The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship, the PGL Major Stockholm 2021, is over. Natus Vincere claimed first place and Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev got to lift his first major trophy. Not only did the finals break a handful of viewing records for CS:GO, but it also marked a return to live audiences and LAN.
Upcomer staff and contributors got together to discuss the results of the 2021 PGL Major and predict what will come next in the post-major roster shuffles.
The 2021 PGL Major is finished. What was the highlight for you?
Coby Zucker: Same as everyone else, I expect: s1mple winning his first major. He’s been close many times so, to see him finally succeed is something special. As a runner-up, I’ll also say the Copenhagen Flames making an impressive run that no one expected. They came from nowhere and played some incredible Counter-Strike at the 2021 PGL Stockholm Major.
Colin McNeil: How could it be anything but s1mple claiming the destiny we all knew was his and lifting that major trophy? It’s enough to make any Counter-Strike fan emotional.
Zain Merchant: The highlight was seeing the entire Counter-Strike community come together again. During the online era, viewership was low, engagement was low and everything just didn’t feel right with VALORANT seeming to take over FPS. But, at the 2021 PGL Stockholm Major, the environment was back, viewership hit new records and the game just seemed right again.
Minna Adel Rubio: Like Zain, my highlight was seeing the CS:GO community come together. It’s awesome that so many people from all walks of life can rally together in support of their favorite game. Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov proposing to his girlfriend really is a highlight for me because he decided to share such a special moment with the world.
Which team performed above their level? Below their level?
McNeil: They may have narrowly missed a playoff appearance, but Copenhagen Flames’ Cinderella journey to get to the major, their flawless performance in the New Challengers stage and a gutsy New Legends run won’t soon be forgotten.
The big disappointment for me has to be MOUZ. That pre-major rebrand must have come with a curse because, after just barely squeaking through to the New Legends stage, they racked up a single W before heading to the airport. Robin “ropz” Kool missing the playoffs just feels wrong.
Rubio: Personally, I wanted to see a little bit more from Gambit Esports. I was in full support of Na’Vi, but I wanted Gambit to put up a bigger fight. Gambit has been one of the only teams to really show Na’Vi a hard time at previous events, so I expected a tougher battle. On the flip side, I was very impressed by the Copenhagen Flames and can’t wait to see more. Also, I have to give a shout out to the boys over at FURIA Esports that played above and beyond at the 2021 PGL Stockholm Major. I think they truly defied expectations and showed the world they’re ready to make big moves.
Merchant: Virtus.pro went above and beyond this tournament. In prior events, the team played at a normal level without a defined, extraordinary playstyle. However, during PGL Stockholm, Dzhami “Jame” Ali, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis and the team went above and beyond to place fifth-eighth at the tournament. With a mix of a passive AWP and aggressive rifling, the team established their unique style and defined themselves as a top contender.
Zucker: To be honest, I think most teams played about as well as people expected them to. I already mentioned the Copenhagen Flames as a team that was playing well, maybe even above their level. I was also a little disappointed in Gambit. There weren’t many people who thought they’d beat Na’Vi, but I was hoping for more fight from them. Hopefully they can bounce back and return stronger for the next couple LAN events.
What’s next for s1mple? Is this the start of a Na’Vi era?
Merchant: Na’Vi are here to stay; they’ve proved they are a top contender. The fact that they went undefeated in the 2021 PGL Stockholm Major proves how dominant they are. Natus Vincere are set for the next year and, with Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi on the roster, possibly even longer. S1mple is 24 and b1t is 18. With an endless supply of CIS talent, Natus Vincere could become the next Astralis if b1t stays with the team long term.
Zucker: I was glad to hear that s1mple is planning an extended vacation. I desperately want to see him continue to lead this iteration of Na’Vi for a long time to come. If they keep up their current form, I think it’s safe to say we are in the midst of a Na’Vi era of CS. I don’t foresee any team being able to seriously challenge them for months, if not longer.
Rubio: I think it’s undeniable that we’re in the midst of a Na’Vi era. The team’s overall performance at the major shows how far ahead they are above their opponents. I hope s1mple and co. take a highly deserved break and come back ready to work. If the squad continues to perform the way they have at the PGL Major, I don’t see any team stopping them in their tracks soon.
McNeil: One word: dynasty.
After finally earning the major win that all of Counter-Strike has been waiting for, the only way for them is forward. It’s time to establish a new era; a new greatest team of all time. And if s1mple is to lead Natus Vincere to that summit, there’s a lot of climbing left to do.
What is your spiciest offseason prediction for roster moves?
Rubio: I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for Complexity. It’s no secret that Complexity have been on the hunt for a new roster. With reports of Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Marcelo “coldzera” David forming a Brazilian team, my hopes are that maybe they’ll be Complexity’s next pick up.
Zucker: While there’s already been rumblings, I think the NA orgs are going to make the biggest moves in this post-major shuffle. Evil Geniuses are already overhauling their roster, but I’m willing to put my prediction in writing that another NA team will rejoin the CS:GO fray. As of now, I don’t know whether that’s Cloud9, 100 Thieves or someone else entirely.
McNeil: I’m just waiting to see where the Copenhagen Flames roster lands. There are plenty of teams that did not have the major they were hoping for, or who never got to book those flights to Stockholm in the first place, that would love a fresh start with this group of players.
Merchant: I’m wondering where the ex-Spirit members are going to find themselves. There are so many teams these five could end up on. Each member of the CIS roster has a high ceiling of potential and a move like Nikolay “mir” Bityukov to Virtus.pro, or the formation of a new CIS team, would be beneficial to the scene and has the potential to take a mid-tier team to the next level.