Fnatic CEO Sam Matters expressed disappointment and frustration that Fnatic wasn’t offered a spot in the upcoming BLAST Premier circuit today on Twitter. Fnatic’s lack of an invite is curious, considering the team is currently ranked number three in the world.
When BLAST Entertainment released the list of participating teams, many wondered why new and unproven lineups were included in BLAST Premier in the place of teams like Fnatic and mousesports. Fnatic has seen great success recently, and mousesports finished 2019 by winning three out of four of its previous tournaments.
In an interview with HLTV, BLAST Director of Product Nicholas Estrup explained that BLAST spoke to at least 20 teams, ultimately choosing the participating 12 teams based on “a long list of criteria that carried weight.”
Both Samuelsson and Matthews responded soon after the interview was published, expressing displeasure with Estrup’s words. Samuelsson went as far as to call the interview a “diss” towards both Fnatic as a team and as an organization.
WIN.gg reached out to BLAST Entertainment shortly after the BLAST Premier was officially announced, but as of publishing has not received a reply.
BLAST announced the twelve participating teams earlier in December. Invitees include the majority of the top teams: Astralis, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, MiBR, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Vitality, Evil Geniuses, and Natus Vincere.
Some choices drew criticism from both fans and the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community as a whole. 100 Thieves, G2 Esports, Complexity Gaming, and OG have at times failed to make an impact in the tournament scene in 2019, with OG only formally announcing its first Counter-Strike roster on December 5. Some called the lack of invites for Fnatic and mousesports a snub at the time, and now Fnatic has added their own voice to the calls of disappointment.
When announced, BLAST Premier immediately drew comparisons to 2016’s team-owned league called the Professional Esports Association. The PEA ended in failure as players organized against team owners when it was revealed that the league would restrict them from playing in ESL’s Pro League. Interestingly, BLAST Premier’s schedule for 2020 is expected to overlap with the ESL Pro League’s upcoming eleventh season.
BLAST Premier was announced in early December as a 12-team circuit league that would have two seasons per year culminating in a final tournament. The start of the BLAST Premier spring series is scheduled for January 31 in London, England.
Teams placing first through sixth automatically earn a spot at the 2020 BLAST Spring Finals. The remaining teams will then play in what amounts to a qualifier for the Spring Finals, the 2020 BLAST Spring Showdown.