BLAST Paris Major 2023: Schedule, format and breaking down the field

by Brian Bencomo

The 19th Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major kicks off at Accor Arena in Paris, France on Monday (May 8). Majors are the biggest and most important CS:GO tournaments, so there’s already a lot of prestige attached to the Paris Major. Add to that the fact that it’s the only Major this year and the last in the history of CS:GO with Counter-Strike 2 releasing later this year, and there’s even more weight on this one.

There are 24 teams that have qualified, mostly from Europe but also a few from the Americas and Asia. Six teams have qualified for their first-ever Major this time around, while one organization and one player have never missed a Major. To get you ready for the BLAST Paris Major, here’s an overview of the qualified teams, the schedule and format and a breakdown of the field.

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Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL

Legends teams

  • Natus Vincere (NAVI)
  • 9INE
  • FURIA Esports
  • Fnatic
  • Heroic
  • Into the Breach
  • Team Vitality
  • Bad News Eagles

Challengers teams

  • Monte
  • paiN Gaming
  • G2 Esports
  • GamerLegion
  • FORZE Esports
  • Apeks
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • OG

Contenders teams

  • ENCE
  • MOUZ
  • Team Liquid
  • Grayhound Gaming
  • Complexity Gaming
  • The MongolZ
  • Fluxo
  • FaZE Clan

Schedule and format

Photo credit: BLAST Premier

The Paris Major kicks off Monday (May 8) with the Challengers Stage, which continues through Thursday (May 11). It’s a 16-team Swiss System format involving the Challengers and Contenders teams with teams needing to win three times to advance to the next stage, and teams that lose three times being eliminated. Ultimately, the top eight teams from this stage will advance to the Legends Stage. Elimination and advancement matchups are best-of-three, while all other matchups are single map encounters.

Read more: BLAST Paris Major 2023: All qualified CS:GO teams

The Legends Stage starts May 13 and continues through May 16. This stage includes the eight teams that have advanced from the Challengers Stage and the eight Legends teams that got to sit out the first stage. The Legends Stage will play out just like the Challengers Stage with a Swiss System determining the eight teams that will advance to the Champions Stage.

The Champions Stage is an eight-team single elimination playoff bracket that will take place May 18-21. All matches in this stage are best-of-three.

Breaking down the field

Who are the favorites?

Photo credit: Adela Sznajder / ESL

There are five teams that stand out when it comes to most likely teams to win the Major. Let’s start with the team that’s likely to be the crowd favorite and a team that’s coming in hot, Team Vitality. Vitality are the only French organization at the Major and the only team with two French players, Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, so they should benefit from a bit of a crowd buff. Of course, this team doesn’t need it as they’re one of the best teams in the world. They just won IEM Rio and were ESL Pro League champions late last year. Vitality have the only player who has appeared at every Major, Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen. Dupreeh was part of the Astralis core that won three straight Majors from 2018 to 2019. Oh, and another one of those Astralis players also is on this team, Emil "Magisk" Reif. Lotan "Spinx" Giladi rounds out a stacked roster that appears to be peaking just in time for a potential Parisian coronation.

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NAVI always seem to be contenders. Maybe that’s because the organization has qualified for all 19 Majors and have finished in the top four a record eight times, including two of the last three Majors. NAVI razed through the competition in European RMR A, where they went 3-0 with an impeccable +27 round differential. They have arguably the best player in the world in Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyljev and have been the most consistently excellent CS:GO team this year with semifinal appearances at IEM Rio, IEM Katowice and the ESL Pro League. All they’re missing is another big tournament win.

FaZe Clan looked shaky during RMR qualifiers and almost missed the Major, but they were coming off a win at the most recent ESL Pro League, which gave them a prestigious Intel Grand Slam victory. Finn "karrigan" Andersen & Co. won a Major last year and can win another if they’re in form. G2 Esports looked like the best team in the world late last year and early this year, with back-to-back big tournament wins at the BLAST World Final and IEM Katowice. Heroic are the leaders in heartbreak this year. They’ve been so close to a big tournament win this year but have finished second at IEM Katowice, IEM Rio and the ESL Pro League. They also were second at the last Major, so it feels like they’re due to break through in a major way.

Which Contenders teams could make a run?

Photo credit: Stephanie Lindgren / ESL

At the last Major, three Contenders teams made it all the way to the Legends playoff bracket, and one of those teams became one of the most unlikely Major winners, Outsiders. That kind of run is uncommon at Majors, but not impossible. There are three teams among the Contenders who could at least reach the Legends stage. One of those teams was discussed above, FaZe Clan. They don’t fit the profile of a typical Contenders team given their excellent results over the past year and only ended up here because of their poor form during qualifiers. Of course, they can make a run and win the Major.

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There are two other teams here that aren’t favorites but could make a run, MOUZ and Team Liquid. MOUZ were semifinalists at the last Major and beat FaZe and during Major qualifiers. They had a lot of trouble against (formerly Outsiders), whom they lost to twice at the Rio Major, but won’t have to contend with them at this Major. Team Liquid have a pedigree that indicates they should be contenders if they’re in form. They finished second at the BLAST World Final late last year and were semifinalists at IEM Katowice where they beat FaZe and Vitality. It’s a stretch to expect any team outside Europe to win a big CS:GO tournament like this one, but if any team can do it, it’s Liquid.

Which under-the-radar teams could pull off some upsets?

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL

The most likely Major winner is one of the seven teams mentioned above. However, things can always get interesting with big upsets early in the tournament, especially if a team can knock off one of the favorites. Keep an eye on the Bad News Eagles. The orgless Kosovar roster qualified for both Majors last year and didn’t go far, but they did knock FaZe out of the Rio Major. They beat FaZe again during Paris Major qualifiers, so they definitely have their number. They have qualified for this Major as a Legends team, so they’ll have plenty of chances to knock off some big teams.

9INE are one of the six first-time Major qualifiers, and they qualified as a Legends team. The Polish team beat G2, BIG and Team Vitality during qualifiers, so they’re a dangerous team. The MongolZ, formerly known as IHC, surprised many when they beat FURIA to reach the group stage of IEM Katowice and then knocked Cloud9 out of the group stage. Their top 12 finish in Katowice was one of the best results for an Asian team at a big CS:GO tournament in quite some time.

Who are some other notable teams to watch?

Photo credit: Adela Sznajder / ESL

Into the Breach became the first primarily British team to qualify for a CS:GO Major. Not only that, they did so as a Legends team. They lost only once during qualifiers to NAVI, and their best win was over It’ll be fun to see whether they can make some noise at the Major, but their resume lacks any wins over top teams. Fnatic were the first ever Major winners but haven’t been as successful in recent years as they were during their peak in 2015. However, the team has been better of late and qualified for the Paris Major as a Legends team for the first time since London 2018. Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson has had a legendary career with Fnatic and will be looking to carry this team to another Major victory. FURIA are the pride of Brazil and carry the hopes of an entire nation on their shoulders. Besides Team Liquid, FURIA are the Americas team with the best chance to win this Major. Unlike TL, they’ll get to sit out the first stage of the tournament as a Legends team. FURIA were semifinalists at the Rio Major last year, so it’ll be intriguing to see if they can take things a step further at the final CS:GO Major.

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