BLAST Premier’s Global Challenge starts in just over a week, so it’s wise to take a look at the participating teams and picking out which ones to steer clear of.
BLAST’s Global Challenge may be the first top tier tournament of 2021, but it’s really the final challenge of BLAST’s inaugural season that started an entire year ago with the BLAST Spring Series in January 2020. Despite being originally planned as an international live event, travel restrictions forced BLAST’s fall tournament to be played regionally. By the end of the year, teams had managed to make their way to Europe for the fall finals. Now top performers will compete at the Global Finals, which will feature the top eight teams from both the spring and fall competitions.
All are familiar names to CSGO bettors, but the past few weeks hold clues as to which team is the biggest betting trap.
While all of these names are recognizable, Team Liquid crawled into its spot at BLAST’s finals. Yes, the team fought through the fall BLAST Showdown and ended the year with a second-place finish at IEM’s Global Challenge. Normally those results should boost a team’s value heading into the next tournament, but not here. Not against this competition.
Liquid’s 2020 campaign was full of ups and downs. Tournament organizers were forced to hold regional competitions, and the cancellation of the ESL One Rio Major only made things worse for a team that traditionally thrives on the energy and pressure of LAN competition. But after Liquid’s loss to Astralis at IEM, Liquid rifler Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken announced his departure from the roster. After growing and molding North American talent, Liquid was forced to look outside the organization to find a replacement.
Likely thanks to Jake “Stewie2k” Yip, Liquid brought on Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo on January 9. Despite being famous for growing the Brazilian CSGO scene into a serious international force, 2020 was a tough year for a player who was once at the head of teams headed for dynasty status. Since winning two CSGO major titles, things have not gone well for FalleN.
It’s not a statistical problem. FalleN finished 67% of his matches last year with ratings above a 1.00, which is actually better than Twistzz’s output over the same period. But while this is an argument for Liquid being an undervalued proposition, there’s another side. FalleN’s addition to the team can’t be separated from comments made by Stewie 2k six months ago regarding TL’s head coaching switch.
It seems like FalleN’s role might be twofold. He’ll provide strategic options for a team that lacks a tactical edge and have a general leadership role within the team. The trouble is that FalleN steered MIBR to a disastrous 2020. Personalities went off the rails, coaches were suspended, players were kicked, and others associated with the team deliberately whipped up controversy. It’s unclear if FalleN is still the kind of player that would be a benefit to an elite team like Team Liquid or if he should be an elder statesman on the tier-two scene.
There’s always the chance that the five could surprise everyone as BLAST Premier’s Global Finals begin on January 19, but that’s not something to bet on.