BLAST have revamped their format, and it did wonders for the event. A real playoff bracket has elevated these events from sideshow to something comparable to a real top tier event.
Not that it mattered in this case of course, as Liquid rampaged through the bracket like a 70 foot tall gorilla. The field at this tournament was honestly thinner than most BLAST events have been in the past, with ENCE, Astralis, and Na’Vi all being absent from the pool, but it’s hard to fault Liquid for not beating teams that weren’t in attendance.
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This was an impressive showing from the number one team in the world. They dominated the group stage, and the playoff bracket, running through five best of ones and two best of threes without dropping a map. They held all of their group stage opponents to 11 rounds or under, and held their playoff opponents to an average of 10 rounds.
All three top performers at this event were Liquid players, with NAF topping the event with a 1.40 rating. Liquid have worked out all the kinks in their system and they’re playing like a well-oiled machine. Their ecos are better than most teams full buys, and their full buys are nigh unstoppable.
Liquid will likely be the favorite come Major time, barring some sort of unforeseen catastrophe. They have arguably the most stacked lineup in CS right now, with any of NAF, Stewie, Twistzz, and EliGE capable of carrying any given map, series, even tournament.
FaZe are so weird, I still can’t wrap my head around them. They claim this is their roster moving forward, but I have trouble believing that. Is NEO actually the leader here? Has he been able to implement a system, are NiKo and olof and Guardian actually listening to him?
I don’t know, obviously, but who does? It feels like FaZe is in the Coldzera lottery, and they’d definitely pick him up if the opportunity presented itself. Who would get kicked? Surely whoever it would be can feel it in the air, which likely doesn’t make for a very productive team environment. FaZe just feels too chaotic for me to put much stock in them right now.
Not being able to beat FaZe is not a great sign for this roster. Stanislaw was supposed to tighten up the roster and take them that last step to being contenders, and he hasn’t yet. He’s been on the roster for a little over a month now, and NRG is coming up on their biggest test so far. The Major is fast approaching, and they need to place well.
It seems as though Stanislaw hasn’t figured out how to maximize Tarik or CeRq, as both had below 1.00 ratings at the event. In fact, none of the players from NRG had particularly good showings. Maybe it was just one of those tournaments where nothing was clicking, so I won’t judge too harshly off what is a pretty small sample size. This roster has one of the highest ceilings in CS if they can put it all together, and I’d love to see them do so.
Cloud9 debuted their new lineup at this event, and they don’t look half bad. On paper the roster is exceedingly interesting, with autimatic moving back to the rifle and mixwell returning from his sting in Europe. He played in North America previously with OpTic gaming, winning ELEAGUE Season 2 over Astralis, which was the first LAN win by an NA team in CS:GO.
While their results at this tournament were rather lackluster, there were some encouraging signs. Tenz seems to be unafraid of the big stage, mixwell seems like he still has it (although it may take him a while to get used to playing in big games again), autimatic is back rifling, which should hopefully elevate him back to the level he was at in the glory days.
Daps and koosta are the two most interesting pieces of this puzzle. Daps was able to unite NRG into a very effective team during his tenure, but he wasn’t able to get them over the hump. This Cloud9 roster is a roughly equivalent team in terms of firepower, so I can see them being at least relevant in tier one CS. But will Daps be able to take that final step to turn Cloud9 into a real powerhouse?
Then there’s koosta. It wasn’t long ago that he was the golden child of NA CS, the chosen one coming to tip the scales in America’s favor. It’s been a long and winding road for him, but he’s back on a top tier NA team. This is his last chance to prove himself a real tier one AWPer, and hopefully he doesn’t waste it.
The Brazilians may be one of the messiest teams in CS right now. Their star player benched himself, they’re playing with a coach, and as far as I know they still don’t have a replacement for Coldzera. They have a couple more events to play before the Major cycle is over and they can add a permanent fifth, so be prepared to see more Zews. This team will likely just be a big zero for the next month and a half, so don’t be putting any money down on them.
There was a time when I would speak Renegades name in the same breath as ENCE or Vitality. They looked to be an ascendant team earlier this year, and I thought they’d really be in the mix come Major time.
Instead they’re bottoming out at BLAST events, stealing wins from a brand new C9 lineup. A far cry from where I thought they’d be. I imagine an Aussie shuffle is coming post Major, but I also don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.