Team Vitality were crowned BLAST Premier World Final 2023 champions and took a share of the $1 million prize pool at the close of the Tier One global esports tournament on Sunday at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena.
The final saw Team Vitality beat Faze Clan in a thrilling encounter to win the prestigious competition for the first time and end the year as the world’s best Counter-Strike team of 2023.
The five-day tournament was organized by BLAST, a global esports tournament organizer, in partnership with AD Gaming, an Abu Dhabi-government gaming initiative, and attracted the top eight teams in the world.
As well as winning the trophy, Team Vitality also claimed the top prize of $500,000 and captain Dan Madesclaire, also known as apEX, was delighted to come out on top. It was their second consecutive title following the Spring Fall triumph in Copenhagen.
“It was much closer to what the score suggests,” said apEX. “We had some rough points but the goal was to stay calm together and we played some good Counter-Strike. We will now keep going for the New Year.
“To be able to win two major trophies in a row is the best feeling you can have. I’m speechless to have won the BLAST Premier World Final. There was a lot of people in the Etihad Arena and there was a good atmosphere, and it was great to see so many people enjoy the show.”
The final day also saw India’s True Rippers Esports come out on top against Pakistan’s Team WahWah in the Showmatch encounter. Hamad Chowdhury of True Rippers, said: “It was a great experience and it was fun to play with the professional players, (it) was a dream come true and it was an enjoyable experience.”
It was the second consecutive year that the BLAST Premier World Final was staged in Abu Dhabi following last year’s success. And the 2023 event was an even bigger edition with several off-stage entertainment and activities.
As part of BLAST’s efforts to grow the esports ecosystem in the region and attract new audiences, an expanded BLAST Zone was held. It provided an opportunity for spectators to understand more about the thriving gaming industry that is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2025 in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Andrew Haworth, program director of the contest, said: “When we started planning for the BLAST Premier World Final 2023, our intention was to always raise the bar even higher following our success in 2022 and we’re thrilled to have achieved that goal.
“Over the two days, it was fantastic to see thousands of adults and children of different nationalities and ages, as well as students and families coming together to see through their own eyes on how exciting esports as well as the opportunities gaming can offer.
“As a leading global esports tournament organizer, we are determined to inspire new people and increase the popularity of gaming and esports in all corners of the globe, and along with the government investing significantly in the industry, this all bodes well for the sector which will only go from strength to strength.”
This year’s BLAST Premier World Final is the first edition since AD Gaming integrated with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
James Hartt, gaming and digital development department director of AD Gaming, said: “The BLAST Premier World Final is the pinnacle of the Counter-Strike season and it’s very fitting that it was held in Abu Dhabi again as the event is one that everyone enjoys every year.
“At AD Gaming, we are doing so much work at grassroots to take esports to the next level. More teams are moving here, while creating opportunities for local and international teams, as well as at community level.”