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Apr 2, 2021

BLOG: Commissioner’s Update #1 Spring Qualifiers

The Commissioner’s Update: Reflecting on the BLAST Premier Spring Qualifiers and an insight on what’s to come 

On Sunday we concluded a highly successful Spring Qualifying Series that opened the door of this month’s Spring Showdown to hundreds of teams, from across 45 countries and seven regions around the world. When we set out to plan the BLAST Premier 2021 season, one of our main aims was to deliver an expansive tournament that created opportunities and a route into our Spring and Fall Showdowns for as many regions and teams as possible from all corners of the world. We feel with the conclusion of the first half of our Qualifying Series, that we’re on our way to achieving this aim. 

While there is a long way to go until the qualifiers are all encompassing and faultless, as The Verkkars’ impromptu performance during the Nordic Masters showed, we’re confident the Spring Qualifiers have shown we’re heading in the right direction. I really enjoyed seeing some of the underdogs of the scene upset the favourites, the 19th best team in the world mousesports losing to Poland’s fourth best team PACT in the Fantasyexpo Cup was the epitome of this – these storylines and triumphs against the odds are what drives the Qualifiers. We’ve welcomed some new faces in the shape of NASR Esports, Extra Salt and 9z who will be joining us later this month in the Spring Showdown, while more familiar teams managed to prevail and avoid upset such as sAw, Endpoint, Team Spirit and Dignitas. Our focus now switches to our Fall Qualifying Series, where we’ll be announcing further exciting plans and offering more regions than ever before a shot at featuring in the Fall Showdown (yes Brazil, you’re included for the Fall Qualifiers). 

Regional classification of teams and qualification process 

Throughout the last few weeks with the qualifiers taking place and line-ups being announced, the topic of location and regional classification of organisations taking part was regularly discussed by the Counter-Strike community. When classifying teams for each region and deciding what Qualifier they are eligible to enter, we have to take into consideration a number of factors. These include the predominant nationality of players, current location of teams and where the organisation was originally founded – all while looking to accommodate for the impact of travel restrictions enforced by the pandemic, line-up changes and trying to give as many teams a route into our Spring Showdown as possible.

We weren’t able to involve all the regions we would have liked for the Spring Season and this made it impossible to direct every team to an open qualifier. This process isn’t perfect but we are constantly reassessing and reviewing this in the hope of making our Qualifying Series the most open and fair as possible. We will be providing guidelines to help create a clear understanding of what region each team falls under and how they can be involved in the BLAST Premier Qualifying Series.

Another question that has come up regularly has been around how teams make it to the qualifiers and how this process works. The BLAST Premier Qualifiers consist of teams either directly invited into these tournaments or by qualifying through winning one of the open qualifiers. We work closely with our regional partners to ensure the teams with the highest rankings and strongest set of recent results across other competitions – are directly invited into the qualifiers. Open qualifiers offer another route into these tournaments and a chance for the lower ranked teams to compete in our BLAST Premier Qualifiers. 

Learnings to take into the Fall Season

When reflecting on the first half of our Qualifier Series, the overall feeling is one of immense pride that we’ve managed to deliver such a far-reaching and extensive tournament series in our first attempt at creating a global qualifying system. We’ve been able to offer opportunities to teams from all over the world, a chance to compete on a world stage and receive a game changing $25,000 participation fee. Although we’re proud of every regional partners’ efforts to help put on the best events possible, there is always room for improvement and learnings to be taken from this.

We have a team at BLAST with countless years of experiences in esports and live events and one thing we’ve collectively learnt from these years of experience is that mistakes will happen from time-to-time, but what is most important is how we respond to them. Working closely and trusting our partners to help deliver open qualifiers, which creates a pathway into our BLAST Premier Qualifiers, is integral to offering as many teams as possible a chance of reaching the upper echelons of Counter-Strike. Although we encountered issues along the way, we ensured these were flagged as quickly as possible and dealt with in a timely manner. We will continue to work closely with our regional partners in the Fall to identify and react to any future issues. 

Investing in the CS:GO ecosystem through participation fees 

Back in December last year we announced our plans for the 2021 season and disclosed our intentions to introduce a $25,000 Showdown participation fee for all teams directly invited to the tournament and for the winners of our BLAST Premier Qualifiers, this is something we’re hugely excited about. The participation fee was introduced as a method of helping to bring long-term stability and investment into the ecosystem. By not only offering up-and-coming teams from regions all over the world a chance of competing on a global level at our events, but also by putting money into some of these organisations’ futures – we’ll hopefully see long-term stability for the professional CS:GO scene, watch unknown teams rise and take their place among the world’s elite and help unearth the next generation of ZywOos and s1mples.

There has been some confusion around where this money comes from and how teams earn it. This money isn’t a prize pool but a participation fee for teams to invest into whichever area of their organisation they feel will have the greatest impact: facilities, support staff or invest it into growing other areas of their businesses. Once these teams have competed for the combined Showdown prize pool of $162,500, they’ll then be rewarded with their $25,000 participation fee. These organisations are free to invest this money as they see fit, from speaking to the winning teams from our Spring Qualifiers we know some plan to pass this money onto the players, a few are investing it into their facilities and others into media and commercial teams to help their organisations grow.

We hope you enjoyed the first half of our 2021 BLAST Premier Qualifying Series and look forward to you continuing that journey with us as we head into this month’s Spring Showdown. Looking even further ahead to the Fall Qualifying Series, you can expect more teams, additional countries to be involved, bigger upsets, enthralling storylines and brilliant Counter-Strike. 

Andrew Haworth, Commissioner for BLAST Premier

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