The BLAST Pro Series are not the most popular tournament organisers in the esports space right now, and to be fair, that’s largely their own fault. A combination of questionable business tactics and a format that was bad to watch were the initial reasons, but in recent times it’s gone further with BLAST now producing games of CS where one of the teams clearly doesn’t care about the result.
The most recent example came at BLAST Pro Los Angeles where the game between Team Liquid and MIBR took an extremely odd turn, at least in part due to the fact that zews was playing in place of coldzera. With Liquid in control of the game, the NA side began to play for fun, disrespecting their opponents, and let the Brazilians back into the match before regaining their focus and finishing the job.
Now, given the level of success MIBR enjoyed with coldzera in the team – and the comparison between him and zews as players –, it makes a lot of sense that the Brazilians wouldn’t care, but it’s a poor look for the esport to have one of the biggest brands in the game being toyed with by Liquid. What’s more, this is far from the first BLAST game that has only had one team try, and on other occasions excuses are far harder to come by.
In Madrid, the BLAST Pro event saw Na’Vi and Ninjas in Pyjamas go head to head in a game that had no real impact, except deciding which team went to the exhibition face-off thing before the Grand Final, which is worth a decent chunk of change. The problem is that in theory, if NIP had won and Astralis had lost to Cloud9, then the Swedes did have an outside chance of making the final at that event, and therefore had a reason to try that Na’Vi didn’t share.
Read more: How to fix the BLAST Pro format
The world’s best player s1mple even admitted himself in an interview that the team had essentially thrown in the towel, and there were multiple rounds on Dust 2 that you only had to watch to realise the CIS mix weren’t trying to win. In an interview with Navi.gg, he gave the following quote on the NIP tie, confirming that is was basically a game where half the players didn’t care:
"The last match against NiP we lost, in my understanding, because no one hoped for a victory and didn't have the internal drive to fight for it,” s1mple told the interviewer. “No one on the team properly had it, because players understood that we wouldn't make the final". I’m sure we can all think of a reason or two s1mple might lose motivation and play at less than 100%, but it’s a bad look for CS when that happens in a game at what is (in theory) a major tournament, but the effect goes beyond just Na’Vi or NiP.
For a start, HLTV have used results from BLAST events to decide movements in their ranking system, which is then used by teams to secure sponsors, not to mention seedings for other events that they may care about a good deal more. Likewise, the growing esports betting industry has already faced a number of issues surrounding the integrity of results – though limited mainly to the lower levels so far –, that could prove poisonous to the public image of the scene.
The first and most obvious move that could be made to properly deal with this problem BLAST have is to remove the events from the HLTV ranking list. We know that some teams treat the event as a holiday, and with the news that some of the best just don’t try too it makes sense to finally categorise them as exhibitions of esports, rather than truly competitive tournaments that you can judge the game by.
At that stage it then comes down to the companies involved to decide where they want to put BLAST on their priority list, and teams may start to dodge the tournaments if they know they could potentially drop in the rankings for attending. Right now though, BLAST and their meaningless games with unmotivated stars reflects badly on CS:GO.