Stories to Watch at PGL Major Antwerp: Legends Stage
The PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage begins on May 14th. A $1,000,000 prize pool is on the line at this first Major of 2022. The top eight teams from the Challengers Stage will meet up with the eight Legends in a second 16 team Swiss bracket. Only the top half of teams will qualify for the most prestigious stage in CS:GO.
FaZe Clan Come in Hot
Of the eight Legends starting their PGL Major Antwerp campaign here, FaZe Clan likely has the highest expectations. Their historic run to win IEM Katowice with a substitute player in February put this FaZe team on the map. In the very next tournament, ESL Pro League S15, FaZe Clan won again with their main roster this time. FaZe have every top tier trophy in 2022, and the organization’s first Major title would be a perfect continuation.
FaZe is firing on all cylinders, with in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen perfectly leading a team full of star players. Robin “ropz” Kool and Helvijs “broky” Saukants are playing the best CS:GO of their lives. Håvard “rain” Nygaard and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken aren’t too far off their peaks either. This FaZe lineup definitely expects to make it to the Champions Stage, and go even further. If they can keep the momentum rolling, that prospect can surely be realized.
Will NAVI Bounce Back?
Its no secret that 2021 was the year of Natus Vincere. The CIS squad dominated Counter-Strike, wining the Intel Grand Slam and PGL Major Stockholm. Compared to that monster of a year, 2022 has started off much slower for NAVI. They placed top four at IEM Katowice, then top eight at ESL Pro League S15.
Obviously, this team was impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, which is part of the reason for their downgrade in results. However, this NAVI team is still the exact same as the one that earned all of that hardware over the past 12 months. Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev is still the best player in the world. The firepower of Denis “electronic” Sharipov and Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi complement s1mple very well. At their best, NAVI is very easily competing for a second consecutive Major title here at Antwerp.
Debut Under White and Blue
On April 24th, Cloud9 made one of the biggest full roster purchases in the history of CS:GO. The former Gambit Esports roster that took the world by storm in 2020 was been completely handed over to the North American organization. Gambit also had issues due to the Ukraine conflict that resulted in ESL banning organizations with ties to the Russian government. This included Gambit, so the team was forced to play without representing their org.
Now that they finally have a stable force behind them once again, Cloud9 will also be hoping to return to form at PGL Major Antwerp. While Gambit won numerous trophies during the online era of CS:GO, they always seemed to stumble on the big LAN stage. Perhaps this fresh coach of paint could result in a honeymoon phase of sorts for this high potential C9 squad. Watch out for the team’s star AWPer, Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov to make waves among the excess of AWPing talent at this event.
How Good are FURIA?
Due to the North American and European regions being separated for a long time due to international travel restrictions over the past couple of years, teams that played on the west side of the pond seem to have developed slower and retained their form less. The result is a weak overall NA region that only has three teams at the PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage.
Of these three teams, the Brazilian FURIA Esports is the most likely to make a run deep into the tournament. FURIA has been training in Europe for most of this year, even attending both IEM Katowice and ESL Pro League S15. While their former result was forgettable, the latter ended in an impressive top four finish overall.
FURIA is one of the most aggressive teams in Counter-Strike. Their game plans frequently involve letting star player Andrei “arT” Piovezan loose and having him see what he can find. This chaos-based style can catch even experienced teams off guard, so FURIA can definitely earn a top eight.
Legends Stand their Ground
Two of the biggest surprises to qualify for the Legends Stage via RMR event were Copenhagen Flames and BIG. Both of these teams were not looked at as favorites to earn one of Europe’s coveted seven Legends slots, but they both made it work with 3-0 finishes in the RMR Swiss bracket.
For Copenhagen Flames, they locked their spot with a 2-0 sweep over Ninjas in Pyjamas, a highly rated team that also qualified as a Legend right after. While that result was impressive, the Flames have had a string of not-as-impressive showings surrounding it. They’ve lost series to the likes of Entropiq and MOUZ, teams who didn’t make it to the Major, as recently as 10 days ago.
As for BIG, this team has played a ton of events this year, including IEM Katowice and ESL Pro League S15. None of their results stand out as too impressive, except for their performance at the RMR. BIG earned their Legend spot with a win over Outsiders, followed by a 2-0 sweep of FaZe Clan, the number one team in the world according to HLTV. Just like Copenhagen Flames, BIG has also suffered recent defeats at the hands of Entropiq and MOUZ.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where these two squads stand. On one hand, they did beat some very strong teams to qualify as Legends. On the other hand, the RMR event format really only required teams to win a single “difficult” best-of-three to sneak into said Legend spot. It will be interesting to see if that wins over NiP and FaZe were simply well-planned, albeit fluke games, or if there is more to these underdog teams.
The PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage begins on May 14th at 6 A.M. EST. The initial matchups are:
Heroic vs Team Liquid
Copenhagen Flames vs Bad News Eagles
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Team Vitality
Cloud9 vs Outsiders
FaZe Clan vs ENCE
FURIA Esports vs Team Spirit
Natus Vincere vs G2 Esports
BIG vs Imperial Esports