Blast Premiere Playoffs – June 5, 2020

     The first round of Blast Premiere Spring Showdown Playoffs start tomorrow. Finally no more best of ones! We have two games from the European region as well as two games from the North American region to close out the day. These playoffs are a little weird because there is no grand final. The top three teams from each region move on to the Blast Finals event that starts on June 15th. The semi-final winners from each half of the bracket qualify, while the losers of the semi-finals will play head to head with the winner securing the last spot. The playoffs will start at 6:30am (EST) on Friday and run through Sunday. Lucky for us, the DreamHack playoffs start Monday morning.

 

 

Mousesports (-115) vs Astralis (-115) – 6:30am EST

     Neither of these teams found a ton of success during the group stage. Astralis finished with a 1-3 record and -10 round differential. Their only win came against Saw in a 16-4 fashion. They suffered a 16-6 loss to Vitality and a 16-7 loss to Ninjas in Pyjamas. Astralis’s last game was much more competitive, but they came up just short against Ence. Mousesports was only able to find a win against Dignitas, but also managed to tie Mad Lions. Their two losses came in the form of a 16-14 scoreline to Fnatic and Virtus.Pro. Despite the poor results, Mouse was able to finish with a +2 round differential. The winner of this match will move on to play Ence.

     I believe Astralis will have the first ban and pick since they are the lower seeded team. Figuring out their first pick may be more difficult than usual considering Astralis has started two new players since the end of Road to Rio. Their first ban will continue to be Mirage. Mouse will then ban Overpass. I think that Astralis’s first pick should be Inferno, but they’ve only played Train and Nuke with the current roster. Astralis has played Inferno extremely well over the past three months, but don’t be surprised to see them pick Nuke. Mousesports will continue to pick train, which they’ve already played three times during Blast. Astralis should then ban Dust2 in order to force Mouse to chose between Vertigo or Nuke/Inferno. Mouse rarely plays Vertigo, so I would imagine they take their chances on Nuke. If Astralis bypassed Dust2 as their second ban, I think Mouse would chose Dust2 for the tie breaker.

     Although these teams finished with similar records during group play, I think the play of Mousesports is much more sustainable over a best of three series. They only lost their games by two rounds and tied the other one. With a couple of swing rounds going their way, they easily could have been undefeated in the group. That speaks a lot about their improvement in form from that of Rio and DreamHack. All of the players on Mouse are also outplaying their 3 month average HLTV rating during this event. Astralis on the other hand, has four players playing below their average. Most notably, Magist is playing at a rating of 0.84 compared to his average of 1.12. They are clearly missing their in game leader, Glave, along with their clutch man, Xypx. They got blown out by both NiP and Vitality during group play. At Rio, Astralis blew out Vitality and bested NiP on the third map. I’m nervous of Mouse’s ability to play Inferno, but see them being able to best Astralis on any other possible map. The better form of Mouse should outweigh the map advantage Astralis has. I’m thrilled about the fact that we’re basically getting a pickem here.

Miner’s Money Pick: Mousesports (-115) *1.15u*

 

Vitality (-240) vs Dignitas (+190) – 10:00am EST

     Unlike the early game, these two teams had very different results during group play. Vitality only lost one game, but tied two of the other three. They blew good size leads in both of their ties and even led 9-6 at half in their loss. That should be a little worrisome moving forward considering their loss came against Saw. Dignitas was able to secure a playoff spot by beating Viruts.Pro, but lost every game other than that. They were only able to win an average of 8 rounds per game in their losses. Dignitas has been extremely disappointing during group play for both Road to Rio and Blast. They went just 2-9 over that span, only winning three maps total. Fnatic will be waiting for the winner of this match in the next round.

     Dignitas will get things started by banning Mirage. This will be followed up by Vitality taking Train off of the board. Dignitas should use their first pick on Nuke. They have a four map win streak on Nuke, but their most recent map loss came against Vitality at Road to Rio. Vitality will chose Dust2 as their map pick. This hurts Dignitas a ton as they enter Dust2 with a 6 game losing streak and just a 2-9 record over the past three months. Dignitas would then use their second ban on Overpass, which will force Vitality to chose between Vertigo or Inferno. I would imagine they pick Inferno, but they’re a perfect 4-0 on Vertigo in the last three months. I would certainly make Vitality a favorite on either of those maps.

     The Dignitas form has been disgusting. They’ve struggled to string together consecutive round wins and seem to be on a farewell tour. As I mentioned before, they’re just 2-9, against a similar pool of teams, throughout Rio and Blast Premiere. Vitality has had their own struggles in closing out games, but I don’t think Dignitas will be able to exploit that throughout a best of three series. In the end I expect Vitality to get the win, but I’m going to try to avoid paying that juice to start.  I’ll be making a one unit play on Vitality to cover the spread. There’s a chance that Vitality drops Nuke, but I would still have to make them a favorite coming in to the map. They’ll be heavily favored on Dust2 and whatever the third map is. If Dignitas is able to secure the win on their map pick and blow our cover, I will make a live play on the Vitality money line. They will most likely be a short dog if they are down 1-0 going in to Dust2.

Miner’s Money Pick: Vitality -1.5 (+110)

 

Gen.G (-315) vs Triumph (+230) – 1:30pm EST

     We get the North American Playoffs started with an extremely interesting matchup. Gen.G is the heaviest favorite in the North American region against Triumph. Triumph was quite the surprise during group play. They didn’t lose a single match, beating Cloud9, before tying both 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses. Gen.G, on the other hand, struggled during group play. They finished with a 1-1-1 record and claimed the third seed coming out of group A. Their only win came against Chaos, who finished last place in the group. The winner of this match will move on to pay Furia in the semi-finals.

     Weirdly enough, Gen.G will be the ones to get things started for the map pool. They should start out by banning Overpass. Triumph will follow that up by banning Train. This will force both teams away from a map they’re extremely comfortable on. I think Gen.G will chose either Mirage or Inferno for their map pick. I expect Triumph to pick Dust2. Dust2 has been a great equalizer for them and they played there for all of their group play matches. They also beat Gen.G on Dust2 during Road to Rio Group play. Gen.G will most likely use their second ban on Nuke. This will force Triumph to pick between Inferno/Mirage or Vertigo. The last time these two played Vertigo, Gen.G won by a 16-1 score line, so I would expect to see Triumph pick Mirage/Inferno as the tie breaker.

     I am a little surprised to see Gen.G listed as such a big favorite. Triumph looked like they were able to hang with just about any body in their group, at least on Dust2. The fact that Dust2 should be in the map pool helps them, but if Mirage makes it in, the map pool will certainly be kind to Triumph. The reason they played so well on Dust2 is because it’s a map that everybody knows how to play. There is a ton of improvisation which levels the playing field with organizations that have huge strategic playbooks for every map. Mirage is the same style. They’re both FPL maps and Triumph should have a fighting chance on both. Inferno should be much harder on Triumph, but they’ve played Gen.G there before and should know what they want to do. Based on group play form and the map pool, I don’t think Triumph should be such big underdogs. I’ll be taking them at +1.5 as well as their money line. I see value on the money line at anything higher than +200 as I see this line being closer to +180 (35%).

Miner’s Money Pick: Triumph (+230) *.5u* & Triumph +1.5 (-120) *0.9u* 

 

MiBR (-140) vs Cloud9 (+110) – 5:00pm EST

     The final match of the day will certainly leave us ready for more Counter Strike on Saturday. We finish off the first round of the Blast Playoffs with two extremely exciting teams. This will be the fourth best of three meeting between these two teams since October. The only difference in rosters will be TRK playing for MiBR instead of Mayern. Cloud9 won two of the previous three meetings, but the map total is tied at 4-4. MiBR had a better showing during group play. They started out strong with an upset over Furia, before tying their next two matches to finish group play. Cloud9 lost both of their first two group play matches by a 16-13 and 16-14 scoreline. They went on to beat 100 Thieves in a loser goes home match to close out group play. 100 Thieves started with an 11-4 T-side on Nuke, but Cloud9 battled back with an impressive T-side of their own, going on to win 16-14. The winner of this match will move on to play Evil Geniuses in the semi-finals.

     Cloud9 will get the map picking process started by banning Mirage. MiBR will answer by banning Nuke. I expect Cloud9 to pick Overpass for the first map in this one. Cloud9 uses Overpass and Inferno for their first map pick at the highest rate, but MiBR has had a much tougher time playing on Overpass. MiBR should then use their first pick on Train, unless they want to force Cloud9 to play Inferno themself. Train is a MiBR classic, but Cloud9 holds a better win% with more maps played over the past three months. Cloud9 should use their second ban on Inferno if it isn’t picked by MiBR. If Inferno is picked, they’ll ban either Train or Dust2 depending on which they would rather play. MiBR will use the last ban on Vertigo, so the choice is pretty much Cloud9’s.

     I think this map pool sets up perfectly for an upset to end the day. The most lopsided map should be Overpass in favor of Cloud9. The other two maps should be pretty competitive, but seeing Train and Dust2 would certainly give Cloud9 a great chance to win a second map. I see Cloud9 as a short favorite on Dust2 and just about even on Train. I wouldn’t count them out on Inferno either, as they bested MiBR 16-12 there the last time these teams met. You should all also know that I love playing Cloud9 as an underdog. This team has such a high potential and plays their best Counter Strike when nobody expects them to win. Sometimes they have trouble under pressure and struggle to close games out, but I expect them to carry some of the momentum from their huge comeback win in to this match. It also looked like they were going to be eliminated from playoffs, so they sort of have nothing to lose. I’ll be making Cloud9 my biggest play of the day.

Miner’s Money Pick: Cloud9 (+110) *1.5u*

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