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PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage Day 1 Recap/Day 2 Prediction

15.05.2022, 03:58
PGL Antwerp 2022Belgium, Antwerp, Antwerps Sportpaleis
$1,000,000Prize Pool
24Teams
PremierTier
FaZe Clan
Winner
Natus Vincere
2nd Place
ENCE
3rd Place

An absolutely chaotic day of CS draws to a close. This is what we’ve been waiting for. The erasure of the concepts of “favorites”, predictions and PickEms going into the bin mere hours after the CS sun dawned.

It’s been a fun day, and there are some clear winners and losers. Without a uselessly long intro, let’s dive in and look at what transpired in the CS world today.

The 2-0 Boasters

There were 4 teams that went 2-0, and these are the teams that missed out: the Major’s favorite: FaZe Clan, the team that defeated FaZe: ENCE, Denmark’s biggest hope: Heroic, the 3-0 Challengers’ Stage team in G2, and the ever so consistent: Cloud9. Then there are teams like Vitality and Liquid that went 0-2 instead.

It was chaotic and confusing. How the hell did Vitality, a 3-0 Challangers’ Stage team, go 0-2? This is the Major, and there are no favorites.

Team Spirit

Team SpiritRussia
299536
Tips
2Win streak
100%30 d. winrate
64%Winrate

Team Spirit had one of the most challenging roads to 2-0 today, playing Brazil’s and Denmark’s greatest teams, FURIA and Heroic, respectively. Picking the Russians as your 0-2 would’ve been a fair choice. But of course, it’s the Major so stuff that makes sense is not gonna happen.

The World Number 23 defeated FURIA 16-12 on Nuke. The match was a contest of who’s the greatest defender, to be fair. FURIA started the match on the CT side, where they salvaged a 10-5 half. But Spirit’s IGL, chopper’s true powers got unleashed in the second half. Despite losing the pistol, Spirit won 11 out of the next 12 CT-sided rounds to absolutely shut down arT’s attacks.

The next match was against Heroic on Nuke. The story was again the same: who’s the better defender. Heroic took a 9-2 CT-sided lead. And yet, Spirit managed to turn it around on the nuclear power plant. They managed to get a lifeline by putting up a 5-10 half, and then ruled the map with an iron fist on their CT side.

It was quite a surprising turn of events.

Spirit will now face Copenhagen Flames and one of these teams will become the first to reach the Playoffs. Damn.

13:00Finished15.05.2022

By the way, nicoodoz and jabbi from CPH Flames picked Spirit as their 0-3. So did KSCERATO and arT from FURIA (ironic, right?). So did the mighty s1mple.

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s Team Spirit vs CPH Flames enough.

Copenhagen Flames

Copenhagen FlamesDenmark
5971235
Tips
1Lose streak
50%30 d. winrate
59%Winrate

I kept saying how Heroic is the strongest Danish team, but CPH Flames will have something to say about that. They surely stole their thunder away today, putting up convincing performances against BNE and ENCE on Ancient.

Copenhagen Flames first revealed themselves to the masses as the darling team of the Stockholm Major. Ever since, they’ve been on the grid and alive and kicking. Being in the 2-0 category, and facing Spirit for the 3-0 match, they’ve definitely marked their territory in Denmark. The darling team of yesteryear is finally big and old enough to make it to the Champions Stage of the Major.

The first match was against BNE, and the high-flying Kosovo squad should’ve won it. Simple as that. BNE won their T-sided first-half 9-6 on Ancient. That’s a stunning result. But somehow, CPH Flames showed an even better attack, and rattled away their defense, winning the match 16-14. Props to BNE for making it that close. roeJ put in an unignorable 32-kill performance, so credit there as well.

The next match was against ENCE, the team that defeated FaZe Clan. CPH Flames did much better on their CT side here, winning the first half 10-5. They had a few tricks up their sleeves for ther T side, and managed to win the match 16-8. The score looks much closer than it really is. ENCE won both pistols and converted both the following rounds. That’s 4 rounds. Yet, they lost 16-8. A tactical masterclass from the Danes.

They face Spirit, of course, for the 3-0 game, and from what we’ve seen so far, I’m favoring CPH Flames to go through.

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NaVi

Natus VincereUkraine
4101320
Tips
4Win streak
80%30 d. winrate
69%Winrate

The defending champions are looking to recreate their run from the previous Major. They’ve faced some very stiff competition on Day 1, but have come out with flying colors. I’m happy from what I’ve seen from NaVi so far. They are focused and seem ready to put the off-server world… off-server. There have been rumors of YEKINDAR joining NaVi, replacing electronic because he can’t leave Russia since he’s a recent dad. He’s a NaVi veteran and it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

Regardless, the squad is not concerned with any of this in the slightest.

Their first match was against G2. The Stockholm Major Grand Final rematch was the most viewed match of the day, unsurprisingly. It was an overly complicated affair, with G2 coming out with a brand new look. New style of playing, new tactics, unique mid-round strats, all with a slight hint of anti-strat. Here’s the simple version: NaVi was the better team but G2 should’ve won. But NaVi won.

I think G2’s secret strat to beat NaVi was their approach during ecos. They won TWO rounds with unarmoured pistols and converted the following NaVi’s weak buys. Four rounds from beating NaVi in relative “down-time”, i.e., eco rounds. This is not a coincidence. Aleksib and XTQZZZ studied NaVi’s anti-eco approaches and countered it perfectly.

But NaVi is NaVi. It’s amazing how quickly they figure things out and adjust themselves. This was simply not their game to win, but they managed to push it to OT where they took the W.

This is a match I want you to remember. This proves the intellectual ceiling of NaVi, and this match is why I still have faith that NaVi will win this Major.

The next match against BIG was relatively chill. NaVi won 8 rounds on their T-side on Ancient, and I think that’s enough said. They put up a 8-1 CT-side half and won the match 16-8.

They will face NiP now, who somehow made it into the 2-0 group as well. It’s fair to say that NaVi will go 3-0, and possibly without dropping a single map. PTSD kicked in yet, NaVi haters?

16:20Finished15.05.2022

The CS:GO world can only quietly quake and whimper when s1mple does stuff like this:

NiP

Ninjas in PyjamasSweden
373584
Tips
3Win streak
56%30 d. winrate
53%Winrate

This is my personal shock of the day. NiP have been underestimated, and the underdogs defeated Vitality and Cloud9 to reach the 2-0 bracket.

Those names are huge! They blew away the French-Danish camp 16-4 on Overpass, thanks to a rock-solid defense that gave them an 11-4 lead. Vitality have zonic right now, but they couldn’t put zonic’s law into motion. Quite the opposite, in fact, as they lost all rounds in the second half to start a surprisingly difficult campaign here in the Legends’ Stage.

NiP’s match against Cloud9 was particularly impressive. We all know how Cloud9 relies on fundamentals and CS basics to create certain situations. They then exploit these and play them to perfection to win a round or a part of the round. This is exactly how NiP outmaneuvered Cloud9.

They thrust Ax1Le into unorthodox situations with their utility usage and the Russian leader was always a few seconds too late to adapt to it. Thanks to the sheer fragging powers of Cloud9, they made it a very close game, but it was NiP from start to finish.

NiP used a lot of tricks in the book: utility, explosiveness and aggression, playing the time, etc. and they got a very well-deserved win here.

Let’s see if they can surprise us against NaVi. I doubt it, though, given how NaVi’s gonna spend the whole day analyzing and figuring out this Swedish squad’s trickery.

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The 0-2 Weepers

There are 4 teams that lost both their matchups on Day 1, and surprisingly Vitality and Liquid are two of them.

BNE and Imperial are the other two, and I don’t think it’s a surprise to see them here.

Vitality

Team VitalityFrance
459860
Tips
1Win streak
67%30 d. winrate
62%Winrate

In the Major preview, I proclaimed that “Vitality is on the cusp of being a victim in someone else’s success story.” I stuck to it even after their 3-0 Challengers’ Stage run, and now my prediction is materializing into reality.

Vitality became the stepping stone for NiP’s 2-0 run. I still think that NiP will crash out in the Legends’ Stage by going 2-3, but that doesn’t change the fact that Vitality let themselves be so hard bullied by the Swedes. They lost 16-4 on Overpass. They had no ideas for their attacks and no foundation for their defense. Vitality was simply a warmup session for NiP’s match against Cloud9.

Against Outsiders, they had a 6-1 lead. They managed to lose 16-8. It was a disaster and winning 8 rounds doesn’t tell the whole story. Once Outsiders figured out how to attack, Vitality had zero answers. They lost 7 of the final 8 rounds of the first half as CTs. Then as Ts, they could only muster up one round. Losing 15 out of 17 rounds is not a trait we see amongst champions.

I’ve been critical of Vitality since Day 1. This French-Danish project never convinced me, despite their honeymoon stage. They have different philosophies and outlooks on the game, and with age catching up with 3 of the 5 players on this squad, this is simply not a feasible project. I hope to be proven wrong since I have genuine admiration and respect for zonic and apeX, but I think it’s time Vitality see the light.

12:40Finished15.05.2022
0Team LiquidNetherlands

Their Round 3 match is against Team Liquid, and I don’t know who’s gonna win. It’s a coinflip, in my opinion. It’ll be great to see the Liquid core facing off against the ex-Astralis players and of course, shox playing against his former teammates. All this in an elimination match. Deserves its own article, doesn’t it?

Team Liquid

Team LiquidNetherlands
368613
Tips
1Lose streak
42%30 d. winrate
57%Winrate

NA’s biggest hope defeated Astralis in the Challengers’ Stage to make it into the Top 16, but have found their journey extraordinarily difficult here. They haven’t had a favorable match at all. They had to play Heroic, and then SA’s champions in FURIA. And now even in the 0-2 bracket, they have to play Vitality instead of a weaker team.

They lost to considerably stronger teams in Heroic and FURIA. Against Heroic, they fought very hard to recover their match, and at one point had only a 2-round deficit, 10-12. But at the final CT hurdle, they collapsed and the Danes ran away with the map.

Against FURIA, they never really found their stride. The 9 round victories came not from finding their rhythm, but instead from trying to break FURIA’s instead. Not a good sign.

Regardless, Team Liquid is scary when backed into a corner. They have their backs against the walls now and I’m gonna enjoy the Vitality matchup with a lot of snacks.

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Complexity Gaming 8.33
Astralis 1.07

Bad News Eagles

Bad News EaglesKosovo
4993
Tips
1Lose streak
67%30 d. winrate
63%Winrate

BNE nearly defeated CPH Flames, but stumbled at the final hurdle, losing 14-16 instead. Their second match was against FaZe Clan.

The players that were chilling and enjoying their lives on FPL 6 months ago were now up against Katowice and ESL Pro League winners, the champions of the world. As much as I would’ve loved for the “surprise surprise!” touch to bless the Kosovo squad, it just wasn’t meant to be. FaZe Clan blew away BNE 16-4 on Ancient, thanks to a great 11-4 CT-side half and a flawless T-side as well.

That puts BNE up against former world champions in Imperial. The Brazilian legends will be looking to win at least a match or two here in the Legends’ Stage, and that’s gonna come at the expense of the darling team of Belgium.

15:50Finished15.05.2022

Imperial Esports

ImperialBrazil
179336
Tips
7Lose streak
13%30 d. winrate
55%Winrate

The legendary Brazilians’ two losses were against some heavy-hitters here in the Legends’ Stage.

On Nuke, against BIG, they put up a good defense in the second half, but it was too little too late since they had already lost the first half 13-2. Had the score been 10-5, or even 11-4, there was a good chance of a Brazilian upset, but they simply couldn’t register any real wins on their T side.

The second match was against the runner-ups of the Stockholm Major: G2. The fragging power of G2 was alone enough to brush aside the oldie-goldie of Imperial, but it was a great match, regardless. Imperial’s T-side was much better here on Mirage, as they kept it close by getting 7 rounds on the board. Their defense was not as good, though, as G2 won the second half 8-5. To be fair, even NaVi struggled against some of these T rounds of G2, so Imperial’s performance was not a disaster.

The Brazilians are 0-2, but that doesn’t tell the real story. FalleN and his troops have performed great so far, and have a good chance of being a 1-3 or even a 2-3 team.

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The 1-1 Mid Matches

There were 8 teams with a 1-1 score, and they’ve all been pit against each other in the Mid matches of Round 3. Instead of discussing 8 teams, let’s just discuss 4 matches. Efficiency.

Heroic vs G2

10:02Finished15.05.2022
1HeroicDenmark
0G2 EsportsFrance

It’s the first match of the day, and probably one of the most exciting, other than Liquid vs Vitality. G2 have shown us that their stratbook is thicker than imagined, and their powers are stronger than expected. Despite the loss to NaVi, they are very much thriving in this landscape, and I’ll be surprised if this match doesn’t go the distance.

Both teams have shown their strengths and vulnerabilities here, and a Bo3 between these two teams is akin to a Major Semifinal. Oh wait, it was indeed Stockholm’s semifinal. Ah ha, nice!

I have an Aleksib bias, so I wanna lean towards G2, but to be honest, it’s a coinflip, especially as a Bo1.

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Cloud9 vs FaZe Clan

11:49Finished15.05.2022
0Cloud9United States

That’s what I’m talking about!

Two teams that are itching to take over the mantle from the ever-so-mighty Ukrainians are gonna face each other in a spicy Bo3. It will be a battle of playstyles, a battle of wits, and of course, a battle of headshots.

As the Major has proven time and time again, there are no favorites, there are no rational predictions. This is Rome. There’s bloodbath, there’s backstabs, and there’s always an element of surprise.

So who do I go with for this matchup? Well…FaZe Clan. The international squad is famous for defeating the ex-Gambit squad on LAN, and I don’t think this Bo1 will be any exception.

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ENCE vs Outsiders

10:01Finished15.05.2022
1ENCEFinland
0OutsidersRussia

This is another great match that can go the distance. Both teams are silent killers in the night and can take down anybody on any given day. Both are equally likely to make it to Playoffs, but I suspect only one can.

This matchup might be crucial in that regard, though my words right now are a long shot.

ENCE defeated FaZe Clan, but lost to Spirit, to end up in the 1-1 bracket. That’s a perfect display of “I can defeat the undefeatable and lose to the unlosable.” Outsiders, on the other hand, defeated Vitality very convincingly, while losing to Cloud9 in an okayish game.

I’m inclined to go with ENCE here, owing to the ever-so-slight disturbance in the Outsiders’ camp, but I can’t put my money on it. As always.

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BIG vs FURIA

11:18Finished15.05.2022
0BIGGermany
1FURIABrazil

Brazil’s biggest hope in the Major will be playing the German biggies in a Bo1.

FURIA lost to Spirit early on, but then recovered to throw away NA’s darling. The difference in quality and class between the two teams and regions surprises me. The Brazilians outclassed Liquid, and I don’t think it’ll be too different against BIG.

The Germans were brushed aside by NaVi and even struggled against an aging Imperial in the second half.

It’ll come down to many factors, but I think that FURIA will make it through to the 2-1 bracket.

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