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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 towards the major have finished, meaning that 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 PGL Major Antwerp teams. Beginning with the lowest-seeded teams at the major, here are the Contenders. They qualified from Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe and must battle through the gauntlet for a chance at the playoffs.

Eternal Fire

Eternal Fire Europe RMR A
Eternal Fire at the PGL Major Antwerp European RMR A. | Photo by Joao Ferreira. Provided by PGL.

Since 2021, İsmailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş and Özgür “woxic” Eker’s Turkish superteam have had their fair share of troubles, so making the major must be some level of vindication for the project. XANTARES also continues to be the team’s best performer, most recently at the European RMR A where they squeaked their way into the major.

Their path at the RMR was tough to say the least, with their first match against the world’s no. 1 team in FaZe Clan. They lost to FaZe and Team Vitality, but managed to notch wins against Fnatic and Dignitas. For the pivotal match, Eternal Fire came up with an underdog victory and knocked OG out of major contention.

With all of Turkey behind them, Eternal Fire are looking to make their mark at the major and prove that the team still has a clear trajectory forward.

Team Spirit

Team Spirit have consistently been just a level beneath the top teams from the Commonwealth of Independent States region. They looked dangerous ahead of the PGL Major Stockholm 2021, but failed to produce significant results at that event. Since then, the lineup has gone through some changes as they promoted Robert “Patsi” Isyanov and Pavel “s1ren” Ogloblin from the academy roster to replace Viktor “somedieyoung” Orudzhev and Nikolay “mir” Bityukov.

Unfortunately for Spirit’s chances at PGL Major Antwerp, they never really proved that they were a real threat to top teams during their qualification run at the European RMR B. Their only wins were over Tier 2 teams like Anonymo Esports and Endpoint. If they want to escape the Challengers stage at the major, their gameplay will need to elevate by a fair margin.

Outsiders

Outsiders at the PGL Major Antwerp European RMR A.
Outsiders at the PGL Major Antwerp European RMR A. | Photo by Joao Ferreira. Provided by PGL.

Outsiders do not look like themselves. The roster of Virtus.pro — currently playing under the tag Outsiders to maintain distance from their organization, who have been sanctioned by ESL and BLAST — were only barely able to squeak into the major after a nail-biter series in RMR A against SAW. This is the team who made the quarterfinals of the previous major with the same roster. Of course, the tumultuousness of their situation can be partially blamed, but many are wondering if the team can re-find their form in time for the Challengers stage. If not, there might be a change in the near future for their star entry fragger, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis.

Complexity Gaming

As one of only two North American teams (alongside Team Liquid) at the major, a lot of hopes ride on the back of Complexity. Brazilian teams dominated the American RMR, but Complexity was still able to book their ticket to the major with three solid wins. More concerning was their most recent 2-0 loss at the BLAST Spring Showdown to MIBR. Hopefully the game was just a lapse while Complexity’s sights were fully set on the major.

Complexity are a team that many want to see succeed. In some ways, they represent the future of NA CS:GO. They took a chance on the young and mostly unproven roster of Extra Salt — with the additions of former Liquid player Michael “Grim” Wince and Paytyn “junior” Johnson. Thus far, it hasn’t fully paid off. The results haven’t been there. The PGL Major Antwerp is the perfect forum to turn that narrative around.

IHC Esports

IHC Esports celebrate a win at the PGL Major Antwerp Asia-Pacific RMR.
IHC Esports celebrate a win at the PGL Major Antwerp Asia-Pacific RMR. | Photo by Joao Ferreira. Provided by PGL.

IHC Esports represent one of the most compelling narratives from the RMR events. For starters, they’re the first ever Mongolian team to compete at a CS:GO major. They also beat out both Renegades and TYLOO Esports — two of the best teams in the region and favorites to win the event — at the Asia-Pacific RMR. Oh, and they did it without dropping a map. Tengis “sk0R” Batjargal and in-game leader Byambasuren “bLitz” Garidmagnai combined to be the deadliest fragging duo at the event.

Many are anticipating watching IHC play in the major against teams they do not typically have the chance to compete against.

Renegades

The second team to come out of the Asia-Pacific RMR is Renegades, who beat out TYLOO to clinch their spot. Renegades are perennial major attendees. They are also one of only a few teams fielding a roster mostly the same as their PGL Major Stockholm 2021 lineup. The only change the Australian team made was bringing in Jay “Liazz” Tregillgas from EXTREMUM. Not much is expected from Renegades, which just means the pressure is off for the Aussies to do the unexpected.

Team Liquid

This Liquid team is a clear cut above most of the other PGL Major Antwerp Contenders. Besides an out-of-form Outsiders squad and Complexity, they are the outliers in this batch of teams. Liquid, the top team in NA, will be one of the favorites to make it out of the Challengers stage of the major. It was an out-of-character loss (or perhaps in-character considering Liquid’s checkered history) against 00 Nation that led to Liquid’s Contender status. Throughout the rest of the American RMR they played more like themselves.

If Liquid is going to make a deep run at the major, they need their franchise stars Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Keith “NAF” Markovic to be playing near-flawless Counter-Strike. The major could also be Joshua “oSee” Ohm’s true breakout event. The young American AWPer has been showing flashes of stardom and Liquid will need him if they want to compete with the big dogs.

9z Team

9z Team celebrate a win at the PGL Major Antwerp American RMR.
9z Team celebrate a win at the PGL Major Antwerp American RMR. | Photo by Joao Ferreira. Provided by PGL.

Maybe the biggest surprise of the whole American RMR event came in the battle for the final slot. In the running were Evil Geniuses, paiN Gaming and 9z Team. Evil Geniuses are NA’s third best team and paiN just recently beat FURIA Esports in a best-of-three to qualify for BLAST Spring Final. But, against all odds, it’s 9z who are going to the PGL Antwerp Major as Contenders. Still, it took an absolutely monstrous performance from Franco “dgt” Garcia to snag the win. He’ll have to keep that form if the team wants to stand a chance of making the Legends stage.