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Eight of the best teams in the world qualified for BLAST’s end-of-year bonanza of elite-level CS:GO, the final big tournament of the year. Catch all the action on Bitsler and follow along for all the frags and the biggest games. Here’s how you can get the most out of your experience and what you should pay attention to when watching the BLAST Premier World Final.

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BLAST Premier World Final – schedule and format

Similarly to the Fall Finals, two four-team groups will serve as the start of the event, where three of the four teams will qualify for the playoffs after playing out a double-elimination bracket. The winner of the group is directly seeded into the semifinals – a huge advantage, skipping one of the three playoff games played – while Group A’s second-placed team will face off against Group B’s third-place finisher in the quarterfinals, and vice versa. This event is the exciting conclusion of BLAST’s year-long series of tournaments. The teams qualified by winning the Spring or the Fall Finals (NAVI and Heroic, respectively) or other notable events in the circuit (like FaZe and Outsiders, joining on account of their Major wins and Team Vitality, who punched their ticket with their ESL Pro League Season 16 triumph), or by earning enough points on BLAST’s global leaderboards (G2, OG and Team Liquid). The teams will duke it out for their share of a cool $1 million and the year’s final big CS:GO trophy before the holidays. The winning side will take home $500 000 – not bad for a couple of days’ worth of Counter-Strike! Starting on December 14 with the group stage matches, the action doesn’t stop until the grand final, set to take place on December 18. Here’s what you should be looking forward to if you’d like to watch (and bet on) the event like a pro:

Teams, players and betting predictions for the BLAST Premier World Final

Can FaZe Clan’s old-timers continue to impress?

By normal metrics, karrigan and FaZe Clan will cap off an excellent 2022 with this event. However, if you split the line and compare the period before and after the player break, worrying signs begin to emerge. The veterans (rain and the in-game leader himself) have not been as consistent as they were in the first half of the year, and the team failed to secure any tournament win since the circuit continued in August. Though their 0-3 at the Rio Major was especially poor, at least they bounced back with a respectable second-place finish in the Fall Finals. With Anubis entering the competitive pool, karrigan will have ample opportunities to work his magic – if he can fix his fragging numbers first.

Will the major-winning Outsiders please show up?

Apart from the Rio Major, Outsiders had an unspectacular 2022, making little impact in the circuit. Poor results at the Antwerp Major and ESL Pro League Season 16, a joint-last finish in Cologne – nothing of note with the exception of their Cinderella run on Brazilian soil. Of course, we’re talking about a mammoth-sized exception here, one that puts them alongside Gambit and Cloud9 as unexpected (and arguably undeserved) Major winners. It was that victory at Rio that earned them a ticket to Abu Dhabi

Can G2 bring more than just memes to the table?

Goodness me, G2, you’ve got to give something better to your fans! Despite missing out on the Rio Major entirely, Hooxi and co. clearly didn’t use the time available to them in an efficient way, failing to boost up their stratbook to the level required to compete with the very best of them. So far, their IGL swap seems nothing short of disastrous, and there’s an extra level of irony that they’ve made it to the Global Finals off the back of results achieved with Aleksib, who couldn’t quite clinch a spot with NIP, barely missing out at the expense of Team Liquid.

Will the dark horses of Liquid continue to grow?

Team Liquid are as strong as they have been in a long while but they are still not yet title contenders. Barely securing their spot over NIP, they need to show further improvement over their admittedly impressive playoff finishes in the autumn if they really want to challenge for this trophy. Of particular concern is EliGE’s individual performance against elite teams: he often goes missing in the biggest games and not even the best CS:GO teams can afford a hitchhiker in the playoffs.

Team Vitality remain impossible to grasp – right?

What to make of ZywOo and co.? Does anyone know at this point? After winning ESL Pro League Season 16 (and earning their spot at this event in the process), they failed hard at the Rio Major, and though they clearly improved since Spinx’s addition, the rest of their tournament results for the year were really rather unremarkable. In terms of leaderboard points, they arrive as the fourth-placed side, and that seems like a good shout in terms of where they belong in this event – a group-stage exit would be a shock, a final appearance equally unlikely.

Do Heroic truly belong among the CS:GO elite?

First, they were also-rans behind Astralis, then their online tournament wins were waved away and then marred by controversy. Now, a strong set of playoff runs were followed by a long-awaited tournament victory in the Fall Finals, hot off the heels of their Major runner-up finish. Are Heroic truly here to stay? This event will offer us the first clue, but right now, all signs point to yes. Just like Cloud9 (formerly hosted by Gambit), the Danes made the grand leap from online to offline play and show no signs of showing down.

What’s next for NAVI and what’s up with s1mple?

The yellow-and-black outfit is stuck in limbo. Since Boombl4’s forced departure, the IGL question remains unresolved, just as the future of the roster. Will the Ukrainian org ditch its Russian players and who will be a permanent member going forward? No one knows, least of all s1mple, who publicly voiced his frustrations. The GOAT sniper still seems like a shoo-in for HLTV’s #1 spot on the individual leaderboards, but tournament wins have eluded him and his side in 2022. There’s one more chance to make amends.

Can OG make the grand leap forward?

Last, but certainly not least, nexa and co. also warrant discussion. They greatly benefitted from the closed circuit at BLAST, earning most of their points from the Spring and Fall Groups events and little to no achievements elsewhere in the circuit. The organization celebrated a huge milestone with their first Major qualification, even if the team fell far short of expectations in Rio. They failed to make it out of the groups at the Fall Finals – realistically, that’s the fate they should prepare for this time around as well.

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