The end of September is filled to the brim with exciting CS:GO events running parallel with one another – while this one may not have the clout of the Intel Grand Slam to attract eyeballs, it will nevertheless feature defending major champions Astralis who may very well put on a clinic in Turkey. The development of MiBR and NiP as potential contenders will be a very interesting subplot as well, and if you happen to like trainwrecks, we’ve got Cloud9 and Virtus.pro for you to enjoy. If you're looking to bet on BLAST Pro Series Istanbul, keep reading!
It’s no exaggeration that Astralis are on the top of the CS:GO world right now, with the main obstacle in front of their Fnatic-like LAN domination being the fact that multiple high-profile events are held at the same time. While this is an excellent sign of the scene’s health and growth, it also means that sometimes we end up in situations like this one where the major winner is competing in Istanbul while the three star-studded teams they’ve dispatched during the playoffs are in New York.
While it hardly seems like there’s anything to fear for gla1ve and co. based on the opposition they are going to face at the event, it’s worth mentioning that NiP were one of the only two teams who managed to take a map off of them during the major and they were perhaps the most impressive side not to make it to the playoffs. Still, it’s hard to envision anyone stopping the Danes here, even if best-of-one matches can always throw a curveball or two at you. They would have to finish third in the six-team group in order to miss out on the grand finals – this feels close to an impossible outcome right about now.
MiBR and the Ninjas are the clear frontrunners for the other grand final spot based on their recent performances: NiP have massively improved since Lekr0 picked up the IGL mantle and were unlucky to miss out on a playoff spot in London while the Brazilian-American roster has done well to make it to the semis at the major, even if it involved some luck of the draw. Clearly neither side is ready to challenge the elite in their current form but it’s not at all easy to place one of them ahead of the other. MiBR may have won the playoff decider against the Swedes, but they nonetheless seem the less stable setup out of the two – also, crucially, GeT_RiGhT and co. have done much better against Astralis recently than FalleN’s outfit, which may very well become a factor in this tournament.
It will also be interesting to see whether Space Soldiers can get something out of playing on their home soil – finally able to field their entire team, no less –, especially with regards to their surprisingly good record against the ex-SK core. The Turks could very well cause a surprise or two but they are certainly not expected to make it to the grand final.
The odd ones out at BLAST Pro Istanbul are clearly Cloud9 and Virtus.pro, two teams that are rapidly burning through the remaining shreds of their capital accrued thanks to their old victories (or in the case of the American org, their single meaningful one). The victors of ELEAGUE Boston are hardly reminiscent of that side now, continuing to shuffle around their mess of a current squad, removing STYKO for flusha in an inexpicable move that was initially announced as a temporary one, even though the Slovakian player has all but confirmed that his loan move is effectively over. It’s impossible to tell where Cloud9 will go in the future but their current trajectory is clearly a downward one – perhaps the best you can get out of their present situation as a viewer is to simply enjoy the car crash, though there’s another team in the tournament who are even better suited for that particular role.
Virtus.pro’s collapse is truly indescribable. It’s hard to tell whether the players are simply past it, don’t care anymore or both: not only that, but the new additions are also fairly underwhelming and it’s quite a worrying sign that the org’s deep pockets were not enough of an incentive so far to assemble a strong new Polish side – domestically, both AGO and Team Kinguin have outdone them recently. Apart from the Cloud9 matchup, it would be an absolute shock if they managed to win a single map – and one has to wonder if they can even pick up a round against Astralis. For a tournament with just six slots, an invite to VP in 2018 is truly a complete waste of space from a spectator standpoint.
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