The last two participants of the BLAST Premier spring finals were determined last weekend. BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown featured a total of 16 teams, with G2 Esports and Gambit Esports becoming the best of the best – with the former not letting Team Spirit enter the next stage, while the latter took revenge from Heroic for the defeat in the ESL Pro League final. And yet, enjoying popularity among the audience were completely different teams. Let’s talk about the results of the competition and its viewership statistics.
Gambit gained a foothold among the Counter-Strike elite
Perhaps the main trend of the Counter-Strike scene in 2021 is the unprecedented professional growth of teams from the CIS, who are beaming with confidence in the era of online gaming. For several years, many of these teams have tested themselves at tier-2 level tournaments and have naturally grown to match the level of more prestigious events. Gambit Esports has shown the utmost growth among these teams.
The backbone of the roster has been playing for Gambit for over two years (being known as “Gambit Youngsters” until October last year). At the same time, the achievements of the “youngster” team during 2019-2020 were quite on par with the performance one might expect from the main roster. Even before the pandemic, the team regularly won online championships, and during the lockdown (as well as after the arrival of HObbit) they started doing this more frequently and convincingly.
The return of HObbit was one of the decisive factors in Gambit's success. Photo: Epic Esports Events
Gambit was staying in the top 30 of the HLTV.org ranking since October last year – and was holding the first spot since the beginning of April 2021. Although the various interviews show much modesty from the team's players, in fact, right now they (along with Heroic) are the role models for the rest of the teams.
At BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2021, the team once again confirmed its status, confidently scoring victories against NASR, FURIA, and Heroic. The match with the Danes wasn’t as important in comparison to the outstanding performance of the teams in the final of ESL Pro League Season 13, where Heroic won in an intense bo5 with a 3:2 score, while cadiaN, the captain of the Danish five, made one of the main highlights of the year. This time the battle was no less intense, but the Russians prevailed.
In the second part of the Spring Showdown playoff bracket, G2 Esports has shown the best performance of all – which means that at the finals of the season’s spring part, Gambit will be the only team that is not a regular participant in the series. Perhaps it’s high time for BLAST to revise the list of partner organizations?
The legends of Brazilian Counter-Strike have made history
The victories of Gambit Esports and G2 Esports are far from being the only intrigue of BLAST Premier Spring Showdown. The truly sensational event occurred in the first round of the championship, when one of the leaders of the scene in recent years, Team Vitality, lost to the clear outsiders from 9z Team – and their match became the most popular in the tournament.
The audience's interest in 9z is not accidental: the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking South American countries were all actively rooting for the team. The team featured two Argentines, two Uruguayans (one of them was replaced by a Spaniard during BLAST) as well as the most eminent participants being the two representatives of Brazil – the captain bit and the coach Zakk.
Bit (not to be confused with newcomer NAVI) is the undisputed legend of the Brazilian Counter-Strike scene, and it is with him that most zealous esports fans associate the success of the original MIBR (from long before the rights to the brand were bought by Immortals). Also, b1t was supposed to be the captain of the infamous first roster of 100 Thieves (one that left the club even before the debut match).
Bit won DreamHack, ESWC, and IEM back in the ‘00s. Photo: Felipe Guerra
The team’s coach Zakk is a personality that’s just as well-known among the fans of Counter-Strike. It was he who was the head coach of Immortals, the team that reached the Major final in Krakow. It seemed that under his leadership the team would become a worthy replacement of SK Gaming / MIBR – however, Immortals eventually failed to gain a foothold in the scene’s top.
The 9z roster has been playing together for more than a year, but until now it remained virtually unknown to a wide audience – because of being mostly limited to performing at local South American tournaments. As such, BLAST Showdown became the first truly major event for the team.
More than 319K peak viewers watched 9z's triumph against Vitality. Aside of that, not a single match of the tournament managed to surpass the mark of 300K peak viewers; with 267-271K peak viewers watching the decisive games of two playoff grids.
It should be noted that in the top most popular matches, only one featured no participants from Brazil. Fans of Counter-Strike from this country are actively following the progress of their compatriots, and BLAST Showdown was no exception.
The official English-language broadcasts of the tournament once again failed to maintain their dominance in terms of languages. Despite the audience of English-language streams of CS:GO tournaments being the largest, Portuguese-speaking fans are gradually catching up with it. Together, they accounted for 82.2% of the total hours watched at BLAST Showdown.
Russian-language broadcasts are consistently seen in the top 3, and the BLAST tournament was no different – with these being responsible for almost 10% of the total hours watched. The broadcasts in other languages tend to attract many times fewer viewers, with Spanish and Vietnamese being in the lead among them. Finnish, German, Serbian, Turkish, Czech, and French broadcasts also gathered several thousand peak viewers.
The list of the most popular teams is also not surprising at all. With the absence of Natus Vincere at the tournament, the most active viewers belonged to the Brazilian audience. Team Liquid, which didn’t perform that well, took the lead with 202K average viewers watching the team’s only match at the BLAST Showdown (the team lost to Dignitas).
Aside from that, the tournament did not show any remarkable viewership statistics, although it still entered the top 10 tournaments in BLAST history in terms of peak viewers. We can, however, expect new records from the next tournament of the series, because Natus Vincere will perform at the spring finals, with the tournament beginning in mid-June.
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