super team while they did it. Like we mentioned before, rain had two phenomenal games, posting a 1.53 HLTV rating total between the two maps. Niko also popped off, owning a 1.50 HLTV rating. Like we heard Anders and Henry say, everything was clicking for FaZe in these two maps.

Unfortunately for Team Liquid, young star Russel “Twistzz” Fan Dulken was fairly invisible throughout the entirety of the tournament. We’re used to seeing Twistzz dominate, and he underperformed in Miami. In this respect, the Grand Final was no different. On Dust 2, Twistzz posted his lowest rating (.53) since May 2018 against Astralis (.15).

If somehow FaZe can keep this momentum rolling into Season 9 of the ESL Pro League, they've almost assured themselves a group win in the Pro League’s new format. The question that this weekend’s BLAST tournament cannot answer is whether or not FaZe can actually keep playing like this. If I had a crystal ball, I’m pretty sure all signs would point to no.


are Astralis Finally Beatable?

Is there anything we can take away from Astralis' rough second day in Miami? Probably not. While they did drop their last three games of the Round Robin stage against eventual winners FaZe (Dust 2, 5-16), Team Liquid (Overpass, 14-16) and a resurgent MIBR (Overpass, 2-16), these losses are not indicative of future performance.

Maybe it was the quick turnaround from coming home from BLAST Pro Series Sao Paulo to having to travel back across the pond for Miami, but Astralis weren't in form, especially on the final day. That said, what we know of Astralis points to the inevitable conclusion that the Danes will bounce back and dominate in the next competition they find themselves in. Whatever the reason Astralis dropped three out of five games (all of which they were certainly capable of winning), look for Astralis to brush this off and return to form.

We’ll have a perfect chance to see how they’re recovering next week, as they might have the easiest group out of all of them in ESL Pro League Season 9. Astralis will play against ex-3DMAX, HellRaisers, and BIG Clan in a set of best-of-threes. If we see Astralis drop any of these, then we’ll allow some doubt of the Danish CS masters to creep in. Until then, however, BLAST Pro Series Miami is an outlier.


Cloud9 might have found a spicy roster

Cloud9 performed better than anyone could have expected them too at Miami last weekend. Mere days off of picking up their fifth, René "cajunb" Borg, Cloud9 took two matches to almost 30 rounds against Team Liquid and Na`Vi on Overpass. It was clearly the only map that C9 had practiced with their new roster, which included the returning Malik “Golden” Selim and newcomer Daniel “vice” Kim.

Sure, Cloud9 didn’t win a single map in Miami. But despite the roster carousel they’ve been on for the past few months post-Major, they looked like a team that has serious potential for the future. Miami showed us that Cloud9 certainly has all the pieces to challenge NRG for the second-best North American team.


Na`Vi is still Na`vi, for better or worse

Fresh off their win in Shanghai at Star Series i-League Season 7, Natus Vincere came into BLAST Pro Series Miami as one of the favorites to make it through the Round Robin stage and into the Grand Final. Unfortunately for both Na`Vi and CIS Counterstrike fans around the world, Na`Vi did something they literally always do after they win a tournament; they looked like a middling team at the next one.

This storyline is so familiar to Na`Vi fans that they must be exhausted. It goes like this. Natus Vincere starts to perform well, surging up the Top 10 Rankings before failing to make it to a Grand Final against the top teams. Rumors of roster moves and team in-fighting surface. They then win a tournament at which none of the top teams are in attendance, squashing all the rumors. Then fans get stuck with a Na`Vi roster that is literally one move away from being a number one team for another year, all because they won a single tournament.

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

This has happened time and time again to Natus Vincere, and it’s happening again now. Na’Vi won only two games at Blast Pro Series Miami. Wins against MIBR (16-10) and Cloud9 (16-13) look nice on paper, but losses against Astralis (7-16), Team Liquid (16-12), and FaZe (10-16) do not (expecially at those scores). If you’re the third-ranked team in the world, act like it. That said, BLAST is always going to be a hard tournament for Na`Vi to perform well in simply because it takes so many games for their players to warm up.

Most of their losses here wouldn’t be losses if the matches were best-of-three, but at BLAST every match is a best-of-one until the Grand Final. In other words, Natus Vincere is simply not a team that will consistently play up to their potential in the format that BLAST uses. Additionally, since the teams are given a full 24 hours to prepare for their best-of-ones, teams can easily prepare for Na`Vi’s slow, deliberate style.


Images VIA: BLAST Pro Series, RFRSH Entertainment

 

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