The Counter Strike: Global Offensive BLAST Premier season has reached its pinnacle with the ongoing World Finals and the action continues to come thick and fast on Friday.
The S-Tier tournament featured eight sides from the start with teams booking their place in the event as a result of performances in recent Majors and the ESL Pro League, while the BLAST Global Leaderboard also determined some of the outfits involved.
It followed on from the BLAST Premier Fall Finals but takes things up a level in Abu Dhabi with a prize pool of $1million, $500,000 of which goes straight to the winners.
The tournament began with two double-elimination groups of four teams with the top three in each progressing to the knockout phase and the side which were placed bottom immediately eliminated.
In Group A, it was FaZe Clan who rose to the top, winning both of their group encounters, with G2 Esports and Team Liquid through in second and third, and IEM Rio Major winners Outsiders fourth and therefore eliminated.
As for Group B, OG pulled off a bit of a shock to finish top with two wins, while big hitters Natus Vincere and Team Vitality finished in second and third. Despite reaching the final of the IEM Rio Major and winning the recent BLAST Premier Fall Finals, Heroic were eliminated in fourth spot.
Friday marks the beginning of the BLAST Premier World Final knockout phase with Team Liquid and Natus Vincere having locked horns in the morning, while the afternoon fixture pits G2 Esports against Team Vitality.
The winner of the match will take on FaZe Clan in the event's semi-finals.
For G2 Esports, it has been a case of being a 'nearly' team throughout much of 2022 and they will be eager to ensure that is not the case at the CS:GO BLAST Premier World Final.
G2 Esports have had a turbulent year, consistently threatening to win events but going into this competition without a title to their name this campaign.
In February they nearly went the distance in the IEM Katowice, making the Grand Final but losing 3-0 to FaZe Clan.
They were also placed in the top four at both season 16 of the ESL Pro League and in the BLAST Premier Spring Finals in June. In both of those events, they were knocked out by Team Vitality and that could play on their minds heading into this encounter.
Team Vitality come out marginally better than G2 Esports in the HLTV world CS:GO rankings in ninth spot compared to 12th and they picked up a title more recently.
With the likes of FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere expected to steal the show, Team Vitality rose to the top in season 16 of the ESL Pro League a matter of months ago, having beaten G2 Esports 2-0 in the semi-finals before coming out on top 3-2 in the Grand Final against Team Liquid.
They went on to make the top four at the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown Europe before an underwhelming showing at the IEM Rio Major but nonetheless have more recent experience of major tournament success than G2 Esports.
Both finished with one win and one defeat from their two group games, with G2 Esports finishing in second place in their section due to a differential of +11 and Team Vitality finishing third in theirs with a differential of -1.
However, it is also worth noting Vitality arguably had the tougher section with giants Natus Vincere and BLAST Premier Fall Finals winners Heroic to contend with along with an OG team which hit a rich vein of form.
Vitality's 2-0 shutout of Natus Vincere demonstrated their ability to hold their nerve against the best and their recent tournament experience should stand them in good stead.