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The PGL Major Antwerp 2022 is slated to begin with the Challengers stage on May 9. All of the Regional Major Ranking events that qualify toward the major are finished, meaning all 32 teams are now locked in. They head to Antwerp, Belgium to compete for one of the most prestigious trophies in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
This teams preview series is to get you acquainted with all 32 of the teams. This is the second preview — the first preview on the Contenders is available here — focusing on the teams that have qualified to PGL Major Antwerp with Challengers status. They qualified from Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe and must battle through the gauntlet for a chance at the playoffs.
ENCE are a team on the rise. As of now, they are rated No. 4 in in the world, according to HLTV’s rankings. The reason for their recent jump in ranking has less to do with their performance at the RMR event that saw them qualified to Antwerp and more to do with the run at BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown. Only one team from Europe could qualify to the last slot at the Spring Final and ENCE beat out Copenhagen Flames, Heroic and Astralis for it. They also placed second at the recent ESL Pro League Season 15 behind FaZe Clan.
ENCE are an easy team to root for. They continuously defy the odds. The chances they took on young guns Lotan “Spinx” Giladi and Aleksander “hades” Miskiewicz has paid dividends. At the age of 31, Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer is still proving he’s one of the most effective in-game leaders in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Coming into the PGL Major Antwerp Challengers stage, one thing is certain: ENCE are a wildcard.
In the post-major offseason of early 2022, G2 Esports put the finishing touches on their new roster by bringing in Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov and Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen. Adding a cracked young AWPer and a highly intelligent IGL to support the best rifler in the game, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, should be a winning formula. It should be.
G2 Esports are a team that can somehow simultaneously both lose to anyone and beat anyone. Well, anyone except for their opponent in the grand final. They came second at Katowice, second at the PGL Major Stockholm in 2021, second at Cologne and so on. Will Antwerp finally be NiKo’s major to win?
ForZe are another team that face high highs and low lows. The core of the Russian roster has been together for over a year. Despite that, they haven’t had a whole lot of recent success with the exception of winning Pinnacle Winter Series #2 over ENCE.
Their qualifying run at the PGL Major Antwerp European RMR A showed they can be a force when the chips are down. The most recent addition to the team, Aleksandr “shalfey” Marenov, had an exceptional event and was one of the highest rated players at the RMR. Even still, forZe will definitely have their work cut out for them if they want to escape the Challengers stage at Antwerp.
Along with G2, Astralis will be one of the teams feeling the most pressure to net a good result at Antwerp. The most successful org in CS:GO history has had plenty of time to settle into their rebuild.
Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke have looked like the stars they are. Even their new AWPer, Asger “farlig” Jensen, has had a couple of months to figure out the Astralis system. All that said, it’s going to take a group effort to propel Astralis into the playoffs. Even blameF’s wide back has its limits.
Oh, and while we’re talking about pressure to perform, here’s another team that could use some vindication for a massive rebuild. The Danish/French amalgam that is the new Team Vitality had a decent showing at the European RMR A. Their only losses were to FaZe and Natus Vincere, two teams you don’t want to run into before the grand final of any given event.
As insane as it is to think about, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut has been overshadowed by another young AWPer in FaZe’s Helvijs “broky” Saukants during the early months of 2022. Of course, CS:GO is a team game and it’s not just about ZywOo. Vitality will also need some vintage Astralis magic from Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Emil “Magisk” Reif if the team wants to go deep at Antwerp.
MIBR had an absolutely electric run at the American RMR, only losing to a red hot FURIA Esports. They’re a team that exude passion for Counter-Strike and it shows in their play.
The young Brazilians have now had months to mesh and find their rhythm. They never play scared and wins are often a collective effort from a team that doesn’t really boast a true star player (though Jhonatan “JOTA” Willian has been making a serious case for himself.)
As a team that’s shown they can take on the best international CS:GO has to offer, MIBR have a surprisingly high ceiling. Still, it will be an uphill battle to reach the Legends stage at Antwerp.
It’s safe to say the best result for CS:GO as a whole would be for Imperial Esports to make a deep run at PGL Major Antwerp. The “Last Dance” roster led by Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo has a massive Brazilian fanbase that would love nothing more than to watch legends of the game like FalleN hoist a major trophy once more. Plus, Lincoln “fnx” Lau still boasts a 100% win rate at majors, so it seems preordained doesn’t it? For Imperial, hopes are high but expectations are low. It’s a dangerous combination.
Bad News Eagles
The Bad News Eagles are the story of the RMRs. No one expected this team to make it through. No one.
For starters, BNE do not have an organization, making them the only org-less team at the major (with the notable exception of Outsiders). The core of the roster came from Team BLINK and built the BNE project from the ground up. The Kosovar team defied all expectations at the RMR, beating teams like Entropiq and SINNERS Esports to qualify for PGL Major Antwerp as Challengers.
Check out this excellent feature from HLTV’s LucasAM if you’re craving more about BNE.
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.