The first BLAST Pro Series event of the year has concluded, in shocking fashion I might add. Astralis won, beating long odds and coming from behind to take the tournament. Hah. Really, the tournament went about how we all expected it to. Astralis swept the group stage, and dominated Liquid in the finals, or at least, for the last two maps of the finals.
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Round five was perfectly set up for a drama filled best-of-one between Liquid and ENCE, a play in game for the finals, and a match that should have been a knife fight. Instead, it ended with a tie, and the finals berth was given to the team with a better round differential, Liquid.
This is a bad way to decide the finalists for a $250,000 tournament. ENCE and Liquid had the same record at the end of the group stage, which would normally mean that whichever team won the head to head would make it through. Since Liquid and ENCE tied, which means neither team owned the head to head, it was decided by round differential.
Because of BLAST’s format, we were robbed of what could have been one of the best games of the year, and left with a wholly unsatisfying conclusion. BLAST Pro Miami is coming up soon, but there’s still time for rule changes. If they don’t want games to go to OT, I would suggest a separate tie breaker, best of six with $10,000 starting money, like how overtime works right now.
MIBR Isn’t Looking Too Hot
If you read my preview piece for this tournament, you’d know that I was pretty high on MIBR. They had a solid showing at the Katowice Major, coldzera had one of his best events in a while, the team really looked like it was meshing well. I thought they were going to keep getting better, and that their team would continue on their upward trajectory, reverting everyone on the team to the peak 2016 versions of themselves.
Instead of continuing to improve, MIBR regressed, heavily. They came in last place at the event, had the worst team rating, and coldzera had, literally, the worst event of his career. That’s right, in four years of playing tier one CS:GO, BLAST Pro Series Sao Paulo was the single worst event of coldzera’s career. It’s especially surprising considering he has been trending up since the start of 2019, putting up stats that are middling for him in Katowice and the WESG Finals, but still put him solidly within the top 10 players in the world.
The question now is, which MIBR is the real MIBR. I have to imagine that their performance in Sao Paulo was a fluke. They were home, hanging out with friends, maybe out drinking, who knows. But a team that has been as good historically as MIBR, with a top 10 player of all time in coldzera, doesn’t just lay eggs like this. Treating this event as an extreme outlier seems like the best strategy, at least until they prove that this complete and total collapse wasn’t just a fluke.
Beyond assuming their goose egg was a one-time occurrence, there isn’t a positive takeaway from this event. Their best performer was felps, although he was still in the bottom fourth of players at the event. Every player on the team ended up at the bottom of the list in every relevant statistical category, and it isn’t even close. They won a total of 45 rounds over the course of 5 maps, getting 16-2’d by Liquid. Their best map was probably a 10-16 loss to Astralis, where they got absolutely trounced by gla1ve, who ended up going +16 with 120 ADR.
I’m still not out on MIBR, but things certainly aren’t looking good.
NiP Might Still Be Breathing
NiP took 4th place at BLAST Pro Series Sao Paulo, which is not what I expected. Granted, they only had wins over the two worst teams in attendance, and it was only a six team event, but still. Seeing f0rest and GTR rebound, and be relevant again would be great for the game. Hopefully Lekro and Draken can take some of the load off of the two aging superstars, and NiP can start to push forward into championship contention again.
The last time NiP won an event was in Oakland at the tail end of 2017. F0rest blew the roof off in the grand finals as the best performer on his team by a wide margin. He was the only player on NiP with a double digit plus minus, and he was the only real reason they one. Unfortunately for current f0rest, it’s doubtful he’ll be able to turn the clock back like that again. He’ll have to trust in his teammates, and maybe adjust his role in game, if he wants to be in the race.