While the first European Regional Major Rankings event is still going, Counter-Strike fans are already looking at the last event of the PGL Major Antwerp qualification circuit. The second European RMR will be kicking off this Thursday and will see eight teams rounding up the team list for the upcoming CSGO Major. Furthermore, with squads such as G2 and NiP around, it’s no wonder why fans are excited for the tournament.
So, just like what we’ve done for the Americas and the first Europe RMR, it’s time for our storylines preview. Here, you will see our eight favorites and their storylines, as well as the reasoning behind our picks. But before we head right into the preview, look at the initial matchups of the tournament. Also, it’s worth remembering that the Europe RMR B will use the same format as the others RMRs. The Swiss System format with Buchholz system for seeding of the last three rounds.
Our first pick, and admittedly, not a very surprising one, is the international squad of G2. The roster led by Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen hasn’t been so hot lately after a disappointing but understandable weak run at ESL Pro League Season XV. Yet, before that tournament, G2 was looking very promising, and they certainly would have a better run at EPL if they played with their captain from the start.
Nonetheless, G2 is the strongest team – at least on paper – here at the Europe RMR B. Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and his cousin Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač bring enough firepower to make G2 a heavy contender. When you tag along G2’s rising star Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov, it’s easy to understand why G2 is one of our favorites.
G2’s first match will see them taking on the Polish squad of Anonymo. The Poles are a competent team in the lower tier leagues of Europe, but their most recent performances are worrisome. Frankly, with loses to 00 Prospects and KOVA, anything but an assertive win from G2 would be a surprise.
If there’s one thing that Hampus “hampus” Poser and his team taught us about themselves in these past months is that they aren’t raising the white flag, ever. The Ninjas saw themselves having to count on their academy team’s AWPer, Love “phzy” Smidebrant as Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz took a break for personal reasons. While unprepared for the highest level of competition, phzy gave his best to not let NiP down, and the rest of the team stepped up, too.
With all players giving their best and then some, NiP has managed to hold their place as one of the best Counter-Strike teams in the world. However, the organization isn’t content being just one among the best, though. While device’s situation remains unclear, NiP went ahead and acquired FNATIC’s star Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin. NiP had enough firepower with hampus and Fredrik “REZ” Sterner leading the charge, but Brollan is such a massive upgrade that might just push them to the top five in the coming months.
Now, as for what’s expected from NiP at the Europe RMR B, they’re one of our favorites to make through undefeated. As mentioned above, NiP has been an incredibly competent team before, and they just got an upgrade. Sure, the acquisition of Brollan is recent. In a worse case scenario, he might take a while to fully adjust himself to the team. Yet, we don’t expect that to happen. Brollan should be an immediate upgrade.
NiP’s first match will see them facing Endpoint. The Brits have certainly been on an upward trend of lately, but not enough to challenge the Ninjas.
Players, who previously played for Gambit, is also part of the Europe RMR B. The Russian powerhouse started the year well but haven’t been so hot lately. Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov structure is showing its cracks, and ultimately, Players seem to be facing some mental barrier blocking them from truly achieving his potential on LAN events.
However, the key detail here is that while Players crumbles when facing opponents such as FaZe Clan or Natus Vincere, they still are crushing lesser opposition. Even competent teams such as Liquid had a difficult time when facing Abai “HObbit” Hasenov and his teammates. And here, Players won’t necessarily have to face any difficult opponent. Unsurprisingly, Players wouldn’t be clear favorites against ENCE, G2 or NiP, but unless they have an unlucky draw, they won’t be playing against these two.
Players will be facing Sangal in their first game, and I simply don’t see their opponents putting a fight. Hobbit and the fellowship should have an easy way into round 2’s high matches.
Back at ESL Pro League Season XV, FaZe Clan was in a mission to prove their previous tournament run wasn’t a fluke when they defeated ENCE at the grand finals. This time, ENCE is on the same kind of mission, as they want to prove that they deserve a place among the best teams in the world.
The idea here is that ENCE has touched on their potential back in EPL, and we don’t see them dropping the ball at one of the most events of the year for them. In fact, if anything, Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer’s crew should play an even more confident game from this now on. For example, Lotan “Spinx” Giladi has been putting MVP-worthy performances for a while, but now he can count on Pavle “maden” Bošković to back him up. This takes a load of Spinx’ back, allowing him to focus on individual plays when needed.
And this is just the gist of how talented this ENCE roster is. Their AWPer, Aleksander “hades” Miskiewicz, has also been putting in some incredible performances, and Paweł “dycha” Dycha, when on point, can give a headache to any team in the world. Snappi, while still in the process of becoming a captain worth of the highest level of competition, is also proving to be a very competent leader. ENCE has everything they need to make this one of the organization’s best years in Counter-Strike.
ENCE’s first match will see them facing Team Spirit. Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov’s team is a dangerous one, but Spinx’ should have everything to leave the server with a win.
Astralis has been seeing some mixed results since last year. The Danes went through various roster changes since then, but overall, the community haven’t been sold on them. Astralis’ latest roster move, which saw them bringing in Asger “farlig” Jensen as their new AWPer, was received positively as he’s seen as an upgrade, but it’s too early to say whether farlig will work, and the uncertainties remains. For example, farlig is an improvement, but he has a lot to work on his individual game. Otherwise, he will become a weak link in this roster.
However, considering the level of opposition present at the Europe RMR B, Astralis should qualify for the PGL Major Antwerp. Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander’s team won’t be able to beat the likes of ENCE or NiP, but other squads will see Astralis as favorites when facing them. In this same note, teams like Copenhagen Flames and Entropiq will aim at Astralis to upset them, so it won’t be surprising to see the Danes closing the event with a 3 – 2 record if Astralis fails against one of the underdogs.
Regardless of any possible upsets, we still expect Astralis to attend the Major in May. Their first match will see them against the Russian squad of AVE, which is now playing as ASG. Svyatoslav “svyat” Dovbakh has formed a competent team, which certainly could win a best of one against an underwhelming Astralis, but we expect the Danes to start strong as they are aware of the risks of underestimating teams like ASG.
It has been a while since we last saw Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro in a Major, but Antwerp could be the place for his triumphal return. The now in-game leader is coming with HEET for the Europe RMR B, and after all they’ve shown this year, the French squad is one of our eight favorites to qualify for the upcoming Major. HEET has been a powerhouse in the lower tier of competition in the European scene, and after winning the fourth season of the ESL Challenger League, they have a lot of momentum backing them up.
Now, we don’t expect HEET to qualify without facing some troubles in the way. As skilled as this roster might be, they don’t have a lot of experience facing high tier opposition. Teams like G2 and NiP will have an advantage if they end facing up HEET, and even Astralis could be slight favorites against them. In the other hand, no one would be surprised to see HEET upsetting the Danes. For HEET, this RMR event will be an open field, and it’s up to them to make the best out of the best-of-one part of the tournament.
HEET will be facing SINNERS in their first match, and considering the Czech squad form of lately, HEET should be the ones getting the win here. From the second round onwards, it’s key for HEET to not let their lack of experience in LAN events be an exploit for their opponents. If Aurélien “afro” Drapier and the less experienced players in the roster keep their heads in the game, HEET will be one of the teams making through.
Aleksey “NickelBack” Trofimov’s Entropiq is coming to the Europe RMR B knowing that they are one of the favorites to qualify. The squad has been able to dip their feet into the top ten of HLTV’s World Rankings, and NickelBack knows they have the potential to consistently be ranked as such as long as they keep working in themselves. Entropiq are an incredibly resilient team and have some solid firepower with Aleksey “El1an” Gusev and Igor “Forester” Bezotecheskiy leading the charge, so it’s truly up to them to realize all their potential as the year advances.
Future aside, though, Entropiq has more than enough to keep their place in Valve’s circuit at this point. An unlucky draw where they face all the favorites after the first round could stop them in their tracks, but other than that, Entropiq could even be one of the teams qualifying after just four rounds.
Entropiq’s first opponent at the Europe RMR B will be Bad News Eagles. The best team from Kosovo have a small chance against Entropiq, but considering how resilient Entropiq is, and how calm they’re able to keep themselves when the situation turns against them, it’s unlikely to see them being upset here.
Last year, after the Stockholm Major, Copenhagen Flames’ stock were at an all-time high. The squad was rumoured to be acquired by a bigger organization, and Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen’s team was bound to become a Danish powerhouse. However, that failed to concretize. Instead, Flames’ post-Major results stagnated, and the team failed to build upon their Major run. Unsurprisingly then, CPHF returns to the RMR circuit as almost the same team they were before Stockholm: a talented team that hasn’t been able to step up to the major leagues.
Now, while Copenhagen Flames results even against second-tier teams have been mixed, they have some advantages heading to this event. First and foremost, CPHF seems to be very comfortable playing on LAN events. While they haven’t beaten any team in the top of the world rankings, they certainly could put a challenge to let’s say, Astralis.
Also, Fredrik “roeJ” Jørgensen’s team also knows very well plenty of the teams in this event. Sangal, SINNERS and even ENCE have been defeated by CPHF in these past weeks. If they can manage to use their knowledge of these squads to their best, they could even pull some upsets while avoiding getting beaten by underdogs themselves.
Overall, we expect the Flames to go through all five rounds of this qualifier, and while it won’t be easy, they should be one of the three teams rounding up the team list for Antwerp. Their first match will see them facing Sprout, and as favorites in that game, they will have an opportunity to start with some momentum going.
This Thursday, April 21st, the final RMR for the upcoming PGL Major Antwerp will start. At 09:00 AM UTC, G2 will face Anonymo, and Entropiq will see Bad News Eagles. From that point onwards, we will be bound for a series of incredible matches and surprises. But during the second RMR and afterwards, don’t think Counter-Strike is taking any break. Right after it, BLAST will host its Showdown events, and shortly after it’ll be time for the Major.
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