Last night, the Blast Pro Series wrapped up their latest event, held in Copenhagen. For those who missed the action, the final was a wonderful match between Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas, that eventually went the way of the CIS mix, and the event was a triumph for the most part. The level of play was amazing, even from the Ninjas, and highlighted the massive potential Blast has as a series long term.
There were a few headlines, including the Danish Prime Minister's speech, which you can see above, as well as the return of a truly beloved commentator in Auguste 'Semmler' Massonnat, but equally there are a few tiny niggles about Blast that haven't quite gone away. Here's what we love about Blast, and what we'd change to take it to the absolute pinnacle of CSGO events.
What we love
There is a lot to love about Blast, and the first thing is the quality. While Summit are struggling to get one good team to their event, the Blast team managed to secure the best team in the world, and then pretty much everyone else, with a couple of exceptions. Only really Mousesports and Team Liquid were absent of the top teams, and that’s pretty impressive.
If you add those two in, you have an eight team tournament where every single entrant is a potential winner. Equally, it seems from NiP’s performance that removing some of the chaff helps teams play up, as there is no doubt the Swedish org did over the past two days. Few would have picked them out as finalists among this field, but their confidence grew with every game and they fully deserved to face Na’Vi for the title.
With that in mind, Na’Vi themselves seemed to thrive in this environment, with Zeus and Edward showing some great form, and the latter going off in finals. Overall, the level of play was good enough to even suggest Valve might want to rethink their ‘everyone is welcome’ attitude toward the majors, instead going for a smaller, tighter group of teams that can truly showcase the insane level of skill in the game today.
That same quality was present throughout the cast too, with Redeye bringing the calm and quality he is associated with to a tier one CSGO event for the first time in a minute, and killing it. Around him you had the best commentators in the world, even the ones that left CSGO, and top class production to match, as well as all the usual analysts and experts you’d want.
The Blast team even avoided the modern esports trap of hiring edgy people that the public likes, making for a better viewing experience all around. To sum it up, there is a massive amount to like about the show, if they can only fix a couple of things….
The other bits
First up, there is the drum we’ve been banging for a while, that we must pick up again. Blast need to chose between owning teams and running events if they are to move from running exhibitions to running legitimate events. It was great to watch the CSGO, and Na’Vi saved them from the awkward Astralis win, but the level of competitive integrity involved in having a team owned by RFRSH in an event run by RFRSH is a joke, and reflects poorly on the scene too.
For the defenders, it is true there are other such situations that exist in esports and even CSGO, where teams owners also run the event, and those are no better. Now that is out of the way, if Blast are able to clean that up, and a few other issues , it’s clear they have the funds and the wherewithal to run amazing events, and full events too.
That would obviously be the next level, to extend the event and run it with the stream in mind, as well as the audience in the stadium. Running three games simultaneously makes little sense when you have so many great players, although Blast have found ways to secure sponsorship with this plan. If they were to stretch the number of days and lower the intensity slightly, they could be as good as any non-major we’ve seen in a while.
To be frank, there is not much else to be fixed around the series. Bringing back Semmler was a masterstroke and showed us all how blessed we’ve been for talent down the years, and in terms of bells and whistles the Danish Prime Minister was a pretty decent coup too. RFRSH are a couple of simple moves away from being one of, if not the best TOs in CSGO, at a time when Majors are up for grabs. It might be time for them to decide on a direction and step to it, as they’ve got a massive amount to offer the scene.
Image credit: Blast Pro