April 25, 2022
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This past Sunday, Counter-Strike fans watched the final match of the Regional Major Ranking circuit leading to the PGL Major Antwerp. With the RMR circuit over, we now have a complete list of teams attending the upcoming Valve-sponsored event, and in that list, there are various surprises.

Of course, some of these are not so positive. Seeing the list missing the likes of FNATIC or MOUZ will always be disappointing for fans of these organization. Yet, just like as always, there is also plenty of uplifting stories there. From teams from countries that never attended a Major to simply positive storylines, there is a lot to cheer on in Global Offensive’s competitive scene.

Now, every team that qualified for Antwerp is happy with their result – or at least content – but some more than others. For that reason, we decided to make a recap about some of these stories. Below you will find our list including some of these great stories that will be incredibly entertaining to follow in the coming weeks.

¡Los Pibes!

Counter-Strike roots in South America go deep. While Brazil has been the most prominent country of the continent when it comes to it, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay also had their stars over the original Counter-Strike years. With players like Jonathan “JonY BoY” Muñoz playing since 2008, and Matias “MatiFrag Feloy in the alumni, the rest of Latin America also has some history in Valve’s first-person-shooter.

However, it’s undeniable that when Global Offensive rose to popularity, these countries failed to follow their Brazilian colleagues. In these past few years, we saw some solid performances from time-to-time coming from teams like Isurus, but never enough to push team to become a consistent, top thirty team in the world rankings. There has always been some potential coming from the region, but something always held them back.

It seems that the newer generation of players are changing this trend, though, and 9z just achieved a major milestone for the history of the continent. The squad led by Maximiliano “max” Gonzalez became the first Spanish-speaking team from Latin America to qualify for a CSGO Major. They had to give everything they had to get to this point, but after defeating Evil Geniuses, they proved that this roster is the one.

The individual storylines that make up 9z

9z’ players made history by becoming the first in their respective countries to play in Global Offensive Major. Yet, there’s more to their story than just that. Luca “Luken” Nadotti was an inactive player since late 2020 before 9z brought him in early this year, for one. The 25-year-old Argentinian was far from the spotlights before coming to 9z, and his storyline alone is worth cheering for.

More than that, max’ story is also a very interesting one. The squad in-game leader has been playing since 2016, and he has been grinding with 9z since 2020. Since then, he attended over 30 events with the organization, but never managed to truly bring the spotlights to his team until now. Yet, he never gave up, and here he is, right now.

Finally, Franco “dgt” Garcia also deserves a shout out. The Uruguayan rifler has been playing since 2017, and he has been dominating South America for some time now. With incredible performances at events such as FIReLEAGUE 2021 and BLAST Rising LA, it was a matter of time before he stepped up to the spotlights. Admittedly, we saw a glimpse of what dgt could do back in February when 9z attended the ESL Challenger #47, but it was at the RMR he really shined.

Now, with all these storylines, it’s no surprise to learn that the community from Argentina and Uruguay are backing them up. In Argentina, for example, the Obelisco monument in Buenos Aires was illuminated with 9z’ colours at the day of their qualification. Impressive, right?

Good News Eagles

2021 was a good year for fans of Kosovan Counter-Strike. Back then, Team BLINK was rising through the world rankings, and things were positive for Dionis “sinnopsyy” Budeci team. BLINK kept going up in the ranks as they surprised favorites in tournaments such as Pinnacle Fall Series 3, where they defeated Copenhagen Flames and K23.

Earlier in 2022, though, the team went separated ways from their organization. Since February, Flatron “juanflatroo” Halimi band took the Bad News Eagle name, and they’ve been playing without the backing from an organization for months now. Still, BNE never gave up. They might’ve felt through the ranks, but the potential never faded away, and much like every other team in this list, accomplished their biggest feat as a team this past week.

Soaring High

The Eagles had a difficult opening game in the second European RMR this past week. BNE faced Entropiq, and they had a rough start in their match. After finishing the first-half of their best-of-one at the losing side of the score line, BNE bounced back with a strong CT-side, and took the match to overtime. It was a disputed OT, but the Eagles brought it home.

Unfortunately, BNE next couple of games would have them facing the event’s favorites. G2 and NiP both were too much for Dionis’ roster, and they ended up on the verge of elimination. Still, they kept their hopes up, and got a much important victory against ASG in the fourth round of the RMR. At the end of that match, Bad News Eagles would head to one last match, which saw them facing SINNERS.

In equal footing with SINNERS, the Eagles got surprised by the Czech powerhouse who stole their map pick. While the odds were against the Kosovan team, they managed to steal Nuke back from SINNERS, and took the series to a third map, Inferno. It was a hard-fought match, and SINNERS didn’t let BNE catch a break at any time. Yet, thanks to strong team performance from BNE, they outlasted SINNERS, and took the map with a 16 – 14 score line. With that win, BNE booked their spots in Antwerp.

For BNE, this result couldn’t have come at a better time. First and foremost, it will certainly attract some attention from organizations looking for a Counter-Strike roster. Then, BNE has been seeing some mixed results, and who knows what missing this Major could’ve caused to this team. Qualifying certainly gives them a morale boost and will help them with their confidence. Congratulation, Bad News Eagles!

Keep it complex

North American Counter-Strike still is in a rough place right now. Besides Team Liquid, the region doesn’t have a contender able to battle against most European teams, and with Evil Geniuses failing to achieve every milestone they set, it’s going to be a while until another challenger from North America rises. Yet, the second-best team from the region, Complexity, is slowly improving, and making to the PGL Major Antwerp is a statement to that.

It’s important to remember that Johnny “JT” Theodosiou’s roster hasn’t shined as some expected them to. Just before the RMR, Complexity bombed out of ESL Pro League Season XV, with certainly raised doubts about them. Now, with Brazilian Counter-Strike looking more dangerous than ever, they weren’t going to have an easy time in the Americas RMR.

Yet, Complexity ended up proving themselves against Brazilian opposition. The team faced Team oNe and Marcelo “coldzera” David’s 00 Nation in their first two games, and both couldn’t hold a candle to Complexity thanks to Ricky “floppy” Kemery impressive form. On their third match, though, FURIA would avenge their Brazilian comrades and demolished coL, which would have to play in Round 4 as they were one match away from qualification.

In the fourth round of the Americas RMR, Complexity faced São Caetano, and absolutely crushed the Brazilians as JT’s squad only dropped ten rounds in their best-of-three series. With that win, Complexity qualified for the Major, and after missing last year’s Stockholm Major, the organization certainly must be happy to be back at Valve’s circuit.

True geniuses

Back at the start of the year when Complexity, Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid had just announced their new rosters, many though that Complexity would be behind the other two. Yet, while they aren’t on Liquid’s level yet, they ended up being a far better team than Evil Geniuses, and compared to Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip team, Complexity feels like a cohesive team with plenty of room for development.

Now, I’m not expecting Complexity to achieve much in the Major itself but just qualifying for it is already a positive mark in this team’s journey. This team still have issues such as Paytyn “junior” Johnson’s form and consistency, but coL seems to be determined to make this roster work. It’s a good sign, and as JT heads into the Major, it will give him and the rest of the team some piece of mind as they won’t be pressured as other teams will.

Nonetheless, congratulations Complexity! It’s definitely going to be interesting to see them facing their hardest challenge yet.

The fire goes on

When Eternal Fire was formed, the team wasn’t very well-received internationally. For one, Counter-Strike already had saw a Turkish powerhouse earlier with Space Soldiers, and making this new team costed BIG one of their players, İsmailсan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş. Originally, some had feared that this would end as a waste of time and potential of the players involved.

Yet, Eternal Fire kept fighting. The Turkish team went through roster changes, role changes, various defeats and certainly a lot of uncertainty. However, their resilience paid off. The Turks only qualified for the European RMR at the last open qualifier, when thanks to incredible performances from XANTARES, Buğra “Calyx” Arkın and Yasin “xfl0ud” Koç pushed them through the finish line in their game against Anonymo.

Of course, winning that match against the Poles from Anonymo was just part of the effort. The real challenge came this week, when Eternal Fire played at the most disputed RMR tournament. With teams like FaZe Clan, Heroic, Natus Vincere, MOUZ, OG, Vitality and others, Eternal Fire had an uphill battle ahead of them.

With their backs against the wall

Eternal Fire first match saw them facing the best team in the world, FaZe. Unfortunately for the Turks, Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s team was just too much for them. After being demolished in their opening match, Eternal Fire’s run had just became a tad more difficult. Next, they’d face Dignitas in what would be the most controversial match of the tournament.

XANTARES’ and company went to their second match, and that was a fierce best-of-one with Dignitas. Unfortunately, that match was plagued by a bug, and one round had to be restarted. While there’s an entire discussion on the case, at the end of the day all that matters now is that the round was replayed. And won by EF, just like the overall series.

The Turkish super team wouldn’t get a break, though. Next, they’d have to face Vitality. While the French team isn’t on their best form, they still are one of the best teams in the world. Unfortunately, Eternal Fire couldn’t keep up with Vitality’s strong CT-side and ended up losing that best-of-one. With that loss, Eternal Fire was on the brink of elimination, and their next opponent, FNATIC, were the favorites against them.

Yet, Eternal Fire survived FNATIC, and even gave a lesson in their CT-side in Overpass. But one upset wouldn’t be enough, and EF was set to face another favorite in their final series of the event: OG. It was a very disputed match, and it went through all thirty rounds in regulation in the two maps played. Yet, OG was sent home, and EF next destination is Antwerp.

After upsetting both FNATIC and OG, Eternal Fire carried out their biggest feat yet. Özgür “woxic” Eker has a lot to work on from now until the Major, but for now, they deserve to commemorate.

The Mongolians are coming

Counter-Strike has seen a few Mongolian teams rising through the ranks over the years. While their accomplishments were mostly limited to the Asia and Oceania regions, they still managed to surprise and break the status quo teams like Renegades, TyLoo and ViCi Gaming had established. For example, The Mongolz won IEM Taipei back in 2016, and broken through the HLTV World Rankings in early 2017.

Despite these glimpses of brilliances from Mongolia, we never had a team from the country able to consistently challenge other Asian teams. In the past, Mongolian squads barely managed to qualify for the now extinct Minors and qualifying for a Major seemed to be out of reach for the Mongolian community. Then the pandemic came around, and with it the investment in the region dropped, making the hopes of a Mongolian team coming up and surprising even less likely.

Yet, IHC surprised this year. The organization which entered Counter-Strike back in March with the Checkmate roster led by Byambasuren “bLitz” Garidmagnai went to the PGL Major Antwerp: Asia-Pacific RMR with hopes to break the Renegades-TyLoo duopoly. To do that, IHC, then playing for Checkmate, had to survive through the only open-qualifier for their region, and not even Rare Atom was able to stop them.

Playing favorites

IHC, as good as they were looking before the RMR, surprised at the actual event. The Mongolian squad had to face TyLoo right off the bat, and the Chinese powerhouse gave IHC a challenge. Yet, Tengis “sk0R” Batjargal gave them a run for their money, and at the end of the match, it was the Mongolians leaving the server with a win.

Next, it was Renegades. Now, if TyLoo was difficult, the Australians were going to be even harder to play against. Yet, it seems that IHC was completely comfortable playing in LAN while the same could be said for RNG. The Mongolians beat Renegades in their map pick, and then demolish Renegades in the Australian’s map pick. With that win, IHC qualified for the Major and made history for their region much like 9z.

More than just qualified, hopefully IHC reignited the flames in Mongolia, and we will see more investment coming into the region in the coming months. Enkhtaivan “Machinegun” Lkhagva’s The Mongolz just returned to activity earlier this year, and hopefully more talents from the country comes to light.

Moreover, IHC performance at the Asia-Pacific RMR is nothing short of impressive. This roster played very well in LAN, and this has given fans hopes for their run at the Major. While teams from these regions usually can’t survive the first stage of the event, maybe bLitz squad will be the one to go one step above the usual.

The Imperial Force

Much like Eternal Fire, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s Imperial received some harsh criticism from the international Counter-Strike community when it was first unveiled. Bringing the young Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo in a team of veterans, including Lincoln “fnx” Lau, simply wasn’t well seen by many. Yet, after a couple of months in, this Imperial project seems to be delivering decent results, and they are ready to surprise the world in Antwerp.

We can’t say Imperial had a rough time qualifying either. FalleN and company managed to quickly guarantee their spot at the Americas RMR from the first open qualifier in the region. In the RMRs, Imperial kept impressing, with Fernando “fer” Alvarenga and Ricardo “boltz” Prass leading the charge as they faced São Caetano and Case Esports in their two first matches.

With one win left to qualify Imperial faced MiBR. FalleN’s team won the first map of their series, but Imperial did not keep up with Jhonatan “JOTA” Willian and Marcelo “chelo” Cespedes in the following maps. Imperial lost Vertigo thanks to an abysmal T-side and Nuke after a disappoint showing in the CT-side.

After Imperial’s first defeat, they headed to round four where they played against Party Astronaut. Ben “ben1337” Smith roster started well, and beat Imperial on their own map pick, Nuke. However, FalleN and VINI both stepped up their game on Imperial’s map, and the Brazilians took the series to its decider map, which would see boltz and fer leading the charge. Thanks to a competent CT-side in Inferno, Imperial had the advantage in the last-half of their series and managed to take down the Astronauts.

One tournament at time

Imperial is living one day at time, and while they have yet to play against a premier tier, they are showing plenty of improvements over the last months. There still is a lot of work to do, especially on their map pool. Yet, qualifying for the PGL Major Antwerp proves that this roster is developing well, and their most recent results prove that this they aren’t a fluke. Imperial just qualified for IEM Dallas 2022 over 9z and MiBR, the former which had defeated them earlier in the qualifier and the latter who bought them down at the Americas RMR.

Now, Imperial might not become a premier team, but they are entertaining to watch, and they got results! They certainly will be bringing some heat for Antwerp in May, and who knows how deep they can go.

The Road to Antwerp has come to an end

With the final RMR over, the PGL Major Antwerp has ended its qualification circuit. From this point onward, teams will be preparing and finishing off the events in their schedules before the Major in mid-May. However, Counter-Strike won’t stop and in a matter of days, BLAST will host the Spring Showdown events. So, there’s plenty to watch out for, and in order to keep up with everything, make sure to follow us here!

@mjunior