The BLAST Premier World Final will bring the curtain down on the CS:GO tournament season. We’ve set out what you need to know about the upcoming round of matches.
The season will end with a bang as eight of the world’s best teams – seven of which are currently inside the HLTV top 10 – will compete at the BLAST Premier World Final in Copenhagen with $1 million on the line.
The BLAST Premier Fall Final brought out the best that live events have to offer, but the World Final will be held in a more secluded venue without an audience due to Denmark’s new, stricter health and safety protocols. It is disappointing news as it means that fans will have to wait until 2022 to see the best teams in an arena again but the quality of play will certainly not suffer.
PGL Major Stockholm champions NAVI will be looking to extend its winning run and cement its legacy as one of the best teams in the history of the franchise. Their chances of ending 2021 with another title are looking very robust: Of the other seven teams in attendance, five are either playing with a stand-in or are about to undergo changes in the offseason.
In this preview, we break down every match from the first round of the double-elimination tournament. Be sure to catch up on all the results of the BLAST event with our BLAST Premier World Final hub.
NAVI v Liquid – December 14
The BLAST Premier World Final will be the last dance for this Team Liquid roster. After the event, there could be as many as three roster changes in the North American squad, with Nick ‘nitr0’ Cannella, Josh ‘oSee’ Ohm and Richard ‘shox’ Papillon all expected to be brought in.
The issues in the current iteration of Liquid are out in the open, but that’s not to say that they will be pushovers. They beat a full-strength NIP roster at the BLAST Premier Fall Final and the new-look Astralis roster at IEM Fall, showing they still have plenty of fight left in them.
But taking on NAVI is a whole different ball game. The CIS giants are looking to end the year with another trophy in the bag and continue to push the record book into the stratosphere after beating Astralis’ title of the team with the most prize money accrued in a calendar year.
The CIS giants have taken some time off to recover after their recent run of events, which explains why they were nowhere to be seen at IEM Fall. They may be a bit sluggish early on but their firepower alone should be enough to see them through.
Player to watch: Who else but Aleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev? The Ukrainian star has already won seven MVP medals this year and will be looking to tie Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz’s record of 19 medals at an event that seems to be NAVI’s to lose.
Dexerto Prediction: 2-0 NAVI
DJ Esports odds: NAVI 1.082 to Liquid 6.854
Gambit v Heroic – December 14
The 2-1 defeat to a Vitality team on their last legs was a bitter pill for Gambit to swallow. It has been a tough road back to the top for the young CIS team, who have been unable to post the sort of results that were commonplace during the first months of 2021 before NAVI’s meteoric rise.
Gambit didn’t look particularly impressive in its victories against FaZe and fnatic at IEM Fall, which certainly does not bode well for their chances of ending 2021 with a title as they are about to face an even more stacked field of competitors.
However, they will be fancying their chances of beginning the tournament on right foot after learning that Martin ‘stavn’ Lund has been ruled out of the event due to personal issues. Standing in for him will be Johannes ‘b0RUP’ Borup, who has been plying his trade for MAD Lions since being removed from Heroic’s starting lineup.
There is no doubt that this is a considerable downgrade for Heroic. Stavn is a top 20 player in the world and has been Heroic’s best performer on LAN in 2021, averaging a 1.09 HLTV rating. After Heroic bowed out of IEM Winter in last place, it’s difficult to envisage a situation where they finish higher than 5th-6th without one of their star players.
Player to watch: After a quiet performance at PGL Major Stockholm, Sergey ‘Ax1Le‘ Rykhtorov seems to be picking up form. He was Gambit’s best player at IEM Winter and will be aiming to punish a Heroic team that could be found lacking in the fragging department without stavn.
Dexerto Prediction: 2-0 Gambit
DJ Esports odds: Gambit 1.411 to Heroic 2.767
G2 v NIP – December 15
In another match in which one of the teams will not be at full strength, NIP will take on G2 without star player Nicolai ‘device’ Reedtz, who remains sidelined due to illness. The Ninjas will also be without coach Björn ‘THREAT’ Pers, with Jonas Gundersen, the organization’s COO, taking over on an interim basis.
Replacing ‘Mr. Consistency’ will be 19-year-old academy player Love ‘phzy’ Smidebrant, who already subbed in for the team in the IEM Winter matches against G2 and Vitality.
On the opposite side of the equation lies G2, who welcome back in-game leader Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković after he missed IEM Winter due to visa issues. According to Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač, the team didn’t practice with nexa for approximately three weeks because of the complications, which raises questions about their tournament prospects.
G2 should look like a more composed and better-organized unit than the one that lost to NIP at the weekend, but with changes on the horizon for them, there’s no telling the mental state that they will be in heading into the tournament. This could very well turn out to be another slugfest.
Player to watch: Fredrik ‘REZ‘ Sterner showed glimpses of his best form at IEM Winter, where he averaged a 1.12 HLTV rating, helping NIP across the finish line in the three-map series against G2. With dev1ce out of action, the team will look to him for inspiration. But will he answer the call or will he shy away from responsibility?
Dexerto Prediction: 2-1 G2
DJ Esports odds: G2 1.421 to NIP 2.729
Vitality v Astralis – December 15
Astralis’ honeymoon period ended abruptly as they crashed out of IEM Winter in 9th-12th place following defeats to NIP and Team Liquid. The team looked like a far cry from the one who placed third at the BLAST Premier Fall Final in its first tournament with Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wienecke and Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer.
There are still many questions about just how viable Astralis’ new system is after they took the AWP from Philip ‘Lucky’ Ewald, who is now restricted to a rifling role as the Big Green continues to be handled by Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander and, in some cases, k0nfig.
It has been almost two weeks since Astralis’ last match so they have had plenty of time to process their disappointment and iron out the kinks in the system. They will be out for revenge against Vitality, who came out victorious the last time these two teams faced each other at the BLAST Premier Fall Final.
The French team are coming into this event brimming with confidence after winning IEM Winter in stunning fashion. The team has been playing with no pressure since it became known that roster changes are on the way, and they could once again make life hell for everyone at the event, starting with Astralis.
Player to watch: By his own admission, K0nfig had “one of the worst tournaments” of his life at IEM Winter, averaging a 0.78 HLTV rating. He will be eager to bounce back and end 2021 on a positive note to prove that he is definitely on top of his game after a rollercoaster year.
Dexerto Prediction: 2-1 Astralis
DJ Esports odds: Vitality 1.521 to Astralis 2.421
Odds correct at the time of writing.