The plot thickens as the tournament matures
In the two days since we last recapped, only four matches have been played. That didn’t stop some teams from establishing themselves as strong contenders for the later stages of the tournament, though. There were at least a couple of surprise results, and the results could continue to give an off-beat complexion to a tournament that has already seen some interesting results. If you haven’t had the time to watch the matches live or comb through the highlights, here’s everything you need to know about days 5 and 6 of BLAST Premier Spring Groups.
Day 5 began with the much-awaited banger that was G2 vs Natus Vincere — both juggernauts of the game. The second and final match of the day was BIG vs Ninjas in Pyjamas, both teams who are desperate to prove themselves after a year of subpar performances.
G2 vs Natus Vincere
The end of 2021 was marked by the fantastic Major final between G2 and Na’ Vi, with G2 losing their footing when on the brink of a comeback to suffer an unceremonious loss. However, the tables have turned greatly, and it was G2 who ended last year on a high note, albeit not a Major win. Now, it’s Na’ Vi that are in a position where they need to reassert themselves as one of the top contenders for every tournament as they used to be.
Na’ Vi picking Nuke was nothing new, but them being shut down on the attacking side of the map is certainly not something we’re used to seeing. G2 were clinical as they barely let Na’ Vi in, ending the first half at 12-3, and while Na’ Vi also put up a strong defense, it wasn’t enough to prevent G2 from taking a 16-10 win. Who else but Nikola “NiKo” Kovač top fragged for the French organization with an almost unsettlingly good 1.96-rated performance, with his heir apparent Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov providing good support.
G2’s Inferno was a whole other ball game. The teams were next-and-next in the first half, and although it looked like G2 was going to end things early in the second, the Ukrainians came back strong and took the game into Overtime. Things stayed even after the first bout, but G2 finally cracked the case for a hard-fought 22-18 win. Once again, NiKo was at the top of his game with m0NESY not far behind, but this time Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev had a thing or two to say about the game — even if his efforts didn’t result in a win.
BIG vs Ninjas in Pyjamas
BIG have been mediocre for quite a while, beating the weaker teams just fine but falling short every time they came up against a strong team. The same could be said of NIP, who haven’t had a remarkable result in quite some time now and have undergone some roster changes. Both teams are desperate for some good results, with a win sure to provide some much-needed momentum under their wings.
BIG seemed to have done well to pick Mirage as they quickly went 5-0 up on the T-side, but NIP then locked down the house for eight straight rounds before BIG took the last two. The second half was much more checkered, with teams exchanging single and multiple rounds until NIP finally closed the game in their favor on the very last round of regulation play. Even though Nils ”k1to” Gruhne and Florian ”syrsoN” Rische were the best players on the server by HLTV ratings, it was rookie Danyyl “headtr1ck” Valitov who stole the show.
The Swedes’ map pick of Inferno was a much more comfortable ride for them as they managed to pick up a favorable 9 rounds on the T-side. Although BIG did put up a fight, it wasn’t enough, and NIP won comfortably with the score at 16-11. It was an important top-fragging performance from Fredrik “REZ” Sterner, who had been struggling for a while, and he had an in-form Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen as his wingman.
Onto the next day, proceedings began with Evil Geniuses taking on Heroic once again, following their upset over the same earlier in the tournament. Another upset — OG beating Liquid — would also have a second iteration in the Lower Bracket of their group.
Evil Geniuses vs Heroic
EG had shocked the CSGO world with a win over Heroic in their first competitive match of the year. Heroic, who are the number 1 team in the world as per HLTV, had to make their way past Astralis to face EG again. Most people assumed that EG’s win was a fluke, and that they would be wiped out by Heroic this time around. Turns out they were sort of right in more ways than one.
Heroic’s pick of Nuke started well enough for the Danes, but the Americans all but closed the plant down in the 5th round and didn’t reopen for the rest of the half. Heroic put up a decent defense, but it wasn’t even close to being enough. The map went 16-9 to EG, with Heroic looking like a shadow of their usual selves. Sanjar “neaLaN” İshakov was excellent for the blues, and Jadan “HexT” Postma and Jerric “wiz” Jiang provided some much-needed backup.
It’s as though Heroic players took adrenaline shots to the heart or something during the break, because they came back in smoldering hot form. They pulverized EG on their own pick of Overpass for a 13-2 CT half, and proceeded to end the game with the score at an unceremonious 16-2. Casper “cadiaN” Møller and Rasmus “sjuush” Beck were both on fire as they helped their team to a resounding, statement victory to announce the start of their comeback.
Next up came Mirage, and it was a similar story as Heroic only allowed EG to score a paltry 3 rounds on the T-side. Once the sides switched, it only took the Danes 6 rounds to get their four for a dominating 16-5 victory as well as a reverse sweep. Every single player on Heroic played well, but Martin “stavn” Lund and Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard were a cut above the rest.
OG vs Team Liquid
The most common start of a rivalry is by way of a team improving to upset the status quo. It’s not everyday that a new rivalry is formed in CSGO, but we might be seeing the start of one in the form of OG vs Liquid. That being said, this was a grudge match for Liquid as they were considered by almost anyone to be the stronger of the two teams, so they had a point or two to prove. The organizations are already long term rivals on the Dota 2 scene, and it would be amazing to see the same clans vying for supremacy in two different esports.
Going into Liquid’s pick of Mirage, the first half saw Liquid starting strong, OG coming back even better, and Liquid evening things out before OG carried a slight lead into the second half. However, Nemanja “nexa” Isaković’s strat calling was on point, and OG overwhelmed Liquid in the second half to seal the first map 16-12. Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis was great for the Americans, but Abdulkhalik “degster” Gasanov was even better for OG and had Maciej “F1KU” Miklas by his side.
Liquid seemed to have had enough as they beat OG convincingly on the latter’s map Ancient. After a strong T-side where they picked up 7 rounds, OG looked utterly lost on the defense, and could do little but watch as Liquid won it 16-8. Nick “nitr0” Cannella, Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, and the aforementioned YEKINDAR were the chief architects of the powerful performance.
If anyone watching thought Liquid was back, they were wrong. OG picked up a strong eight rounds on the T-side of the decider Overpass, not letting Liquid strengthen their economy while also showing some impressive tactics. Their defense was also rock-solid this time around, and they won the series with a 16-10 triumph on the last map with degster and Adam “NEOFRAG” Zouhar starring.
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