The BLAST Premier Spring Groups event is just around the corner and promises to deliver plenty of high-quality games. Featuring 10 of HLTV’s top 20 ranked teams, we’ll get some of the world's best competing at the first event of the year. This tournament is initially split into three groups, followed by a single-elimination bracket. Now we know the opening matches, we can give you our thoughts on the competition.
The first match of the event is Heroic vs. Evil Geniuses. This match is heavily favoured towards Heroic. Not only are they currently ranked first in the HLTV World Rankings, but Evil Geniuses are in the process of replacing Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov. Although his recent statistics haven’t been impressive, he was once the highest-performing player for EG. Given all the games played are best of three, we would be giving a large amount of false hope if we thought an upset would be possible here. Heroic should get themselves a comfortable win to start 2023 with.
Pinnacle has priced Heroic at 1.107* and EG at 6.100* in this opener.
The second game taking place on the first day of the event is Team Vitality vs. Astralis. These two teams are always interesting to watch when they face each other, especially when you take into account Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen, Emil "Magisk" Reif, and Danny "zonic" Sørensen are former members of Astralis (during the team’s dominant era).
The return of Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz to Astralis will be the focal point for any viewer, and although this matchup favours Vitality, it would be silly to completely write off the impact “dev1ce” and Benjamin "blameF" Bremer can have on a game. There’s no better way for “dev1ce” to test himself at a tier-1 event than against one of the best AWPers in the game, Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut. It’s a tough game to call, but experience favours the international mix of Vitality.
Pinnacle has priced Vitality at 1.555* and Astralis at 2.340* in this game.
Opening Group B is FaZe Clan vs. Complexity. Complexity, although unable to win any events in 2022, were a team on the rise. It’s difficult to say if they will be able to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs, especially with their first opponent being FaZe Clan, but since signing Håkon "hallzerk" Fjærli they’ve looked much better.
FaZe Clan ended the year unable to win a title and had some shocking early exits from events. If FaZe Clan haven’t fixed the problems that were causing these surprise results, Complexity could pull off an upset in the first game of their group. Given that FaZe Clan still have a squad of unbelievable talent that are better than each of Complexity’s role equivalents, FaZe Clan should be taking the win in this matchup.
Pinnacle has priced FaZe Clan at 1.153* and Complexity at 4.940* in Group B’s opener.
On the other side of the bracket, we see Team Liquid taking on OG Esports in their opener. OG were written off completely at the BLAST Premier World Final last year but ended up coming in 3rd-4th and I’m sure the coaching staff at Team Liquid will now be taking them just as seriously as they would NAVI or FaZe Clan.
This match will be heavily impacted by CIS players from either side, Abdulkhalik "degster" Gasanov for OG and Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis for Team Liquid. These two players have had an astonishing impact on the performance level their teams have been able to get to since joining.
I believe this match will be focused on OG attempting to shut down the incredible Entry Frag success rate of “YEKINDAR”, whilst Team Liquid will be looking to punish the aggression of “degster”. Look out for these two in this match.
Pinnacle has priced Team Liquid at 1.529* and OG Esports at 2.400* in this matchup.
Group C kicks off with the BLAST Premier World Final champions, G2 Esports, taking on the German side BIG. BIG played a lot of 2022 without their full roster, but they will all be back for BLAST Premier Spring Groups. As we don't have a lot of information on what their complete roster is capable of, it becomes difficult to say how good they are, or how good they can be.
On the other hand, G2 are one of the most inconsistent teams playing at the top level of CS:GO. One thing that doesn’t remain inconsistent, however, is the form of young gun Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov. After an impressive year, he placed at number seven on the HLTV Top 20 players of 2022 list. The firepower that G2 bolster is pound-for-pound better than BIG and this should be enough to push them over the edge and secure the win.
Pinnacle has priced G2 Esports at 1.334* and BIG at 3.110* in the opening match for the reigning BLAST champions.
One of the closest games to call is the last of the opening matches, NAVI vs. Ninjas in Pyjamas. Across 2022, these teams met four times, matching the number of wins against each other at 2-2.
NiP have won the last two times they’ve met, both times with different rosters, so it’s only fitting they’ve once again changed their roster. This time, they will field Danyyl "headtr1ck" Valitov, a player the NAVI organisation is familiar with. This will give Fredrik "REZ" Sterner freedom to move back to a rifler role, something analysts of the game were pushing for.
NiP aren’t the only one making a change, with NAVI bringing in Andrii "npl" Kukharskyi to replace Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev. This becomes one of the most interesting games of the group when all of this information is taken into account.
Pinnacle has priced NAVI at 1.471* and Ninjas in Pyjamas at 2.560* for this matchup.
*Odds are subject to change.