The last stop in the Road to Antwerp is well underway as over 50 teams fight their way into the upcoming Counter-Strike Major. Now, some of these 50 teams have already been sent home as the Americas RMR has already sent home a couple of teams, but 32 participants are still in contention as the first European RMR has yet to start.

This changes this Sunday, though. At 09:00 AM UTC, the European RMR A will kick off with two matches. Natus Vincere will be facing Team QUAZAR, while the Virtus.Pro roster playing as Outsiders faces Team Unique. From that time, until the next Wednesday, fans are going to see eight teams qualifying for the upcoming PGL Major Antwerp, and eight being eliminated from the qualification circuit.

Furthermore, as we’ve seen this past week, the format used in the RMRs is prime to see some upsets and surprises happening. After all, the Swiss System is known for its unpredictable results, and even which the Buchholz system in place, we aren’t safe from some shocks.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have favorites, or even predict the teams who are going to the Major! We did the same kind of preview for the Americas RMR earlier this week. And you can check how our predictions went then here. Now, however, with all eyes on the European RMR A, it’s time for us to make our predictions for it. Before we head to the storylines, though, take a look at the first matches of the event below:

Now, with that covered, here are our eight favorites to qualify for the first Counter-Strike Major of 2022!

NO ONE’S GONNA BE FAZED BY THIS PICK

Our first, and most obvious pick, must be FaZe Clan. The roster led by Finn “karrigan” Andersen has finally taken the crown of best team in the world at both ESL Rankings and HLTV World Rankings after winning IEM Katowice 2022 and ESL. Pro League Season XV back-to-back. The team had a slow start in the latter, but thanks to the sheer amount of competent and fierceness in the roster, they managed to recover and lift the trophy later.

Now, there’s a world of reasons as to why expect FaZe to qualify with a perfect record. They certainly are in a better shape than most if not all other teams here, for one. Then, when we look at this roster, it becomes clear why this team has been so successful. Karrigan is doing a great job as the team’s captain. You can’t ask for a better fragging trio than Helvijs “broky” Saukants, Robin “ropz” Kool, and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken. Lastly, but not least, Håvard “rain” Nygaard’s impact can’t be overstated either.

Right now, FaZe is a well-oiled machine that is doing very well, and it still has room for improvement. This Major’s trophy has their names in there already, it’s just up for them to keep realizing their potential and keep delivering as they have shown that they’re able to. 2022 is FaZe’s year, they’re well underway in their road to success, and this RMR is just another step for them to keep the momentum going.

BEING THE SECOND-BEST IS STILL REALLY GOOD, TOO!

Continuing with our series of completely expected picks, is Natus Vincere, as our second favorites to qualify to the Major. Now, while Na’Vi might’ve lost their place as the best team in the world, they still are an incredibly strong team. Their star player, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, still is putting up great performances, and Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi keeps improving, too.

Unfortunately, the team is clearly going through a turbulent time right now with the recent world events. There has been speculation around the team’s captain, Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov, possibly leaving the team in the future, and it’s clear that everyone in the team has more in their minds than just the game.

Na’Vi is facing a truly disadvantageous situation right now, especially when the timing of it is considered. As some might remember, just months ago the community were discussing whether the team had already started an era, of they had just paved the grounds for its start! Now, there’s a risk that the roster might not be the same in the coming months due to reasons outside the game. It’s sad, and disappointing for fans, but it was never something Na’Vi could’ve prepared for, or controlled.

Now, speculation is speculation, and facts are facts. And the fact we have right now is that even with the ongoing situation in the CIS region, Na’Vi has been putting a fight still. As shown in ESL Pro League Season XV, they were only defeated by a might FaZe Clan, while still crushing the likes of Heroic. It’s difficult to imagine a world where Na’Vi doesn’t qualify for Antwerp. In fact, it’s hard to see a PGL Major Antwerp without Na’Vi reaching its playoffs.

LONG TIME NO SEE OG!

It has been a while since we last saw OG playing, more than a month! The team, now led by Nemanja “nexa” Isaković, impressed in their debut. Yet, they couldn’t keep the impressive results going as they failed to reach the playoffs in IEM Katowice 2022. Still, the team qualified for the PGL Major Antwerp – European RMRs in their first try, and it’s undeniable that this is one of the stronger teams in this RMR.

Now, there’s a couple of doubts surrounding OG that will be addressed starting Sunday. First and foremost, we need to see more of nexa’s in-game leading. Of course, nexa is known for his time with G2 last year, but back then, he had proven, world-class riflers in his hands. Now, he’s still going to be dealing with high-calibre, full of potential players, sure. But the truth is, OG’s stars are not half as proven as Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, for example.

SHOWING SOME CONFIDENCE

Furthermore, it’s very important that this OG coming up for this RMR shows confidence, and a strong playstyle. Nexa had time to work and get to know his players by now, and a full month to develop along them a plan that works for everyone. Coming to this RMR, OG must show that they won’t be stuck in the same limbo they were last year, where all it took for them to crumble was one player to underperform.

In short, OG are one of our favorites to qualify for the PGL Major Antwerp because of the potential lying with them, and how well they did in their debut with nexa. While Katowice wasn’t a great showing, it might’ve been the result of attending two events back-to-back with a brand-new leader in charge. Yet, we won’t deny that OG could be one of the teams qualifying with a perfect score. Or one of the teams that must fight through all the five matches in order to guarantee their spot.

CEILLING REACHED

Heroic is one of the best Counter-Strike teams in the world, no doubts. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that the Danish squad has hit their limits with this roster. Now, there isn’t a single player holding Heroic back. Instead, it just seems that this combination has touched its ceiling, and it’s hard to see what they can do to go higher.

Yet, for now, this isn’t a problem. While Heroic might not be enough to face FaZe Clan or Natus Vincere, they still have enough fuel left to crush most other teams in the world. Casper “cadiaN” Møller still knows how to prepare his team to strike hard, and both Martin “stavn” Lund and René “TeSeS” Madsen are more than able to take the fight to most other star duos around.

Coming to this RMR, it’s hard to see Heroic struggling to qualify. Unless they get an unlucky draw and face FaZe and Na’Vi somehow, other teams shouldn’t cause problems for cadiaN and his boys. Still, viewing Heroic in this new light certainly makes them look like less of a threat. This, alongside with the first matches being best-of-one map series could end up being a death trap for the Danes. Fortunately, we’ll be able to see Heroic being put to the test by a dangerous underdog in their first game as they take on forZe.

OUTSIDERS COMING INSIDE ANTWERP

Virtus.Pro – which are playing as Outsiders due to restrictions imposed by PGL – is coming with high hopes for this RMR. Now, their latest results haven’t been quite as inspiring, but that’s to be expected at this point. And still, the roster led by Dzhami “Jame” Ali is far from touching their true potential. It’s simply unwise to not consider them a prime candidate for qualification.

Now, we can’t forget that Outsiders isn’t quite the same team they were a couple months ago. Jame, their AWPer and captain, has been less reliable lately. Other squads have started to catch up on his passive individual style, and how it impacts his team. These teams are now building tactics around it. And so far, Jame has failed to reinvent himself.

Moreover, the Outsiders guys have been playing in a more passive than usual, sometimes even scared way. When we go back to their game against Vitality in EPL XV, the squad failed to take important fights, even when they were in a better position than their opponents. Lastly, another reason for Outsiders fall in these most recent weeks is Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis. The Latvian rifler certainly is having some quieter weeks recently compared to his usual form.

Yet, as negative as this sounded, Outsiders still are one of the favorites to make through. Even with Jame being more passive than usual and less successful in his Jame Time. Even with YEKINDAR not being his top form. In spite of all that, Outsiders still are one of the best teams in the world. If they managed to make the best out of their break since Pro League, then their chances just got even better. If not, we still see them qualifying, even if they must go through five games.

OUT WITH THE NBK, IN WITH THE JDC

Our sixth pick for the teams to qualify from this RMR is MOUZ. The European mix hasn’t been successful for a minute now, and after some questionable roster changes, they’re coming to this RMR with mixed expectations. It doesn’t help that just after they failed to qualify for the EPL playoffs back in mid-March, the organization benched Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt. The French veteran had been with the team for less than five events, and he had ups and downs, but his benching come as a complete surprise.

In any case, MOUZ has brought in Jon “JDC” de Castro to replace NBK-. The German player is coming from MOUZ’ academy project, and he has caught a lot of eyes during his time there. He most recently had a short stint with the main MOUZ team back in IEM Katowice 2022 as Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras was out for the time being. Back then, for a last-minute stand-in playing in a team which had yet to play with their new roster in 2022, JDC did well.

UNSPOKEN TRIALS

His first test starts now, though. After all, removing NBK- so soon certainly left a bitter taste in the mouth of many MOUZ fans, and JDC will need to show that bringing him in was the right move. Furthermore, this time around, Christopher “dexter” Nong had time to fit him in the team. So, no more excuses, for JDC, he needs to prove that he’s worthy of all hype built around him.

But JDC isn’t the only unknown that MOUZ is bringing to this RMR. Dexter, the team’s captain, will be under the microscope this RMR. The Australian leader has been very criticized of lately, and justifiable so. Failing to qualify for the Major could certainly be the last straw for the organization, so, the stakes are high for him too.

Overall, we believe that MOUZ will ultimately qualify for the Major, but it won’t be easy. This roster is completely unproven at this time, and they will be relying on Ádám “torzsi” Torzsás and David “frozen” Čerňanský to push them to the finish line. Yet, with the likes of forZe and even FNATIC around, these two will need help. It’s up to JDC, and especially dexter, to step up, and give their stars the remaining push they will need.

WITH OR WITHOUT ZYWOO

Team Vitality is coming for the most staked RMR event for this upcoming Major, but not making through will still be a major disappointment for a team of their calibre. Yes, the situation isn’t looking great for Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and his teammates, but if there’s one time to step up to the plate, it’s now.

Now, under normal conditions, this would be one of the strongest teams around, at least on paper. Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut is one of the best AWPers in the world after all. He singlehandedly brought bring victory to this team at certain times, even. Now, he’s playing with a far more competent and experienced roster, so, the results should just start coming in, right? No.

ZywOo is struggling – a lot – right now, and unfortunately, he isn’t the only one. Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier is completely out of place, and the Danish duo brought to the team back in January isn’t enough to save this team either. Right now, as apEX himself mentioned, this team lacks an identity, and until they find it, the results won’t improve.

CAN’T FAIL

Not qualifying for the playoffs of IEM Katowice 2022 or EPL Season XV were disappointing results. Yet, nothing would come even closer to missing the Major for a team like Vitality. The organization wants to be at the very top of every discipline they participate in, and CSGO is no exception. This team has some of the best players the game has seen in recent years, it’d be heart-breaking to see them missing their first Major in years.

At the end of the day, though, whether Vitality go or not to the Major, it’s up to them. Since ZywOo’s hurdles are mostly related to communication, it’s up to the rest of the team to pick up the slack. His teammates need to figure out how they get out of this slump without him.

Overall, we’re expecting Team Vitality to qualify due to how experienced and competent these players are. ZywOo won’t simply recover his form in a matter of a few weeks, and the main reason Vitality went international earlier in the year is to not have a roster that only succeeds when their star can carry them. It’s time for the Danes to show that they were the right men for this job and thrive. Even if their AWPer isn’t in top shape.

NOT TOO BIG TO FALL

Our final pick for this RMR is going to be the German squad playing under the BIG banner. The Germans recently brought in Karim “Krimbo” Moussa, and his debut wasn’t quite like they needed it to be. BIG left ESL Pro League Season XV at the group stage, and they had a lot of feedback to take in. It’s up to Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz to make the most out of what they’ve learned and qualify for the Major.

It’s not going to be easy, though. First and foremost, Krimbo is still new, and unproven, in this roster. He was BIG Academy’s captain, and this move might signal that the team is finally ready to see tabseN dropping the role in order to focus on his individual level. However, it’s too early yet for this change to happen, and unless something drastic changes, BIG will have two players who lack firepower in their roster. Josef “faveN” Baumann needs to step-up now, or BIG is in for a rough couple of months.

WHY BIG, THEN?

As dire as the situation might be, BIG still is a powerful team. Their AWPer, Florian “syrsoN” Rische, is one of the best in his role, and tabseN is a very well-rounded player, too. If faveN can improve his individual level, then this BIG team will be dangerous once again, and Krimbo will be under the right circumstances to become the team’s leader.

Ultimately, BIG are at the mercy of the Swiss System. Their first match will see them against the Portuguese squad of SAW, and that’s going to be a dangerous match. SAW are underdogs, but BIG’s latest performance doesn’t really inspire any confidence. If they can make through this challenge, then BIG might have a chance to make through.

THIS SUNDAY!

On Sunday, make sure to tune up to PGL’s official channels on Twitch and Youtube. After all, this is one of the most important events in Counter-Strike, and it will define the fate of many teams. Until then – and afterwards, too – make sure to keep up with us here!

The author

My name is Marcos, I have been following the CSGO pro scene since 2015 but really got into in following games and pro teams in 2016. Used to bet a lot, stopped a bit but never stopped following the esports scene. I'm a student right now so I got a lot of time to keep with it and discover new things.

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