Bad News Bears CS:GO team competing at Fragadelphia 15 tournament
Bad News Bears CS:GO team competing at Fragadelphia 15 tournament

Meet the eight teams at the Fragadelphia Invitational BLAST qualifier

by Mitch Reames

Nerd Street’s Fragadelphia 15 wrapped up last weekend, and this year there was more on the line than just Fragadelphia’s biggest prize pool in history. The top five teams at that event qualified for an eight-team tournament that awards a spot at the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown. That tournament then awards a spot in BLAST’s Fall Finals which, if a team won that, would give them a shot at the BLAST Premier World Final.

It’s not technically a major in the CS:GO world, but it is one of the biggest events on the calendar every single year. It would require a truly impressive run, but hey, it’s cool that it’s at least possible, right?

But only of these eight teams will get to continue on. Five of these teams are from Fragadelphia 15 and another three were invited.

Bad News Bears

Roster: Jonathan “Jonji” Carey, Michael “Swisher” Schmid, Gabe “Spongey” Greiner, Alan “Shakezullah” Hardeman (IGL), and Paytyn “Junior” Johnson (loan)

The Bad News Bears and the Test Takers, the former name of the team, are one of the teams everyone points to when it comes to unsigned talent in North America. Peter “ptr” Gurney was one of the main faces of the team with three different stints over the last three years but he just retired in August.

Many of the best VALORANT players in the world right now are former members of Bad News Bears including Victor “Victor” Wong, Austin “Crashies” Roberts, Jacob “yay” Whiteaker, Mitch “Mitch” Semago, Michael “dapr” Gulino and Tyson “TenZ” Ngo.

The current team still has plenty of talent, which led them to win in Fragadelphia 15. Jonji has been a pro for five years now with stints on Chaos Esports, eUnited and Rise Nation. Their IGL Shakezullah was the coach for Chaos Esports and played for Team Singularity. But the piece that pushed them over the top was Junior, on loan from Furia Esports. He was benched from the renowned team in June and joined BNB in August. While he might not have fit in with Furia’s roster, the reasons he was signed by them in the first place were on full display at Frag 15.

Photo credit: David Patlut / Nerd Street

Party Astronauts

Roster: Josh “PwnAlone” Pigue, Ben “ben1337” Smith (IGL), Jonathan “djay” Dallal, Gage “Infinite” Green, David “cynic” Polster

Bad News Bears’ grand final opponents at Frag 15 gave BNB plenty of issues. BNB won the grand final 3-2, getting an automatic map for coming out of the upper bracket. PwnAlone and Ben1337 have been the guiding force of this team for the last few years since they were known as Win Scrims Not Matches.

After a brief stint with the New England Whalers, the team became the ex-New England Whalers, then they were picked up by High Coast Esports. When that team shut down operations, the name Party Astronauts was brought back.

Infinity, djay and cynic all joined the team recently, although djay was a teammate of the original duos back on New England Whalers. It’s been a long run for virtually every NA-based CS player over the last few years with plenty of stops at different teams. In fact, some of the Party Astronauts players were even on Bad News Bears at one point.

It’s a team with a lot of talent right now, but they will have a tough challenge at the BLAST Qualifier. Bad News Bears and two strong Brazilian rosters will make it difficult to grab the one and only qualifier spot available at the end of this tournament.

PaiN Gaming

Roster: Vinicios “PKL” Coelho (IGL), Rodrigo “biguzera” Bittencourt, Wesley “hardzao” Lopes, Gabriel “NEKIZ” Schenato, and Rafael “saffee” Costa

Brazilian rosters you say? Uh oh. One of the impacts of the pandemic was that some teams from Brazil moved up to North America to compete, including PaiN Gaming.

As an organization with roots in CS before CS:GO was ever released, the name PaiN Gaming holds plenty of prestige in CS circles. The current roster has been playing together for a few years now but isn’t far and away ahead of the other teams in this tournament by any means. Bad News Bears and PaiN have met up fairly recently in ESEA Cash Cups, with each team winning a few matches.

In fact, with the state of North American CS:GO at the top level right now, and more regional competitions due to the pandemic, there won’t be a ton of surprises as most of these teams should be pretty familiar with their opponents at this point.

GODSENT

Roster: Epitacio “TACO” de Melo (IGL), Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, Bruno “latto” Rebelatto, Bruno “b4rtiN” Camara, Eduardo “dumau” Wolkmer

GODSENT has also been in the CS scene for a while since the Swedish organization was founded in 2016. The organization's previous roster was acquired by FunPlus Phoenix in January. That team is currently ranked No. 29 on HLTV’s world rankings for CS:GO.

The new roster is an all-Brazilian roster led by TACO. He has played on some of the best teams in the world over his career including Team Liquid, SK Gaming and Made in Brazil. As the IGL and leader of GODSENT, he will be trying to show why GODSENT put him in charge of the new roster as the team works to climb the ladder across the BLAST circuit this fall.

Extra Salt

Roster: Johnny “JT” Theodosiou (IGL), Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek, Joshua “oSee” Ohm, Justin “FaNg” Coakley, and Edgar “MarKE” Maldonado

The favorite for this tournament, Extra Salt were created after Cloud9 released the majority of the team’s North American lineup. The four players on that team, two from NA and two from South Africa, are still talented players, but it just didn’t work under C9. The roster has changed a bit since then, but it has improved to become the favorite in this tournament.

HLTV currently has Extra Salt ranked No. 25 in the world rankings for CS:GO. They are the only team ranked in the top 30 that is competing in this tournament. In 2021, Extra Salt added both FaNg and MarKE to finalize a roster that has quite a bit of international representation. One American player, one Canadian player, one Mexican player and two South African players make up the current Extra Salt roster. Former C9 player Ricky “floppy” Kemery also competed with this team recently, but he isn’t a part of this current roster.

In July, Extra Salt won the DreamHack Open for North America with a 3-0 sweep of O Plano. With that type of win recently, Extra Salt are the favorite headed in this tournament, but the other teams won’t make it easy.

Photo credit: David Patlut / Nerd Street

RBG Esports

Roster: Colby “Walco” Walsh (IGL), Jadan “HexT” Postma, Jerric “wiz” Jiang, Connor “chop” Sullivan, Jordon “jitter” Ruggiero

RBG Esports operates in a similar tier to Bad News Bears and Party Astronauts, but they don’t have the same level of previous competitive success. Both of those teams are known to be a home for talent, while RBG haven’t had much turnover in the last few years. That does give RBG plenty of consistency on the roster as Walco, HexT and wiz have all been playing together for over two full years now. It might not sound like a ton of time, but in North American CS, that might as well be two decades.

They looked good at Frag 15, eventually finishing in third place. Still, they lost to both BNB and Party Astronauts in that tournament. They were eliminated on the first day of the BLAST Qualifier after losing in a decider match to GODSENT 16-11.

Coldest Riders

Roster: Andrew “Drew” Warkentin, Connor “Jermaine” B., Landon “landmaz” Lawrence, Marco “Pol0” Hernandez, Josh “sava9e” Lundquist

There really isn’t much to say about Coldest Riders. They had an insane lower bracket run at Frag 15 to be the only team to really emerge from an early start in the lower bracket and move on to this stage of the tournament. This is truly going to be a trial by fire for the team whose players have all been playing together only for a few months.

Third Impact

Roster: Keanu “DaneJoris” Reyes, Noah “insane” Eheart (IGL), Brennan “grape” Greer, Brett “brett” Rhein, and Walker “walker” Harris

Third Impact qualified on a technicality. This spot was supposed to go to NA’s Finest who finished fourth at Frag 15. They weren’t able to compete, so everything shifted downward giving Third Impact, who finished sixth, the final qualifying spot in the Frag Invitational. Third Impact have already been eliminated from a group that also includes PaiN and GODSENT.

Lead photo credit: Nerd Street

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