BLAST Premier Spring Group A preview

Top-tier Counter-Strike is back on the menu with BLAST Premier Spring Series kicking off this Friday. Let's take a look at the first group's teams and break them down: Liquid, FaZe, NiP, and MIBR — who do we see going through to the finals and how can the underdogs shake things up?

After the big teams enjoyed a break from the game over the holidays, we're about to get a taste of top CS:GO for the first time in over a month as the first weekend of action at BLAST Premier Spring Series is here. You might remember BLAST for its fast-paced best-of-one round-robin arena format in the previous years, but the tournament series looks completely different in 2020 after undergoing changes on all fronts.

BLAST is back with a new look

The first part of the Spring series begins in London in a studio setting, where 12 partnered teams will be spread across three double-elimination, best-of-three groups taking place over the next three weekends. Each group offers Spring finals spots to the top two finishers, while the bottom two sides will be placed in the Showdown, where they will get another chance to advance to the finals alongside other teams coming from qualifiers.

Four teams who stretch out all over the current top 15 in Liquid (#3), FaZe (#8), NiP (#11), and MIBR (#15) are about to play in Group A, which starts on Friday with the opening round, so let's go through where each of them stands in the competition and explore the biggest storylines.

Going into this group, the immediate question that comes to mind is: 'Who will make it alongside Liquid'? The North American side is undoubtedly the big favorite of Group A as a team that had just had a groundbreaking year in 2019. They admittedly endured some lows after the summer break, suffering group stage exits at DreamHack Masters Malmö and BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, but still remained a top-four team.

The one worry we could have for Liquid is how they have been affected by the long break. The last time they went into an off-season, they did so as the undisputed best team in the world on the back of six consecutive Big-Event titles, only to return from it looking far from the same dominant team to finish the year without any more trophies.

However, even though they couldn't hold up to the ridiculous standards they had set in the first half of 2019, Nick "nitr0" Cannella & co. only lost series to three teams in the latter half: Astralis (six times), Grayhound — now Renegades — (once), and fnatic (once). The fact that they only lost one series to a team outside of the top five in four months should say enough about where Liquid stands among teams that largely struggled to contend for deep runs in the same period. Group A is looking like it's theirs to lose, indeed.

Something to look out for: keep a close eye on how Liquid's veto priorities have changed compared to last year. They have already insinuated that they might introduce Train into their map pool this year to combat Astralis, and this group is where they could try to experiment with it, either against MIBR, who they're facing first, or NiP.

FaZe have a lot to atone for from the last few tournaments of 2019. Their new lineup managed to find its peak in November with a triumph at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, which they followed up with a good group stage showing at IEM Beijing, but other than that they have been quite underwhelming.

Their single win from ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals and BLAST Pro Series Global Final in December was against TYLOO, while they suffered losses to 100 Thieves, MIBR (still with Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles), NiP (before the additions of Tim "nawwk" Jonasson and coach Björn "THREAT" Pers), and Liquid. Unfortunately for them, they share the group in London with three of those teams, putting their chances in an awkward spot despite them being the second-highest-ranked side of the lot.

Similarly to MIBR, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's side have had the advantage of starting practice early this year due to participating in the IEM Katowice closed qualifier, in which they played out close series against ARCY and ENCE and ultimately made it through. Even if it was just a couple of online matches, they should have served as a decent warmup before the first big tournaments of the year begins, which is a luxury that NiP — whom FaZe will meet in the opening round of Group A — and Liquid did not have.

All eyes should be on NiP from Friday as they make their debut with their new lineup in London. Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg is no longer with them after rejoining his old teammates in Dignitas, and the Swedish organization has now completely changed their face with the loss of the last original member, bringing in a new promising player in nawwk.

Much to everyone's surprise, the former GamerLegion AWPer was originally meant to take on a hybrid role as Simon "twist" Eliasson was supposed to remain the priminary sniper. However, based on our interview with Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson from the event, NiP have decided to make nawwk the primary AWPer after all.

Changes to the team's style as a whole are expected, as well, due to the coaching switch from Faruk "pita" Pita to THREAT. The 31-year-old previously demonstrated his ability to overhaul a lineup's identity when he had his first stint with the Swedes, between 2016 and 2018, but we will have to wait to see just how much of his vision he has been able to implement in just a few weeks.

All in all, despite the changes I wouldn't count NiP out of the running considering who they're up against. Judging by the end of 2019, FaZe are far from a stable team and MIBR have yet to show a good result with Ignacio "meyern" Meyer, which makes the two entirely beatable. The problem is that the Brazilians have historically had a lock on the matchup across various versions of both teams in recent times.

Lineup Age Rating
BrazilGabriel "FalleN" Toledo 28 1.02
BrazilFernando "fer" Alvarenga 28 1.02
BrazilEpitacio "TACO" de Melo 25 0.96
BrazilVito "kNgV-" Giuseppe 27 0.96
ArgentinaIgnacio "meyern" Meyer 17 0.94
Coach
Offline placings in the last three months
Placement Event
6th
cs_summit 5
9-12th
ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals
5-6th
ECS Season 8 Finals
3-4th
CS:GO Asia Championships 2019

If you haven't gotten a good idea of who could finish second in the group so far, it's unlikely that will change from here on out. MIBR offer no help in this regard with their latest results, which saw them bomb out in last place of the rather poorly-attended cs_summit 5 in December, where they debuted with meyern.

The Argentinian player had only just been signed to the team then, which makes it even more difficult to draw any tangible conclusions from the Los Angeles event, but it appears that the former Isurus and Sharks star has ways to go before he gets accustomed to the level of competition he will now face much more often under the new banner, averaging a 0.99 rating against top-30 opposition.

MIBR's shaky run in the IEM Katowice North America closed qualifier in early January didn't do much to help their case, either, as they lost series to INTZ and Cloud9 there, with the grand final loss to Johnny "JT" Theodosiou's side costing them a spot at one of the biggest tournaments of the year. All this makes the Brazilians' chances look gloomy at best, especially when they'll first go up against Liquid, but potential matchups with NiP and FaZe put a top-two placing within the realm of possibilities, as mentioned above.

United States Nick 'nitr0' Cannella
Nick 'nitr0' Cannella
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
1242
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
Argentina Ignacio 'meyern' Meyer
Ignacio 'meyern' Meyer
Age:
17
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.11
Maps played:
271
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.12
Sweden Simon 'twist' Eliasson
Simon 'twist' Eliasson
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
1261
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Sweden Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1644
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.16
Maps played:
1166
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Sweden Björn 'THREAT' Pers
Björn 'THREAT' Pers
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.80
Maps played:
50
KPR:
0.53
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Sweden Tim 'nawwk' Jonasson
Tim 'nawwk' Jonasson
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
545
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.10
Sweden Jonas 'Lekr0' Olofsson
Jonas 'Lekr0' Olofsson
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
888
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
South Africa Johnny 'JT' Theodosiou
Johnny 'JT' Theodosiou
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
536
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Bosnia and Herzegovina Faruk 'pita' Pita
Faruk 'pita' Pita
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.90
Maps played:
173
KPR:
0.63
DPR:
0.73
APR:
0.15
Brazil Lucas 'LUCAS1' Teles
Lucas 'LUCAS1' Teles
Age:
24
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
825
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.16
#2
 | 
Argentina Chief02 
Nice
2020-01-30 23:30
Nice
2020-01-30 23:30
#6
 | 
United States codgun 
Nice
2020-01-30 23:33
#10
 | 
France LeDiplomate 
Clearly the group of life for Faze and Liquid.
2020-01-30 23:37
liquid-faze final liquid wins 2-1
2020-01-30 23:39
#15
Frankie | 
Ukraine d3adLY 
1 Liquid 2 Mibr 3 FaZe 4 NiP
2020-01-30 23:40
#16
 | 
Czech Republic wonderhead 
4. Mibr, they haven't proven their worth as of recently
2020-01-30 23:42
#56
Frankie | 
Ukraine d3adLY 
xd
2020-01-31 21:18
#19
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
MIBR and nip in the bottom. Niko is bad nowadays but coldzera good. MIBR has fallen just like fallen is falling in skill lvl
2020-01-30 23:51
2. MiBR, KnG and Meyern will change our situation, after this bootcamp, we will smash other teams ;D (well, i believe that)
2020-01-31 11:53
#46
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
You sound bias.
2020-01-31 13:37
I'm supposed to hahhhahaha
2020-01-31 15:26
#49
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
I guess so :)
2020-01-31 15:33
well, good luck for our teams :))
2020-01-31 17:05
#52
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
my team is not part of the tourney :( but yeah, good luck! :)
2020-01-31 17:26
i mean, in 2020 hahahaha, let's go!
2020-01-31 18:04
#55
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
haha aight :D yeah!
2020-01-31 18:31
#24
 | 
Spain Lorenzo_Lamas 
1 Liquid 2 Faze 3 Nip 4 Mibr
2020-01-31 00:31
#43
sh1ro | 
Taiwan Mafuuyu 
+1 most accurate placing
2020-01-31 13:33
#45
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
Yes
2020-01-31 13:35
#44
 | 
Sweden Rezeter 
+1
2020-01-31 13:35
#57
Frankie | 
Ukraine d3adLY 
ok))
2020-01-31 21:18
#58
 | 
Spain Lorenzo_Lamas 
Ok m8 ;)
2020-02-01 00:06
#59
Frankie | 
Ukraine d3adLY 
but mibr isn`t so bad
2020-02-01 01:46
#20
ropz | 
Czech Republic y0fl0w 
who cars, no ropz no party
2020-01-31 00:07
#21
 | 
United States Frotha 
Stewie Bottomfrag all maps
2020-01-31 00:11
#22
ropz | 
Czech Republic y0fl0w 
can confirm
2020-01-31 00:12
Finally CSGO tourneys are back
2020-01-31 00:36
#37
 | 
India _Jazz_ 
+1
2020-01-31 06:56
#26
mimi | 
Latvia LETTONIAN 
Faze Liquid NIP MIBR
2020-01-31 00:54
#27
 | 
United States sorcrcrc 
meyern playing with boomers lol
2020-01-31 00:57
#28
s1mple | 
United States Nugget7 
lmao XD
2020-01-31 01:12
#32
God | 
Russia amc20 
Group A is looking like it's theirs to lose, indeed What does this mean?
2020-01-31 01:20
1° Líquid 2° MiBR 3° FaZe 4° NiP
2020-01-31 01:38
+1
2020-01-31 11:54
#34
 | 
Brazil VonLermen 
1-mibr 2-nip 3-faze 4-liquid Kkkkkkkkkkkk
2020-01-31 03:03
nt
2020-01-31 05:47
#40
 | 
Romania exrons 
EZ group for NiP
2020-01-31 09:43
#FazeUP
2020-01-31 17:25
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