PGL Major Teams | A Closer Look at the Most Notable Storylines
Just five days are separating us from the biggest tournament in the game’s history! Yep, the most lucrative CSGO Major Championship ever starts soon, and we’re here to bring you closer to some of the most interesting PGL Major Teams. Stockholm is ready, the tickets are almost sold out, and the fans are already at the edges of their seats. Newest changes have definitely mixed things up in both causal and competitive environments, and we can’t wait for the New Challengers Stage to kick off next Tuesday.
PGL Major Stockholm | Event 101
The 2021 PGL Major Stockholm will pany out in a similar fashion to previous iterations. Three stages await, two of which will feature 16-team Swiss systems with only the top half progressing to the next stage. The Swiss system format will include both bo1 and bo3 matchups.
The final stage switches things up, bringing forth a single-elimination bracket with eight remaining teams and all bo3 matches. Here are all PGL Major Teams, separated in their respective qualifying tier.
Remember, Legends teams start the event from the second stage (New Legends Stage), while both Challengers and contenders start off from the first (New Challengers Stage). However, Challengers tier teams have higher seeds.
PGL Major Teams | Most Interesting Storylines
The total prize pool for this event amounts to $2 million. It’s the biggest prize pool of any Valve-sponsored CSGO event. There is a total of 24 participants, sixteen of which kick things off from the opening day, October 26th. A handful of teams are being labeled as realistic title contenders. We’ve coupled them with a few honorable mentions who deserve emphasizing because of interesting storylines leading up to the event. If you
Astralis can never be counted out. Even though they’re pretty far from their best form, they’re still a formidable side. True, they did stir some controversy last week when they announced they’re going with gla1ve instead of bubzkji who was brilliant in their IEM XVI Fall success.
As much as that sucks for bubkzji, we can see where Astralis are going with this. Tactically, this layout makes perfect sense, and this way Astralis are only losing one player from their OG roster. Yep, device is the missing link here. But, Astralis are confident the return of gla1ve will give them much needed stability and allow Lucky more freedom and, hopefully, more frags. Overall, Astralis aren’t in the direct favorites to win this Major. But, they’ve won four titles thus far, more than any other team, and they’re bound to fancy their chances despite not having their key player. That key player has solid odds with his new team too. NiP are considered as dark horses, much like Astralis, and it will be interesting to see them clash against each other in a deciding match.
Device going up against Astralis – what a match that would be. If Astralis can climb to the New Legends Stage, we’re in for a proper thriller!
Device and the Ninjas in Pyjamas are entering the Major with spectacular form. They used IEM XVI Fall EU to assert dominance over most of European teams. A splendid campaign pushed them through to the Legends Stage, giving them much-needed security and extra breathing room ahead of the start. NiP will kick things off on October 30th with the start of the New Legends Stage. However, NiP have just recently found proper form. Prior to IEM XVI Fall and BLAST Premier Fall Groups, NiP had one disappointing campaign after another. They were poor on multiple maps, finding it hard to outplay teams with deeper map pools.
Recent roster adjustments, ztr out LNZ in, was the key factor in their rise in form. LNZ seems to be a much better fit, with NiP finally achieving their potential over the last month or so. The question now is – can they transition their from from their last two campaigns to the Stockholm spectacle. Form-wise, NiP are among the best PGL Major teams out there. If device can keep his stats at such a high level, NiP could snowball into a title contender quite easily.
Next up – Faze Clan! They took the last train for the Major, barely squeezing through in the final day of the event, all thanks to Niko and his G2. Now that Faze Clan are here, they won’t go down without a fight. A quick look at their roster reveals a frightening set of names. Faze Clan has rain, olofmeister, broky, Twitzz, and karrigan. Quite a formidable roster, don’t you agree? Contributions-wise, Twistzz is finally up and running, but closely followed by the likes of broky and rain.
Karrigan is at the bottom of the list, but he’s the brains behind the operation so we can’t hold that against him, really. Olofmeister’s numbers look rather poor, but he’s contributing in other aspects of the game. His return, the sheer experience he brought to the table following coldzera’s departure, has meant a lot! Right now, fFaze are still battling their old demon called consistency. Many thought it was somehow Niko’s fault; many expected things to improve after he left for G2. However, broky and the boys still can’t connect more than two wins in matches they aren’t the favorites in.
It’s not broky’s fault either. The young Latvian star has developed into a fragging machine and is often the first name on the team sheet. He’s mechanically gifted, has solid game sense, and is always playing a team game of CSGO. Given that he’s just 20 means we’ll see him in pro CSGO for years to come.
Virtus.pro are currently ranked as the 9th best team in the world, according to HLTV. However, they’re coming into the PGL Major in poor form. They performed poorly on seven of the last eight events they participated on. The only exception, really, is their Pinnacle Fall Series #1 title in early September. That’s nowhere near the performances they showed off late last year and this January. Three consecutive titles, Flashpoint S2, DH Open December, and CS_summit 7, are now nothing more but distant memories.
But, Virtus.pro shouldn’t be written off right away. YEKINDAR and Jame are capable of doing amazing things. They don’t do it as often as they have last year, but they’re still dangerous. VP’s first-round opponent is BIG. They played on two occasions in July, with one with on both ends. It’s going to be a tight contest, so VP will need all five of their players to step up to the challenge right away.
Heroic are worth mentioning too. They’re coming here labeled as one of the best PGL Major teams… and rightfully so, considering their accolades in 2021. Not only have they won ESL Pro League Season 13, one of the biggest events thus far this year, but also placed top four on a total of five occasions. When we zoom all the way out, they only had three poor events this year – everything else was pretty solid. Just last week, Heroic broke through to the BLAST Premier Fall Finals through the hassle known as Showdown. Three straight wins were needed, and Heroic rose up for the challenge without losing a single round in the process. That said, they will have winds of victory coming into this tournament, that’s for sure!
Collectively, they are still astonishing. There’s not a single player that stands out in their starting roster. They are all about teamwork; sharing is caring is the epitome of Heroic’s gameplay. All five of their starters are equally dangerous and can quickly snowball to S1mple and ZywOo levels. There’s always at least one individual ready to step up no matter who’s on the other end. The Danes complement each other brilliantly, showcasing old-school CSGO in its purest form. If it wasn’t for the whole hunden drama, I’d actually cheercheer for Heroic here…
Natus Vincere are the odds-on favorite to win this event. And it’s for a good reason. Natus Vincere have been the best CSGO team this year, having won seven titles this year. Combine that with two runner-up spots, both of which came after losing to Gambit in the grand finals, and you’ll understand just how powerful Natus VIncere really is. They are the most dominant force on the planet, featuring the world’s best player S1mple. He’s been on a whole different level throughout the year. My man is an absolute class, rightfully dubbed as the world’s #1. Not only is he by far the best contributor out there, his passion drives his teammates to perform better too.
NaVi’s map pool extends to five maps, with Vertigo and Overpass being their only downsides. Vertigo is their permaban and they have slightly over 40% win rate on Overpass this year, which isn’t that bad. Most importantly, though, NaVi players are always there to back S1mple up. When he’s playing like a demigod, and when he’s playing like a mortal – electronic and the rest of the NaVi team are there for him. He doesn’t have to do everything on like his arch rival, ZywOo.
Yep, Vitality are in the mix here. They are labeled as one of the most dangerous PGL Major teams, sporting aggressive plays and one of the best fraggers in the world, ZywOo. Often compared with S1mple, the French prodigy is always up there with the finest CSGO individuals. He’s mechanically second to none, he doesn’t choke, and you can pretty much always count on him. However, the same can’t be said about the rest of Vitality. In fact, that’s what’s preventing Vitality from reaching the next level. They, as a team, always tend to choke in the knockout stages. Most frequently, their chokes came in the grand finals. ZywOo and the company played in six grand finals over the last two years, and won just two of them.
They aren’t starting from the New Challengers Stage, though. They managed to squeeze into the Legends tier, meaning they start their PGL Major campaign on the 30th. There’s plenty of time to work through their tactics, and I’m sure they’ll use it wisely.
Gambit are a force to be reckoned with, not just in CIS but worldwide! In fact, they are the only team that has the ability to beat NaVi consistently enough for it to be a considered a virtue. Yep, they defeated them twice in crucial matches, grand finals of big events. It’s not coincidence, that I can tell you right away! Mind you, Gambit and NaVi (at least in the current shape) don’t go back too long. How could they, when this Gambit roster was pulled from Gambit Youngsters early October last year. It’s been just over a year, and we’ve seen Gambit’s youngsters take over the world, one event at a time.
Gambit have won six titles this year, asserting their dominance not just in their region but on massive international events. We’re talking about the likes of IEM XV World Championship, IEM XVI Summer, and BLAST Premier Spring Finals here. These guys don’t mess around! Despite being young, this Gambit roster already has a ton of experience playing on the grandest of CSGO stages. If you underestimate them based on their youth, you are going to get punished, ruthlessly! Ax1le and sh1ro will make sure of that!
The clutch-friendly tandem is what keeps driving Gambit forward. Even in situations where the rest of the team isn’t doing too well, these two rise to the challenge and do what they do best. If you’ve seen these guys play this year, you know just how good they are. Still, many don’t put them into discussions regarding the best PGL Major teams coming into the event. It’s usually just Navi, Astralis, Vitality, and Heroic. Somehow, people love to forget about Gambit, perhaps because of poor performances on ESL Pro League S14 and IEM XVI Cologne. No matter what the reason might be, one thing is for sure – if you love a good Cinderella story, you better root for Gambit!
G2 made it through to the Major! One of the most talented team the world has ever seen barely squeezed through to the first Major in two years. Yep, that’s the story of G2! They’re always dangerous, but poor spells and chokes are what keeps preventing them from reaching greatness.
This raises a question – can a team win big events with NiKo? The Bosnian superstar belongs with the best individuals out there, but he just can’t seem to win titles with enough consistency. Not even now that he’s a part of the so-called Balkan connection with nexa and his cousin huNter.
One thing is certain – G2 need to reach the Champions Stage, otherwise they’ll have to make significant roster adjustments. That’s simply what happens to a team that has so much talent yet fails to win anything noteworthy.
Last but not least, Team Liquid! The NA champions have seen better days, that’s for sure. But, they have a formidable roster that, on a good day, could exchange punches with the best of them. The thing is, they’re not exactly having that many good days anymore. Team Liquid went from being the best team in the world to arguably the second-best team in their own region… and when you think about it, NA is the third-best region in the world right now. They’re no longer the runner-up behind Europe.
Statistically, Liquid aren’t in the best shape! On the bright side, NAF and EliGE are playing better and better with each passing event. How are they in poor form, then? Well, the rest of the team just can’t follow. Stewie2K is known for showing off one or two brilliant displays every now and then. The same goes for FalleN too. However, Grim is proving to be a burden, a liability that could end up costing Liquid a proper run on the Major.
That’d be all from our closer look at key PGL Major teams. One of the above-listed squads will go home with the trophy, that’s for sure. As much as CSGO tends to be upset friendly, there’s no way the title goes to a team that we haven’t examined above.
That said, there’s just a few more days until the first New Challengers Stage matches. Better get your grocery shopping done by then, because the next two weeks are going to be legendary!