Photo via u/nik8rls

Astralis, BLAST Pro Series and their parent organization, RFRSH Entertainment has been under the radar as they have become the center of controversy and gratuitous decisions. Be it skipping tier one events or the exclusivity of BLAST Pro Series, neither of them is not received well by the community.

After Team Liquid reportedly decided to skip ESL One: Cologne 2019 to in turn attend BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles, the community lost it’s cool. Prominent analyst, Thoorin, reflected his anger through his Twitter handle. “Events like ESL One: Cologne are the life-blood of the scene. It is literally the most prestigious title after the major,” said the popular analyst. On the other hand, Counter-Strike community on Reddit illustrated their agitation through a moment — ‘BLASTOFF’.

BLAST Pro Series has a quite an unconventional format. The tournament ends in a couple of days while multiple matches are played simultaneously. Each of the six teams face one another and the top two directly advance to the finale. The best of one format is somewhat unpredictable and not competitive in nature with no overtime and mere regulation. BLAST Pro Series is expected to host 8-12 such global events in the upcoming year.

Fans’ agitation towards the tournament format is the thing of past. However, the community has been very vocal about the possible absence of ENCE at Blast Pro Series – Global Final. Global Finale will feature four best teams according to a point system with $500,000 USD on the stake. According to BLAST Pro Series, only the partnered teams can attend the Global Final while the wild card/qualified teams will have no preference.  

ENCE eSport is unfortunately not a partnered team. However, after their successful run at IEM Major: Katowice, Finns received wild card entry for São Paulo and Madrid event earlier this year. ENCE eSport placed third and first respectively. And, if they were a circuit team, they would have tied with Team Liquid for 2nd-3rd position on scoreboard with 16 points.

This very much feels like a franchised league in my opinion. If ENCE receives invites for future Blast Pro events, they hold a serious contender spot above teams like NiP, Cloud9 or even MIBR for instance. BLAST Pro Series partnered/circuit teams are — Astralis, NiP, Cloud9, MIBR, FaZe, Liquid and Na’Vi. They are inclined to attend five out of seven BLAST Pro events in 2019.

BLAST Pro Series just rushed through the scene with little to no respect to the ‘Counter-Strike calendar’. It has undermined tournaments which were scheduled prior to BLAST Pro events. Partnered teams are eventually forced to attend these attends because they are inclined to attend five out of seven BLAST Pro events.

Although, the short format is attracting substantial viewership numbers for the organizers. “What we’re trying to get is a format that will allow the crowd to enjoy the tournament, and it is both for those who are used to watching esports and those who aren’t. The event in Copenhagen is a good example, you see families there, mothers, young people, a big mix, and everyone is enjoying the event,” said Jordi Roig, VP, RFRSH Entertainment to HLTV in an interview.

Talking about Astralis, Danes missed quite a few events to in turn attend BLAST Pro Series. They missed StarSeries i-League Season 7 and IEM Sydney 2019 to focus more on Miami and Madrid events of BLAST Pro Series respectively. Astralis’ coach and a prominent caster engaged in a quick exchange of words regarding Danes absence at premier events:

However, after a string of outrageous backlash from the community, Astralis’ in-game-leader has come out and announced that they will be attending ESL One: Cologne 2019, ESL Pro League Season 9 and ECS Season 7 Finals. This means that the Danes would possibly skip BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles and IEM Chicago 2019.

If we dig a little deeper, there lies a silver lining of conflict of interest and revenue share between two subsidiaries of RFRSH Entertainment.