It feels like it has been ages since the last CS:GO Major, and so much had changed. SK Gaming are no longer the de facto favourites, big names such as Ninjas in Pyjamas aren’t even in attendance and Astralis are the team going in with a hot streak. Imagine predicting all that happening the day after Cologne.
The scene may be in a time of change but the one thing we can be sure of is that the upcoming ELEAGUE Major will be full of amazing CS:GO action. Most of the top teams are in attendance, and there are more than a few teams that could cause some Major upsets. With a bit of a break over the holiday period teams have been practising almost exclusively for this event for weeks, meaning picking a winner is effectively impossible.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a good go at picking out who will top the table, even if there is about 10 sides that could reasonably considered a favourite.
A late roster switch that saw Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen leave the team and Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander enter did wonders for Astralis. Almost instantly they became a top team, taking 2nd at ELeague Season 2 and winning ECS Season 2.
This momentum should play into their favour, and hopefully the extra practice time will have allowed them to perfect even more strategies. Calling Astralis a championship contender even four months ago would have been more of a joke than a suggestion, but now they are certainly in with a great chance.
If the last month or so of 2016 was the first time you ever watched CS:GO then you would think Astralis and OpTic were the best teams in the world. OpTic won ELeague and took second at ECS and, along with Astralis, looked head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
The NA team has finally come good after a slow rise through the ranks, and the perfect end to that rise would be a win at the Major. They have already had success in ELeague competitions which could give them a slight boost at the Major, even if the main event isn’t at the ELeague studio. It will take a lot, but with OpTic’s recent form they have a chance.
EnVyUs haven’t had a good run of form recently and the impending French shuffle made it seem like their attendance at the Major was more of an obligation than something they intended to win. However that all changed at World Electronic Sports Games, where EnVyUs dominated the, albeit weak, field and took home the largest prize in CS:GO history.
They still haven’t beaten the big names in recent times, but that win at WESG could give them a lot of confidence and the boost they need to walk out champions.
The team hasn’t lived up to expectations since the Major shuffle, but boy did they look good at the Major qualifier. Thanks to the Swiss format they only played three games – which was enough to earn them a spot in the Major – but they won them all comfortably.
What makes this even more impressive is that every one of their opponents also qualified for the Major, meaning they were tough games. It would be a bit of a shock to see them walk out as champions, but if they can play that well again in Atlanta then anything is possible.
Na’Vi were almost always the bridesmaids in 2016, often falling in the late stages of a tournament. But 2017 could be their year. S1mple is the undoubted star and if he has a good event, which often happens at a Major, then Na’Vi will probably go far.
However this roster has been inconsistent to say the least, and out of all the teams on this list so far could easily bomb out in the group stage if they aren’t working well together. Na’Vi is a hard one to call, they can be brilliant but can be really poor, sometimes even at the same event.
They were bound to be on this list in some form, as it is hard to count out the two time Major winners and current world champions. SK Gaming have had a rough time since winning Cologne, first with the injury to Fer and then kicking FNX. Fox will be playing during the Major, which is obviously not ideal for the Brazilian side but they still have a chance.
ColdZera remains one of the best players in the world and with FalleN leading the team you know they will have a few new strategies ready to go. They certainly don’t go in as favourites, but writing them off would be a major mistake.
A surprise call this may be, but a win at DreamHack Leipzig this past weekend will have given the CIS side a lot of confidence. They didn’t even look fazed by the teams at DreamHack breezing past almost all of them with little trouble.
Confidence plays a big part at Majors, and they go in as one of only two teams to have won an event in 2017. If Flipsid3 get off to a good start they could go deep, but that certainly won’t be easy with a first match against FaZe Clan.
If we are speaking of tough starts then Virtus Pro have certainly drawn the short straw. Their first match against OpTic Gaming will not be easy, and the Poles probably go in as the underdogs. Getting a first game loss in a Swiss format presents a difficult challenge, but we have seen VP pull it back before and we all know how well they can do on LAN.
They had a good warm up at WESG, where they placed third, and much like every other team on this list could take home the Major if they have a good run.