If anyone managed to predict this particular outcome, congratulations to them, because they must be filthy rich now. The whole bracket upset expectations in the latest BLAST event – barring the complete failure of Cloud9 who really should not have been here at all –, and while the high-variance carnival fair-esque nature of the event makes it somewhat less impactful, it still gave us quite a few things to ponder.

We knew Astralis aren’t invincible. But are they getting soft?

On the large scale of things, failing to win a BLAST Pro Series event is not exactly a big deal when you’re the best in the world. The odd format, the short event, the limited prestige are all mitigating factors – and yet, once you begin to prioritize these tournaments over most others in the circuit, shortcomings like this start to look a whole lot more embarrassing. In 2018, Astralis’ careful scheduling management was an asset: now it feels like a business move that limits their opportunities to play against the best in a competitive environment. With the ESL Pro League’s carefully seeded groups in mind, when are they going to play best-of-three series against top competitors? It would be a sad way to waste a golden age.

Na’Vi remains consistently inconsistent

Not many teams could follow up an impressive demolition in Shanghai with such a disappointing showing here, and it just goes to show that the CIS side’s fortunes still remain inextricably tied to the individual performances of s1mple’s supporting cast. Year on year, it becomes less likely that Edward and Zeus can keep up with the rest – and it truly feels like a roster change, rather than a dietician, is what’s required to unlock their full potential.

Is this the beginning of the FaZe renaissance?  

Probably not. Fair is fair, they’ve finally managed to win an event since karrigan’s departure, so congratulations are in order. But much like Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal, even if it turned out that NiKo didn’t draw those particular dicks, the judgments rendered on his IGL prowess still seems correct. It has to be said that both olofmeister’s and AdreN’s individual performances leave a lot to be desired, but that simply means there’s all the more opportunities to slot an in-game leader into the  

Cloud9 need a reset. Does MiBR?

RUSH has gone on record stating that “it's more important to have a roster that can compete than just having a spot in the major”, which is a nice sentiment, but it’s not like the current chaotic Cloud9 side have either of these attributes. The real question forward is what the ambitions of the organization are in the space: their Moneyball approach post-Stewie has simply not worked out. As for MiBR, this was a more impressive performance, but after a stretch of one win (over Panda), one draw and nine losses since the previous BLAST Pro, let’s not get excited just yet. Can they do it in a best-of-three format? We’ll see in Sydney.

Don’t sleep on Liquid

To reiterate: if not for the Cinderella stories of ENCE and Renegades, Liquid would clearly be considered the best of the rest and a very strong side in its own right. Two wins, three second places and a quarter-final spot in their last six events marks an impressive level of consistency, and one that not many of Astralis’ challengers can muster. They clearly remain the pretenders to the throne.

In any case, the show must go on, and the CS:GO caravan will reconvene in Sydney in two weeks’ time. Even with the absence of Astralis, Liquid and Na’Vi, that one just got a whole lot more interesting…