PGL Major Challengers - Preview (Early Games)
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PGL Major Challengers - Preview (Early Games)

Finally, it is major time! We break down the format and the four early opening matches in the Challengers Stage

Valle
Freelance Esports Writer
26th Oct, 21·☕️ 7 min read
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Man, it is has been a while, but it is finally time for a major again. This time, the event will take place in Stockholm, Sweden with PGL as the organizer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the major events, here is a quick rundown of how things will play out.

The major is divided into three parts, the Challengers Stage, The Legends Stage and finally, the Champions Stage.

Things will kick off with the Challengers Stage today, where sixteen teams will fight it out, hoping to grab a spot at the New Legend’s Stage on Saturday. The Legends Stage will determine the eight teams that will make it to the Avicii Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

The field is very competitive, with the likes of Heroic, Astralis and FaZe among the contestants at this Challengers Stage. Australia and New Zealand are also represented here, as Renegades will hope to make it through.

Let’s have a quick look at the format.

Format

The sixteen teams will fight it out in a swiss style bracket, which has been the most commonly used format in majors over the past few years. As is often the case with swiss, the matches will be played in best-of-one format. But there is a caveat. The elimination and advancement matches will be best-of-three, which will make it more difficult for big underdogs to make it through.

The teams will be seeded based on their performance after round three, and once the group stage has concluded, the top eight teams will advance to the Legends Stage.

Here are the teams taking part in the Challengers Stage

  • 🇦🇺 Renegades
  • 🇧🇷 Sharks
  • 🇨🇳 TYLOO
  • 🇧🇷 GODSENT
  • 🇷🇺 Virtus.pro
  • 🇷🇺 Entropiq
  • 🇷🇺 Spirit
  • 🇪🇺 FaZe
  • 🇩🇰 Copenhagen Flames
  • 🇧🇷 paiN
  • 🇪🇺 mouz
  • 🇩🇰 Heroic
  • 🇪🇸 Movistar Riders
  • 🇩🇪 BIG
  • 🇪🇺 ENCE
  • 🇩🇰 Astralis

The event kicks of today at 18:00 AEST.


Opening Matches

Astralis (1.45) vs. Copenhagen Flames (2.52)

H2H: N/A | Map Veto Prediction: Overpass

Copenhagen Flames have been looking real hot, no pun intended, over the past couple of months. They truly impressed in the BO1s at IEM Fall, blitzing through a tough group with wins against G2, FPX, mouz, BIG and AURA. They later fell to Movistar Riders and Vitality in BO3s before beating Fiend to secure their spot at the major.

Astralis are back with gla1ve at the helm and are coming in as the favourite in this matchup against Copenhagen Flames. They also had a flawless group stage run at IEM Fall, with wins against Heroic, coL, Movistar Riders, Sinners and Endpoint. They later fell to Vitality and ENCE, but their spot in the Challengers Stage was already secured at that point.

I would say that Copenhagen Flames have a slight edge in the map veto here against Astralis. I would expect them to ban Dust2, Inferno and Nuke and thus taking away Astralis strongest maps. With the assumption that Astralis goes for their usual Mirage perma-ban, that leaves Vertigo, Ancient and Overpass as potential maps. All decent maps for Copenhagen Flames.

I like Copenhagen Flames here as the underdog in a BO1. They have shown that they are killers in BO1s even at LAN at IEM Fall and their map pool shapes up well for them here despite going up against a very strong and experienced Astralis side. Both the ML and the Round Handicap lines are appealing options.

Prediction: Copenhagen Flames

Spirit (2.23) vs. FaZe (1.57)

H2H: Spirit (2 Wins) FaZe (1 Win) | Map Veto Prediction: Mirage

This is an interesting matchup that could easily turn scrappy real fast. Two very inconsistent sides packed with individual skill.

FaZe are coming in as the favourite and I would agree with that assessment. They have plenty of LAN experience and this is their element. I would also say that they have the edge in the map veto here against Spirit.

Both sides do not play Vertigo, so in this scenario it becomes a bit of a game of chicken. Do you leave it open and hope that your opponent has not prepped for Vertigo, or do you ban it and give your opponent a bit of an edge in the veto process?

Regardless, I think we can expect to end up on either Mirage, Dust2 or Inferno and two of these favour FaZe with both Mirage and Inferno being strong maps for them.

karrigan lives for this type of stuff so I expect him to come well prepared for this veto process and as such, I favour them to take this one. With that said, Spirit are no joke in terms of fire power and if they get going they are very dangerous in a BO1.

Prediction: FaZe

GODSENT (2.75) vs. ENCE (1.39)

H2H: N/A | Map Veto Prediction: Mirage

ENCE are coming in as a rather sizeable favourite in this matchup against the Brazilians from GODSENT.

Outside of felps and TACO, GODSENT have very little experience outside of the Americas. They will find it difficult to deal with this an ENCE that has been on a bit of an uptick recently. Snappi has done a good job with his team and they have put up excellent results against some fier competition recently.

The map veto is difficult to predict for this one, but I suspect we will end up on either Mirage or Nuke in the end unless GODSENT will leave Ancient open. In a recent BO1 against FURIA, GODSENT had no interest in playing Nuke so I would be a bit surprised to see them play Nuke here against Snappi’s ENCE team. Regardless, ENCE would be favourites on either of the two maps.

GODSENT’s only notable win on Mirage came against Copenhagen Flames back in March, other than that they have mostly lost against better opposition. Meanwhile, ENCE have looked good on Mirage and it is their best map in terms of overall win rate.

Anything can happen in a BO1, but I like ENCE’s chances as the favourite. They have a bit of an edge in the veto and have been on an upwards trend recently.

Prediction: ENCE

paiN (3.35) vs. Virtus.pro (1.27)

H2H: N/A | Map Veto Prediction: Inferno

Virtus.pro have bolstered their roster further with the addition of FL1T and they are a big favourite here against the Brazilians from paiN.

Normally, you would give the underdog a decent chance at an upset in a BO1, but the veto looks rough here for paiN. Unless they have something prepared for Mirage, I see us ending up on either Dust2 or Inferno most of the time and Virtus.pro will be heavily favoured on either of the two.

Some might argue that VP might need some time to gel with FL1T, but I think he will have no issues performing considering that we are likely to end up on Dust2, Inferno or Mirage, which was his former team’s most played maps.

We saw paiN steal a map (Nuke) from Liquid recently and they came close to beating OG on Ancient, but neither of these maps are likely going to be played in this BO1.

While a BO1 is always scary, I see VP taking this game pretty easily due to a sizeable advantage in terms of map pool, experience and raw fire power.

Prediction: Virtus.pro


That’s it for this preview, but we will also take a look at the late games expected to start at 20:30 AEST. Stay tuned for that one :)

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