Four key storylines of BLAST Premier Fall Series
It's time to get excited about the first stage of BLAST's Fall season, and here are four big reasons why.
Whether you are one of the people who have grown tired of the scene after it became repetitive or you are still just as passionate about watching CS:GO no matter how much the pandemic has changed the industry, BLAST Premier Fall Series is a tournament you don't want to miss.
The first stage of BLAST's Fall season takes the first step back to what the scene was like before the pandemic hit earlier this year, and as if that wasn't enough, there has also been big movements among some of the world's best teams and players who are about to play in the $150,000 event.
So here's a pitch for why you should keep your eyes peeled on the Fall Series:
Evil Geniuses and FURIA take on Europe
After we saw nothing but regional action for what feels like an eternity by now, the time when the best teams from North America and Europe go up against each other is upon us again. That prospect alone should get anyone excited for the final two months of 2020, which will witness the return of intercontinental competition (albeit still online, at least for now) before the crazy year warped by the pandemic comes to a close.
In the BLAST Premier Fall Series, the first of a number of tournaments featuring big teams from both sides of the Atlantic, we will get a taste of what a true tier-one competition feels and looks like for the first time since IEM Katowice, with FURIA and Evil Geniuses getting ready to challenge the brunt of Europe to a battle between the two most competitive regions in CS:GO.
Although Liquid and Gen.G won the first two regional titles in ESL Pro League Season 11 and ESL One: Road to Rio once the pandemic struck in March, every single one of seven North American titles over the last five months have gone to either FURIA or Evil Geniuses, with Andrei "arT" Piovezan's side boasting four of them and Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's squad the other three. So who better than these two teams to represent the North American region in this intercontinental clash?
If you're a fan of other teams and aren't caught up on what's going on the other side of the pond these days, this is the time to start paying attention. There is no way a lineup as skilled as Evil Geniuses or one as unpredictable and in-your-face as FURIA doesn't ruffle some feathers over in the Old Continent, where after a year of arT-less bliss, teams might have forgotten just how obnoxious it is to find the mega-aggressive Brazilian in their own spawn 20 seconds into the round and see him do it all over again in the next.
Complexity and G2 to showcase new superstars
Historic moves have been happening in Europe lately, with two big stars of the game about to enter a new chapter. After over six years with Australia's No. 1 team, Justin "jks" Savage has just announced his move from the now-disbanded 100 Thieves squad to Complexity, where the 15th best player of 2019 will be hoping to reach new heights and pick up the first big trophies in his career.
Everything is pointing towards this being the perfect move for the Benjamin "blameF" Bremer-led side. The Aussie fits into many of Owen "oBo" Schlatter's previous roles, and the Danish in-game leader is giving up some of his own to accommodate the new member even better, and there's no question that the lineup change, albeit sudden and unexpected, brings a serious boost to Complexity in terms of experience as well as skill.
The only question is how quickly the team and jks will mesh together and reach the level of chemistry they need to consistently compete for titles. The likelihood of that happening in time for BLAST Premier Fall Series is low, with Complexity having only started practicing with the 24-year-old a week before their debut, but that doesn't mean they won't be an intriguing team to watch and a competitive one in a group with Vitality, BIG, as well as a potentially Nikola "NiKo" Kovač-less FaZe.
Speaking of the Bosnian's situation with his long-time team, it is not set in stone yet, but it looks increasingly likely that NiKo will complete the reported move to G2 in time for the $150,000 event. With FaZe in Group B and G2 in Group C, we might have to wait until the middle of the week to find out for sure, but we can at least muse about the possibility of the compelling new combination for now.
If François "AmaNEk" Delaunay is the man on the way out as expected, then this is a huge upgrade from every angle. Whether you look at experience, firepower, the X-factor, the ability to be a reliable secondary AWPer, or an additional source of ideas and calls, NiKo brings it all as one of the best to have ever touched the game. Given that he should have solid chemistry with the rest of the lineup from day one on top of that, there's a good chance G2 will go from from the disappointing performer of late to a title contender almost overnight.
Astralis in full force again?
Changes also happened in the Astralis camp as the Danish organisation sold Patrick "es3tag" Hansen to Cloud9 and is set to welcome back Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth after he took a medical leave at the end of May. The Clutch Minister's reintroduction to the roster puts an end to speculation regarding his future with the Danish powerhouse and brings with it the possibility of the back-to-back-to-back Major winning roster playing together for the first time in over five months, but we still have yet to receive confirmation that that will be the case.
At least we know that Xyp9x will indeed play in Astralis' opening match of Group C against MIBR on November 2, but there's still a chance that someone else from the original five will not while Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen steps into the active roster for the first time since he was put on the bench at the beginning of September, after playing just four matches.
With Astralis staying silent about the specific roster they will use in BLAST for now and having the ability to submit all six players and swap them in between maps or matches according to the tournament organizer's rulebook, we'll just have to see in which direction they will decide to go. However, it's reasonable to assume that the Danes will return to their best possible lineup whenever they can, so you can get your hopes up — with caution.
MIBR with a whole new look
The last time MIBR were in Europe, it was just after the player break and their stay lasted only a few weeks, but in that short period their atrocious results were enough to put the final nail in the lineup's coffin and bring about a completely new era for the organization. As the phrase "out with the old, in with the new" goes, the Brazilian squad now no longer features any of their most senior members in Epitacio "TACO" de Melo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo after the first two were let go and the AWPer and in-game leader decided to step down in protest against the changes.
Last week, we finally got to learn the first step in MIBR's plan, which was to introduce Brazilian legend Raphael "cogu" Camargo as their new coach and manager. Just days later, it was announced that a trio of stand-ins had been brought in to fill in the gaps: Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles, one of the organisation's former players, and two young guns in Vinicius "vsm" Moreira and Leonardo "leo_drk" Oliveira.
The temporary lineup will make its debut in BLAST Premier, in which they'll have some tough opposition to play, with Astralis, FURIA, and G2 featured in the same group. Expectations are low for the brand new squad, but it'll be intriguing nonetheless to find out just how different the new-look MIBR will be without the influence of the old guard and with the injection of some younger talent. Surely it can't get any worse than the previous roster's final moments?