For the first time in two years, the best CS:GO teams in the world are heading to the biggest stage of them all in Stockholm, a Major of epic proportions as we slowly but surely begin to return to normal. With such a long time passing between the previous Major and this one, the field bears little resemblance to the one in Berlin and there’s none of the usual continuity we’ve come to expect from these events. Here’s how the participants are looking heading into the biggest CS:GO tournament of the year – first, the Contenders sides.

Copenhagen Flames: peaking at the right time?

It’s not just the result of this nth strong Danish team that makes it important to take them seriously in Stockholm but also the way they performed at IEM Fall. Though they have a tough matchup to start with against Astralis, at least a 3-2 record has to be attainable for this formidable squad, and even though the team lineups suggest that most Contenders will struggle to make it past the first round, they seem to be the standout candidates here.

Prediction: New Legends Stage

FaZe Clan: if there really is LAN magic, now is the time to show it

The Major qualification itself was out of FaZe’s hands at the conclusion of their run at IEM Fall, an unthinkable slump for such a star-studded squad helmed by an in-game leader of karrigan’s caliber. There’s little to suggest a deep run in Stockholm at this stage beyond the magic of the storyline – though I still maintain that there’s tangible added juice to this team whenever they show up on LAN.

Bearing in mind that the RMR points were calculated based on two events and a fraction of leftovers from 2020, one awful showing at Flashpoint and a meh result at IEM Fall isn’t necessarily as awful as their narrow qualification would suggest – but by the same token, it’s also nothing to write home about.

Prediction: Elimination

GODSENT: TACO and felps return to the big stage

Back when FPX stomped all over the GODSENT org to pull off a semi-hostile takeover on their entry to the CS:GO scene, it seemed like they found a great squad, oven-ready to challenge for the verge of tier 1. Now they aren’t even at the Major, while GODSENT’s Brazilian pivot worked out well – both from the fandom and the qualification perspective.

A note of caution: this roster has no experience in Europe (playing together, that is), which may prove to be a big issue on the international scene judging by just how large the gap has become in terms of metagame development across the region.

Prediction: Elimination

Entropiq: from strong showing to slump

The first strong results in tier 2 events put Entropiq on the map of even the more casual CS:GO observers, and interestingly enough, they have been fairly flat since then. Peaking at #14 on the HLTV rankings in May, they’re currently 19th and haven’t been out of the top 20 since, which, coupled with their recent form, doesn’t suggest a top 16 spot at the Major.

Prediction: Elimination risky rule-bending serves as an annoying subplot

It’s been such a long time since the last Major that the core of this squad was still playing under the AVANGAR banner during their magical run in Berlin, where they somehow finished as runners-up. They’ve been there or thereabouts ever since, and that is exactly the level they can provide on the servers now as well, their customary passive style seemingly becoming less and less effective the better understanding their opponents gain of their unique approach.

Despite some wobbles in the last RMR event and the somewhat nasty decision to take the points deduction and make a last-minute roster change heading into the event, they should be one of the few teams from the Contenders bunch to make it to the last sixteen.

Prediction: New Legends Stage

Sharks Esports: those who took out MIBR

Really, this is the only thing of note from the South American RMR events, a mess with the occasional competitive integrity concern (remember those ownership issues from way back when?) and fairly low quality of gameplay.

At a time when North American CS is a shadow of its former self, there’s little to suggest that South America’s best and brightest (that isn’t already playing with the big boys) can upset even the second string of European and CIS sides. Easy 0-3 candidates, especially in light of their tough opening matchup.

Prediction: Elimination (0-3)

TYLOO: long time no see

The same idea holds true when it comes to TYLOO as well: they’ve been region-locked for so long and they were so far away from the crushingly percentage-based European CS:GO meta that there’s little to suggest they can keep up or spring enough surprises to make it through this bracket.

They might bring interesting CS to the table, as they tend to do on their occasional European forays, but the quality will likely not be high enough to threaten the big (hell, even the medium-sized) guns here.

Prediction: Elimination

Renegades: finally out of the kiddie pool

Once more onto the breach: another region-locked side, but this time with a story that may be a little bit more familiar to a Western audience, and, of course, a complete dominance over the land down under. With the original YTB squad torn to pieces after the failed EXTREMUM project, they are clearly the new standard-bearers for Australian Counter-Strike, but this by itself won’t amount to much in the cutthroat international scene that’s just beginning to rearrange.

Despite the shock Flashpoint 3 win, the relative struggles of mousesports, er, MOUZ helmed by dexter suggest that the IGL-deficient version of the old Renegades side won’t be able to mount serious resistance at the Major.

Prediction: Elimination

Check out our overview of the Challengers teams here and the Legends teams here!