In a matter of hours, the first RMR for the next Counter-Strike Major will start. The Regional Major Rankings events are the final stage of the qualification process for the Valve-sponsored event that is set to run in Belgium next month, and this time, no team has already qualified for it. This means that the upcoming RMRs will define who qualifies for the Major, and who doesn’t. Differently than last yet, there hasn’t been other RMRs over the year, so there’s no circuit points in play here, either.
So, suffice to say that this is the event that has been on the radar of every team that managed to reach this point in the qualification road. For Evil Geniuses, FURIA, Imperial, Team Liquid and others, it’s do or die, and dying really isn’t an option for their morale. Yet, with only six spots up for grabs in the Americas RMR, ten teams won’t be making through. And as we’ve learned in the past, anything can happen in the Swiss system.
For that reason, we’ve prepared this preview for you. Here, you will find our six favorites to qualify for the PGL Major Antwerp, and why we think they will be surviving the Americas RMR. And while North American Counter-Strike might not be as strong as it once was, you might be surprised! As both North and South American teams will be competing for the same six spots, this event might be way more disputed than some expect. In any case, here are our six favorites!
The PGL Major Antwerp – Americas RMR will be a single-stage tournament using the traditional five-round Swiss System Valve has been using for years now. All matches are BO1s but advancement or elimination matches, which are BO3s.
$50.000 is the prize pool offered, but what the sixteen teams coming to the event are truly looking forward is the spots for the PGL Major Antwerp. Six spots are available for the Americas region, including one Legends spot, which will be disputed in a best-of-three match between the two top teams at the end of the tournament. At the same time, the sixth spot will be fought by in a single-elimination gauntlet.
Now, before we head to the storylines, take a look at the tournament’s opening matches:
The Americas RMR offers six spots at the PGL Major Antwerp. Three of these are Contenders spots, the lowest “tier” of qualification. Two are for Challengers spots, and one is a Legends spot. The Legends spot, of course, is the highest level of qualification a team might get, as it allows the team who qualifies through it to skip the first stage of the Major. The spots were awarded based on how each region performed in the last Major, which means that Europe got most of these spots. However, the Americas managed to get one Legend spot too, thanks to FURIA.
Now, back at the PGL Major Stockholm, FURIA reaching the event’s quarterfinals was a surprise. The Brazilians were in a weird place then, as they were still struggling in their search for an AWPer. Yet, that FURIA roster fought. They might not have advanced further than the playoffs, but they kept the Americas alive in the playoffs, even if shortly. Now they are at a much better place, and they are in prime position to reap one of the few benefits from that run: that Legends spot.
Overall, there’s just one team that could stop FURIA, at least on paper. Team Liquid are coming to the Americas RMR as our second favorites as you’ll see in a minute, and considering how they played at ESL Pro League Season XV, they are a threat to the Brazilians. Still, no team in this tournament will be favorites when facing FURIA. Moreover, the Brazilians are looking like one of the best teams in the world right now, so it’s just fitting that they are the ones coming as Legends to the Antwerp Major.
Team Liquid finally gave fans the showing they were all waiting for since Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella returned to the organization earlier this year. At ESL Pro League Season XV, Team Liquid impressed, especially in their first game of the playoffs when they faced one of the best teams in the world, Heroic, and won against them without dropping a map. They were eliminated afterwards against NiP, but even so, Team Liquid still put a great fight, and got sent home with their heads up.
Now, EPL might be a massive, premier event in the circuit, but Liquid has their eyes on the Major. Coming to the Americas RMR, this team is one of the favorites, but the Swiss System format is a treacherous one, and a couple of mistakes will put any team against the walls with a 0 – 2 record.
The idea here is that Team Liquid doesn’t need to prove that they are one of the favorites to make through. Instead, for them is all about surviving teams like 9z, and even 00 Nation. These underdogs have studied Liquid, and certainly have developed ways to exploit their weaknesses. No matter how many world-class players you might have after all, if there’s one thing North America taught us is that the same way momentum can help them, a streak of misfortunes can also take them to the ground.
Complexity is far, very far from a team like FURIA. Considering both teams’ last showings, they aren’t that close to Team Liquid, either. Yet, this isn’t quite the issue as it might sound. This Complexity teams clearly has room to develop, and they can pinpoint their main issues right now to two players. Michael “Grim” Wince and Paytyn “junior” Johnson.
However, even without these two playing at their best, Complexity still is one of the best teams in their region. We don’t expect to see them beating either any of the aforementioned teams, and just like Liquid has to be cautious to not fell victim to the Swiss System, so does Complexity. But compared to the underdogs we’re seeing here, such as São Caetano, Johnny “JT” Theodosiou shouldn’t have troubles leading his team to qualification.
Imperial is coming to the Americas RMR, and based on their results, their chances of making through are definitely good. Now, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo “Last Dance” project hasn’t played at any high tier event yet. Still, they have been grinding against European competition, and they are well. Most recently, Imperial won the OMEN WGR Challenge 2022, which saw them beating Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van’s Falcons in the grand-finals.
Now, this isn’t proof that they will do well against high level competition. However, they won’t be facing such teams at the Americas RMR. Sure, FURIA and Liquid are here, but other than these two? Admittedly, Imperial will need some luck at the Swiss System drawings. Yet, as long as Imperial plays using their experience and teamwork, teams like Party Astronauts will definitely struggle against them.
Imperial’s first match will see them facing São Caetano, the lowest ranked team in HLTV World Rankings present at this tournament. This should be a win for FalleN and his teammates, and from there, as long as the Swiss System isn’t too hard on them, it’s difficult to see Imperial not reaching the Major.
The Brazilians from Made in Brazil started the year in a high note by beating Natus Vincere in late January. Of course, they couldn’t make a streak out of it, but this current iteration of MiBR is one of the best the organization has hosted in a while, and as shown during the last season of ESL Challenger League, they know very well how to play against teams from the region.
However, just like winning the previous season of ECL wasn’t a walk in the park, we don’t expect this to be one either. Bad News Bears, Party Astronauts, paiN, 9z and others will all be bringing their best game to the tournament, and MiBR will have to fight with everything they have in order to make through. MiBR’s first opponent, 9z, should already put the Brazilians to the test.
Still, and again, this MiBR roster is very promising. Jhonatan “JOTA” Willian is one of the best Brazilian players around, and has been such a great pickup for this roster. Raphael “exit” Lacerda has also been essential for MiBR’s development since last year, and overall, these two should mainly be the ones pushing this roster across the finish line.
The current Evil Geniuses project isn’t working. Now, one might point that they played without their coach during their most recent showing, but that doesn’t excuse EG’s performance during the open qualifiers for the Americas RMR, for example, where the squad failed to make through the first qualifier and had to instead fight in the second and last one.
As for why this team is struggling so hard, it’s not difficult to understand. Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip doesn’t really work as an in-game leader. Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte has shown some small improvements this year, and Timothy “autimatic” Ta‘s individual form is better than some expected considering he just returned from VALORANT. Yet, there still isn’t enough firepower in this squad. And finally, Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov shown some improvements during EPL, but not enough for him to be considered a high tier AWPer again.
Evil Geniuses should qualify to the PGL Major Antwerp thanks to the level of teams they will be facing here. However, if they end up having to face the sixth-place gauntlet, it won’t be a surprise. In fact, if they fail to qualify, it’ll be another disappointment, but not a surprising one either. And if they don’t make to the Major, roster changes will probably be under way, and who knows, this might be better for everyone involved at this point.
It hurts to see a team in such a negative light, especially a team that has played in less than six events, and have less than five months together. However, nothing shown by EG in these events or months are enough to rekindle any hope fans might have. But with that in mind, hey! Maybe with their coach back we’ll finally see this glimpse of hope this week. Who knows?
For sixteen teams, one of the most important events of the year is starting in a matter of hours. In order to succeed here, these teams will have to conquer the Swiss System, and win three out of five matches. All games will be best-of-one map series but advancement and elimination matches, which are BO3s. Favorites have been victims of this format more than once in Counter-Strike, and underdogs have thrived under these conditions, too. And this means that we could be in for a week of surprises.
So, make sure to tune in for the event at PGL’s primary and secondary channels once the action starts! If you want to check which time that is: the first two games of the event, FURIA vs Leviatan and Party Astronauts vs Isurus will kick off at 09 AM UTC this Sunday (11th). You can check which time that this is in your time zone through here. Until then – and afterwards, too – make sure you keep up with us by following our news page!