How seriously are the players taking BLAST Premier Fall Finals
It hasn’t even been three weeks since the first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Major after a seemingly ever-lasting break and while it might feel like the audience as well as pro players are still cooling down from the action there, post-major roster rebuilds have injected a lot of 'buts and ifs' into the mix, asking a lot of exciting questions around the future potential. Moreover, as a lot of countries in Europe are in the middle of the fourth wave of COVID which has yet to break, the event hosted at the Royal Arena might be one of the last chances to play in front of a large crowd for the foreseeable future.
For those reasons, BLAST Premier Fall Finals have hit a tension sweet spot, trying to stress test what these freshly augmented rosters are made of, pitting them against some of the best teams in the world.
While the number of Major wins seems to be the only metric allowed in CS:GO Twitter arguments, putting them on a pedestal over other Tier 1 events, for Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski there is little difference between playing an event stacked with top teams or a major.
EliGe said: “The CS Scene has never been dependent on Majors. I know it’s like the biggest spike for viewership, but in terms of the point of view of a player and what it means for competition, I know we have a lot of tier 1 events, and I think that BLAST and other TOs do a good job to fill the tournament circuit and make it feel full. The only thing is that they are sometimes too much.
The only thing that changes with the major specifically is that you get like a gold icon in the game. That would be the coolest part for me, honestly. But in terms of the feeling of competition, a Tier 1 is a Tier 1 event to me. It feels the same, putting everything into each game. I think the last major had a lot of extra weight to it because we haven’t had a major in two years, it’s double the price pool, it was hype, it was the highest viewership we ever had.
I think the last one was probably a little extra pressure just because of those reasons alone, but if we were to talk about the normal circuit of having two majors and everything, I think that the meaning of the games are equally important to me.”
German star player Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz echoed EliGe’s sentiment, also thinking that the meaningfulness of an event was likely to be found in the opposition his team faces, while also pointing out that it was an important event for his organisation, BIG Clan.
tabseN said: "For me personally, compared to a major, it’s pretty much the same. We have the best teams in the world here. Obviously, for us as an organisation (BIG) it’s a huge milestone. We just partnered up with BLAST as well, so it’s a really important event for us in general. For me as a player, I’ve never been to BLAST before, so being here in the Royal Arena is something I’m really looking forward to. I think it’s going to be really special, and I’ve only heard and seen good things about BLAST.”
For players like tabseN who failed to make it to the final stages of the PGL Major in Stockholm, the BLAST Premier Fall Finals are a second chance to play in front of a large crowd, an experience that makes all the difference to him, while also being mindful of the experience that fans might have.
"For example, if you compare it to being at ESL One Cologne where people always cheer for you because you are the home team. If you have a nice event overall, it’s comparable to football. If you score a goal, everyone is cheering. It’s the same for us, you play a good round and everyone is cheering. Just seeing the happy faces in the crowd, they enjoy themselves, maybe they have a drink with someone, maybe they meet each other for the first time because they only know each other online. Just seeing them enjoying the game that we love to play is incredible.”
Speaking of home ground advantage, with both the fully Danish rosters Heroic and Astralis in attendance, there’s little doubt who the local crowd would be cheering for when the Royal Arena opens its gates on Friday 26th. Astralis captain and IGL Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander is looking forward to the experience of playing at home.
gla1ve said: “Of course it means a lot to us to play in front of Danish crowds. We only won once in front of one. We also know that we have our backs against the wall right now because we just changed two players so we really want to prove that we can be competitive even though we only had a few weeks of practice. That’s why we have been working so much. I’m really looking forward to seeing if all the work we have been putting in is really going to show and I’m really crossing my fingers for that. Because if there’s one place we want to perform it’s here in Copenhagen.”
The one lost Danish son Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz shared a different mindset towards the event given the very recent roster changes his team Ninjas In Pyjamas (NiP) went through.
dev1ce said: ”It’s not a really important event for the team, or me as an individual. Of course, it’s nice to be here in Denmark and celebrate CS with the Danish fans, but it would be weird to say that it’s really important since we just changed a player, and we haven’t had that much time. It would be quite contradictory to say we have to win or perform really well. With performance and sports is that if you give a good effort, and you give a good performance, you can still lose and that’s okay. But if you don’t deliver that, then I would be disappointed with myself and the team. I think that is the mentality that we have going into tournaments. As long as we can look at ourselves in the mirror and look at each other and say 'we did our best, we really tried, we put our A-effort into it and gave a 100%' and we lost to a better team, that’s okay. But if we felt that we never got rolling, or we didn’t play our game, it’s a completely different situation. Then you have to go back and ask: 'what more could I have done?'"
The BLAST Premier Fall Finals are currently underway, with the lower bracket taking place inside the Royal Arena in Copenhagen in front of an expected crowd of 25,000 viewers spread over the three days. With a spot at the BLAST Global Finals and $425,000 (£318,000) up for grabs, there’s certainly also more on the line than just glory.