The last event with the legendary Astralis roster is no more but many other exciting teams have begun to emerge at BLAST’s showpiece knockout tournament.
What are the BLAST Premier Showdown events?
The BLAST Premier Showdowns are some of the most brutal and unforgiving CS:GO tournaments in the entire competitive calendar. Its single loss elimination format means that upsets are commonplace and, with spots in the Finals on the line, the stakes riding on every edition always make for compelling viewing.
With so many high-profile sides in action, and multiple dramatic storylines unfolding throughout the event, here are some snippets from what we learned at the recent BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown tournament.
It’s the end of an era for Astralis
Astralis are undoubtedly the finest organization to ever touch the Counter-Strike series, winning four Majors, setting records in terms of prize earnings. They are also responsible for many innovations in the esports industry with everything from diet and nutrition, in-game substitutions and understanding the danger of mental fatigue on a player.
However, after a reasonable end to 2020 where they ended the year at the summit of the HLTV world rankings, 2021 has increasingly looked like the final chapter in an era coming to an end. And, as it turns out, the BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown would be the final time the Global Offensive community would be treated to seeing the legendary core of Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, Emil “Magisk” Reif and Nicolai “device” Reedtz in the server together.
The Danes have consistently struggled against the likes of Heroic and Gambit (the two success stories of the online era) over the past year, but it was the new-look OG roster that ended up dismantling this legendary core.
Astralis, having dropped into the Spring Showdown after losses in the Spring Groups to Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) and BIG, were perhaps unlucky to have an opening-day fixture against OG, with the latter only ranked as the lowest seed on account of their roster reshuffling; nevertheless, their 2-0 sweep put on show all of the structural and chemistry issues rife in the Danish side so far this year.
Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen was given a surprising run out on OG’s Inferno pick (16-7), but the Danes continued to look lost and lethargic on their map of Dust II (19-16) even when Xyp9x was substituted back in.
Within a couple of weeks, five-year veteran and fourteen MVP award-winning AWPer dev1ce had completed his Earth-shattering transfer to NiP, bringing to an end the most successful roster core in CS:GO history.
New-look OG impress on debut
Before the tournament’s kick-off, OG had never made a roster change since their initial founding at the end of 2019. But, with a stacked Spring calendar and their first planned bootcamp for over a year on the horizon, the org made the big call of benching Nathan “NBK” Schmitt and Issa “ISSAA” Murad in favor of Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen from Heroic and Shahar ”flameZ” Shushan from Endpoint.
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At the time, it looked like a risky move from Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen and co. to remove the two players so often described as the glue that held OG together during their stickiest stretches in the server.
However, it only took a handful of rounds in their opening match against Astralis to convince the community of the sheer level of talent OG now boast in their ranks. Aleksib is already a competent fragging in-game leader, backed up by the firepower of Valdemar Bjørn “valde” Vangså and Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski, but the enthusiasm and chemistry immediately injected with these new additions could prove to be the winning formula needed to catapult OG to the top table of competitive CS.
Defeating Astralis in two maps is a serious achievement and losing a narrow 2-1 series to G2 is nothing to be ashamed of; place these Spring Showdown matches alongside OG’s recent triumphant run through the IEM Summer qualifiers, and the future certainly does look bright.
Where now for Team Vitality?
The French side enjoyed two spells as the world’s best Counter-Strike side throughout 2020 according to HLTV, spending ten weeks at the summit between November and December. However, since then, they have been an org plagued by inconsistencies from some of their superstars, a few murky allegations of stream sniping, a strange enforced break put on their in-game leader, all of which eventually led to the benching of Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom and the announcement that legendary Counter-Strike pro and original Vitality member Cédric “RpK” Guipouy would also be leaving the active roster following the Spring Showdown.
And whilst Vitality had been in a straight freefall ever since the turn of the year, it was expected that the team would be able to rally around each other and send off such a legendary figure in a positive way.
Their first match at the Showdown was against South American org 9z, ranked 88th in the world when the two sides met. It should have been an absolute stomping, nothing but a simple warmup for Vitality ahead of the tougher tests to come. Instead, it turned into the undeniable shock result of the year. Vitality looked sluggish, frustrated, and increasingly complacent as they fell to successive map losses against the South Americans.
As per their pre-tournament announcement, Vitality have brought twenty-two-year-old Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van and will look to steer themselves back into form with a much younger roster than before. The road ahead promises to be a long one.