The PGL Stockholm Major kicks off in less than a week with the tournament’s New Challengers stage, with a whole host of tasty-looking opening round fixtures already lined up on the horizon. Here are some of the best storylines you should keep an eye out for once the New Challengers stage kicks off.
The Battle of Brazil
Brazilian CS has been steadily on the rise throughout the online era, with more representatives and a higher level of competition dominating the majority of North American A and S-Tier events.
Brazil is set to be one of the most well-represented at the Major, with FURIA, paIN Gaming, GODSENT, and Sharks all competing, as well as Team Liquid’s Brazilian in-game leader, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo.
paIN, GODSENT, and Sharks are all in action at PGL Stockholm’s New Challenger stage, facing Entropiq, ENCE, and MOUZ respectively in their opening rounds. paIN arrive at the Major with the most amount of RMR qualifying points behind them, whilst GODSENT’s surprise qualification run at IEM Fall to the event as the fourth-lowest ranked side at the event.
All sides will fancy their chances in the New Challengers stage, however, with all three hitting purple patches in their form and eager to impress in what is set to be all of their first appearances in Europe for well over two years.
FaZe Clan To Make The Most Of Their Opportunity?
FaZe Clan had easily the most dramatic qualifying campaign of any side at PGL Stockholm, only making the event on the final day of IEM Fall: EU after a string of good performances, and a reliance on other results going their way.
The team were denied a spot in the playoffs at IEM Fall by Team Fiend but clawed back a 9th spot finish with two must-win, backs-against-the-wall fixtures over OG and BIG. Even with these wins, however, FaZe were still reliant on Astralis and G2 both beating Team Fiend in the playoffs before their place at the Major was secured.
Nevertheless, results did go their way and FaZe will be at this year’s Major, albeit ranked at the bottom of the New Challengers stage heading into the first round of fixtures. Finn “karrigan” Andersen face Spirit in their opening fixture and will be looking to make the most of the opportunity they’ve been given.
Astralis’ Pedigree To Shine Through?
Astralis have built their reputation as CS:GO’s greatest ever team on the back of their four Major triumphs, including the last three in a row, with the biggest stages, seemingly bringing the best out of the org, no matter the form or circumstance they may have arrived
With legendary in-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander returning following the birth of his son, the org had a variety of options when it came to selecting their lineup for the Major, being one of the few teams left in the world of CS still using a six-man roster.
Their eventual announcement revealed the org had opted for experience with Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth being given the nod over Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen was controversial with some, however, it’s hard to argue with a lineup that will be boasting a combined total of 15 Major wins between them.
With Xyp9x also making the surprise announcement that he will be staying with Astralis until 2023, despite most reports indicating he would be heading for the exit door at the end of the year, it will be fascinating to see how the Danes perform in the Challengers stage, with their first test being a regional derby against Copenhagen Flames.