The final premier Counter-Strike event of 2021 has come to an end. BLAST Premier World Final, which featured a $1.000.000 prize pool and eight squads marks the end of the season. Fortunately for CSGO fans, the tournament gave us an exciting week filled with surprises and great matches, and it closes the year in a high note for the scene.
So, whether you missed it or just want to review the talking points from the World Final, we have you covered. Here are the key developments we saw last week!
ASTRALIS – IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK [5 – 6th place]
While expectations around Astralis at the World Final were low, it was fair game to expect the Danes to do some damage. Or, at the very least, don’t completely crumble against other teams in the competition. This roster had shown some promise at the BLAST Premier Fall Final, and one could hope they would build from that.
Unfortunately, the World Final proved that this current Astralis roster simply won’t work. With Philip “Lucky” Ewald on the rifles and the team’s captain picking up the green gun, Astralis doesn’t have a proper AWPer. Instead, they have an average-at-best AWPer, and two riflers that simply don’t stand out in an era where everyone needs to pull their weight. It’s not just Lucky’s fault, as Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth continues to put underwhelming performances, though.
So, as the shuffle season start, Astralis better start preparing to do even more roster moves, because this roster won’t do. First, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander needs to decide if he will give Lucky a second chance with the AWP. Then, he needs to decide if it’s worth keeping Lucky over Xyp9x, or if it’s better to bench both. Whichever decision gla1ve does, though, it will have it critics, and Astralis will once again need to prove itself as a tier 1 team in 2022.
However, it’s not all bad news for the Danish squad this past week. The team’s latest additions, Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke keep delivering strong performances, especially the former. If anything, it shows that there’s a foundation to build upon heading next year. A bump in the road to the stars.
G2 – ALMOST THERE [5 – 6TH place]
G2 headed to the World Final in a weird position. In one side, the team was going to play with their full roster after having to field a stand-in in IEM Winter. On the other, this would be the final event for this roster as changes are in the way.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see shining this event. The squad won against NiP in their opening match, but failed to beat Vitality and got eliminated by Na’Vi. The only common trend in these three series is that Nikola “NiKo” Kovač gave his best to carry his team, and even with him pulling incredible performances, G2 couldn’t cross the finish line when it mattered the most.
It’s a shame that this is G2’s final showing, but at the same time, it just exemplifies why this roster never worked. Teams aiming at the top can’t no longer rely on a single carry like NiKo, and every player on a squad needs to pull their weight. Unfortunately, most of this G2 isn’t able to consistently play at a level able to compete with the best in the world, especially after the player break.
Now, G2 has left the final event of 2021 with their heads down, but the future is very promising. The team will finally have a proper AWPer in their rankings with Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov. Plus, if rumors are to be believed, the current team leader Nemanja “nexa” Isaković isn’t interested in leading the team going forward. Hopefully this means that G2 also brings a proper in-game leader. It was never meant to be.
GAMBIT – DON’T FORGET ABOUT THEM [2nd place]
With rumors about FaZe, G2 and Vitality future line-ups coming up and promising strong contenders for the 2022 season, it’s easy to forget about Gambit. The red team didn’t pop as much as they did earlier in the year after all, and some expects them to slowly fade from the top of the world rankings as LAN events become the norm again.
However, if the World Final proved something is that Gambit still is a contender you won’t want to forget about. Thanks to Abai “Hobbit” Hasenov and Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov, the upcoming rosters that will want to compete to the best will first have to pass through Gambit before they even think of challenging Natus Vincere.
Gambit isn’t the best team in the world anymore. However, they still are a contender, and as they have shown this past week, they can challenge every other CSGO team. Even Natus Vincere doesn’t have an easy time playing against Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov and his teammates. Gatekeeping the top five.
NATUS VINCERE – IT [RARELY] BLEEDS! [Champions]
Natus Vincere, the best CSGO team in the world, started their run at the World Final with a match against Team Liquid, a team on the verge of disbanding. In one of the most surprising games of the past few weeks, though, Na’Vi actually lost that game.
In the lower-bracket, though, Natus Vincere brought their usual form back eventually, and sent Heroic, G2, Liquid and Vitality packing from the event in order to reach the grand-finals. While nobody got surprised by Na’Vi’s streak after their initial loss, that one game served to show that this team isn’t unbreakable. Furthermore, it also shown that Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and his teammates can have bad days, and it just made the upcoming year much more interesting.
Nonetheless, at the same time that we saw Na’Vi failing since the PGL Major Stockholm, the event also proved how capable this team is. Their lower-bracket run is impressive, and there’s no red-flag that needs to be addressed immediately. Na’Vi keeps being the most rounded-up squad in the world currently.
So, can Natus Vincere fail? Yes. Will they lose games more frequently once G2 and Vitality overhaul their rosters? Probably. Does this make them a lesser team, or breaks their era? Not at all. Natus Vincere still is the team to beat and until any line-up consistently proves that they can defeat s1mple and his colleagues, they are the best team in the world, period. Natus VincERA.
TEAM LIQUID – THE BEST FANS COULD ASK FROM THEM [4th place]
It has been a wild ride for Team Liquid fans this past couple of weeks. After months of disappointments, the squad started giving some of their best performances of the year after news of roster moves started popping up.
In the World Finals, however, Liquid gave fans and themselves the ultimate surprise early in the event. They defeated Natus Vincere in a best of three and broke their 10-games winning streak. Liquid continued, and while they couldn’t stop Gambit in the following game, they managed to eliminate Astralis with a convincing 2 – 0 record.
The North Americans were then eliminated by Natus Vincere in a rematch where s1mple seemed to be unstoppable and Liquid failed to keep their emotions and momentum going after a strong first-half in the first map of the series. Still, this will be one performance that fans will gladly remember from this iteration of TL.
Still, while this was a great performance considering that this roster doesn’t have a future, it still served to remember us why this team didn’t work. Michael “Grim” Wince didn’t become the performer Liquid wanted him to be. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo simply is too inconsistent. The rest of the team is very volatile, and their final game against Natus Vincere perfectly exemplifies how players’ moods impacted them on the server.
So, while Liquid’s performance at the World Final is a good way to say goodbye, it also serves to show that this team never worked. Differently than G2 or Vitality, they aren’t breaking up because they could become the best in the world, but because they couldn’t get even close to it. You hate to love them.
TEAM VITALITY – A SAD GOODBYE [3rd place]
Vitality, another squad which just had their last tournament together in the World Final, fared much better than the others. It wasn’t a surprise, though, as this dying team came to this event right after winning IEM Winter 2021.
These two performances, however, are just the most recent ones from a team that never stopped fight. A squad that never gave up. Roster rumors about Vitality have been surrounding them for a while, but they kept improving to the point they reached today.
Therefore, it’s sad that this is the last tournament for this Vitality. They have always been a competent team and they improved plenty since the player break. The roster had some serious issues such as the overreliance on their star, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, sure. Still, much like G2, it was hard to not enjoy this team in general. Surely dedicated fans were frustrated with this roster, but even then, it was a promising squad.
Now, Vitality prepares to go international if rumors are to be believed. Not only this marks a point in the team’s history, but also it marks a dangerous point in the French Counter-Strike scene. Vitality is the last remaining fully French team still playing against tier 1 competition, and no other French team is even close to their level. With Vitality going international, 2022 could be the first year in CSGO without a fully French squad consistently playing at high tier events.
Hence, there’s plenty of reasons to be sad about Vitality’s final event. They performed very well at the World Final, and they accomplished plenty for a team in life-support these past weeks. Still, Vitality is an organization that wishes to compete at the top, and 2nd place just isn’t enough. At this point, we can only wish that the upcoming roster changes brings what this team missed all this time. Vous nous manquerez.
TIME FOR A BREAK
With BLAST Premier World Final in the book, the highest tier of competition will finally take some time off. This means that it will be a while until we see Natus Vincere, Gambit, G2 and others in action.
However, this doesn’t mean that the scene will stop moving. With the servers down, it will time for many teams to pick up the pens as it’s the perfect time to start reworking rosters, signing new players and building new projects. So, if you don’t want to miss a beat, make sure to follow us here!