The New Year’s celebrations are long over, but the Counter-Strike world is just getting ready for its own countdown for 2023. The first big tournament of the year, BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023, will feature the best teams in the world and lots of spicy storylines to consider. Here’s what you should be looking out for if you’d like to bet on the inaugural CS:GO event of the season.
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BLAST Premier: explaining the tournament format
The BLAST Premier circuit features a Spring and a Fall portion, each with an identical format. First, a Groups event seeds six of the twelve participants into the Final, then the remaining teams are joined by other qualifying squads in the regional Showdowns, where only the winners will make it – one from Europe and one from the Americas.
The groups in the Groups event (a little confusing, innit?) feature four teams and a double-elimination bracket with best-of-three matches. The group winners immediately qualify for the Finals and don’t have to participate in the Play-In stage. The runner-up gets a bye for the play-in stage, while the third- and fourth-place finishers need to duke it out in the first round. Win both knockout rounds in the play-in stage and you can secure one of the three remaining spots for the seasonal Finals.
BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023 – teams and predictions
Group A offers us a spicy Danish derby, should the bracket pan out the right way, by potentially pitting Heroic against Astralis. The merry band of cadiaN finished the year strong, finally taking down an elite-level tournament and moving past any remnants of the “onliner” moniker that plagued them since their rise during the pandemic era. They will face yet another messy iteration of Evil Geniuses in what should be an easy layup.
Meanwhile, Astralis tried to recapture the magic by bringing back device, and this will be the legendary AWPer’s first outing against top-tier opposition since his return, which will offer a grand spectacle by itself. No better way to get started than to trade blows with Team Vitality’s ZywOo (and two of his former teammates!) That matchup is too close to call.
Battle for domestic supremacy aside, there’s a bit of added spice in any potential Heroic-Astralis matchup: that is HUNDEN, the disgraced coach who tried to sell his past team down the river to help out his new one, and though he won’t be the one standing behind gla1ve and his teammates in the booth, his presence will be greatly felt by everyone following the affairs. The two Danish squads to take the top two spots, pipping Vitality to the post? It wouldn’t be the biggest upset in the world….
Next up, perhaps an even more intriguing question: which FaZe Clan will show up to ring in the new year? Karrigan’s team dominated the first half of 2022 but failed to recapture the magic after the player break, and with rain going on a long hiatus, the mastermind IGL has to incorporate yet another stand-in. He has a great track record doing so, but this might be his greatest challenge yet. If he can’t steer his team past the competition in this group – OG, Complexity and Team Liquid are all clearly inferior teams according to the bitcoin betting odds (1.13 on the opening matchup against CoL) – then who knows what’s next for this squad?
Over in Group C, the main mystery is whether G2’s win at last year’s World Finals was anything more than a fluke – and whether npl can adopt to the rigors of elite-level CS as part of the NAVI lineup. Having ditched sdy, some internal tensions should be resolved, but this is not the team that dominated the circuit late in 2021, s1mple’s latest HLTV #1 rank notwithstanding. Not even the GOAT can carry a Counter-Strike team to titles just by himself.
BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023: event schedule and where to watch
The BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023 tournament begins on January 19. The first batch of group stage matches take place between the 19th and the 21st. After a short break, the rest of the group stage matches are played out between January 23 and 26. Then, the Play-In stage follows, without a rest day: it starts on January 27 and ends on January 29.
You can follow all the action on BLAST’s Twitch channel, and, of course, Bitsler’s live odds feed.