Who Will Win BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen?
Yet another BLAST Pro Series event is upon us, this time taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark were hometown team, as well as reigning champions of Istanbul will be looking to claim another series title. Joining Astralis will be some of the best teams in the world, FaZe, MIBR, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Cloud9. In just two days, one of these teams will be walking away with a first place trophy as well as their share of $250k. With a large sum of money on the line and the matchups released, I am here to inform you on which three teams are most likely to take home the trophy this week and what to expect in their upcoming games.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Astralis will yet again be making it to a grand final in Copenhagen. At this point it feels almost impossible for them not to. They will not only be playing on some of their best maps, but against opponents who are weak on those very maps. In the past three months the team has made it to the grand final of all four LAN events they’ve attended, winning all but one. As we all know, they completely dominated the FACEIT Major, losing only one map during the entire event. It also comes as no surprise that they did the same thing in Istanbul, ending with just one map loss as well. There is no team in existence that knows how to deal with Astralis’s nature, and there is most certainly nobody here in Copenhagen that will be able to shutdown the beast.
At both events I mentioned above, Astralis ended with 1.20+ team rating. All of their players finishing in the top 20, dev1ce taking home both MVP awards. Astralis have always shown great team play. From their mid to late round, no matter how many are alive it is a group effort. With Zonic playing the role of coach and father figure, no player goes without some sort of praise or motivative gesture from the man and the teams energy is seems unreal no matter what situation they are in. The Danes are even more deadly now that they have mastered the HE Grenade, maximizing it's range and damage to their full potential with nade stacks and lineups. Astralis play almost a flawless game and very few teams know how to get past the tiny chinks in their armor. With players like dev1ce and dupreeh constantly blowing everyone's heads off it's no wonder their opponents barely have time to regroup and react. Lately even grabbing double digits against the team has seemed just as victorious as winning an entire match.
Astralis’s first opponent will be MIBR and the two rivaling teams will be playing on Inferno. The very same map that we saw Astralis claim their last BLAST Series win on in Istanbul. MIBR did manage to get close to a victory, the game ending 16-14 but knowing Astralis they have reviewed this demo time and time again and will not be showing any of the same weaknesses this time around. Their second, third, and fourth games will be on Overpass against NiP, Natus Vincere, and FaZe. Three teams the Danish super team has beaten numerous times on the map, and will more than likely do yet again here. Na’vi could give them some problems - it is one of their better maps of the year and they will be hungry for vengeance after their loss at the Major. Lastly is their game against Cloud9, a game that I doubt we see the newly mixed EU team take more than five rounds on. If Astralis loses a game it will be against Na’vi. However, given what we saw from the Ukrainians at EPICENTER, yet another 6-0 at a BLAST event seems like the most likely outcome for the best team in the world.
After olofmeister returned to the lineup, the team went on a downward spiral. Going without a top three finish for a little bit over seven months. A very unusual result for a team that had finished 2017 as the second best in the world. In fact, they have currently fallen out of the top five. However, I expect that will change with their win at EPICENTER just last week. The LAN event started out fairly slow for FaZe, going 2-1 against ENCE and losing 0-2 to Natus Vincere. It kind of felt like we where going to see yet another 5th-8th place finish for the team. However the playoffs took a complete 180 for the team were they went 2-0 against NiP, Liquid, and Navi to secure their first place trophy. It was quite scary seeing FaZe take down two of the best teams in the world with such ease, and it definitely gave their fans flashbacks to the dominant form we were used to seeing. Especially with the performance that NiKo, the eventual MVP of the event, showed throughout all 11 maps he played.
s1mple of course finished with the highest stats, with a 1.45 rating and the highest damage, kills, and AWP kills per a round. As well as the highest success rate in opening duels, however these stats came from facing some of the worst teams at the event. After looking at how close NiKo’s numbers ended up being after facing the hardest competition at EPICENTER it's no wonder he was the most valuable player. The Bosnian star’s 1.33 rating marked his third highest rating of 2018 at a LAN event, and made him the most impactful player on his team. Those 11 maps showed us some of the most confident and stellar performances we had seen from the star for quite some time. With GuardiaN playing out of his mind as well, it was no wonder Liquid and Navi weren't able to shut them down.
FaZes first game will be played on Mirage, a map that heavily favors them over NiP. Just last week at EPICENTER we saw them play the map four times, all ending as wins, including one in the grand final against Natus Vincere. As for NiP, Mirage is quite literally their worst map. No matter what roster or year it has been, the organization has never managed to pick up a group of players that can compete on Mirage. It goes without question that FaZe will be starting out the event 1-0. As for the rest of their games, given the map that they’ll be playing Navi on, I suspect that will be their first loss of the event. Their overpass game has been very weak and seeing as they have to play not just the Ukrainians but Astralis on it as well, they will have 2 losses at the least. Looking at their Cache game against MIBR, I actually feel like the they won't be getting a win here either. Leaving them with a 2-3 record, with wins against just Cloud9 and NiP. Sure they had a solid end to EPICENTER, but given the maps that are being played in these Bo1’s, I don't feel confident that they’ll be able to advance to the grand final.
The mixed American/Brazilian team has been on the rise since picking up new coach YNk and NA star Tarik. Placing top five at almost every LAN event they’ve played together, MIBR are definitely coming into Copenhagen as one of the favorites. This will be the team’s biggest challenge yet. They will have to face the two best teams in the world, Astralis and Navi, as well as a FaZe team coming straight off a outstanding win at EPICENTER. A task that I do not doubt MIBR is more than prepared for. The last BLAST event the team played was a little over a month ago, resulting in a second place finish behind Astralis. However, more impressive to me was their run at the Major, something I think that a lot of people have overlooked. After their 0-16 loss against Astralis they came back even stronger than before, taking out both NiP and compLexity before going out to Natus Vincere.
Obviously they didn't make it to the grand final, but the fact that they still had the mentality and motivation to continue after such an embarrassing loss was outstanding and just proves how much of a difference YNk has had on the team. Sure the players have Fallen, a father figure in the CS:GO scene, but their coach was also able to keep them level-headed, ensuring the players looked back on their mistakes instead of feeling frustrated and tilted. Going back to the last BLAST event, MIBR was obviously the second best team in attendance. Istanbul was much less stacked than Copenhagen is and the team had very easy wins against Cloud9, now ex-SpaceSoldiers, and Virtus pro. Everyone, except for Fallen finished as a top 20 player - Coldzera finishing the highest in 6th. The players on MIBR seem to be returning to a top 10 level, a very good sign given the bad start to 2018 they all had individually.
MIBR’s first game will sadly take place against Astralis. A Bo1 being played on Inferno will start out their run in Copenhagen. Inferno is actually one of Astralis’s least strong maps, which isn't saying much seeing as they still have 72% win rate on it just from LAN games this year. They had a flawless 4-0 run on Inferno during the last BLAST series event, MIBR actually being the only team to come close to beating them with a 16-14 score line, which is more than likely what we will in this game as well. Luckily they get to play their hardest game first. Leaving them to face the two easiest opponents of the event, Cloud9 and NiP, before having to face off against FaZe and Navi. My prediction for the star studded team is a 3-2 finish with wins against Cloud9, NiP, and FaZe.