9z have announced Rajohn “EasTor” Linato will replace Martin “rox” Molina for BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown. The LATAM esports organization have not unveiled specific details about the roster change, citing only that rox will sit out the tournament due to personal reasons.
A Huge Blow to the Team
9z Team have secured their spot at the BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown 2021 thanks to a phenomenal run at FiReLEAGUE Latin Power Spring 2021 in March. There they dropped only one map en route to the title, showing no real struggles against the likes of Leviatan Esports, Coscu Army, Malvinas Gaming, and Durany Esports.
The best-performing individual on the team that tournament was Maximiliano “max” Gonzalez, who averaged a 1.29 HLTV rating, with Santino “try” Rigal and rox close behind, averaging 1.27 and 1.19 HLTV rating respectively.
Although rox managed only the third-highest rating on the team in that tournament, he is widely regarded as one of the most promising players in the region. Since his arrival at the team in January, he has averaged a 1.19 rating across all competitions.
Rox’s stats across the last three months also include a 1.24 Impact rating, 0.66 DPR, 83.5 ADR, 72.2% KAST, 0.77 KPR, as well as 1.16 K/D Ratio. Losing a player like him surely can’t help 9z’s chances to impress at the BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown, which they’ll enter as one of the biggest esports betting underdogs, to begin with.
EasTor Could Prove To Be An Upgrade
Replacing a core player ahead of a big tournament will hurt the team synergy; however, it’s hard to argue EasTor is a worse player than rox.
The 27-year-old VELOX AWPer joins 9z as one of the most experienced players on the team, having begun his Counter-Strike: Global Offensive esports career in 2015. He has since played for some of the strongest Spanish esports teams, including x6tence, Movistar Riders, and OFFSET Esports.
Some of his career-best achievements came in 2020. Last year he led Movistar to One Tap League Season 1: Stop #0 and ESL Masters España Season 7 titles, as well as helping them successfully qualify for a couple of high-profile tournaments.
Stat-wise, EasTor seems like a downgrade to rox, having averaged a 1.06 rating across the last three months. However, the Spaniard has been playing against stronger European sides than the 18-year-old during that stretch.
9z Team hoping to make a splash at BLAST Premier
The BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown kicks off on Tuesday, April 13, with 16 CS:GO teams in attendance and a $162,500 prize pool. The competition will feature a single-elimination bracket, where a best-of-three (Bo3) format will be in place for all games.
The field of 16 teams will include: Astralis, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, OG, Team Vitality, MiBR, FURIA Esports, Gambit Esports, Heroic, Endpoint, Dignitas, SAW, Team SPirit, Extra Salt, NASR Esports, as well as 9z Team.
9z will play their first match of the tournament on Thursday, April 15 at 18:30 CEST, when they face off against the no.6 team in the world, Team Vitality. It will mark their first clash with a top-team in the team’s history, having spent the last two years facing mostly domestic competition.
Odds for the 9z Team vs. Team Vitality Match
Odds courtesy of BetOnline Sportsbook:
- 9z +1227
- Team Vitality -3333
- 9z +1.50 Maps +350
- Team Vitality -1.50 Maps -556
- Over 2.50 Maps +391
- Under 3.50 Maps -667
9z are priced as massive +1227 underdogs against the French side, meaning the esports bookmakers are giving them a mere 7.5% chance of success. That number might be low, but it’s hard to say EasTor and co. have the needed tools to cause an upset.
Although 9z have done well to qualify for the event, they have never faced a team that is even remotely as strong as Vitality. The French side were not long ago ranked as the no.1 team in the world and are one of the main favorites to win the tournament.
If 9z manage to shock Vitality, they’ll end up facing the winner of Heroic (-526) vs. SAW (+392), who will clash on Thursday at 15:30 CEST.