Imperial upset Vitality in BLAST Spring Final opener
The Brazilians broke Vitality's 14-map and 12-match winning streak to advance to the Group A upper final in Washington, D.C.
Imperial kick-started their BLAST Premier Spring Final campaign with a shock 2-0 victory over Vitality, recording an upset in the debut match of the tournament by nabbing their Overpass pick, 16-3, before narrowly wrapping up the series with a slender 16-14 victory on Vertigo.
|BLAST Premier Spring Final 2023|
Imperial now advance to the upper bracket final, where they sit one best-of-three away — against the winner of G2 vs. Cloud9 — from securing a semi-final berth in what could be their last outing with this quintet. Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, the Brazilians' captain, is reportedly at the top of a number of teams' shopping lists heading into the off-season, with paiN and FURIA purportedly inquiring about securing the 32-year-old's services.
Conversely, the Dan "apEX" Madesclaire-led roster, who are back in the server for the first time since their BLAST.tv Paris Major triumph in May, now fall down to the Group A lower bracket in the United States. The Franco-Danish mix were on a 14-map winning streak dating back to IEM Rio heading into the fixture, but were unable to find an answer to Imperial's powerful T-sides across the two maps, and will now need a lower bracket run if they're to pick up their third Big Event trophy in a row.
The action in the inaugural BLAST Spring Final fixture, which was initially delayed by 35 minutes due to technical difficulties, began on Overpass, Imperial's pick. The Brazilians enjoyed the better start to their map choice, with Vitality's lack of solid preparation ahead of the tournament and a 10-kill performance from Marcelo "chelo" Cespedes allowing Imperial to grab the bull by the horns and race to a comfortable 5-1 lead on the T-side.
This advantage only grew as the opening half progressed; potent utility usage repeatedly sent Vitality running off to save their weapons round after round, gifting Imperial an avenue from which to post a stellar 12-3 lead at the interval. Any chance of a Vitality recovery was quickly dashed at the outset of the second half, a quick four-round spree from the Brazilians further adding insult to injury and enabling the FalleN-led lineup to convert their map pick in convincing fashion, 16-3.
Imperial looked to continue their form once Vertigo got underway, and the Brazilians did just that as they cruised to yet another 5-1 lead on the T-side, Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut being the only player from the Vitality to camp to go positive in the server (5-4 K-D). Vitality, spurred on in both fragging output and motivational cheers by Emil "Magisk" Reif, were able to put up more of a defense this time around, but a quad kill from Vinicius "VINI" Figueiredo and his Tec-9 gave the Brazilians a chance to lead comfortable once more; Imperial won three of the final four rounds of the half to sit on a 9-6 buffer heading into their CT-side.
Imperial won their fourth pistol round of the series to march to double digits and gear up for the upset, with the Brazilians clearly unfazed by Vitality's recent Major victory as they consistently took fights, pushed angles, and prevented apEX and company from settling into their game plan. A triple kill from the French captain in round 22 to help stem the bleeding and begin a shift in momentum that pushed Vitality to within one, but Imperial survived the descent into a scrappy affair to eke out victory, coming alive as they were pushed to the brink of overtime to steal the map 16-14, and the series, 2-0.
|Vitality||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|35 - 38||-3||73.5||0.95|
|33 - 39||-6||79.9||0.88|
|28 - 35||-7||61.5||0.84|
|22 - 38||-16||67.5||0.68|
|18 - 38||-20||50.1||0.66|