The winter break is over and already today, on the 19th of January, the first CS: GO event of 2023 begins. Blast Series tournaments never seem to disappoint, providing excellent, intriguing matches and the highest-level production quality.
Blast Premier Spring Groups return to Copenhagen, where the event will take place from the 19th to the 29th of January. Spring Groups will help to determine, which 7 teams will head straight to the Spring Final and which teams will drop down to the Spring Showdown, where they will have a second chance to qualify for the main event. Let’s have a look at the first games of the C group stage and see how these teams stack up.
G2 and BIG
There is certainly no lack of intrigue and excitement when it comes to group C. In terms of raw skill, this group is stacked, and the first game sees action between G2 and BIG. Where to even begin, when talking about G2? This is a team that is not afraid of making sudden roster changes. Many players have worn the prestige G2 jersey and equally many have taken it off. It was a long time coming, but it seems that finally, G2 are back on track, being one of the best teams in the world. Kovač cousins huNter- and NiKo have been pillars of this G2 squad, but three new additions have equally helped to solidify this roster as a proper contender. Needless to say, the best roster move that G2 have made in recent history is the addition of their rising superstar Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov. Nicknamed the Baby GOAT, m0NESY has left many jaws hanging. His superb consistency, raw aim and maturity have secured him the Rookie of the Year award, as well as claiming the #7 spot on the Top 20 ranking while just 17 years old. G2 won the Blast Premier World Final 2022 in Abu Dhabi, can they repeat the same success here in Copenhagen?
BIG, short for Berlin International Gaming, have constantly managed to stay in the tier 1 scene, but they’ve always fallen short when it comes to the most important events. Sure, they picked up a win in the Roobet Cup 2022, but, even though the competition was fierce, it’s a tourney that doesn’t hold the same prestige as Blast or a Major, for example. Qualifying for the Final is not unrealistic, but Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz’s troops will have to show their best form if they really wish to upset the favourites. Currently, the highest-rated player on the BIG lineup is the sniper/awper Florian “syrsoN” Rische, but their rookie Karim “Krimbo” Moussa has also shone on some occasions.
In 2022, the German side has faced G2 on 4 different maps, but each time their efforts have been in vain. Star rifler Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač, has been an especially sore thorn in the side of BIG, boasting impressive 1.62 and 1.35 ratings in both previous Bo3s, so question is, can BIG contain their biggest threat? The following match is scheduled for the 20th of January at 19:30 (UTC+2:00).
Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas
Closure for the opening round of the group stage is provided by NAVI and NIP. The spotlight is certainly on the rookies in this one. Ever since Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov left their lineup, NAVI have struggled to find their 5th missing piece. For the most part, this position was taken by Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, but on a trial basis. In the end, sdy and NAVI couldn’t find a common language and the legendary Ukrainian organization decided to pick up a new talent of Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi. The young gun is yet to show his true potential and a lot of fans are quite pessimistic about this roster move, so this is the event where npl has a chance to shut his doubters. NAVI are always the team to beat, and for the most part, it comes down to one special man. The GOAT of CS, the only player that has ranked #1 for 3 years, and a legend that never ceases to amaze – Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. With all that being said, NAVI only managed to pick up one trophy in 2022. The struggles to form a solid lineup are partly to blame, so can NAVI finally turn a new page and start off their 2023 campaign with a bang?
Speaking of legends, NIP is a team that once dominated the scene. Those days are long gone now, as they are scrambling to find some consistency. No trophies in 2022 and constant roster issues have plagued NIP, but they too have added a new and promising rookie, who might just save them after all. NIP have constantly struggled to find a permanent sniper/awper, so their solution to that problem was to follow in the footsteps of G2, by signing a NAVI Academy player Daniil “headtr1ck” Valitov. It’s clear, that NIP are trying to do what G2 did with m0NESY. Both players are NAVI Academy stars, so who knows, maybe this is that one move that NIP needed to make.
Looking head-to-head, things are actually quite equal between these teams. Out of all duels, NAVI have won 6 while NIP have won 5. We would like to think that NAVI has an edge in this match-up, but there are a lot of variables, so it could be anyone’s game. The following match is scheduled for the 21h of January at 13:00 (UTC+2:00).