Thirteen out of sixteen teams in the Legends Stage are from Western Europe or the CIS, a stark highlight of just how far behind the other regions are. It would be the biggest shock in CS:GO history if Team Liquid, Imperial or FURIA could snatch away the title at the PGL Antwerp Major, and none of them are even a lock for a top-eight spot here.
It’s tough to argue with results, the lopsided distribution of titles and playoff spots. No one in their right mind would argue against EU being the best CS:GO region at this time. The lack of meaningful competition is unfortunate, taking away a bit of color from the competition. It doesn’t bode well for the future of the game in North America, and for every IHC, there is a TYLOO, a falling team in Asia to make up for the rise of someone else. Beyond regional pride, there is little reason to celebrate this state of affairs.
A quick look at the qualifying non-Europeans cements this point further. Liquid scored two of their wind against 9z Team and Complexity before taking down a flagging Astralis while Imperial Esports’ losses came to Team Spirit and Bad News Eagles – decent teams but not world-beaters – and if you don’t factor in their win against Liquid, they are yet to beat a top-twenty side.
No, that doesn’t make FalleN overrated.
We have an insane set of matchups to kick things off in the Legends Stage, so much so that it’s a real shame they’re getting a best-of-one treatment. Awesome teams and great rivalries will collide even in the first round of CS:GO matches, with no doubt more to come as we progress deeper into the Legends Stage.
In the end, we did end up with a single North American representative in the Legends Stage, and it’s tough to assess what we can expect from Liquid. They were unquestionably bad for most of the event so far, and taking down this iteration of Astralis will do little to exorcise the ghosts of finals past, even if it was an upset result. It could be that they are growing into the event at just the right time, and they do have a recent victory against Heroic to remember, but adding this up just isn’t enough to predict the surprise result. Prediction: Heroic
Two feel-good underdog teams will get to fight it out for a very valuable 1-0 record, and it’s tough to separate these two teams at this time. Here, it’s worth remembering that the Legends teams sometimes come into the first match a little cold, caught out by the already battle-tested teams that emerged from the Challengers Stage’s grueling Swiss rounds. Perhaps that is enough for an intangible edge. Prediction: Bad News Eagles
What an exciting matchup this could be if NIP actually had dev1ce in the playing squad! It’s still going to be an entertaining affair, but we will miss out on a lot of the spice. It feels like the Vitality project is beginning to peak at the right time, at least to the extent that they can easily take snatch this best-of-one. Prediction: Vitality
The ex-Players against Outsiders will be a matchup laden with emotion. The Cloud9 squad clearly had the number of their opponents back when they were playing under the VP flag, and the difference between status and stability they get to enjoy should also tilt the scales in their favor. Prediction: Cloud9
FaZe should win this, with *should* being the operative word. The EPL winners have ironed out a lot of their “herp derp I guess we will randomly lose this game” kinks since ropz’s arrival but they haven’t entirely flushed the blunders out of their system just yet, as evidenced against BIG in the RMR. Still, they should be able to repeat their EPL finals win here. Prediction: FaZe Clan
Spirit have gone from strength to strength in the Challengers Stage and already got a Brazilian scalp under their belt. FURIA’s the better team but the upset potential is huge here. It should be a brawl, it’s just a shame that it won’t go to Dust 2. Prediction: Team Spirit
It didn’t take long for this Major to throw up a repeat of the previous one’s grand final. If NAVI’s checked in and focused mentally, they should win this one. Whether they can do so should tell us a lot about their chances to defend their title. But if they can’t recover their focus for this one, when can they? Prediction: NAVI
FalleN’s project performed better than expected so far, but none of the performances on display were exactly pristine, nor against any notable opposition. This could be the end of the fun times. Prediction: BIG
May 14 – May 17
Day 1: round 1 and round 2 (all best-of-one)
Day 2: 1-1 matches (best-of-one), 0-2 and 2-0 matches (all best-of-three)
Day 3: 2-1 matches and 1-2 matches (all best-of-three)
Day 4: 2-2 matches (all best-of-three)
A two-day break will follow before the Champions’ Stage and its single-elimination bracket kicks off in front of a live audience in the Antwerps Sportpaleis.
Photo credit: brcho_ via HLTV