Stories to Watch at PGL Major Antwerp: Champions Stage
The PGL Major Antwerp Champions Stage begins on May 19th. A $1,000,000 prize pool is on the line at this first Major of 2022. The final eight teams qualifying from the Legends Stage will battle it out in a single elimination tournament to determine who takes home CS:GO’s biggest prize. Who are the title contenders at PGL Major Antwerp?
FaZe Clan’s Straight Shot
On the top half of the bracket, FaZe Clan is in a class of their own. The IEM Katowice and ESL Pro League S15 champions made it to the PGL Major Antwerp Champions Stage with a 3-1 record, losing only their opening best-of-one to ENCE. The teams staring FaZe down are Team Spirit, FURIA Esports, and their round one matchup, Ninjas in Pyjamas.
NiP will likely be the biggest test on the way to finals for FaZe. The young Swedish side has been hitting their stride in recent months and also qualified with a 3-1 record. The question is, how well can NiP stand up to FaZe? Robin “ropz” Kool and Helvijs “broky” Saukants are at the top of their game, and in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen is used to leading this squad to victory. As long as FaZe Clan keep playing at the same level of their previous two title campaigns, they should be a sure bet for finals. FaZe will definitely be looking for their first Major trophy in franchise history.
Can NA’VI Fight Through?
While all eight teams present at the PGL Major Antwerp Champions Stage are incredibly strong, the bottom half of the bracket plays host to three title contenders coming in to the tournament. Most notably, Natus Vincere will be playing for their second consecutive Major trophy. The PGL Major Stockholm winners went a perfect 3-0 in the Legends Stage, and their reward was the hardest route to the finals.
First up is Heroic. The Danish squad always seems like a top-level contender come crunch time. While they did just barely qualify for the Champions Stage with a 3-2 record, Heroic are no pushover. The Casper “cadiaN” Møller-led side has threats aplenty. Still, NA’VI have more, the biggest being Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Additionally, Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi is having an MVP performance with a 1.40 HLTV rating so far at the event. Stopping NA’VI’s warpath is a task few teams have been up to over the past year. No matter how arduous the road, NA’VI can get through it.
ENCE’s Electrifying Rise
The second matchup on the bottom side of the bracket is an unexpected one to those who aren’t closely following the CS:GO scene. ENCE will take on Copenhagen Flames, the winner fighting either Heroic or NAVI. Don’t let the difference in name recognition fool you; the semifinals will not be an easy match no matter who qualifies.
While Copenhagen Flames have earned a new respect with their performance at PGL Major Antwerp, all eyes will be on ENCE. They qualified for the Champions Stage with a 3-1 record, boasting wins over titans such as FaZe Clan and Heroic. Lotan “Spinx” Giladi is second in line for tournament MVP with a 1.28 rating. As a team, ENCE have the second highest rating overall, just behind NA’VI. Few teams have been able to make headway on this ENCE side at PGL Major Antwerp. If they want to make this trophy theirs however, NA’VI will be their hardest test to date.
Team Spirit Take the Stage
The biggest surprise in the PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage was Team Spirit. The CIS squad, who most would rate as the fourth-strongest from their region behind NA’VI, Cloud9, and Outsiders, took first seed overall. Their 3-0 record was good enough to beat out NA’VI thanks to their Buchholz score, which orders teams by the strength of their opponents. With wins over three playoff teams, FURIA, Heroic, and the Flames, Spirit have earned the “easiest” route in the Champions Stage.
That campaign will start off with a rematch versus Brazil’s best in FURIA. Their first matchup was a best-of-one, which does make this a much different series. FURIA just qualified for the Champions Stage in eight seed with a last minute 2-1 win over the star-studded G2 Esports. FURIA is known to be one of the most aggressive teams in Counter-Strike, but the 18-year-old rookie Robert “Patsi” Isyanov matches that aggression for Spirit.
This is Patsi’s first S-Tier CS:GO event, and he’s swinging with the best of them. His rating is 1.26, good for fourth best at Antwerp. The rest of the team isn’t too far behind, their overall rating tying FaZe Clan for third at 1.10. With this firepower, will Spirit be able to confidently dispel FURIA? If they do, FaZe will likely be the next test, and not an easy one at that.
The PGL Major Antwerp Champions Stage begins on May 19th at 10:30 A.M. EST. The initial matchups are:
FaZe Clan vs Ninjas in Pyjamas
Team Spirit vs FURIA Esports
Natus Vincere vs Heroic
ENCE vs Copenhagen Flames