After just over a week, the first Counter-Strike Major in over two years came to an end. The PGL Major Stockholm 2021 finished yesterday after a heated grand-final battle between G2 and Natus Vincere.
While the grand-finals were great, the Major had plenty of interesting events happening over its course. From the collapse of North American teams earlier in the event, to how dominant Eastern European teams were through the whole tournament, there’s plenty to dig in.
So, let’s take the small break we will be having to get back in some of the biggest takeaways from the PGL Major Stockholm! Here’s a warning, though: unmarked spoilers below!
It’s no exaggeration to say that PGL Major Stockholm was the most successful Major event for teams from Eastern Europe. With three squads reaching the playoffs, and an overall solid campaign from all five contenders in the competition, the CIS region representation at the Major is a perfect reflection of how it has been growing and evolving over the past years.
Now, with the Major done, it’s clear that the Eastern European region is on the verge of seeing some key changes. Spirit announced that they will be rebuilding their CSGO roster. Complexity is also reportedly being interested into the region, so it seems that the scene will be receiving even more investment, and more eyes in the following months.
Furthermore, based on the progress of Eastern European teams in these past months, it’s better to get ready to see more and more CIS teams in the upcoming Major and premier events. With Natus Vincere taking home the second Major trophy for the region, and the amount of talent we’re seeing rising, Eastern European Counter-Strike will only get better.
While the CIS region is shining right now, North American Counter-Strike certainly has seen better days. A total of two teams from the region managed to qualify for the event. This happened as Brazilians teams took the bigger half of the spots assigned to the region. Then, in the Major, Evil Geniuses got eliminated without winning a single match, and Team Liquid just won one game before being sent home.
Just like the Major perfectly reflected how well Eastern European teams are doing nowadays, it also reflected how bad North America is doing. With few high tier teams remaining – and arguably one premier squad still representing the region, the results from Evil Geniuses and Liquid weren’t that much of a surprise, but still are disappointing.
It’s clear now that the scene will go through a small, much-needed shuffle in the next weeks. Evil Geniuses has already announced that they have benched three of their players. Liquid hasn’t made anything official yet, but rumors say that some of its players might not be with the team next year.
It’s a shame to see the region that looked so promising just before the online era in this state, but for now, we can only hope for the best. 2017 was one of the worst years for North American Counter-Strike, but 2021 has been somehow worse, unfortunately.
Even before the Major ended, we have already seen some roster moves happening. Complexity and Evil Geniuses benched players. FunPlus Phoenix left CSGO. Astralis signed Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke and might be looking for more. And that’s just some of the confirmed changes. However, if rumors are to be believed, then we have plenty more coming soon enough.
Of course, the rumor that certainly got the most attention out of all is the leak involving Vitality. It’s being said that ex-Astralis players, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Emil “Magisk” Reif, as well as their ex-coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen will be joining Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut in the French organization.
As crazy as this move might sound, CSGO fans know that there might be even crazier moves in the works. With offline events returning in the coming months, and hopefully becoming the standard in 2022, it’s to be expected that some organizations will make some bets as they plan their rosters for the upcoming season.
While we could be talking about potential roster moves all day long, it’s better to end this section here. For now, let’s just say that roster moves are coming – and there should be plenty of them.
In Na’Vi road to the trophy, they faced two teams. These two squads, G2 and Vitality, somehow remembered many of the old Natus Vincere.
If are aware of Na’Vi and Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev history, you know how much the legendary player carried Na’Vi in these past years. S1mple could be the best player in the server, but there was always a better team when it mattered the most.
However, for s1mple, this frustrating cycle has come to an end this year as Na’Vi finally got all pieces of their puzzle. For the two other teams mentioned above, though, they have just went through the same thing he did for the best part of his career with Na’Vi.
Vitality and G2 have incredible stars in their ranks. Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač spearheaded both squads in the Major, and they certainly could be lifting the trophy if not by Na’Vi. Ultimately, CSGO is a team game, and as skilled as NiKo and ZywOo, they alone can’t face a complete team such as this Natus Vincere iteration.
It won’t be surprising to hear that these three squads will be trying to overhaul their rosters in the coming months. As mentioned above, Vitality is rumored bring the Danish trio to overhaul their CSGO team. We still have to see any reliable source comment on possible moves for G2, though. Still, it’s clear that the squad might be looking at replacements for the French duo of François “AmaNEk” Delaunay and Audric “JaCkz” Jug after an underwhelming showing from both in Stockholm.
Still, G2 and Vitality, especially the former, can be proud of their performance in Stockholm. Congratulations to both, as they put one hell of a fight from their first round in the Major up to their last round against Natus Vincere.
One of the greatest stories coming from Stockholm certainly is the rise of Copenhagen Flames. The Danish team that featuring a full squad of players who had never played in a Major got plenty of attention in these past weeks, and for a good reason.
Copenhagen Flames kicked off their journey in Stockholm from the event’s opening stage. There, they advanced undefeated and even defeated the other two Danish teams in the event. CPHF kicked off the second stage of the tournament well, and was close to advancing after defeating FaZe Clan. Unfortunately, the squad couldn’t defeat their next two opponents, Heroic and NiP.
Still, Copenhagen Flames proved themselves as true contenders. They might not be winning the most prestigious events anytime soon, but they are a quality roster that has plenty of room to develop. Hopefully the CPHF roster doesn’t get separated in these coming months, and we get to see the full potential of this squad.
Astralis, Evil Geniuses and Team Spirit. These three teams have already confirmed to be doing roster changes. So, unfortunately, the PGL Major Stockholm was the last time we saw their previous rosters together.
For Astralis fans, it’s definitely even more heartbreaking. With dupreeh and Magisk leaving, only two members of the legendary three-Major streak are left in the team. This doesn’t mean that other teams’ fans have it better. Evil Geniuses saw its captain, Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, leaving, and Spirit also dropped one of its best players, Nikolay “mir” Bityukov.
And these are just the confirmed roster moves. As we mentioned above, Liquid and Vitality are two other teams that could be seeing roster moves soon according to rumors. Then we have teams like MOUZ, which should be looking at roster moves. At this point, it’s clear that the PGL Major Stockholm was the last event for a number of rosters.
The two semifinalists, Gambit and Heroic, failed to fullfil their dreams of winning the Major. However, they can be very proud of their performances in Stockholm. Both teams came to the event with a lot to prove as they were often called by some as ‘onliners’ as they struggled to convert their online form into the few offline events we had this year. Moreover, for Heroic, they are just heading out from that whole controversy regarding them and HUNDER. More on that here.
Now, with the Major over, both Gambit and Heroic have cleared a lot of doubts surrounding them. Most importantly, they have also proved that they are real contenders, be it online or offline. They might haven’t won big in Stockholm, but they can be proud of what they achieved there – it’s no small feat at all.
The past year have been quite harsh on Counter-Strike, and on esports in general. With tournament moving to an online format, the hype brought by crowds were nowhere to be seen. Of course, we still had incredible matches and rivalries growing in these past months, but overall, the feeling wasn’t the same.
For CSGO fans, IEM Cologne 2021 was a breath of new air as the event was played entirely in an offline format. However, it still missed a crowd. After all, there’s nothing better than hearing – or being part – of the fans rooting for their favorite teams close to them. Fortunately, the PGL Major Stockholm was the first event with a live crowd since the start of the online era – and it was a different experience. To make it better, fans can look towards even more events with live crowds going forward. In just a few weeks we will be having the BLAST Fall Finals, which is set to be played in Copenhagen.
In another not-so-unrelated note, the PGL Major Stockholm made history this past few days. The event broke the previous viewership record and CSGO hit over 2 million viewers on Twitch alone this Sunday. Counter-Strike is alive, and well.
Natus Vincere won PGL Major Stockholm 2021. It’s fair to say that the squad absolute deserved it, especially considering how much they fought these past months.
Now, if there were any doubts remaining, these have been cleared. Natus Vincere is the best CSGO team in the world right now, and they look mighty. Without dropping a single map, Natus Vincere made story and won the biggest Valve-sponsored event CSGO ever had. Fittingly enough, s1mple also left Stockholm with the trophy and an MVP medal.
The future is looking incredibly bright for Na’Vi. S1mple finally got his Major and keeps looking unstoppable. Denis “electronic” Sharipov is the reliable rifler every other team looks for. Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi at times even rivaled s1mple in the server as far as individual performance goes. Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy has been the essential anchor Na’Vi needs to support their stars. Finally, Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov proved his leadership skills in the most crucial moments – and he also got engaged at the end of the event!
Congratulations, Natus Vincere!
The PGL Major Stockholm 2021 is now over. This doesn’t mean that CSGO will be taking a break, though! In just two days, DreamHack will be live with another event. Then, in a few weeks after, CSGO will be heading to Denmark for another event featuring live crowd.
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