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CSGO: BLAST Premier World Finals Opening Matches, Dec. 14, 2022


Mary C
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Group A 

FaZe 

With a total of 17,600 points on the BLAST Premier World leaderboard, FaZe is one of the clear favorites among the eight teams competing in this year’s World Final. At the same time, fans are expecting great gameplay from them this month. The American squad has risen to the top of the CS:GO world rankings because of a stellar performance in 2022, which included a number of event victories. FaZe Clan won several competitions including the Intel Extreme Masters XVI in Katowice, the ESL Pro Leage Season 15, the PGL Major Antwerp 2022, and the Intel Extreme Masters XVII all in 2022. 

It's an outstanding track record but not without its flaws. Back in November, the squad performed poorly at the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major. They were eliminated in the group stage after a 1-2 loss to Bad News Eagles, placing them in the 15-16th position despite having high hopes going into the Major. The team’s performance was sad, setting the record for the worst defending champion run in history with 0-3 record. 

Faze Clan, on the other hand, appears to be on the rise. They came into the BLAST Premier Fall Finals strong, advancing to the semifinals with back-to-back Group stage triumphs over OG and Heroic, before cementing their position in the grand final with a 2-1 victory against Ninjas in Pyjamas. That incredible run, however was cut short in the grand final by Heroic, who were named Fall finals champions with a 2-1 victory over the American squad. 

Still, it’s a promising return to form that they’ll be aiming to maintain when they travel to Abu Dhabi later this month. All eyes will be on FaZe clan roster, which includes: 

  • Coach Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström 

  • Håvard "rain" Nygaard 

  • Helvijs "broky" Saukants 

  • Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken 

  • Finn "karrigan" Andersen 

  • Robin "ropz" Kool  

Their first opponent at World Final will be G2, on December 14 at 5 PM PHT. 

 

G2 ESPORTS 

G2 is one of the three teams this year that has qualified for the World Final based on their standing on the BLAST Premier World Leaderboard where they are currently ranked fifth with 6625 points. Their entrance to the World Final comes after a varied year with of high and lows but no event wins in 2022. They came in February, reaching the grand finals of the Intel Extreme Masters XVI in Katowice where they were defeated 0-3 by FaZe Clan. Despite falling short in the grand finale, the team brought on a tremendous performance that was arguably their best of the year.  

They've performed well in other S-Tier competitions in more recent months as well, placing 3rd-4th in the ESL Pro Leage Season 16 in October and 3rd-4th at the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals back in June. They were eliminated from both events by Team Vitality, who is also competing in this year’s World Final. However, because the two teams are in different groups in Abu Dhabi, they will both have to get through the Group Stage before a rematch can take place. 

However, the club has suffered just as many setbacks this season. We last saw them at the BLAST Premier: Fall Finals in November, when they finished 5th-6th after a 1-2 loss to Heroic. G2 has had a considerably bigger failures this year. Their worst setback at an S-Tier tournament occurred in March when they finished 17th-20th in the ESL Pro League Season 15 after being eliminated in the group stage. Following a 1-2 loss against FURIA Esports, they finished 9th-11th at the PGL Major in Antwerp. 

As G2 is attending the BLAST Premier World Final for the second year in a row, having 5th-6th in last year’s competition before being knocked out in a 1-2 setback by Natus Vincere (NAVI), we’ll have to wait and see whether they can improve on last year's performance and possibly even win their first event this year as the 2022 season winds down. The G2 roster includes: 

  • Coach Jan "Swani" Müller. 

  • Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač 

  • Nikola "NiKo" Kovač 

  • Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov 

  • Justin "jks" Savage 

  • Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen 

G2 will be having their first match in this competition against the FaZe Clan on December 14 at 5 PM PHT. 

 

 

Outsiders 

The Outsiders is a new tag introduced early this year by Virtus.pro. Following the conflict in Ukraine, both the ESL and the PGL declared that any organization with ties to the Russian Government would be blacklisted. Given Virtus.pro’s individual ties to corporations and individuals currently sanctioned by American and European governments, the Outsiders tag was created so that the roster could operate under a more unbiased brand. 

However, the new tag has had little effect on the team’s recent performance. In November, the Russian team was crowned IEM Rio Major Championships after defeating Heroic in the grand final with a 2-0 victory. Outsiders qualified for the World Final thanks to that victory. They were placed at the lowest ranked team in the World Final, sitting on 11th place on the BLAST Premier Leaderboard with 4562.5 points. To be honest, the need to rebrand as Outsiders in March is likely to have influenced their position. 

The team also got off to a bad start in 2022. They were eliminated at the Group Stage of ESL Pro League Season 15 in March, finishing 17th-20th. Following that, they finished 12th-14th at the PGL Major in Antwerp, losing 2-1 to G2. But that’s no reason to dismiss them. Outsiders has progressively gained momentum this year, winning the A-tier event ESL challenger at Dreamhack Rotterdam in October, just before being named winners at the IEM Major in Rio. 

Outsiders will be represented in Abu Dhabi by: 

  • Coach Dastan "dastan" Aqbaev 

  • Aleksei "Qikert" Golubev 

  • Dzhami "Jame" Ali 

  • Evgeniy "FL1T" Lebedev 

  • David "n0rb3r7" Daniyelyan 

  • Pyotr "fame" Bolyshev 

Outsiders' first opponent for the World Final will be Team Liquid on December 14 at 2 PM PHT. It should be an interesting encounter, with Team Liquid’s Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gainskis facing his former Virtus.pro colleagues for the first time since leaving the team in October. 

 

Team Liquid 

Team Liquid is ranked seventh on the BLAST Premier Leaderboard, ahead of just October in 11th position. The squad has held a difficult year, with no tournament victories to brag about and will face stiff competition if they are to be named champions at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi this month. While not as bad as FaZe Clan’s performance, Team Liquid’s performance at the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major in November placed them in 9th-11th position following a 2-1 defeat to Team Spirit. 

This is only one of several low-ranking performances in Majors this year, including finishing 5th-6th at the Intel Extreme Masters VII in Cologne, 7th-8th at the Intel Extreme Masters XVII in Dallas, and 15th-16th at the PGL Major in Antwerp in May. But it doesn’t mean they should be written off. Team Liquid advanced to the ESL Pro League Season 16 grand finale where they were beaten by Team Vitality in a close-fought encounter, with a final score of 2-3 to Team Vitality. 

They also performed well at the BLAST Premier Fall Finals where they advanced to the semifinals with back-to-back victory over G2 and NAVI, demonstrating their potential to surprise higher-ranked teams. While they were ultimately defeated 1-2 by Heroic, it is a positive indicator for the team’s performance moving into the World Final. The team qualified for this year’s World Final by finishing first on the BLAST Premier Leaderboard, one of the three teams to do so, along with OG and G2. 

Team liquids roster for this year’s BLAST Premier World Final consists of: 

  • Coach Damian "daps" Steele 

  • Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski 

  • Keith "NAF" Markovic 

  • Joshua "oSee" Ohm 

  • Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella 

  • Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis 

The Squad will make their debut in this year’s BLAST Premier World Final on December 14 at 2 PM PHT, facing against their first opponent for the competition Outsiders. 

 

 

Group B 

Natus Vincere 

Natus Vincere (NAVI) is on their way to Abu Dhabi for the BLAST Premier World Final, and all eyes are on the Ukrainian squad to see whether they can maintain their good track record at past World Finals. Coming into this month’s competition, NAVI is one of the highest-ranked teams, sitting in second place on the BLAST Premier Leaderboard, just behind FaZe Clan. 

The Ukrainian squad holds the distinction of having won every World Final in BLAST Premier history, having been declared winners in both 2020 and 2021. They had an undoubtedly dismal performance during the Fall Finals last month, finishing in 5th-6th place after losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas in semifinals. Nonetheless, they should not be underestimated. Navi qualified for this year’s World Final by winning the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals in June when they defeated Team Vitality in the grand finals. 

That's not all NAVI has to brag about this year. They also managed to advance to the grand finals of the PGL Major in Antwerp in Jund where they finished second after failing to FaZa clan. Later that year, they took second place again after losing to FaZe Clan in the Grand Final of the Intel Extreme XVII in Cologne. They will be the ones to keep an eye for this match, not just because of their good track record at BLAST World Finals, but also because they’ll be experimenting with a six-man lineup for the event. They’ve attempted it previously, at the online-only 2020 BLAST Premier Fall Finals, but this will be the first time they’ve fielded a six-man lineup at a LAN tournament. 

Navi’s sixth man player in Abu Dhabi will be academy player Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi, who will be looking to establish his worth to the squad despite rumors that Viktor sdyOrudzhev may be on his way out as HLTV reports. The Ukrainian squad’s lineup that will be travelling to Abu Dhabi will be: 

  • Coach Andrii "B1ad3" Horodenskyi 

  • Andrii "⁠npl⁠" Kukharskyi 

  • Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev 

  • Denis "electroNic" Sharipov 

  • Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy, 

  • Valerii "b1t" Vakhovskyi 

  • Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev  

Their first match on the competition will be against Team Vitality on December 14 at 11 PM PHT. 

 

 

 

Team Vitality 

Among the competing eight teams present, Vitality is ranked the highest, sitting in fourth position on the BLAST Premier World Leaderboard with 8825 points. They’ve earned that slot by putting up a solid performance all year. Following their triumph in the ESL Pro League Season 16, the team was awarded a ticket to the World Finals where they were declared winners after a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Team Liquid. That was undoubtedly the highlight of their season; however, they also came close to winning at the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals where they advanced to the grand finals before losing to the Ukrainian team Natus Vincere (NAVI). 

That is not to suggest that the year has been without its challenges. Vitality most recently finishes 12-14th at the IEM Rio Major last November, following a 0-2 defeat to ENCE. They also struggled earlier this year, finishing 13-16th in the ESL Pro League Season 15 and 9th-12th in the Intel Extreme Masters XVI in Katowice. Nonetheless, this is their second year in a row attending the BLAST Premier World Final, and they performed admirably last year. While they did not advance to the grand finale, they were rated third after their 0-2 loss to NAVi. That great performance came shortly after their victory at the 2021 IEM Winter Masters demonstrating that they are not a squad to be overlooked. 

Team Vitality’s lineup consist of: 

  • Coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen. 

  • Dan "apEX" Madesclaire 

  • Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut 

  • Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen 

  • Emil "Magisk" Reif 

  • Lotan "Spinx" Giladi 

For Team Vitality’s first match, they will be fighting against NAVI this December 14 at 11 PM PHT. 

 

 

Heroic 

The team is one of the most formidable CS:GO squads in the world, having been created in 2016 by former Team X players. The team is presently ranked third on the BLAST Premier Leaderboard (after FaZe Clan and Navi); therefore, expectations for their success this month are high. Heroic enters the World Final as the surprise victors of the BLAST Premier Fall Finals last month, defeating the renowned FaZe Clan in a stunning 2:1 triumph – somewhat of a rematch for the team, having fallen to FaZe Clan earlier in the season. 

That is not the only source of pride in recent heroic history. This year at the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major, the team advanced all the way to the championship match before falling 0-2 against the Russian team Outsiders. The Fall Finals and Rio were undoubtedly the team’s high points this year unless they can go all the way in Abu Dhabi. However, they’ve had a decent year, finishing 3rd-4th at IEM Katowice 2022. 

They've made a little change to their roster for the World Final, with Heroic resting Martin “stavn Lund while he prepares for the 2023 season. Due to the changeup, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, will be joining the squad as a stand-in for the event. The player has been without a tea since October of last year when he was released by Astralis following a violent incident during ESL Pro League Season 16. With stavn out for the time being, Heroic’s lineup for the BLAST Premier World Final consists of: 

  • Coach Richard "Xizt" Landström 

  • Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke 

  • Casper "cadiaN" Møller 

  • René "TeSeS" Madsen 

  • Rasmus "sjuush" Beck 

  • Jakob "Jabbi" Nygaard alongside  

Heroic’s first matchup for this season will be against Danish Team OG this December 14 at 8 PM PHT. 

 

OG 

OG was invited to the World Final based on their standing on the BLAST Premier World Leaderboard where they are now sixth with 6300 points. The team has had a rollercoaster this year, with some excellent triumphs sandwiched between some crushing defeats. This year, OG has a few things to be proud of. They started 2022 strong, finishing 1st-3rd in the BLAST Premier: Spring Groups in February, defeating Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-1. They replicated their triumph in the BLAST Premier: Fall Groups in August, finishing 1st-3rd after a 2-0 win over the Astralis. 

The squad did well in the BLAST Premier Spring Finals in June, finishing 3rd-4th after being defeated by NAVI in a 1-2 defeat. That amazing performance came shortly after the squad finished 3rd-4th in the A-Tier event Global Esports Tour Dubai 2022. Nonetheless, the squad has had a poor showing in several Majors this year. They finished 13th-14th at the Inek Extreme Masters in Katowice after being eliminated from the event with 0-2 loss to MOUZ. That setback was followed by a 17th-19th place finish at the Intel extreme Masters Rio Major when they were defeated 1-2 by Team Vitality. 

We last saw them in the BLAST Premier Fall finals where they struggled again due to this they were ranked 7th-8th before they were eliminated by Ninjas in Pyjamas in a 0-2 setback. Team OG’s lineup for this season will be: 

  • Coach Casper "ruggah" Due 

  • Shahar "flameZ" Shushan 

  • Nemanja "nexa" Isaković 

  • Adam "NEOFRAG" Zouhar 

  • Maciej "F1KU" Miklas 

  • Abdulkhalik "degster" Gasanov 

OG will have their first match against Heroic this December 14 at 8 PM PHT. 

 

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