Credit: Bart Oerbekke BLAST
The player break is finally over and Tier 1 Counter-Strike returns this Friday with the BLAST Premier Spring Groups event, where a total of 12 BLAST partners will be split into three groups. Half of the teams will secure a spot in the $425.000 BLAST Premier Spring Finals event, while the bottom half will have to fight their way out of the Showdown event in April. There, teams will have another chance at making it to the Spring Finals.
The opening round of the tournament is set to kick off on Friday at 15:00 CET. However, before the action goes live, we have gathered all the necessary information about the teams in this preview.
With several roster shuffles soon to be tested – including a new look Vitality with Magisk, dupreeh, and zonic – team are seeking to kick off the season on a high note.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
NiKo and company from G2 enter the season with a new-look roster after acquiring m0NESY as the new main AWPer, and Aleksib as the new captain, who took over for former IGL nexa. These two new signings look very good on paper and it will be exciting to see whether G2 can live up to the big expectations. Still, a team with such strong individuals should have no problems at showing a good level right away. We believe that G2 will come out on top of their group in a comfortable fashion despite them having to go through an adjusting period.
The North American organization, Complexity, has completely rebuilt its CS:GO division heading into 2022 by acquiring the former Extra Salt core in FaNg, JT, and floppy alongside former Liquid player Grim, and junior from FURIA. At the first tournament of the year, Funspark ULTI 2021 Finals, Complexity finished in last place and didn’t quite impress CS:GO fans as they had hoped for. They managed to steal away a map from Gambit in their opening match before getting eliminated by ECSTATIC with a 0-2 loss in the lower bracket. As a result of this, Complexity are expected to struggle at this event, something the bookmakers seem to agree on. They are facing off against G2 in their opening match, a big test in which they will try to make something happen to possibly deliver an upset. However, considering their recent showing, it will be very hard for Complexity to match G2’s power and keep it close.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The Ninjas are once again left without their main AWPer in device, who is sidelined, supposedly up to several months due to health issues. That means their young Ninja, phzy, will again fill out the Danes shoes. The 19-year-old Swedish AWPer has shown a good level of Counter-Strike on the big stage but is still a noticeable downgrade compared to the 4x Major champion. This suggests that NiP won’t be as big of a threat as many expected them to be.
The Germans enter the event with a 3rd place finish from Funspark ULTI 2021 Finals. They failed to achieve anything noteworthy in 2021, but are now looking to start off 2022 on the right foot. Their chances at making the upper final are looking good as they are facing NiP in their opening match and can take advantage of the Swede's current situation. We don’t expect BIG to go all the way, but we think it’s time for them to prove that they can be competitive after a rough year.
The favorites for this event are without a doubt the world’s best, Natus Vincere. Born to Win completely dominated 2021 with terrifying form and all the signs are pointing to the fact that the world of Counter-Strike is living in a true, uncontested NAVI era. It’s almost unrealistic that NAVI won’t be making it to the Group finals when looking at their opponents in the group.
The Brazilian squad from MIBR is left without their highest-rated player in chelo, who is sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test result. This will be a big issue for MIBR who now see their chances for making a surprise even more reduced than they already were. They are facing a very tough task from the beginning as they are facing NAVI in their opening match with a stand-in. We think MIBR stands no chance in their group and with chelo sidelined, they will probably be affected in a negative way.
Another team that enters the tournament with a new-look roster is OG. OG will debut at this event with their new IGL, nexa, who hopes to turn around a team that failed to show consistency and live up to expectations in 2021. It will be interesting to see if OG’s approach to the game has changed now that nexa is in charge. In the bookmakers’ eyes, OG are underdogs against Astralis in their opening matchup, but we believe that OG has what it takes to keep it close.
Is it time for Astralis to achieve some clear success? The Danish team hasn’t had any serious success since 2020, and their best result in 2021 comes in form of a 3rd place at the BLAST Premier Fall Final 2021, when they made their debut with k0nfig and blameF. They started off 2022 with an unsatisfying 5-6th place finish at Funspark ULTI 2021 Finals, however, Astralis can still end up being a dangerous threat at this event, if they manage to get off to a good start with a victory over OG.
A new chapter in the book of Vitality was written with the major signings of the three Danes from Astralis – dupreeh, Magisk, and coach zonic. BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2022 will be the first test for the new French-Danish roster, so it’s hard to predict anything right away, as they haven’t played an official match yet. But one thing is sure, Vitality are looking to create a legacy, and with dupreeh, Magisk, and zonic’s knowledge of how to win, stay on top, and be favorites is something that will help Vitality on the right way.
“We are clear on what we want to do and for sure, when this team starts winning, we will win for a long, long time.” – Vitality CEO, Fabien “Neo” Devide
We have high expectations for the new-look Vitality roster even though it’s their first event together. It will be very exciting to see if they can already find success at this event early on.
EG miraculously secured a spot at the Major where they stood no chance and their form throughout the year was horrible. However, there may be a light for them in 2022 due to their new signings in Stewie2k, RUSH, and automatic. They aren’t expected to perform quite well this early on, considering the fact that we haven’t seen them play together on the server yet. But they definitely have a good chance at taking advantage of the easier teams in the competition, especially if they manage to build up some confidence with a good performance against a strong individual side from Vitality in their opening match.
Karrigan and his troops had a disappointing 2021 year that saw them fail to reach playoffs at the Major and go titleless for the first time since 2016. Now, FaZe are looking to turn the tables around as they are heading into this event and the 2022 season with a kind of dream lineup. At the beginning of January, FaZe announced the signing of karrigan’s former MOUZ teammate ropz, who replaced olofmeister on the roster., The Estonian could very well help the organization establish a new superpower in the season, solve their inconsistency, and be their ticket back to the top of CS:GO. Captain karrigan certainly knows how to utilize ropz in the right way in FaZe’s system and how to get the best out of his skills. Will ropz, karrigan, Twistzz, broky, and Rain be able to take the CS:GO world by storm in 2022? Probably, but first, let’s wait and see what kind of an approach to the game the Danish mastermind has prepared his team for at this event.
About a week ago, Team Liquid announced the signing of nitr0, officially marking his return to CS:GO after a 16-month stint in the professional VALORANT scene. The move saw Team Liquid finalize their roster, consisting of nitr0’s former teammates NAF and EliGe, and new additions shox and oSee. Like so many other teams in this event, players from Team Liquid haven't played an official match yet and will make their debut. So, it’s hard to predict anything, especially when you’re considering the fact that nitr0 hasn’t played CS:GO on the big stage for quite a while. It’s unthinkable that Liquid will make it far at BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2022, but we can't deny that shox, EliGE, and NAF have the power to potentially push the team to a satisfying result.
Opening round schedule:
15:00 (CET) | G2 vs. Complexity
16:00 (CET) | Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. BIG
15:00 (CET) | Natus Vincere vs. MIBR
16:00 (CET) | Astralis vs. BIG
15:00 (CET) | Team Vitality vs. Evil Geniuses
16:00 (CET) | FaZe Clan vs. Team Liquid