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BLAST Pro Series Madrid’s sixth and final team will be determined via an Iberian Qualifier which pits Spanish sides Moviestar Riders and Giants Gaming against one another for the opportunity to compete in front of their home fans and against some of the best CS:GO teams in the world.
The BLAST Pro Series is the self-proclaimed “most explosive, engaging and entertaining esports tournament in the world.” Using an unorthodox and abbreviated format, BLAST Pro Series tournaments are undoubtedly exciting but have recently received considerable pushback from CS:GO fans.
With seven events planned for this year and hopes for 12 next year, the BLAST Pro Series sometimes runs concurrent to other major CS:GO events. As such, teams that have signed with BLAST–most notably Astralis, a team that is owned by the same organization that owns BLAST–have bailed on bigger tournaments to compete in Pro Series events because a) their contracts require it and b) the prize pools are so big.
Nonetheless, BLAST events feature competitive teams and exciting action. At the end of the competitive season, the four teams with the most Pro Series points advance to a two-round Grand Final. Teams earn Pro Series points based on their performances at Pro Series events.
The format of BLAST Pro Series events is markedly different than most other esports tournaments. All competing teams play each other once in a best-of-one match. At the end of the round robin, the top two teams move on to a best-of-three Grand Final. The third-place team chooses an opponent from the bottom three finishers and faces them in a BLAST Pro Standoff for $20,000. A BLAST Pro Standoff is a 1v1 aim duel showmatch.
Though the event features a small pool of teams and is relatively short, the winning team takes home a mammoth $125,000. Second-place wins $50,000 and third place is awarded $25,000 with the opportunity for the sum to swell to $45,000 should they win the Pro Standoff showmatch.
The world’s top-ranked CS:GO team Astralis enters BLAST Pro Series Madrid as the favorite with 1.458 odds to win the tournament at Pinnacle. Despite finishing 5th out of 6 teams at the previous BLAST, Astralis is the favorite in Madrid simply because the overall quality of the field is weaker than it was in Miami.
Ninjas in Pyjamas (14.000) and Cloud9 (27.080) round out the invited contingent and are long shots at Pinnacle to win BLAST Pro Series Madrid. NiP, ranked eighth in the world, had success at BLAST events in 2018, placing as high as second place, and historically have done well in best-of-one matches. C9 is battling through a down year and would need nothing short of a miracle to qualify for the Grand Final.
Moviestar Riders (47.630) or Giants Gaming (62.560), whichever goes through to the main event, likely will go winless in Madrid. Look for them to be selected to take part in the Pro Standoff match by the third-place finisher.
BLAST Pro Series Madrid is Astralis’ to lose. They were subpar in Miami, but their three losses came against MIBR, Team Liquid and FaZe Clan; three teams that are not participating in Madrid. They’ll be tested early by NiP–a match for which they are 1.246 favorites–and that will give us a better idea of which Astralis squad decided to show up in Madrid.
It’s not impossible that Astralis drops its group-stage match to Na’Vi despite being 1.42 favorites with a -3.5 handicap at SportsBetting.ag. But they’re essentially a lock to make the Grand Finals, and with their season in such a precarious position, bet on the world’s highest ranked team to seize the opportunity to add another trophy to their ever-expanding case.
ENCE will likely have their choice of one of the three bottom-feeder teams in the Pro Standoff showmatch. They’ll be tipped to add to recent first, second, third and fifth-eighth place finishes with a Pro Standoff win and $20,000 in bonus prize money.
If you had to pick an underdog to win this event it would be Ninjas in Pyjamas. At 14.000 to win the tournament, NiP could shake things up early with a win over Astralis in their opening match on Friday. Their form has been good and they have a lot to play to qualify for the ESL Pro League Final next month. Even if they don’t topple Astralis in round one, NiP are an intriguing bet as a 3.89 underdog with a +5.5 handicap.
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