Americas match-ups for the first day of the Legends stage unveiled
Following a hectic Challengers stage, the Americas face tough match-ups as the top 16 of the Major duke it out for playoff privileges. Liquid started the Major disastrously, falling behind 0-2 with two quick best-of-one losses on the first day to G2 and Imperial. Fortunately, they climbed back into relevance as they latched onto three best-of-three victories in a row, snatching qualification from the sure jaws of elimination. In their path to the Legends stage, they took the scalps of 9z, their fellow Americans Complexity, and the Danish powerhouse of Astralis all in 2-0 fashion. Now though, they take on the real Danish powerhouse, Heroic, who debut at the Major versus our American bannermen.
Despite their recent inception, this variation of Liquid has actually taken on Heroic before, even coming up on top in the encounter. This prestigious match-up took place at ESL Pro League Season 15, where in the first round of playoffs, the North Americans with a dash of French won 2-0 in a relatively strong fashion, taking Ancient and Vertigo in 25 and 26 rounds respectively. Of course, these two teams come from entirely different schedules in the past week. Heroic, finishing on top in the first European RMR, were given a bye directly to this Legends stage. They've spent the last week improving their game plan to tip-top shape. They've had all the comfort they could ask for to prepare for their initial battle. Liquid, on the other hand, come from the doldrums of the 0-2 pool in the first stage, needing to win three consecutive best-of-threes to even get to this stage.
That then begs the question, what will be more worthwhile? The comfortable practice environment or the sweaty grind to claw back victory? At EPL Season 15, Liquid was still relatively unknown as a new roster. Without a doubt, Heroic have spent some time dissecting this Liquid lineup to microscopic detail, so they'll likely have a finger on the pulse of what Liquid aims to accomplish. Soon we shall see which team starts the Legends stage on the better foot.
FURIA start their Major endeavors directly from the Legends stage where they'll debut against Spirit, fresh from the Challengers stage. Sprit has played phenomenally so far in the Major, with their only map loss coming from a close overtime affair versus stage favorites G2. Notably, Spirits' Abdul "degster" Gasanov led the whole stage with a 1.44 rating despite not going through undefeated. Surely, he'll need to step up again if Spirit are to hang with the mighty panthers of FURIA.
The only team hailing from across the Atlantic to be given a direct spot in the Legends stage, FURIA have the hopes and dreams of the Americas riding on them to make the playoffs. With their previous international journey being EPL Season 15 where they finished joint third only falling to soon-to-be world number one FaZe, FURIA is in a prime position to achieve greatness.
These two teams have not played one another yet, so it's anybody's guess how the battlefield will pan out. With both FURIA and Spirit having very unique styles it's no doubt that we'll see some fireworks on the server; it's a shame we only get one map of this dynamic match-up. As alluded to earlier with Heroic, FURIA also get the same benefit of having an extra week to practice and iron out all the kinks. Although Spirit made it through the Challengers stage fairly easily, they still miss out on that week of error correction. Hopefully, FURIA has taken this time to perfect their signature gameplay and have a repeat of last Major's playoff appearance.
Our last Americas match-up comes from the very final team to make the Legends stage, Imperial. Headlined by the Brazilian old guard of Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and Lincoln "fnx" Lau, Imperial turned heads on their way to the Legends stage. Despite not even being favorites to perform at the Americas RMR, the historic line-up turned back the clocks to secure their new stickers. Then on the last match of the last day of the Challengers stage, they took down forZe to wipe the slate clean and begin a new stage with a 0-0 record.
This new challenge will be the toughest yet for the squad. Although some of their players have been on the world's biggest stage before, the task ahead of them is daunting. Fifteen of the world's best stand in the way of Imperial and the playoffs stage. Luckily, they've been given a decent draw. They play their opening best-of-one against BIG, the 15th-ranked team in the world. Although BIG secured their Legends spot with a flawless run in the European RMR, they've recently stumbled in form, losing to both MOUZ and Entropiq in the IEM Dallas Closed Qualifier. This is possibly one of the weaker opponents in the stage, so this is as good it gets for FalleN's squad to start 1-0.
Although BIG look vulnerable, it still won't be an easy task. They also have had the same week to prepare as said earlier, so they'll come out the gates swinging. BIG is currently enjoying a ten-map win streak entering this match, as they’ve been firing on all cylinders since the roster brought up Karin “Krimbo” Moussa from the academy team. We shall see if Imperial can continue their miraculous run in the Major, or if this final hurdle is the one to take them down. After all, if 'no fnx, no Major', that must mean 'yes fnx, yes Major', right?
The opening matches for Americas teams in the PGL Antwerp Major Legends Stage are:
Heroic vs Liquid Saturday 06:00AM
FURIA vs Spirit Saturday 08:30AM
BIG vs Imperial Saturday 09:45AM