One of the biggest events on the Counter Strike: Global Offensive calendar - the BLAST Premier Spring Finals - begins this week in Lisbon with eight of the best teams from across North America and Europe locking horns.
There is plenty at stake in Portugal with the winning team set to scoop $200,000 and a place at the prestigious BLAST Premier World Final at the end of the year.
What: BLAST Premier Spring Finals, Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Where: Altice Arena, Lisbon, Portugal
When: 15th-19th June 2022
How to watch: BLAST Premier Twitch channel
Odds: Outright - FaZe Clan 11/8, Natus Vincere 9/4, ENCE 9/2, G2 Esports 7/1, BIG 11/1, Team Vitality 20/1
It is a cardinal sin to ignore the obvious in Esports betting and FaZe Clan are the standout team and outright favorites for a reason.
FaZe go into this event, having already won the IEM Katowice, the ESL Pro League Season 15 and the PGL Major Antwerp 2022 this year.
They are the highest-ranked CS:GO team in the world and even when they showed signs of vulnerability in the group stage of the ESL Pro League with two defeats, they responded by blitzing through the playoffs and defeating ENCE 3-1 in the final.
Punters could do a lot worse than back FaZe Clan in the BLAST Premier Spring Finals and they are the best outright bet.
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The team which has got closest to FaZe Clan has been Natus Vincere, otherwise known as NAVI, and they can be backed currently at 9/4 to go the distance in Lisbon.
They have also enjoyed a decent 2022, having reached the final of the PGL Major Antwerp only to lose to FaZe 2-0 following maps Inferno and Nuke.
NAVI also showed serious signs of promise in season 15 of the ESL Pro League, finishing the group phase with a 5-0 record only to crash out in the quarter-finals.
The problem with NAVI is they continue to crumble when it matters most and recent changes to their roster will do them no favors.
Following the removal of Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhaylov from their roster, they have drafted in former Spirit player Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev and it remains to be seen what impact that will have on the team. FaZe look the better selection out of the two big guns.
Most punters will be drawn towards arguably the two biggest CS:GO sides in the world right now - FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere - but of the outsiders, ENCE could make the most appeal.
ENCE are 9/2 to win the event, having qualified for it via the Spring EU Showdown at the start of May.
To secure that spot, they had to beat the likes of Astralis, Heroic and Copenhagen Flames and they also gave a good account of themselves in the IEM XVII Dallas.
They defeated FaZe Clan in the group stage and FURIA in the playoffs to reach the Grand Final of that tournament, only to lose against Cloud9.
For the BLAST Premier Spring Finals, however, they will be helped by the return of Lotan "Spinx" Giladi, who was not in action in Dallas, to their roster.
As a result, they could offer some value at 11/8 to win Group B, which also features NAVI, BIG and OG.
As for the rest of the teams, it could be a tough tournament.
G2 Esports and BIG have both shown renewed signs of promise recently, having both reached the Legends Stage at the PGL Major Antwerp, but there is ultimately still too much of a gap between them and the Esport's big guns.
The eight teams are divided across two groups with the winners advancing to the semi-finals, the runners-up making the quarter-finals as high seeds and the third-placed teams making the quarter-finals as low seeds.
Only two teams will therefore be eliminated in the group stage but paiN Gaming, who are 150/1 in the outright market, look likely to be one of those sides.
They booked their spot in this tournament via the AME Showdown spot, beating the likes of Made In Brazil and FURIA, but could be out of their depth in Group B, which also features FaZe Clan, G2 Esports and Team Vitality.
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