The second CS: GO Valve-sponsored Major, PGL Major Kraków, is set to start on Sunday. The even will take place at the TAURON Arena Kraków. The Group Stage will follow a five round Swiss system to trim the 16 teams which were successful in getting a spot in the tournament, to eight teams. The Top ū will feature a single elimination best of 3 format. In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know to have a clue what’s happening in the tournament.
The reigning Major champions, a title they achieved by winning ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017, Astralis is one of the five best teams in the world. They are no longer considered to be the best, however, in big part due to the rise or rebirth of teams like SK Gaming, G2 Esports and FaZe Clan. With that said, they haven’t been shitting the bed at all, unlike some other Legends teams from the ELEAGUE Major.
While Astralis isn’t the biggest favorite to win their second Valve Major in a row, repeating SK Gaming’s impressive feat, they still remain in the conversation about the teams likely to win in Kraków. Their most recent tournament finish, the 3-4th place at Esports Championship Series Season 3 Finals, reinforces their position as one of the top teams, just not the best.
After their 2nd place finish at the ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017 event, Virtus.pro more or less disappeared. Their return was eagerly awaited before ESL One Cologne 2017 started, but the Polish superstars disappointed heavily, being one of the first two teams to get dropped out of the Swiss Group Stage with three losses after losing vs. Immortals, SK Gaming and Heroic. While losing against the Brazilian teams is nothing to be too ashamed about, the upset doled out to them by Heroic was shocking to say the least. Unless their bootcamp was extraordinally successful, it‘s hard to imagine Virtus.pro getting the top title in Kraków, despite their l,ong history of excellence in CS: GO.
In the Spring and Summer of 2016, SK Gaming (known as Luminosity Gaming for the first half of that period) was widely acknowledged to be the best CS: GO team in the world. Then, they started having problems with one of their players, Lincoln “fnx” Lau. After replacing him with Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, it took SK Gaming some time to gel properly, but they did it. And once they did, results followed.
Currently, SK Gaming is once again the hottest team in CS: GO after winning bot the Esports Championship Series Season 3 Finals and ESL One Cologne 2017. They have now won the tournament for two years in a row (ESL One Cologne 2016 was the second Valve Major of the year). Even if they don’t win the Kraków Major, their legacy as one of thhe best CS: GO teams to ever enter the server will still be secure. They are one of the likely favorites of the tournament, especially when you keep in mind their superb form in recent times.
If the Fnatic team didn‘t have a Legend spot in the PGL Major Kraków, it‘s hard to tell whether they would have actually suceeded in qualifying for the tournament. Nobody is doubting the extremely rich history of dominating performances by this legendary CS: GO roster, however, after getting back together following the ELEAGUE Major Atlanta, they never really found their stride. With that said, their second place finish at DreamHack Summer 2017 should give some hope to the hardcore Fnatic fans.
When Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev joined the team following ESL One Cologne 2016, the fans of the best CIS team in the region were looking forwards to Na’Vi’s return to kicking asses and taking names they were used to in the past. Unfortunately, tournament policy changes which forbid coaches from acting as in-game leaders hit the team very hard to the importance of their coach, Sergey “starix” Ischuk. The problem was that s1mple replaced the only player who’d have been able to comfortably fit in the IGL role on the team, Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko.
Due to these reasons and expected growing pains that have to be gone through when a star of s1mple’s caliber joins an already established team set in its ways, Na’Vi fell below expectations. They have been going up in recent times, however. Their Semifinals finish in ESL One Cologne 2017 is proof enough of that. Hopefully, Na’Vi has finally managed to figure its shit out, just before one of the most important tournaments of the year—PGL Major Kraków.
Despite not being looked upon as favorites in any big events, Gambit has been slowly trudging along, getting upsets there and there. While it won‘t be a favorite any time soon, they still have the ability to upset some very good teams.
In the late parts of 2016, North (then known as Team Dignitas) was hyped as one of the best teams in the world. Since then, it has fallen from grace quite a lot. While it can‘t be discounted and could definitely at least make the Top 8, North‘s recent results are nothing to write home about, really, at least compared to what has been routinely expected of them. If they don‘t find their groove at PGL Major Kraków, there‘s a chance that the people who run the organization will finally make the choice to switch things up, because as it stands now, North doesn‘t appear to be performing.
While FaZe Clan with Nikola “NiKo” Kovač hasn’t been WINNING tournaments, they are often seen in the Top 4, which is definitely a respectable achievement. With some luck and gre3at performances by their skilled roster, they could possibly even challenge teams like SK Gaming, Astralis and G2 Esports for the title of PGL Major Kraków 2017 Champion.
After The Third French Shuffle, G2 Esports became the team to have two of the biggest CS: GO stars in France, Richard “shox” Papillon and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub join forces. Obviously, when two people used to having to carry the game have to share the spotlight, some growing pains are expected. That is precisely what seems to be happening to G2 Esports. Their performance is streaky and unstable, but at their best, they could be truly terrifying. Will they be? That’s what we will have to see once the PGL Major Kraków starts on Sunday.
For a while now, Cloud9 has been actually rising from the pit memefully known as NA CS: GO. The Semifinals finish at ECS Season 3 Finals and ESL One Cologne 2017 2nd place shot them up in the rankings. They are still unlikely to win the actual Major title, but they can definitely fight with the best of them. Public Service Announcement to all PGL Major Kraków teams: underestimate Cloud9 at your own peril.
When NiKo got bought out by FaZe Clan, we expected mousesports to disappear from the Top 20 list of the best CS: GO teams in the world. That‘s not what happened. In fact, mousesports replaced their former star with Robin “ropz“ Kool and started going to work a little bit, even managing to easily qualify for the PGL Major Kraków with three easy victories. Despite that, there are many better teams in the second Valve Major of the year. They are extremely unlikely to win or even make the Top 4. The Top 8, however, isn‘t outside the realm of possibility.
The second Brazilian team. That‘s what Immortals is. They are constantly in SK Gaming‘s shadow. That doesn‘t mean that Immortals is not a good CS: GO team, however. Despite that, the hard truth is that they are not good enough to go very deep in a tournament of Valve Major‘s caliber. They probably won‘t be the first to get kicked out, might even make the Top 8 if their form turns out to be very good, but it‘s hard to imagine them going any farther than that.
For a while now, following their bad performance at the ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017, FlipSid3 Tactics disappeared from the highest level of play, before coming back in the PGL Major Kraków Qualifiers and actually overcoming Team Liquid to gain a spot in the tournament. They mide have made it there, but they don‘t have the roster depth to go big.
BIG, PENTA Sports, Vega Squadron
These three teams might have qualified for the PGL Major Kraków in front of some other, much more well-known teams, but they aren‘t likely to go deep at all, not with so many vastly better teams playing for keeps in the most prestigious CS: GO event of the year. It would be a great story if BIG, PENTA Sports or Vega Squadron shocked everyone and went unexpectedly deep, but we doubt that it‘s likely to happen.
The schedule for Round 1 of Swiss
With all of the teams looked at, it‘s now time to look which matchups are set to take place in Round 1 of the Swiss Group Stage.
The first match to be played in the PGL Major Kraków is Gambit vs. Mousesports. After that, Fnatic will face FlipSid3 Tactics, Virtus.pro will play Vega Squadron and SK Gaming will fight PENTA Sports. The even will continue with FaZe Clan vs. BIG, North vs. Cloud9, Na‘Vi against G2 Esports and Astralis vs. Immortals.