Spain’s Movistar Riders will take on Portugal’s Giants Gaming on Friday in the BLAST Pro Series Madrid 2019 Play-In Finals.
Whoever wins the upcoming fixture will earn the chance to prove themselves at the main event, which will be a great achievement for teams of this calibre.
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Movistar Riders have made a few roster changes in 2019 so far, starting in January when they appointed Galder “bladE” Barcena as head coach. In March they lost Christian “loWel” Garcia to the HellRaisers and in April they signed Raúl “DeathZz” Jordán Nieto to complete the starting line-up.
Movistar have won three out of their last five matches, defeating ENCE (16-14), Ambush (2-0) and Epsilon (2-1) while losing a BO1 match to Epsilon and a BO3 match to Sprout. They also played in the Kalashnikov Cup Season 2, where they lost all three matches against Epsilon (16-11), expert (16-14) and Syman (16-13).
Their opponents have made a few roster changes as well. Giants have benched João “KILLDREAM” Ferreira and replaced him with Luís “ZELIN” Lousada, who joined the team on trial back in February 2019. At the end of March, Rui “rizzz” Lima was dropped and João “KILLDREAM” Ferreira allowed back into the starting line-up.
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Like their fellow Iberian outfit, Giants were present at the Kalashnikov Cup Season 2 and the results were quite similar. They lost all three matches against Nemiga (16-7), DreamEaters (16-13) and forZe (16-8) and placed dead last in the league due to Movistar’s better round difference (-10).
But unlike Riders, who were invited by the tournament’s organisers, Giants Gaming had to go through an online qualifier to reach this stage. They played a total of three maps in two matches, winning the first match 2-0 against Cream and following up with a 2-1 win against Queso in the qualifier finals. Veteran Ricardo “fox” Pacheco averaged a 1.13 HLTV rating and was also the best player in the qualifier with the 1.43 HLTV rating – quite an achievement for a player that most consider to be washed up.
Movistar Riders are considered favourites priced at around $1.40 odds, which overrates them a bit. They are probably the better team, but both want to play at the main event and have had enough time to prepare for each other.
Expect all three maps to be played. The Giants should have a legitimate chance for an upset, especially if Pacheco performs as he did in the qualifier. The odds for the Over 2.5 maps are around $2.00, which is enough value to recommend a bet on both teams winning at least one map.
Prediction: Over 2.5 maps – $2.00 at Betway