For the first time in over two years, a Counter-Strike major is about to take place. Twenty four teams have assembled in Stockholm to fight it out for the crown as the best Counter-Strike team of the year and claim the $1 million prize.
To break down everything about to happen, Upcomer has assembled a roundtable of experts to break down the madness and take a look at the teams and players entering the event.
The roundtable members:
- Donald “voo” Parkhurst – Analyst / Content Creator
- Jamie “TheEternalJay” Martin – Commentator
- Harvey “Skriv” Rodgers – Commentator
- Mike “DarfMike” Winnick – Commentator
- Jack “Wolfy” Saunders – Commentator / Analyst
- Colin “Koi” Thor – Analyst for Mouz
- Arnav “xL” Shukla – Writer – Esports.gg
- Michael “YouM3” Cassidy – Commentator
- Arron “King Dempz” Dempsey – Writer for HLTV
- Dafydd Gwynn – Writer for Rush B Media
- ynoT – Commentator
- Coldy – Community member
- Tony Lavender – Betting Analyst
- Coby Zucker – Writer for Upcomer
- Zain Merchant – Writer for Jaxon
What underdog team do you think can surprise at PGL Major Stockholm 2021?
There are some teams who are obvious favorites to win PGL. Teams such as Natus Vincere are expected to win and anything less from them would be disappointing. But, there are lots of dark horses in the mix that have the potential to pull off a miraculous run in the major, despite average performances in past events. The three main teams our roundtable came up with were Astralis, Team Spirit and Copenhagen Flames.
While a four time major winning team may not be considered an underdog, the team has lost top player Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz as well as declined in form. The team enters PGL Stockholm as an underdog team with potential, according to our roundtable.
Voo: Astralis. Feels like kind of a cheap answer but coming into a true LAN event there are no other underdog teams that I feel have what it takes to win a top tier LAN event. A lot of teams above Astralis are lacking some experience at top tier LAN events, and despite Astralis having a rocky roster situation, and not being the Astralis of old, I’d have to put them as the only team outside of what I’d term as the “favorites” to have a true chance to win.
Lavender: I feel like the general public isn’t respecting them enough at the moment. I have confidence in their roster, and I’m excited to see any new strats that they might show involving dropping grenades.
Team Spirit and Gambit surprised the world at IEM Katowice and helped solidify the era of CIS dominance. But, since then, the team has put up less than impressive results. Despite that, Spirit is a CIS team to watch and they have a shot of making a deep run in the tournament.
Dafydd: I believe Team Spirit is a thoroughly underrated team. They have the ability to play such an aggressive style of CS that I feel they can throw their opponents off, and when that isn’t working, individual clutches can be found from every single member of the team. Look out for some great individual highlights, whether that be nutty aim or Victor “somedieyoung” Orudzhev finding his way behind the enemy out of nowhere. If Spirit can watch out for their overreliance on aggressive plays, I think they have a genuine shot at the title.
EternalJay: I’ve got Team Spirit. I believe there is a chance that they can make a run like they did at IEM Katowice, but their year hasn’t been great outside of that tournament. They’ve failed at recapturing dominance in the Tier 2 scene like they should have, and they’ve had many early exits at top tier events. The major could be the event to recapture that Katowice magic, but it’s outside chance.
Copenhagen flames surprised the world at IEM Fall. Despite reports that the organization is looking to sell the team, they have the tactical genius of Danish teams and lots of firepower, making them a dark horse at PGL Stockholm.
Coldy: Copenhagen Flames especially has surprised me, racking up wins against teams like Gambit Esports, Mouz, G2 Esports, and some good Tier 2 opposition. They outperformed many “Tier 1” teams during IEM Fall, and they have been looking scarily good.
Merchant: The organization of Copenhagen Flames has always been a staple in the Danish scene. While they’ve never been the No. 1 squad, the team has fostered the growth of young players and their current roster is a perfect example of that. In the five months the core has been together, the team has put up tremendous results and solidified themselves as a Tier 2 team with Tier 1 upset potential. At IEM Fall, they took down the best of the best and have potential going into PGL Stockholm.
What eight teams do you have making it to the PGL major legends stage?
To help out with your pick’ems for the tournament, our roundtable debated the idea of which eight teams would make it out of the challengers stage. With 16 teams going in, only eight can move on, and here are the responses from each member.
According to our roundtable, the two “guaranteed” teams to make it through are Heroic and Astralis. Both Danish teams have looked solid in recent matches, and with few other top teams in this stage, they are expected to move on. FaZe Clan and Ence are up there, especially FaZe. With so much experience at LAN, they’re regarded as a favorite.
Skriv: [FaZe has] been slowly ramping up over the past couple of events and they have a lot of experienced players that will be able to keep their cool in the big moments
While the top seven teams are all highly voted for, the eighth team to move on is a toss-up. Copenhagen Flames looked strong at IEM Fall, while Godsent surprised North America with an upset over Team Liquid in the finals. BIG has the potential but has yet to find any solid form following the signing of Nicklas “gade” Gade. Even Movistar Riders are in contention, as the roster is the first Spanish team to make a major with their new player Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia putting up impressive numbers.
Is this the year s1mple and Natus Vincere finally win a major?
DarfMike: The firepower of this team is second to none. Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Denis “electronic” Sharipov, Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi and Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy can stack up against the best of the best in the skill department. Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov can be an Achilles’ heel at times, but under his leadership this team has achieved their greatest consistency yet. If ever there were a time for NAVI to roll through the major and mark themselves with the highest honor in Counter-Strike, that time is now.
Zucker: Everyone and their mother wants s1mple to finally claim his major title. The CIS squad seems to finally have conquered their demons, winning tournaments left and right on LAN and online. Coming off the back of the IEM grand slam, this is the best team in the world and there’s no better time for them to win it all. For all these reasons, yes. This is s1mple’s year (please, oh please, let it be so).
xL: Favorites have about a one in four record of winning the major. NAVI has two rookies playing on their first ever big stage. While s1mple and electronic will probably add a new level to their performance, Perfect0 will be the deciding factor of NAVI’s success. If he performs his role to the same level as in the grand slam run, NAVI should win the event even without B1t. But if he doesn’t, this major might be a repeat of FaceIT London 2018, where s1mple had to carry two players with terrible stats to the grand final, then got blown out in the finals.