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Luci Kelemen
Written By: Luci Kelemen

Writes about way too many things. Has way too many opinions. Wants to tell all the interesting stories in the world.

May 8th, 2022

The qualification process for the PGL Antwerp Major was unlike any other in CS:GO history, and this will serve up the spiciest Challengers Stage we’ve ever seen. With no historic results taken into account, and just a single RMR event determining the invites a couple of weeks before the event’s start, peaking at the right time has never been more valuable.

We’re still not back to normal

It’s been a long time ago, in what feels like a planet far, far away, that we could enjoy our regularly scheduled Major events with the predictable qualification process that is worthy of CS:GO esports’ showpiece events. Back in the day, faulty seeding and the automatic re-invites for all Legend teams led to many unworthy teams stinking up the place, with the high-variance best-of-ones further exacerbating the issues.

Even still, it was something tangible at least, a golden thread running through all Majors, a sense of continuity that is now all but gone due to all the disruption we’ve experienced. The old system had its issues and the RMR idea was great on the surface, it’s just that we still haven’t had a chance to experience it in full. Ideally, you’d have a full short season of events between Majors, similar to the DPC in Dota esports, except less arbitrary and top-heavy due to the healthy nature of the third-party circuit.

The last Major’s performances and a couple of top-tier third-party events designated as RMR tourneys would factor into qualification, a system that we’re still waiting to see in full effect. Instead, what we’ve got was a singular set of RMR tournaments across the separate regions, meaning that a good day in office would get you stickers by itself while one poor performance would have an outsized impact on your career.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, and how realistic this oddball way of seeding will be based on the final results. This Major should have a higher upset potential and a whole lot more spice than many of the previous ones: the CS:GO matches over the next couple of weeks should be a ton of fun to watch.

Photo credit: HLTV

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PGL Antwerp Major Challenger Stage opening matchup predictions

Vitality vs. Complexity

Neither team is in a particularly good shape right now, with Vitality’s struggles especially surprising considering the level of talent available to one of the best coaches in the scene to mold a gameplan. The Danish-French hybrid squad is clearly having communication issues, but the power level available to them will get them past the remnants of the juggernaut. Prediction: Vitality

Bad News Eagles vs. Eternal Fire

Two of the surprise teams from the Europe RMR events face off against each other in a crucial best-of-one: this is going to be one of the best chances for either side to snatch a win at this event. Based on BNE’s more creditable performances against the stronger teams they’ve faced, they seem better-suited to win this one, though it’s likely to be a close affair. Prediction: Bad News Eagles

G2 vs. Liquid

Which top team will trip over their shoelaces first? Both sides are prime meme potential, with incredibly low lows that make any result possible. With the high variance at play, we take the upset for this one. Prediction: Liquid

forZe vs. Renegades

Neither team is likely to make a deep run in Antwerp, and the closer access to the top-tier play in Europe should clinch this one by itself on lower levels of play. Prediction: forZe

Astralis vs. IHC

The Danes have been rapidly improving since their coach change (first temporary, then permanent, seeing the immediate results), and thought they may not make a deep run, there’s little reason to expect the upset here. Prediction: Astralis

Imperial vs. Spirit

Lower-level CIS versus Brazil affairs have not been a thing since the pandemic’s outbreak, making this an interesting and exotic matchup even before you factor in the rest of it. Both squads will have to make do without their coach due to ESIC’s last-minute ruling, and you’d expect the experienced Brazilians to cope better with this setback. FalleN might just be able to begin his latest Major adventure with a win. Prediction: Imperial

MIBR vs. Outsiders

With some players in the MIBR squad apparently spending relatively little time preparing, there’s little to suggest that they can overcome the pedigree and European experience of Outsiders, even once you factor in the intangible disruption all things going on in the world. Prediction: Outsiders

ENCE vs. 9z

As remarkable as 9z’s comeback run was to secure a Major spot in unlikely fashion, this ENCE team is simply just a good squad, and the skill difference should be obvious even in a best-of-one. Prediction: ENCE

PGL Antwerp Major Challenger Stage schedule

May 9 – May 12

Day 1: round 1 and round 2 (all best-of-one)
Day 2: 1-1 matches (best-of-one), 0-2 and 2-0 matches (all best-of-three)
Day 3: 2-1 matches and 1-2 matches (all best-of-three)
Day 4: 2-2 matches (all best-of-three)

Next, the Major continues with the Legends Stage after a one-day break, with an identical format playing out between May 14 and 17.