The first Major of the year, PGL Antwerp, is set to start in a couple of days. As 24 teams will enter the server, it is hard to track who the favorites, dark horses, and scrappy underdogs are.
Jaxon will be highlighting the teams to keep an eye on in the days leading up to the Major.
Starting with the favorites to lift the trophy on the 23rd of May.
The trauma of FaZe Clan
Who would have predicted FaZe's meteoric rise to the absolute top of Counter-Strike?
After adding Robin "ropz" Kool in the off-season, they sure seemed like a dangerous roster, but winning both IEM Katowice and the ESL Pro League?
If you'd guessed that, people would have declared you mad.
But look at them now. They're the absolute favorites coming into the PGL Antwerp Major after winning every trophy they could, with or without stand-ins.
FaZe, particularly their in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen, have unfinished business with Majors.
They once before entered the coveted tournament as the team to beat.
But the ELEAGUE Boston Major in 2018 left the team traumatized and ended what was shaping up to be a dominant era.
That one, single round turned meme singlehandedly ended FaZe's superstar project.
Will they deal with the pressure of being destined to win this time around?
Can Natus Vincere bounce back?
Oh, what could have been.
NAVI was set to inscribe their name among the best lineups CS:GO has ever seen. Fresh of a dominant end of 2021, where they didn't drop a single map in the PGL Stockholm Major, this year was going to be theirs.
The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be, true Bret Hart style.
But the CIS era has slowed down quite a bit. Now, there are some forgiving factors, as the current situation in Ukraine had a significant impact on the roster. But the bottom line is: NAVI is no longer the untouchable team they were just a couple of months ago.
This does not mean their hypothetical era is over. Astralis notoriously had periods between Majors where they fell off before miraculously returning to form when they entered a Valve-sponsored event.
But it sure feels like momentum has shifted away from NAVI.
Cloud9 out of nowhere
Image: V4 Future Sports Fest
Cloud9 are the ultimate opportunists. Not the players, but the organization.
Picking up the former Gambit roster for a rumored $1M has to be the move of the century.
Cloud9 picked up a squad that has plenty of future potential, and tapped into a region with plenty of options to make changes to the roster if needed.
Not only that: the commercial growth possible with this team is endless.
Yes, they need help with marketing themselves to a western audience. Improving their English skills should be the first priority. But if Cloud9 successfully do so, they have signed the superstars of tomorrow.
Cloud9 enters the PGL Antwerp Major as one of the favorites, at least according to us. You could argue that they belong under the dark horse's tag for the event, but these guys can beat anyone in the event, and would only be slight underdogs against FaZe Clan and NAVI.
And history has taught us: when FaZe enters a Major as the team to beat, you better keep an eye on C9.