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Credit: BLAST

A return to winning ways?

Time to bounce back – BLAST Fall Finals preview

Many fans’ minds may be on the new CSGO patch, but BLAST Fall Finals is upon us, and it promises to be far better than Elisa Masters Espoo 2022. Many of the teams in attendance have slipped up recently, they’ll be viewing Copenhagen’s Royal Arena as the perfect setting to bounce back.

One such team is FaZe Clan. Five months ago FaZe was on top of the world. They had just won IEM Cologne against closest rivals NAVI in one of the greatest finals in CSGO history. Since then, however, they have faltered. Crashing out of IEM Rio 2022 0-3 was not on the cards,. Especially when their elimination came after an embarrassing defeat to Bad News Eagles.

They’ll be looking at BLAST Fall Finals as a way to not only restore fan faith but also their faith in themselves. Havard “rain” Nygaard and Helvjis “broky” Saukants have both been on a steady decline since their early-year form. It’s time for them to turn it around if FaZe plans on winning this event.

NIP was the other team to depart the IEM Rio Legends Stage 0-3. Still a relatively new quantity since the addition of Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, many eyes will be on them to see if they can return to the level they showed in the Rio RMR. Hampus “hampus” Poser may have proved he can be a star since he passed off the IGL duties, but it’s about time Frederik “REZ” Sterner proved that his new role as the AWPer isn’t a mistake.

PGL

NIP’s first-round opponents, Heroic, didn’t slip up in Rio. At least not until the Grand Final anyway. Heroic reaching the Major final could be seen as an overperformance. Alternatively, it could be a coming-of-age moment for this new squad. Often criticized of stumbling under the weight of the crowd, they’ve now experienced the greatest pressure CSGO has to offer. Losing in that final will only light a fire under them to succeed here.

Success could also mean a whole lot more for Heroic. With Astralis having failed to make the Major and not in attendance here either, Heroic could finally turn the tides of Danish Counter-Strike and become their nation’s favorites with a win in the Royal Arena.

FaZe will be playing OG, a team that will be disappointed their first Major ended in a Challengers Stage exit. OG has never been quite as exciting as when Abdul “degster” Gasanov stood in for them at Spring Finals. They’ll be looking toward BLAST Fall Finals to prove they have finally gelled as a roster and can go deep in tournaments.

The biggest name in Group B is undoubtedly NAVI. If you looked at the Champions Stage bracket for IEM Rio, you would presume NAVI went on to win it. The lack of Diamond Coins awarded for the event proved that wasn’t to be the case.

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With Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev’s place in the team still unsure, NAVI will be trialing academy player Andrii “nipl” Kukharskyi at BLAST Fall Finals. The youngest is highly rated, but whether he can actually fit into the roster is another story. Finding a player that can better accommodate Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy in the roster is paramount. If nipl can do that, this might just be one of the last times we see sdy in the NAVI jersey.

NAVI will face Fluxo, a team not looking to bounce back, but rather looking to build on early successes. Having only formed their roster in August, Fluxo has done well to even qualify for BLAST Fall Finals. They have a tough opening fixture, but NAVI has always been shaky in opening matches. A win for Fluxo here could do a lot for their confidence going forward.

The other Group B opener will involve Liquid, NA’s greatest hope who faltered at IEM Rio. One of the favorites to win the event, they were eliminated by Team Spirit in the Legends Stage. Star player Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski didn’t turn up at the Major, IGL Nick “nitr0” Canella had a torrid time too. A strong performance here is a must for Liquid. Otherwise, those strong performances at Cologne and ESL Pro League Season 16 will look like a flash in the pan for a roster that took two months to stagnate.

No one will be looking to bounce back like their opponents, G2. Inconsistent since the arrival of Justin “jks” Savage and Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen, G2 was the first big name knocked out of the Rio RMR as they fell to GamerLegion. After having seven weeks off since then, it’s time for G2 to show up in a big way. HooXi has said in an interview with BLIX.gg that he believes this team can be the best in the world, BLAST Fall Finals is the perfect tournament to show they have the potential to do so.

ESL