It is a jam-packed time of year in the Counter Strike: Global Offensive calendar with both the BLAST Premier Spring Finals and the inaugural edition of the Paris Major on the horizon. Firstly though, the ongoing Brazy Party must reach its conclusion with the final on Wednesday.
The A-Tier event has taken place across Europe with 16 teams having started in four double-elimination groups.
The top two teams from each section then progressed to the single-elimination playoffs and played through quarter-finals and semi-finals to set up a Grand Final - with Astralis taking on Cloud9 on Wednesday night to determine the winner.
Although it is not the most prestigious event on the circuit, the Brazy Party has featured some big names and has a fitting finale with the remaining two teams set to battle it out for the $133,000 first prize.
The third and fourth positions have, of course, already been confirmed with semi-final losers 9INE and OG taking up the spots.
|What||Astralis vs Cloud9, Brazy Party Final|
|When||19.00pm, Wednesday 3rd May 2023|
|How to watch||Twitch / Youtube|
|Odds||Astralis 11/8, Cloud9 8/15|
Astralis are not the force they once were back in 2018 and 2019, and they are down in 24th spot in the HLTV world CS:GO rankings heading into this key final with Cloud9, they
It has been some time since the Danes made an impression in a major event - they made the 3rd-4th positions in the IEM Cologne last July but have struggled since - and although the Brazy Party is not an S-Tier tournament, winning it would nonetheless mean a lot.
Astralis qualified for the playoffs by finishing second behind SAW in Group C, but all they needed to do was beat sub-par GamerLegion and ENCE sides, so the jury is still out on if the team has drastically improved.
They edged past Apeks 2-1 in the quarter-finals and then defeated 9INE 2-0 in the semi-finals but neither are inside the world's top 15 and the Grand Final against Cloud9 will be the first time we see Astralis testing themselves against genuine big guns.
Their roster is pretty settled - they have made no changes beyond previously replacing Andreas "Xyp9x" Hojsleth with Alexander "Altekz" Givskov - and the mood in the camp should be pretty good.
And while the odds suggest this is an event that is Cloud9's for the taking, it could be a more even affair than many think.
Coming into the Brazy Party, Cloud9, who are sixth in the HLTV world rankings, were considered among the favourites to win the title.
The group stage solidified that claim as they finished Group D with a 2-0 record, sitting above 9INE, Sprout and Imperial Esports.
They looked equally comfortable in their quarter-final clash with paiN Gaming but in the semi-finals last time out, they wobbled.
Against an OG team who are 12th in the HLTV world rankings, Cloud9 were taken to three maps and the win was anything but straightforward.
On the opening map Inferno, the teams pushed each other to their limits, going into overtime, with OG eventually prevailing 19-17.
That left Cloud9 with work to do to avoid a shock exit but they suffered a setback in the middle of the match as rifler Abai "H0bbit" Hasenov had to step away due to an eye problem.
Timofey "interz" Yakushin, who had been left out of the team due to a poor performance at the IEM Rio, was then drafted in for the meantime and he helped Cloud9 to a 16-11 win on Overpass.
"H0bbit" was then cleared to return and helped his side to an overtime victory on Ancient, and while Cloud9 will be pleased with the victory, the fact it took 98 rounds to confirm a winner will be a touch concerning heading into the final.
Ultimately, Cloud9 are the much stronger and more experienced of these two sides.
They have placed in the 3rd-4th positions at the IEM Rio, won the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown Europe, and finished as runners-up at the ESL Pro League in the last couple of months.
Their wobble against OG aside, they look about right at 8/15 to win this contest and I would not put any punters off backing them.
However, it seems unlikely that this will be a clean sweep so a bet on Cloud9 to win 2-1 at 9/4 could be the way to go, while over 2.5 maps also makes appeal at 5/6.