Many teams have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the Finals, no roster has a clear path to victory.
The BLAST Premier: Fall Regular Season has seen a fair share of upsets - and favourites exiting early. North American teams have used this tournament to go up against their European counterparts and mostly failed in that endeavour. Now, the teams that haven’t made it to the Fall Finals already are facing each other in a Showdown stage to determine the rest of the playing field.
The six teams that didn’t make it during the Regular Season are joined by seven invitees and three qualifier teams. The Showdown is divided up into two Single Elimination brackets, each one handing just one Finals spot to the best team. With so many top teams like Natus Vincere, Vitality, Astralis, and G2 having already made it, this part of the tournament offers middle-of-the-pack rosters an opportunity to qualify for the big event.
This makes our predictions quite complicated, as there is not a single team in attendance with a clear path to victory. Sure, there are favourites and teams that have better track records in recent times, but even the likes of Endpoint and Team Spirit can pull off insane upsets. Most crucially, there are no second chances. If a team messes up, they’re gone for good.
THE FIRST BRACKET: HOW GOOD CAN LIQUID AND FURIA BE?
Online Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is random, and the differences between the regions have only increased during this pandemic, but Team Liquid aren’t looking all too great right now. They still have to process a rather embarrassing defeat to Triumph during IEM Beijing NA. If results like these can happen, then a bracket consisting of FaZe, FURIA, and MAD Lions might overwhelm the guys. The only upside is that Liquid’s match is slated for later this week, so they’ll have at least a few days to adapt to European time and get the jet lag out of their system.
FaZe Clan are the most successful roster of the bunch, but their fifth player for this event has not yet been confirmed. On the one hand, Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer hasn’t been the best of stand-ins, but on the other hand, he at least knows the players well. Bringing in a completely new member just days before this competition will make it difficult - if not entirely impossible - to integrate him sufficiently.
While Virtus.pro did make it to the Grand Finals of their Flashpoint group, their previous victories were over the new Cloud9 roster and Gen.G. Those takedowns weren’t all that inspiring, and once they had to compete with an actual top team in the form of OG, they quickly gave way.
Recently, reports indicated that Henrique “HEN1” Teles was on his way out of the FURIA roster, with the organisation pondering additional changes to the lineup. While he is definitely going to represent FURIA at the BLAST Showdown, this obviously deals a massive blow to the team overall. How much motivation can they really have, being on a foreign continent in the midst of a pandemic and not knowing whether they’ll still have a job in a month or two?
MAD Lions dropped out in second-to-last place during IEM Beijing EU. How many issues will they be able to fix in time for their Opening Match versus Liquid? Even worse, they’ll have to face FaZe or MIBR later on, provided they actually make it against the North Americans. This leaves the race for first place wide open, with so many outside factors influencing the chances of each and every team. At least there are two favourites of sorts on the other side of the bracket.
THE SECOND BRACKET: TIME TO SHINE FOR COMPLEXITY AND MOUSESPORTS
Evil Geniuses have experienced the exact same fate as their Liquid colleagues. They were title prospects during IEM Beijing and failed to show up versus Chaos, ending their run in the Semi-Finals already. This performance won’t cut it against the likes of mousesports and Complexity, who definitely have the upper hand in their Single Elimination bracket.
Complexity have just been handed a big L from Team Vitality in the Beijing playoffs. However, they played great Counter-Strike beforehand and even beat the other finalist, Natus Vincere, during the Group Stage. One bad match doesn’t undo the great progress they have shown ever since the addition of Justin “jks” Savage. With so many of their most difficult opponents out of the way, they should make it to the Grand Finals of their bracket.
However, upset potential looms in the form of Cloud9 and the Ninjas in Pyjamas. C9 have definitely not had the best of debuts during Flashpoint, going out in last place and failing to win even a single map. This is hardly a selling point for the new ‘colossus’, but maybe they just need additional time to work things out. The players on the roster certainly have the history and the potential to do this organisation justice.
IEM Beijing proved to be yet another bothersome moment in the development of mousesports. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, they have posted weak results, and their form has been incredibly shaky - so much so that they could win against Vitality one day and lose to Endpoint the day after. They have actually lost out twice to the Endpoint roster that is now residing next to them in the BLAST bracket. Should this team advance over Evil Geniuses, then mousesports will have to finally show some mental fortitude. Otherwise, a hat-trick upset might be in store for them.
So the most promising favourites offer reasons for doubt in this BLAST Showdown stage. It really is anyone’s game at this point, making for a wildly unpredictable - but also incredibly exciting - few tournament days ahead.
Images via BLAST | Liquipedia