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Overhead view of stage at PGL Major from the top rows of the arenaOverhead view of stage at PGL Major from the top rows of the arena

Everything you need to know about the CS:GO PGL Major Antwerp

by Brian Bencomo

The first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major of 2022 is set to take place May 9-22 in Antwerp, Belgium. The PGL Major Antwerp will feature 24 of the best CS:GO teams in the world competing for a share of the $1 million prize pool. The 24 teams have qualified through a series of regional qualifiers from the Americas, Europe and Asia and been classified into either Contenders, Challengers or Legends teams, with the eight Legends teams getting to sit back and watch the first stage of competition. Ahead of the start of the tournament, here’s everything you need to know about the schedule and format, qualified teams and the biggest storylines you should keep an eye on.

Schedule and format

The PGL Major Antwerp is divided into three stages: the Challengers Stage, Legends Stage and Champions Stage.

The Challengers Stage (May 9-12) involves 16 teams competing in a Swiss system format. After the initial matchups, subsequent matchups are based on the winners and losers of previous matchups, with teams ultimately needing three wins to advance out of the stage and teams that accrue three losses getting eliminated. The Challengers Stage includes the eight Contenders teams and the eight Challengers teams.

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The top eight from this stage will move on to the Legends Stage (May 14-17) to compete against the eight Legends teams, and this will also be in the Swiss system format.

The top eight from this stage will move on the Champions Stage (May 19-22), which is a single-elimination bracket. This portion of the tournament will be played in front of an audience in the Antwerp Sportpaleis.

Photo credit: João Ferreira / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

Qualified teams

Legends

  • Heroic
  • Copenhagen Flames
  • BIG
  • Cloud9
  • FURIA Esports
  • FaZe Clan
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • Natus Vincere

Challengers

  • ENCE
  • G2 Esports
  • forZe
  • Astralis
  • Team Vitality
  • MIBR
  • Imperial Esports
  • Bad News Eagles

Contenders

  • Eternal Fire
  • Team Spirit
  • Outsiders
  • Complexity Gaming
  • IHC Esports
  • Renegades
  • Team Liquid
  • 9z Team

Storylines to watch

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

Can FaZe continue their run of dominance?

FaZe Clan have been the best team in CS:GO this year. They won the biggest tournament of the year so far, IEM Katowice, over G2 Esports and followed that up by winning ESL Pro League 15. Can they win their third straight major tournament in Antwerp? ​​FaZe veterans Finn "karrigan" Andersen and Håvard "rain" Nygaard have been to one CS:GO Major final before, the 2018 Boston Major won by Cloud9, so they’ll be looking to reach another final and capture the org’s first Major title.

Will Natus Vincere return to the top of CS:GO?

NAVI were atop the CS:GO competitive scene in 2021, winning the Stockholm Major, IEM Cologne, ESL Pro League 14 and the Blast Premier World Final as well as a few other tournaments. They haven’t made any roster changes and finished 3rd-4th at IEM Katowice earlier this year, so it’s not like they’ve completely fallen off. It’s impossible to quantify or know for sure, but with a Russian and Ukrainian roster, who knows what kind of toll the Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken on these players. At IEM Katowice, NAVI’s star player Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev made a heartfelt call for peace on stage. Although the Major might be the most important CS:GO competition this year, it’s far from the most important thing on the minds of these players.

Can Cloud9 win another Major with the former Gambit roster?

Cloud9 are back in CS:GO and have a great shot to win another Major with a roster that vaulted them to No. 3 in HLTV’s global rankings. When Cloud9 won the Boston Major in 2018 it was shocking since a North American team had never won a Major. No NA team has won one since, and the players on that team have lived on as legends in NA CS. Something tells me that C9 winning another major with a Russian roster won’t get the same kind of acclaim in North America. Their signing of Gambit’s old roster was already met with a mixed reaction by NA fans and analysts. Still, C9 have a golden opportunity to win another Major with this roster.

How far can Brazilian legends on Imperial go?

Imperial are a team that was signed in February via a roster formerly known as Last Dance which included several legendary Brazilian players. Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga and Lincoln "fnx" Lau all won back-to-back Majors in 2015 and 2016. First they won the MLG Major Championship: Columbus with Luminosity Gaming and then they captured ESL One: Cologne with SK Gaming. It’s been a while since this trio achieved that kind of glory and there aren’t high expectations for this team, but it’ll be fun to see how far these legends can go in Antwerp.

Will G2 finally break through?

Photo credit: João Ferreira / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

G2 embody the classic trope of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” They have finished second in three major CS:GO tournaments since last summer: IEM: Cologne, PGL Major Stockholm and IEM Katowice. Last year they lost to NAVI in both finals, and this year they lost to FaZe. Will they finally win a significant CS:GO tournament in Antwerp? With popular players like Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, a colorful owner Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez Santiago and a huge fanbase, a G2 victory would easily be one of the most memorable esports moments of the year.

Which Contenders team will make a run to the Champions Stage

Any Contenders team will have a long way to reach the Champions Stage, aka the bracket stage and final eight, but it can be done. At the Stockholm Major last year, Virtus.pro made it to the Champions Stage. In 2019, NRG reached the semifinals of the Berlin Major after starting in the lowest group of teams, which was then known as the Minor Challengers. Earlier in 2019, ENCE made it all the way to the final of the Katowice Major after starting as a Minor Challenger. Which Contenders team will make a run to the Antwerp Major bracket stage?

Outsiders probably are the most likely to make a run. They’re the roster formerly playing under the Virtus.pro banner but were forced to play under a neutral name due to the organization’s ties to the Russian government. They had some good results last year and are currently ranked 10th in the world by HLTV. Team Liquid is another Contenders team with players who have plenty of experience on big stages, so don’t be surprised if Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski & Co. lead the North American squad into the Champions Stage.

Lead photo credit: João Ferreira / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

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