PGL Major Antwerp, the first CS:GO major of 2022, is rapidly approaching. Twenty-four teams from across the world will fight for the $1,000,000 USD prize pool and the title of Major winners.
The Major will take us to Belgium this time. The event will include 24 of the finest teams in the globe, who qualified through Regional Major Ranking (RMR) competitions. It’s important to note that no team, not even NAVI, the top team in 2021 and the defending Major winners, was guaranteed a seat in Antwerp.
Here’s everything you need to know about the first leg of the PGL Antwerp, the Challengers stage.
PGL Major Antwerp 2022 format
CS:GO fans that watched the PGL Major Stockholm 2021 will be familiar with the tournament's structure. The PGL Major Antwerp 2022 event will be separated into three stages: Challengers, Legends, and Champions (playoffs).
All teams that qualified with Challengers and Contenders classification will compete in the Challengers stage. The 16 teams will compete in a Swiss format from May 9 to 12, with each team needing three victories to progress or three defeats to be eliminated.
Except for elimination/advancement matches, which will be best of threes, all other matches will be best of ones. Initial matchups are determined by team seeding. The top eight teams advance to the Legends stage, while the bottom eight are eliminated.
The Legends stage, which runs from May 14 to 17, will be precisely the same. The eight teams from the Challengers stage will be combined with the eight teams from the Legends stage for a second Swiss bracket. The remaining eight teams will advance to the Champions stage by the end of the stage.
Things are a little different in the playoffs though. From May 19 to 22, all matches will be played as bo3s in front of a live audience. Instead of a Swiss bracket, everything will be single elimination, with seeding determined by the final Legends stage rankings. The winning team will get $500,000 and the title of major victors.
Schedule & Betting odds
Below are the current predictions for the upcoming matches. Teams that are highlighted in bold have the odds in their favour. You can click on the dates to take yourself directly to the detailed match page, and watch the matches as they play out live.
- Team Vitality vs. Complexity Gaming (May 9, 2022 - 12:00 CEST) 1.32 vs. 3.10
- Bad News Eagles vs. Eternal Fire EF (May 9, 2022 - 12:00 CEST) 1.82 vs. 1.88
- G2 Esports vs.Team Liquid (May 9, 2022 - 13:15 CEST) 1.52 vs. 2.35
- forZe vs.Renegades (May 9, 2022 - 13:15 CEST) 1.32 vs. 3.10
- Astralis vs. IHC Esports (May 9, 2022 - 14:30 CEST) 1.13 vs. 5.00
- Imperial Esports vs. Team Spirit (May 9, 2022 - 14:30 CEST)
- MIBR vs.Outsiders (May 9, 2022 - 15:45 CEST) 2.60 vs. 1.45
- ENCE vs. 9z Team (May 9, 2022 - 15:45 CEST)
Four days of action await us in the first Swiss stage, which will feature fan favourites like G2, Vitality, and Team Liquid, as well as several other famous names, such as Astralis and the rising stars ENCE. Of course not to forget the underdogs such as the likes of 9z Team and IHC – who ended the domination of the famous TYLOO in Asia Region, looking to make their mark in their first-ever Major appearances.
The initial matches have been unveiled, and a number of highlight battles will kick off the action right away, with Vitality vs. Complexity and G2 vs. Liquid in round one on the main stream in the two most narrowly contested matchups of the lot. Later on the main broadcast, Astralis will meet IHC, while MIBR will face Outsiders.
On the B stream, Bad News Eagles will clash with the Turkish superteam Eternal Fire first, followed by forZe and Renegades. Later in the day, the veteran Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and his team Imperial will face Spirit, while ENCE, one of the favourites to advance based on recent performance, will face 9z.
ENCE on the rise
A new wildcard appears on the challengers stage:
ENCE is an up-and-coming squad. According to HLTV's rankings, they are now ranked fourth in the globe. The reason for their recent rating increase has less to do with their success at the RMR tournament, which qualified them for Antwerp, and more to do with their performance at BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown.
Only one European team could qualify for the last spot in the Spring Final, and ENCE defeated Copenhagen Flames, Heroic, and Astralis. They also finished second in the most recent ESL Pro League Season 15, trailing only the legendary FaZe Clan.
ENCE has won our hearts and gained fans by continuously defying whatever comes their way. They are always defying the odds. Team’s Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, 31, is still one of the most successful in-game commanders in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Can FaZe maintain their dominance?
This year, FaZe Clan has been the greatest team in CS:GO. They defeated G2 Esports in the largest event of the year, IEM Katowice, and then won the ESL Pro League 15.
FaZe veterans Finn "karrigan" Andersen and Hvard "rain" Nygaard have only been to one CS:GO Major final, the 2018 Boston Major won by Cloud9, thus they'll be hoping to reach another final and win the organisation's first Major victory.
Fate of NAVI is uncertain
NAVI dominated the professional CS:GO scene in 2021, winning the Stockholm Major, IEM Cologne, ESL Pro League 14, and the Blast Premier World Final, among others. They haven't made any roster changes and finished 3rd-4th at IEM Katowice earlier this year, so they haven't entirely dropped off the map.
It's difficult to tell for certain, but with a Russian and Ukrainian roster, who knows what type of effect the crisis in Ukraine has on these players? But they seem like they are slowly losing their steam.
9Z vs. ENCE outcome is pretty much guaranteed
This one should be easy to understand. ENCE is on a roll right now, and they are the heavy favourites in this match. They have won five of the previous six games, while 9z has lost two in a row.
This match doesn't have anything to comment about. Individually and tactically, ENCE is a way ahead in the race as compared to 9z. This should be an easy match to predict with a one way outcome almost guaranteed.
Most exciting match to watch: G2 vs. Liquid
This will undoubtedly be the most watched match in the first round. Both G2 and Liquid are entering into this match with high aspirations of winning.
G2 is the stronger team without a doubt, especially with the veteran NiKo on its roster. They also looked fantastic in previous matches versus Bad News Eagles and Astralis.
Map veto is a rolling dice on its own: Overpass and Nuke will almost absolutely be banned. This match is likely to be decided on Vertigo or Mirage where G2 will surely shine.
G2 has a tendency to always come in second. Since last summer, they have finished second in three major CS:GO tournaments: IEM: Cologne, PGL Major Stockholm, and IEM Katowice. Last year, they were defeated in both finals by NAVI, and this year, they were defeated by FaZe. It would be an unforgettable experience if they manage to snatch the championship this year, and in our opinion it’s their time to shine.
What about the bottom 8 teams, a.k.a. The Contenders?
Any Contenders team will have a tough road to the Champions Stage, also known as the bracket stage and final eight.
But it has been done before.
Virtus.pro advanced to the Champions Stage at the Stockholm Major last year. NRG advanced to the semifinals of the Berlin Major in 2019 after beginning in the lowest group of teams, known at the time as the Minor Challengers. ENCE advanced to the final of the Katowice Major earlier this year after beginning as a Minor Challenger.
Outsiders are most likely to make a comeback. They are the lineup that previously competed under the Virtus.pro banner but were forced to change their identity owing to the organisation's links to the Russian government.
They achieved some fantastic performances last year and are presently rated 10th in the globe according to HLTV.
Team Liquid is another Contenders team with players that have a lot of experience on large stages. We'll see if they can best G2. Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella and the rest of the North American roster have the potential to make it to the Champions stage.
CS:GO Majors are something to love and look forward to, with so many legendary teams competing, odds are almost always head to head and the tournaments are full of big surprises from underdogs and incredible comebacks. PGL Antwerp is the peak of esports.
Here’s some of the best moments from the RMRs before we say goodbye: