PGL Major Stockholm New Champions Stage Preview
PGL Major Stockholm is entering its final stage. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s first Major in over two years has seen its 24 hopefuls cut down to just eight. All of our finalists at PGL Major Stockholm have already earned a minimum $70,000. Over the next four days, the top eight will battle to increase their cut with a whopping $1 million waiting at the apex. In addition, the most prestigious title in CS:GO is on the line as we move into the New Champions Stage.
Unlike the New Challenger and New Legend stages which used a 16 team Swiss format, the New Champions stage is a simple bracket. The top eight teams from the New Legend Stage were seeded into a single-elimination bracket in which all matches are best-of-three. The participants will be:
|Natus Vincere||G2 Esports||Heroic||Gambit Esports|
|FURIA Esports||Virtus.pro||Ninjas in Pyjamas||Team Vitality|
The initial quarterfinals matchups were decided based on the teams’ New Legends Swiss and Buchholz scores. They are:
Heroic vs Virtus.pro – Nov. 4 10:30 AM CT
G2 Esports vs Ninjas in Pyjamas – Nov. 4 2:00 PM CT
Gambit Esports vs FURIA Esports – Nov. 5 10:30 AM CT
Natus Vincere vs Team Vitality – Nov. 5 2:00 AM CT
Creating a Dynasty
Rolling through to the Champions Stage exactly on schedule is the tournament favorites, NAVI. There’s not much to be said about this team that hasn’t been said already. They are led by one of, if not the most talented CS:GO player ever in Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. His star power is matched by veteran Denis “electronic” Sharipov and young gun Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi. Kirill “boombl4” Mikhaylov and Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy provide excellent in-game leading and potent support play. There is currently no team in the game more complete than this NAVI squad.
NAVI are already having a monster of a year. Their trophy cabinet has gained many new additions, including IEM Cologne, their first ESL Pro League, and even the coveted Intel Grand Slam. Only three of the 14 events NAVI has attended in 2021 have ended in anything less than a grand finals appearance. If s1mple and NAVI are able to close out PGL Stockholm and earn their first-ever Major titles, the NAVI era will certainly be in full swing.
Former Major Champions with New Faces
Of the final eight organizations remaining at PGL Major Stockholm, three of them already have a Major title under their belt. However, each of those teams has made sweeping changes within the past couple of years. Through countless trials and tribulations, all three organizations have gotten back here for a chance at another Major title.
Virtus.pro won the second CS:GO Major ever with their all-Polish roster back in March 2014. The team couldn’t look more different now. The current Virtus.pro is the former Russian and Kazakhstani AVANGAR roster. That team was most known for achieving an amazing second place finish at the previous Major, StarLadder Berlin, two years ago.
Virtus.pro has yet to replicate that peak against the very top level of Counter-Strike. They have won a pair of international events at Flashpoint 2 and cs_summit 7 about a year ago. Other than that, VP has struggled to keep up with the rest of tier one, especially against European teams that they don’t get to play nearly as often as their regional rivals. Considering that VP is on an all-European side of the bracket, they’ll need to replicate the same magic that took them to the Berlin Major Finals.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Ninjas in Pyjamas are another previously Major winning organization looking for their second. Their first Major trophy came at the third CS:GO Major five months after VP’s victory. Even if the original legendary NiP core is gone, they stayed dedicated to building another talented Swedish roster, with one key exception.
Dev1ce’s arrival to NiP just over half a year ago helped the young Swedes elevate their game. NiP was already a team on the rise after many years of trial and error. Their top four finish at ESL Pro League Season 13 was proof that they had potential. Now that they have the legendary Danish AWPer within their ranks, NiP have been climbing ever higher. This team has likely not hit their ceiling yet, but there would be no better place to make it happen than the Major playoffs.
Lastly, Gambit will also be going for their second Major title in the org’s history. Unlike VP and NiP’s 2014 triumphs, Gambit’s trophy came three years afterward at PGL Krakow 2017. After the tournament, Gambit lost key pieces of their roster to other teams. A dip in performance over the next two years caused the Gambit CS:GO division to be put on hold entirely.
However, something unexpected happened in 2020. Gambit’s academy squad, Gambit Youngsters, started rising through the ranks. The team featured four players under the age of 20 plus one of the pieces from their Major run three years prior in Abai “Hobbit” Hasenov. Their small victories and impressive form at tier two events caused Gambit to promote the Youngsters to the main roster in late 2020.
From there, Gambit truly took off. They qualified for their first ESL Masters Championship, IEM Katowice, at the start of the new year. Gambit then shocked the world by winning that Championship. The victories and trophies kept rolling in throughout the year. While Gambit have had a couple of bumps, this team is one of the most impressive squads in CS:GO. They are no doubt looking to win their first ever Major as a team in the same way they took Katowice 10 months ago.
Vitality Alive and Kicking
One of the more hyped teams coming into PGL Major Stockholm was Team Vitality. The French squad had been one of the prime title contenders in CS:GO for the previous two years, both online and offline. However, they hit a massive roadblock once 2021 rolled around. For the first half of the year, Vitality looked incredibly mediocre compared to their previous highs. The results showed, as they didn’t break into a top six finish from February to June.
However, Summer seemed to be a turning point for Vitality. After integrating their newest member, Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van, their results started improving. All of the sudden, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut’s squad was able to compete at the top level again. Their efforts culminated in a second-place finish at ESL Pro League S14 where they were just two rounds short of taking their first trophy in 10 months. Now, Vitality is looking to continue their rise back to the top with a Major title.
The PGL Major Stockholm Champions Stage begins on Nov. 4 at 10:30 AM CT.