NA-Talks: Week 2 - BLAST Spring
Topic: CS:GO NA-Roster Debuts
Over the weekend we got to see some great Counter-Strike in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups. BLAST is a S-tier tournament featuring some of the worlds best teams, like Na’vi, G2, and Vitality. Among those juggernauts, are the new North American rosters of Complexity, Evil Geniuses, and everyone's hope for NA, Team Liquid.
New Members, New look, Same Salt
Competing in group A, Complexity came into this event boasting an entirely new roster. The new roster formed with the core of ex-Extra Salt members, Ricky "floppy" Kemery, Johnny "JT" Theodosiou, and Justin "FaNg" Coakley. The former Extra Salt Trio were joined by ex-Liquids rifler, Michael "Grim" Wince, and filled out the squad by signing Paytyn "junior" Johnson from Furia. Complexity commenced the new year with a rocky start, bombing out of Funspark ULTI 2021. However, despite the poor result, the team showed great potential when they took a map off of Gambit, the world's number two team.
With great prospects and a bit more time to prepare for this event, better things were expected. And as expected, Complexity did play better; unfortunately, it was just not enough. With a close Nuke match against G2 esports, only losing 16-12, Complexity played well despite their shortcomings. After their loss, they faced BIG in the Lower bracket first round, the same opponent the Extra Salt core faced in the Funspark ULTI 2020 final. Sadly, in similar fashion to the Funspark final, Complexity fell to the German squad, losing to BIG on Nuke 16-10. Overall, Complexity looked shaky, but brought an exciting play style; and with a handful of close games against top competition, the team looks like it could be a serious threat given enough time to grow.
The Heroes of NA Return
Group C held the other two North American contenders in EG and Liquid. EG had just acquired the core trio of the Boston Major championship winning team from Cloud9, sweeping up Jake "Stewie2k" Yip from Liquid, picking up William "RUSH" Wierzba, and saving the forsaken Timothy "autimatic " Ta from every CS:GO fans worst nightmare: Valorant. Bringing in this trio to play alongside EG mainstays Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte and Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov, NA looks at a new super team for the region.
That being said, with Stewie coming in to IGL a new team, and autimatic returning from a nearly year long stint in Valorant, the team can’t be expected to be a championship contender just yet. Despite the rust and new environment for all the players, EG looked as if they improved their play as each round passed. In their first official match together, they played the worlds Number three team, Vitality. The French squad dismantled EG with an easy win on Inferno, ending with a 16-3 scoreline. Regardless of a horrible opening game for the Americans, they then had to face off against their region's own, Team Liquid.
In yet another match on Inferno, EG looked to improve by the round—eventually winning the first half 10-5. In an exciting second half that led to overtime, Evil Geniuses, in spite of their best efforts, fell to Liquid 17-19 in a derby match that proved NA had another top dog. Even though EG went 0-2 in their group, they showed great improvement in their teamplay in the span of just a few hours, leaving time to tell how great they can be with just a few months working together.
A Fluid Debut
For Liquid as well, this event is also their new squads first official matches together. With Elige and NAF sticking around in the roster, they welcomed a familiar face: CS:GO pro turned Valorant star, Nick "nitr0" Cannella, who returned from his stint in limbo, to lead Liquid in place of Stewie2k. Along with nitr0, Liquid also welcomed the french legend, Richard "shox" Papillon, joining from Vitality, and also snatched up NA’s next superstar, Josh "oSee" Ohm, who departed from Extra Salt to join up in place of their ex AWPer Fallen. Liquid kicked off their first game together with a nail biter against FaZe on inferno. FaZe was in the driver's seat for a majority of the first half; however, once sides switched, Liquid took command. Bringing the match back and eventually reaching a scoreline of 15-14, Liquid looked to close it out, but FaZe took it to overtime and won out with a clean sweep, ending with a score of 15-19.
Liquid looked formidable against their first tier-one opponent, but now had to play their North American counterpart, Evil Geniuses, in the lower bracket. Detailed previously, the match took place on Inferno, and saw Liquid take it in OT 19-17, however in that match we witnessed something special out of Liquids rookie oSee. The 22 year old star put on a show, boasting a statline of 30-19, topping the server in frags, and receiving match MVP. Looking to continue their winning ways after a strong performance, Liquid once again had to face off against FaZe.
The EU/NA mix roster looked deflated in the first half, going down 11-4, but somehow willed their way back into the match. With some great calls from their IGL Finn "karrigan" Andersen, and some insane individual plays from their riflers, FaZe took it to OT. In their third overtime match of the evening, Liquid played well, but in time, fell to FaZe 19-17. Even though they placed third in their group, the team looked strong and could have won any of their matches if certain scenarios went just a bit different.
NA's Finest Prospect
Regardless of Liquids result, oSee was able to shine. The AWPer was able to stand out among his peers putting up great stats in his first S-Tier event. With 79 frags, and 65 deaths across just 106 rounds played, oSee put on a show of skill in his debut event. Elige in a post match interview stated, “Josh is actually really sick, he's one of the best rookies I've ever played with … He’s so close to being a top tier one AWPer. I think he’ll be pretty much there in 3-5 months. I don’t think that he's far off at all.” With such high praise coming out of arguably NA’s best rifler, a bright future should be expected for the young AWPer.
What to expect?
With all the new NA roster debuting over the weekend, there is a rough outline of what to expect and what to hope for the future. BLAST Premier Spring 2022 picks up once again this Thursday, and we will get to see what these North American lineups are made of with a bit more in the server.