The Blast Pro Series 2018 Preview: Who can challenge Astralis?

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The Blast Pro Series is one of the two tournaments immediately following the FaceIT London Major. While ESL One New York has already started with a few upsets already in the Group stage, Blast Pro series will see several top teams in attendance. This tournament will be held at the Ülker Sports Arena in Istanbul. Blast Pro Series has a prize pool of $250,000 but it has a very weak tournament format. The tournament will be held over a course of two days and the schedule obviously plays a big role in the format decision.

Blast Pro series has six teams in participation. The teams will play a BO1 round robin format. The two teams at the top of the table will then proceed to play in the Grand finals. The grand finals is a Best of Three series and the winner takes home $125,000.

Blast Pro series needs a better format

Before we start a short review of the teams at this tournament, it is necessary to point out that the format could be much better. The fact that they play a Round-robin system with Bo1 matches is definitely a matter of concern. The tournament is scheduled for just two days and that is obviously the biggest reason for this format. However, with proper seeding, we could have seen a better playoff scenario or at least a few more BO3 matches.

With the top two teams [after a Bo1 round robin system] directly in the Grand finals, this tournament has the potential for a lot of upsets.

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Astralis – The Supreme Champions

 

Astralis is the winner of FaceIT London Major 2018.

The FaceIT London Major winners will be coming into this tournament firmly as the favourites. They had a very dominant showing at the London Major, leading the other teams in grenade usage, firepower as well as statistics. There was only one team ( Faze Clan ) which was able to reach double digits against Astralis in the London Major Playoffs.

The Astralis roster is characterized by its unique style of preparation. They have reached the top, but they are probably one of the few teams that put in efforts to remain on top. When you have a player like Device retracing his own Heat Maps in order to learn how others will counter him, Astralis look unbeatable. The Danish lineup is also well known for its extremely deep map pool. This has helped them tremendously in the veto stage as they can afford to take some risks against other teams.

Dupreeh has been exceptionally consistent throughout the years.

Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander has been crucial, along with their coach Zonic to ensure that the team performs to its maximum efficiency. In the current meta of Counter-Strike, the players focus not only on the team chemistry and synergy but also on individual performance. This allows them to pull off clutch situations, however, the team has been well known not to let the round go to such a situation. They have been extremely effective in ensuring that they are able to shut down teams due to Astralis’ excellent mid-round calling and their homework.

Since this tournament’s format has a big advantage for potential upsets, Astralis might not see the finals. But they are definitely the strongest team in attendance and the favourites to win the tournament.

Cloud9 – New team, new expectations

Jack Etienne will be hoping for the current roster to put up an impressive showing in Istanbul

Cloud9 recently announced their latest addition, Flusha to their lineup. This addition does make a lot of sense especially in the backdrop of Styko no longer feeling comfortable under Golden’s playstyle. Not only in Flusha one of the best players in the game, but he also has lots of experience playing according to how Golden sees the game. With Cloud9 slipping in the North American rankings, they definitely have time to rebuild their roster and hope for some better results.

Flusha and Golden in the Cloud9 jerseys

From the tournament’s perspective, however, Cloud9 does not seem to be a threat right now. They just signed Flusha and have had little to no experience together as a roster. Without any sort of practice, Cloud9 can definitely not challenge the likes of NIP, Made In Brazil and definitely not Astralis.

This tournament would be more of an assessment tournament for the players and the support staff. They will work on enabling their synergy and coordination during this tournament.

Ninjas in Pyjamas – Once again, a Swedish hope

Can NiP do it again? (Picture Courtesy – HLTV)

The Ninjas in Pyjamas were the surprise package at the Major. They did not make it to the Playoffs, but there were very few expectations off the roster. The biggest change for the team has been the addition of Lekro as their In-Game Leader.

Lekro provides the team with a fresh perspective. He has been pushed into the role and his fresh approach definitely is surprising many of their opponents. In addition to this, we have seen a resurgence in form from F0rest as well as Get_Right. The two superstars on this roster can definitely make a huge impact when it comes to the NIP;’s potential success.

Get_Right and F0rest need to put up strong numbers to ensure NIP’s success

With even more time on their hand for Blast Pro Series, we expect NIP to be really strong. But there is also the possibility of NIP underperforming because of a drop in form by Get_Right and/or F0rest. This would be catastrophic to NIP’s progress and it is important for the star players to put up strong performances.

The Best of One format will favour the Ninjas as they can manoeuvre the map vetoes to their advantage. However, their results will depend solely on individual player performances and whether they can compete against other top teams at this event.

Virtus Pro – Rebuilding their roster

 

Virtus Pro – An era gone by

Virtus Pro has fallen through the rankings of Counter-Strike Global Offensive. Once considered to be the best team in the world, the current VP roster is completely new. Without several top players from their previous roster, Virtus pro is in a slow, team building phase.

For Virtus Pro, the biggest task would be to collect as many wins as possible. Their main competitors would be Cloud9 and Space Soldiers. They do not have a high probability to win matches against MiBr, Astralis and maybe NIP. The Virtus Pro Fans, however, would love to see the organisation back on winnings ways. But as we see the format of this tournament, there is no quantifiable measurement of Virtus Pro’s success at this event. They definitely do not stand a chance to reach the finals, but they have to try to get as many upset wins as possible.

Space Soldiers – Underdogs

 

Space Soldiers are technically the underdogs at Blast Pro Series. The team has been in disarray for some time. Months of poor performances don’t seem to have any end in sight as Space Soldiers continue to have poor performances.

These results are compounded by the fact that they have several players who not in form. The lack of form on multiple players is a major reason for the Space Soldiers rankings. They also lack the synergy and coordination required off them to be able to compete against top teams. Space Soldiers have no chance to make it to the finals of this tournament. They do have the chance to score some upset wins, but any win would be a welcome result for the roster. They are the underdogs in the tournament and if they can manage to squeeze in a win against either Virtus pro or Cloud9, it would be a positive tournament for the Turkish players.

Made in Brazil – Time for the Brazilian Comeback

Made in Brazil has shown improvements in their performance and results at the Major.

Made in Brazil looked very promising at the FaceiT London Major. They had a small boot camp along with their new coach, YNK. They lost out to Na’Vi in the semifinals, however, they have to be very happy with their result.

The biggest change that YNK has instilled in the roster is their confidence. We have seen Fallen resume taking aggressive peeks and push through smokes with an AWP. it is not something that any team would expect from an AWPer.

Fallen is back to playing an extremely aggressive style of AWP

Made in Brazil has a very good chance of reaching the finals at this Major. While they can potentially defeat Astralis in a Bo1, their real competition would be the Ninjas in Pyjamas. This is where their weak map pool will come into focus. MiBr was once known for their exceptionally wide and deep map pool. However, the latest additions to the team in the form of Tarik and Stewie2k impacted their map pool severely.

Made in Brazil look confident, but they still do not seem to be at a strategic advantage in their matches. For now, MiBr relies heavily on decent positioning, better synergy and firepower. However, as they rise up the rankings, they need to have much better tactics to take down the top teams.

The Big Question: Who can defeat Astralis?

The recurring theme throughout this article has been in trying to decide who will be the second grand finalist. With Astralis almost certain to make it to the Grand finals, it is a competition between the likes of NIP, Cloud9 and MiBr for the second spot. However, the format of the tournament can ensure several upsets and we might just end up with an Astralis elimination in the Group stage itself.

Blast Pro Series will start on the 28th of September and you can follow the results here.


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