PGL Stockholm Challengers Stage recap
November 5 2021
Here is a recap of the biggest storylines from the PGL Major Stockholm Challengers Stage.
PGL Major Stockholm 2021 began last week with the Challengers Stage. The first offline event since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off with 16 teams fighting to advance to the Legends Stage. Squads qualified based on their regional Major Rankings and played in a Swiss tournament system where they needed three victories to advance. Early matches were best-of-one while all advancement and elimination matches were best-of-three. Here is a recap of the biggest storylines from the PGL Major Stockholm Challengers Stage.
Astralis - Denmark
ENCE - Finland
BIG - Germany
Movistar Riders - Spain
Heroic - Denmark
MOUZ - Germany
Copenhagen Flames - Denmark
FaZe Clan - USA
Team Spirit - Russia
Entropiq - Czech Republic
Virtus.pro - Russia
paiN Gaming - Brazil
GODSENT - Sweden/Brazil
Sharks Esports - Portugal/Brazil
Renegades - Australia
TYLOO - China
FaZe Clan dominate from the bottom of the rankings
American esports organization FaZe Clan has made waves over the past several years in numerous games. Fielding a roster of mostly European players and one Canadian legend, they are quickly becoming one of the world’s top Counter-Strike teams. However, FaZe entered PGL Stockholm as the last squad to qualify from the European region. They competed as one of the lower seeds in the Challengers Stage.
FaZe did not let their low seeding deter them in their quest for glory. In the first round, they defeated Team Spirit 16-11 on Overpass. Helvijs “broky” Saukants (21-15 KD) and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken (22-17 KD) led the way against one of Russia’s best teams. Later that day the squad overcame ENCE 16-12 on Dust II. Team captain Finn “karrigan” Anderson showed out with a 28-18 KD to help FaZe reach 2-0 in the Challengers Stage.
The next day FaZe squared off against another Russian giant, Virtus.pro. Both teams entered the match 2-0 looking to punch their ticket into the Legends Stage. An advancement game, the match was best-of-three. FaZe edged out a narrow victory on Mirage to take the first map, which was VP’s pick. They then soundly won the second map 16-6 on Ancient. Twistzz (48-30 KD) and broky (37-25 KD) had a great match once again, along with elite rifler Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer (34-25 KD).
With the win over Virtus.pro, FaZe Clan advanced to the Legends Stage with a perfect 3-0 record.
Copenhagen Flames make an unexpected run
Much like FaZe Clan, Copenhagen Flames entered PGL Stockholm as one of the lowest-seeded teams in the Challengers Stage. The Danish squad was 10th in the European Major Rankings and was a team few expected to win three matches at the event. Copenhagen Flames shattered everyone’s perception of them by going 3-0, including a pair of historic upsets.
Copenhagen Flames kicked off the tournament by facing a familiar Danish foe. Astralis is often considered the most successful team in CS: GO history, and entered PGL Stockholm as a favorite to win the entire event. Many thought that Astralis would roll over their fellow countrymen, but it was quite the opposite. Copenhagen Flames pulled off a convincing upset 16-6 on Overpass thanks to impressive performances from Fredrik “roeJ” Jorgensen (24-13 KD) and Nico “nicoodoz” Tamjidi (21-10 KD).
The team followed up that victory by defeating German powerhouse BIG 16-11 on Nuke. Finishing the first day 2-0, Copenhagen Flames matched up against another Danish juggernaut to start the third round. Heroic also entered the day at 2-0 as both teams looked to advance to the Legends Stage. Copenhagen Flames took a deciding 16-7 victory on Vertigo to win the first map. Heroic answered 16-11 on Nuke to tie things up. Led again by roeJ (58-46 KD) and nicoodoz (55-45 KD) with help from Rasmus “Zyphon” Nordfoss (57-48 KD), Copenhagen Flames took the final map 16-12 on Overpass.
The team many believed to be an afterthought completed their second upset of the Challengers Stage. They advanced to the Legends Stage with a perfect record, including two of the tournament’s most impressive wins.
Entropiq pull off a pair of upsets
Copenhagen Flames weren’t the only team to upset a pair of Danish giants. Hailing from the Czech Republic with a mostly Russian roster, Entropiq qualified as the fourth team from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region. They faced early adversity after dropping their first-round match to BIG 16-13 on Nuke. Fans of Entropiq began fearing an 0-2 start to PGL Stockholm when they were matched up with Astralis in the second round.
Entropiq were not intimidated by a hungry Astralis team. In near-identical fashion to Copenhagen Flames, they routed the Danes 16-6 on Dust II. Aleksey “El1an” Gusev (20-10 KD) and Viktor “Lack1” Boldyrev carried the load against CS: GO’s most prestigious squad. At 1-1 and riding high off a huge upset, Entropiq had new life going into Day 2.
In the third round, Entropiq overcame Movistar Riders 16-12 on Mirage to improve to 2-1. Needing just one more victory to advance to the Legends Stage, the heavily-favored Heroic stood in their way. Entropiq got off to a bad start, losing their own map pick 16-10 on Ancient. They responded nicely with a tense 16-14 victory on Heroic’s map pick, Nuke. Tied up at 1-1, the teams found themselves playing on Mirage for a chance to advance. Entropiq completed the reverse 2-0 in dominating fashion, winning the final map 16-4. Though they were outperformed by Heroic’s stars most of the match, the team was bolstered by gutty performances from El1an (54-40 KD) and team captain Aleksey “NickelBack'' Trofimov (54-44 KD).
Despite losing their first match, Entropiq followed up with three straight victories to advance to the Legends Stage.
Astralis and Heroic overcome early struggles
No doubt the biggest story on Day 1 of PGL Stockholm was the struggles of Astralis. The Danish powerhouse entered the Challengers Stage as the highest-ranked team to qualify from Europe. They were one of the favorites to finish with a perfect record, especially as a high seed and facing “weaker” competition. Fans were stunned to see Astralis lose their first two matches to Copenhagen Flames and Entropiq. Even more so was how poorly the team performed, getting blown out in both matches 16-6.
Facing an uphill battle with a 0-2 record, Astralis faced elimination in all their remaining matches. The pressure ignited a fire in the Danes that was missing on the first day of the competition. Astralis didn’t drop a single map for the rest of the Challengers Stage. They pulled off three straight 2-0 victories against GODSENT, paiN Gaming, and Team Spirit to finish at 3-2.
Fellow Danish giant Heroic faced similar struggles in the Challengers Stage. Unlike Astralis, they won their first two matches over TYLOO and MOUZ. However, in a similar fashion, they dropped their next two matches to Copenhagen Flames and Entropiq to fall to 2-2. Facing elimination, Heroic regained their composure to take a convincing 2-0 victory over Movistar Riders. Martin “stavn” Lund (47-29 KD) pulled off an incredible performance that was aided by team captain Casper “cadiaN” Moller (35-24 KD).
Although they faced elimination far earlier than they hoped, both Astralis and Heroic finished with 3-2 records to advance to the Legends Stage. The two Danish juggernauts will look to rebound from their inconsistent play.
Copenhagen Flames vs Heroic
Two Danish teams competed in the most important match of the third round. Both Copenhagen Flames and Heroic were 2-0 looking to advance to the Legends Stage. Copenhagen Flames were looking to cap off an unprecedented perfect run. Meanwhile, Heroic were looking to do what many expected out of them. It resulted in the first match of the tournament to go to all three maps.
Team Spirit vs Virtus.pro
Two of Russia's top squads met in the fourth round with 2-1 records. Team Spirit was looking for their third straight win, while Virtus.pro was looking to bounce back from their first loss. It was an advancement match for both squads with huge stakes. The loser fell to 2-2 and was forced to play in a winner-take-all match the next round. The exhilarating contest was decided in overtime on the final map.
BIG vs MOUZ
Advancement matches between teams from the same country were a common theme in the Challengers Stage. The fifth and final round featured a bout between German juggernauts MOUZ (formerly known as mousesports) and BIG. Both teams entered the match 2-2 with everything on the line. The winner continued their tournament run in the Legends Stage while the loser went home.
fuel for the finale
The Challengers Stage ended with eight teams advancing to the Legends Stage and eight teams eliminated from PGL Major Stockholm. The advancing teams will join eight other teams that had already qualified for the Legends Stage based on their regional Major Ranking. You can check out the full standings for the Challengers Stage below.
FaZe Clan (3-0)
Copenhagen Flames (3-0)
Team Spirit (2-3)
Movistar Riders (2-3)
paiN Gaming (1-3)
Sharks Esports (0-3)
Image source: PGL Esports