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It’s great to be back in the swing of things when it comes to CS:GO esports, and the early gem that was BLAST Premier’s Fall Groups told us a lot about the state of the top teams and players. We at Bitsler have been eagerly following the event: here are our key takeaways of what went down in Copenhagen.

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BLAST Premier Fall Groups: the biggest storylines

NA CS continues to struggle (with one exception)

No one was really surprised when Evil Geniuses finished in joint-last place at BLAST Premier Fall Groups, and Complexity’s squad (even if it now features hallzerk, an actual AWPer, instead of junior) has also continued its predictable struggles. It goes to show the deep malaise of the North American Counter-Strike scene and the level of challenges that still need to be met. Meanwhile, BIG’s struggles are also not a fluke. The team is now down to fourteenth in the HLTV world rankings and also failed to make a mark at the Spring Finals, finishing joint-last there as well. Neither Krimbo’s clutches nor syrsoN’s AWPing was sustainable.

Danish Counter-Strike isn’t what it used to be

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes, and this holds true for professional gaming as well: just like how Swedish CS fell from grace, the myriad of once-dominant Danish squads are also slipping down the pecking order as we progress deeper into 2022. Neither Astralis nor Heroic managed to qualify for the Finals: though they did win their groups in a very lenient format with a couple of best-of-one triumphs, they failed to make it count in the best-of-three series. In Astralis’ case, the fans at least have dev1ce’s rumored return to look forward to – it’s much tougher to pinpoint what’s next for Heroic. Vitality’s international contingent, featuring its own fair share of Danes, continues to look like an abomination with no legs to stand on.

4-6th finishers: three superteams still in flux

FaZe Clan dominated the past season, and their comprehensive set of elite-level tournament victories was the main reason behind the massive roster changes made by everyone else around them. Still, as rain himself has said in an interview with HLTV, they are not yet their world-conquering selves since the return from the player break. Famously, Team Liquid completely went missing after the end of their holiday in 2019, and though FaZe’s performance drop was nowhere near that dire, they need to pick things up fast. G2’s gamble on HooXi, an intelligent but low-fragging individual will remain a controversial subject for months to come. Here, it was enough for them to barely squeak past Vitality en route to the Fall Finals. Not all opponents will be so obliging. The same goes for NIP, who are also waiting for the resolution of the dev1ce saga, the player sitting on their bench for many months now on a mental health-related sabbatical, beating a middling Heroic to earn their spots in the Finals.

Surprise winners promise an exciting CS:GO season

Heads up, who had OG and Team Liquid among the winners of the event? That’s right, these are the two teams that directly qualified from the upper bracket of the play-in stage alongside a diminished NAVI playing without s1mple. Each of them offers an interesting glimpse of the future and its possibilities. OG continue to put up impressive displays with squads assembled on a shoestring budget, and both recent additions of nexa and degster seem to be bearing fruit as they went through the play-in stage with a combined map score of 6-1. Meanwhile, NAVI’s super-temporary squad, still no doubt working to figure out how to permanently replace Boombl4 in the IGL role, continues to impress, which suggests they have many different options to finalize their new-look squad once s1mple is back from his break. As for Team Liquid, they remain the only hope of NA CS fans. YEKINDAR already seems like a much better fit than shox ever was, and the team’s recent results in Cologne and Copenhagen, coupled with their much-improved performances, offer a lot of promise.

What to expect from the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown

Next up: the Fall Showdown, set to take place between October 19 and 23, featuring the teams that didn’t make the cut this time around, duking it out in a single-elimination gauntlet for two more spots in the seasonal finals. That will be an online-only affair, so the European and North American teams will be split into separate brackets. Astralis, Vitality, Heroic, Complexity, BIG and Evil Geniuses are already confirmed for the event based on the results of the Fall Groups while Brazilian upstarts Sharks Esports have already nabbed one of the three invites available. The remaining spots will be determined by regional qualifier events: at the time of writing, TYLOO’s the only team that secured a spot with their win in the 5E Arena Asia Cup. That event’s going to be quite a big deal by itself, with a $135 000 prize pool available alongside the qualifying spot. Make sure to check back regularly for Bitsler’s latest offerings and special updates for the tournament – because we will be watching it for sure!

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