Winners and Losers of the PGL Major Antwerp Americas RMR
The Americas RMR for PGL Major Antwerp 2022 has come to a close. Whilst the six teams who managed to book their spot in the prestigious event are undoubtedly winners in their own right, we can also look back at those who will rue not bringing their A-game when it mattered most, and those who exceeded most people's expectations.
FURIA - The best of Brazil?
Where else to start with the winners than with the victors of the RMR itself - FURIA. In fairness, the Brazilian side were favorites to come out on top, coming into the event on the back of a 3rd-4th place finish at ESL Pro League Season 15, only losing to eventual winners and best team in the world, FaZe. But, despite being tipped to win the RMR from the get-go, FURIA's run was still impressive, going 4-0 throughout the whole event to easily take their seat in the Legends stage, with their closest map being a 16-11 victory against Complexity, a side that also convincingly booked their ticket to the Major.
After a relatively strong 2022 thus far, FURIA now have a run of events where they'll be facing some of the world's best. They have the Major itself in May where they'll be looking to improve on their 5th-8th place finish at the PGL Major Stockholm last year. From then onwards, they'll head stateside for IEM Dallas 2022, an event which has nine of the current ten best teams in the world in attendance, before travelling back across the pond for ESL Pro League Season 16.
Party Astronauts - So close yet so far
Party Astronauts also had a solid run of their own in Bucharest, albeit without securing one of the six Major spots up for grabs. Kicking off their campaign with a regretful loss to Isurus, the Astronauts soon regained their rhythm, brushing aside both Leviatan and Case to keep their Major dreams alive. These hopes, however, would soon come screeching to a halt with two best-of-three defeats versus Imperial and Evil Geniuses seeing the organization-less squad fall just shy of the elusive spot in Antwerp.
For now, PA will be hoping that the time in Europe will have helped the squad further develop their game. The lineup is slated to participate in ESL Challenger League Season 41 where they'll be hoping to make it back to ESL Pro League Season 16 later in the year. Although Ben "ben1337" Smith's team won't be at the Major in Antwerp next month, their performances at the RMR can hopefully provide some motivation for a squad that has been playing with $0 salaries for over a year and perhaps drum up interest for organizations that are looking to enter the North American scene.
9z - A Cinderella story
9z's campaign at the Americas RMR is a truly special story. Not only were the South American squad often discounted as being one of the six teams to progress further, but they qualified with elimination constantly breathing down their necks after the first day, where 9z lost to both MIBR and Evil Geniuses in the best-of-one stage. After this initial setback, however, Maximiliano "max" Gonzalez and company really came into their own, clinching the final spot in the Major on the back of five consecutive best-of-threes victories against the likes of 00 Nation, Evil Geniuses and paiN, with the latter two being back-to-back in the 6th-8th place decider bracket.
This achievement is not only important for the team itself with this being the first Major appearance for the whole lineup, but also monumental for the countries the players represent. For the first time ever, the Uruguayan, Argentine and Chilean flags will all be carried at a CS:GO Major. 9z now have just under a month to prepare for the team's biggest event to date, they also have the benefit of having no tournaments on their schedule until after the Major concludes, giving the side ample time to prepare and hopefully see the squad continue to take the scalps of some heavy-hitting teams.
Bad News Bears - A work in progress
The Bears' attempt at making the Major was - statistically - as bad as it could be, with Alan "Shakezullah" Hardeman's boys going 0-3 with losses to Case, São Caetano and 9z, sentencing the side to a dead-last finish alongside Argentinian side Leviatan. To make matters worse, every defeat they suffered was by a team who was ranked below the American-Pakistani squad, notably seeing the difference between Bad News Bears and São Caetano being a whopping 77 spots on HLTV's world rankings.
Although most people didn't predict that the Bears would be one of the six teams to make the Major, one or two wins to their name would have been a welcome sight. Furthermore, Shakezullah's men haven't been faring much better domestically, either, with the team barely managing to retain their spot in ECL after fighting through ECL Season 40 Relegation. Despite the glaring issues the squad currently have, Saad "Pluto" Siraj did speak to Dust2.us about the team's desire to stick together despite the disappointing results, a welcome sight in the current NA climate. Although this commitment to the project can help iron out the lineup's wrinkles, their lackluster showing in Bucharest makes them worthy of a spot as one of the Losers.
Evil Geniuses - Still waiting for signs of life
This iteration of Evil Geniuses has, to put it bluntly, been a disappointment since its inception at the start of 2022. The team came into the RMR already in a precarious situation, bowing out of ESL Pro League Season 15 at bottom of Group D so Jake "Stewie2K" Yip's men knew that a spot in the Major was required to show people what the roster can achieve, and any less would be a "major" let-down. EG's run did see them actually post some wins on the board, unlike their time in Düsseldorf, with victories over the likes of 00 Nation and Party Astronauts, but these aren't victories to be celebrated for a team as storied as EG. Even if they had managed to beat 9z on the final day, they'd have then faced paiN, a squad they had been bested by once already, so it can be assumed that they would have still fallen short of a spot in Antwerp anyways.
The future of Evil Geniuses is yet to be seen. The only thing that is for certain is that things need to change, and whether that includes roster changes is up for debate. The quintet are now set to compete in the IEM Dallas 2022 Closed Qualifier and BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2022 North America within the next couple of weeks. Perhaps this step back from high-level competition like ESL Pro League and the RMR can help the squad fix the glaring issues they have before returning to Tier 1 Counter-Strike more refined. Regardless, EG knew that a place at the Major was the goal, and anything less is truly regretful.
00 Nation - Back to the drawing board
Unlike most of their time in Europe, the Americas RMR gave 00 Nation fans some hope, as the roster's extended time in the Old World could have helped shape the side into one of the Americas' stronger sides. Unfortunately, that was not the case. A strong opening statement with a 16-8 win over Liquid did turn some heads, but the rest of the event was relatively uninspiring with the Brazilians losing three consecutive games to finish the event near the bottom of the table. While their run wasn't the easiest - with both Liquid and Complexity being their first two tests - one would have expected Marcelo "coldzera" David's boys to have easily taken down the walking wounded roster of Evil Geniuses and perhaps have edged out 9z before that team gained steam.
The past few months haven't been pretty for 00 Nation, so a spot in Antwerp would have been a welcome breather for the roster, and for coldzera, who now has to sit on the sidelines for yet another Major, his last appearance being over three years ago back at IEM Katowice 2019. It's also entirely possible that more time and practice is what this squad needs, especially as coldzera has only been at the helm for a little over three months. Regardless, a victory over an uncharacteristically poor opening game from Liquid is little to write home about, and the Brazilians ultimately failed to bring the level of gameplay their fans would have expected.
The six teams to qualify for the Major from the PGL Major Antwerp Americas RMR were:
1. FURIA - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 + $25,000
2. MIBR - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 Challengers Stage + $12,500
3. Imperial - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 Challengers Stage + $7,500
4. Complexity - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 Challengers Stage + $5,000
5. Liquid - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 Challengers Stage
6. 9z - PGL Major Antwerp 2022 Challengers Stage
With the Americas RMR all wrapped up, the six teams who managed to secure a spot in the Major will now be actively preparing for one of the biggest events of the year, hoping to write their names in CS:GO history whilst taking home the lion's share of the $1,000,000 prizepool.