Avangar may not have won the major, but they’ve got at least one trophy to show off for their resurgence.
The Kazakhstani team took first place at BLAST Pro Series Moscow, defeating ForZe in the grand finals. The win gives Avangar a $125,000 prize but more importantly, it demonstrates that their performance at the StarLadder Berlin Major was no fluke.
ForZe opened map one on Overpass strong with a successful pistol round and some surprising setups on bomb sites. That allowed them to jump out to an early 7-3 lead, but they soon started to reach the bottom of their bag of tricks and Avangar retook control. Dzhami “Jame” Ali looked sharp and helped Avangar rally for an 8-7 lead by halftime.
Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev popped off in the second pistol round to get the ball rolling for Avangar in the second half, but ForZe wasn’t going down easily. The team rallied back and teased a potential comeback, reaching 13 round wins. Avangar settled down and Jame stayed sharp, allowing Avangar to seal up the first map 16-13.
The second game on Inferno started largely the same way, with ForZe starting strong courtesy of unorthodox setups and a very solid defense. Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev managed to break things open a little bit for Avangar with a great clutch but this time, ForZe shut down the comeback and closed out the first half 10-5.
A successful pistol round conversion and an ill-advised clutch attempt from Bogdan “xsepower” Chernikov allowed Avangar back into the game. ForZe tightened things up when they needed to, however. The Russians closed out the game and forced a third map by taking a 16-12 win.
Despite the victory on Inferno, ForZe seemed rattled by the latter stages of the game. They played like it in the deciding showdown on Dust 2.
Avangar opened the map with six straight rounds and that momentum never really slowed. They kept winning round after round and ForZe was never able to mount any sort of offense of their own. This resulted in a 16-6 win for Avangar that locked up the series for them 2-1.
It was an impressive showing Avangar and caps an event that gave an interesting sneak peak into the upcoming CSGO season.
BLAST Pro Series Moscow had the distinction of being the first prominent live event following the StarLadder Berlin Major and as such gave fans a first look at some of the teams that had undergone roster changes.
ENCE Esports’ first tournament with Miikka “suNny” Kemppi was an underwhelming one. While the Finnish team at one point looked like a serious contender to win the Berlin Major, they did not seem to be better off after the removal of Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen as they amassed a 1-2-2 record. This is their first tournament as a unit, so fans shouldn’t be panicking quite yet, but it wasn’t a strong statement from the team in any sense.
A team that did make more of a statement was MiBR. The squad made its first appearance with Vito “kNgV-” Giuseppe, who joined as a full-time replacement for Marcelo “coldzera” David, and looked fairly strong. They weren’t an overwhelming force, but they went 2-2-1 in groups and showed hints that they could be ready for a return to form.
Finally, Ninjas in Pyjamas returned with new player Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora. While this wasn’t Plopski’s first tournament with NiP, the team was looking to rebound after a disastrous Berlin Major that saw them eliminated from the Legends Stage with a 0-3 record. They didn’t make it to the grand finals, but they did manage to look considerably better than they did just a couple weeks back.
Plopski’s live event debut with the team came at ESL One Cologne, where NiP made a top-six run. Though the NiP of old might not be back, there are some signs of life there for fans of Swedish Counter-Strike.