At the BLAST Premier: Spring Group Stage, BIG have not only earned a spot for the Spring Finals, but also made first place in the process. Even though the Ninjas in Pyjamas put up a surprisingly great performance throughout, the German team managed to clinch the victory on their second attempt.
Astralis had the perfect setup for this group. So far this year, OG and BIG had put up weak performances and the Ninjas in Pyjamas had to field a stand-in. All of these factors should have given them the edge with regards to securing first place. Instead, they admitted defeat on the first day already.
NIP STUN ASTRALIS WITH A PHENOMENAL UPSET
It rarely happens that a young and inexperienced player manages to hold their own against top teams in their debut match – especially not against the likes of Astralis. But Erik “ztr” Gustafsson delivered a 1.06 rating in his debut versus the Danish giants. The Ninjas in Pyjamas showed no signs of weakness after benching Simon “twist” Eliasson.
While they did start the year with losses against weaker teams, they now stood in a Best-of-Three match against one of the best teams of 2020. Astralis definitely wanted to close this one out quickly and Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen facilitated the process with lots of kills, but the rest of his team failed to keep up. In the Ninjas camp, Tim “nawwk” Jonasson and ztr were the ones who kept them in the game. After a close first half on Overpass, they secured a 16-13 win on the CT side. Astralis’ map pick, Inferno, was up next.
There, they did pretty much the same thing. The Young Ninja, ztr, held his own on a positive KD, while nawwk propelled the Ninjas to a 9-6 scoreline at half time. Switching to the defense, Astralis finally found an answer and strung together six rounds in the second half. At this point, however, the Ninjas saw through their plans and made it to the 16-13 mark almost effortlessly.
— BLAST Premier ? (@BLASTPremier) February 4, 2021
BIG VERSUS NIP
After a closely contested victory over OG, the BIG Clan also made their way to the Winners’ Match. After the Ninjas had now successfully held their own against Astralis, the German players were next in line. They definitely stood a chance, after all BIG hadn’t had such a great start to the year.
But Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz and his men got into the game quickly. Nine consecutive rounds gave them the upper edge in the first half. Even though NiP managed to win the remaining rounds, BIG answered with a pistol round win in the second half and quickly mounted a 15-7 lead over NiP. One single round victory would have brought them over the finish line, but the Ninjas didn’t let up. Fredrik “REZ” Sterner earned himself a 1.48 rating as NiP reached overtime. There, the teams fought through closely contested rounds, after which REZ and his colleagues finally clinched the victory on a 22-19 scoreline.
However, the Germans were still not out of steam entirely. They kept up the pace on Mirage, but eventually had to concede a 12-16 defeat. So the Ninjas managed to secure their second victory in the bracket, which also qualified them for the Spring Finals. The Grand Finals were now only a matter of seeding and prize money.
— BLAST Premier ? (@BLASTPremier) February 5, 2021
BIG VERSUS ASTRALIS
But for BIG, everything was still on the line. They had to face Astralis next to fight for their Spring Finals slot. In a head-to-head comparison of recent months, the Germans may have had the upper hand, but both teams had been somewhat shaky in the last few weeks. Fortunately, this match was the tipping point for Florian “syrsoN” Rische, as he finally brought his phenomenal AWP play to the server again.
After a close 16-14 victory on Vertigo, BIG went over to Inferno next. There, syrsoN effortlessly achieved a 1.91 rating and dominated the game with 28 kills, so much so that Astralis were unable to get past eight round points. Just like the Ninjas before, BIG managed to sweep the Danish team off the server on a 2-0 scoreline.
T-Side domination from @BIGCLANgg on Inferno to run away with the series 2-0!@AstralisCS drop down to the showdown while @BIGCLANgg ready themselves for @NIPGaming!#BLASTPremier pic.twitter.com/QBzuQVd1zq
— BLAST Premier ? (@BLASTPremier) February 6, 2021
So Astralis narrowly missed the Spring Finals and will now head to the Showdown for a chance at this season’s trophy. BIG managed to qualify, but the Grand Finals were still looming. A repeat match versus the Ninjas in Pyjamas would ultimately decide on the winner of Group B.
BIG VERSUS NIP – REPRISE
BIG effortlessly mounted a 16-2 victory on Vertigo, in which syrsoN pretty much kept up the insane performance he had displayed against Astralis. His 2.01 KD was contrasted by ztr’s output. With just four kills to his name, he actually fit in perfectly alongside REZ and nawwk, who themselves only managed to record six kills each.
Within just the first couple of Overpass rounds, NiP already managed to secure a much better scoreline. After an 8-7 first half, it looked as though they could actually recover from this crushing defeat. But once again, syrsoN made sure to keep them at bay. His 28 kills were a primary reason for BIG running away with a close 16-14 victory.
That feeling when you win a #BLASTPremier Spring Group ?
— BLAST Premier ? (@BLASTPremier) February 7, 2021
So the Ninjas did eventually fail to make it to the third map. A 2-0 Winner’s Match victory became an 0-2 loss in the Grand Finals – and even though they won’t have to worry about their Spring Finals slot, such a defeat must surely hurt.
However, this is a great sign for the BIG Clan. After a rather weak showing at DreamHack Open January, they have now recorded great wins over Astralis and NiP. Their next challenge will be IEM Katowice, although Movistar Riders, Team Spirit, and Cloud9 aren’t nearly as scary anymore after seeing BIG perform in this BLAST group.