Thursday marks the return of T1 CS:GO, as Blast Premier Spring 2021 group stages start up. We have a 2 game slate that locks at 10:30 am EST. The games are:

Astralis (83% implied win probability) vs NiP

Big (59%) vs OG

Sub Risk/Roster Changes

NiP has benched Twist, and are calling up ztr, a 17 year old who plays for their developmental team. That team has been playing in the T3/4 scene, where ztr has been pretty inconsistent. Since he’s only 17 I am in no way passing judgement on him/his career prospects when I say this, but I don’t expect too much out of him in his first game on the parent squad facing the best team of all time. That said, they weren’t getting much out of Twist either, so I’d consider this move only a slight downgrade in the short term.

On the other side, just a reminder that Astralis sub Xyp9x out on Nuke in favor of Bubzkji. NiP did ban Nuke in both of their non-VP matches during CS Summit (VP banned Nuke both times before NiP had a chance to ban), so there does seem to be a strong chance that NiP ban Nuke in this series as well. I’m going to build as if Xyp9x will be playing, and make backup lineups for if Nuke is in the pool in the hope that map picks are out before lock. This is first game of the slate, but it’s also the first game of the tournament, which means a higher likelihood of the match starting late because of long intros, possibly delaying map picks until after lock. If we don’t see maps before lock, I’m willing to risk it and still play Xyp9x. Bubzkji is finally in the player pool, but he is unplayable for DFS as he only subs in on 1 map.

Neither OG nor Big have made any roster changes and neither team subs.

Slate Analysis

Pricing isn’t too tight on this slate, but it’s tight enough that if you want to play Astralis + Big you’ll have to dip into a Big bottom fragger, as all 5 Astralis members are priced up. Astralis + OG let’s you get almost any 3/3 that you want. My expectation is that the overwhelming chalk will be to play 3 Astralis, and most 2/1’s will come from the Big/OG game.

I don’t mind those lineup constructions, but I also like the idea of pivoting to a much lower owned 2 Astralis + Rez or Nawwk and then a 3 stack of either Big or OG. I especially like this idea if we do see that Nuke is in the Astralis series map pool (again, I expect it not to be, and we may not know before lock). This should be a unique build that has a pretty clear path to victory (NiP keep at least one map close against Astralis, Big vs OG is a convincing sweep in either direction).

The break seems to have done Tabsen in particular good, as he one was of the members of Big who talked about being burned out towards the end of 2020. He’s look like his old self so far in 2021 vs the often bottom fragger we saw at the end of 2020. Other than that, it’s the usual suspects I’ll be interested in for Big, Syrson and Xantares. If I do go the lineup building route that leads me to one of their bottom fraggers I’ll lean Tizian over K1to.

On the OG side it’ll be Valde, Mantuu, and Issa for me. If I run more than a couple OG 3 stacks I’ll swap Issaa out for Aleksib sometimes, but OG are so cheap that you can focus on their top players.

From Astralis, I think the only “sneaky” play might be Xyp9x. Enough people are aware of the sub risk that it might help keep his ownership a bit down, but it will likely still be high. Glaive is priced high enough that he’s not really a cost savings, so I’ll be staying away as much as I can. The other 4 (not counting Bubzkji, who is definitely not in play) are all squarely in play.

Top Captains

Device is the obvious top captain, and his ownership will likely reflect that. I like Dupreeh, Magisk, or even Xyp9x as pivots off him within Astralis, as if they crush NiP any of them could realistically be the top fragger. Xyp in particular is again likely to see lowered captain ownership.

From Big I like Syrson then Xantares, and Tabsen is worth a look with his improved form as well. From OG it’ll be Valde or Mantuu for me.

I won’t be using anyone at captain from NiP. I really don’t see them winning here, and beyond that they score so evenly that choosing a player to captain is a pain even when they do have a chance to win.

That’s it from me, good luck on Thursday!

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