PGL Major quarterfinal preview: Predictions & players to watch - Dexerto
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PGL Major quarterfinal preview: Predictions & players to watch

Published: 3/Nov/2021 17:00 Updated: 3/Nov/2021 17:36

by Luís Mira

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After over a week of thrills and upsets in the Challengers and Legends stages of PGL Major Stockholm, only eight teams remain in contention for the title. We’ve set out what you need to know about the upcoming clashes.

As the Major enters the playoff rounds, it’s going to be a radical change of scenery as teams will once again play in front of a crowd after two stages held behind closed doors.

For some teams, this will be a return to normalcy after over a year of almost exclusive online action. But for the less experienced sides, this will be their first time performing before a large audience, and nerves will be tested.

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Read on as we break down every quarterfinal encounter and identify the players to watch in this round. Be sure to check out our full PGL Major Stockholm hub for all the results from the tournament so far.

Heroic v Virtus.pro – November 4

The playoffs will kick off with a thrilling clash that could turn out to be the most keenly-contested series of this round.

Heroic scraped through the Challengers Stage with a 3-2 record and then shifted into a higher gear, losing only one game in the Legends Stage, a 16-11 loss to world No.1 NAVI.

The qualification for the Champions Stage is a huge boost for the Danish team after they were plagued by outside-the-server issues. But they didn’t have the toughest route to the playoffs – beating a struggling Vitality, an out-of-sorts Astralis, and an inexperienced Copenhagen Flames – and they are now walking into a series against a whole new beast.

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João Ferreira/Dexerto
cadiaN’s Heroic face a tricky task against Virtus.pro

That’s not to say that Virtus.pro have been world-class material. The CIS team were earmarked as a potential dark horse winner for this Major, but they have shown in Stockholm that there are plenty of wrinkles in their game.

Virtus.pro have ridden their luck on occasion in this tournament, showing resilience and determination in dire situations. They came back from 14-7 down on the final map against Spirit, 15-12 down on the decider map against MOUZ and 13-8 down on the second map against FaZe.

VP’s superior LAN experience could be the determining factor in the series, but there’s no denying that they have not been the dominant team that many expected. Heroic will be looking to capitalize on the many flaws in Virtus.pro’s game following the last-minute addition of Evgeny ‘FL1T’ Lebedev, a player brought in by the organization to replace Sanjar ‘SANJI’ Kuliev.

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Players to watch: Martin ‘stavn’ Lund has been a joy to watch in Stockholm, averaging a team-high 1.26 HLTV rating as he has operated on a level above the rest of the Heroic squad.

João Ferreira / Dexerto
YEKINDAR’s relentless aggression has been on display in Stockholm

However, many viewers will have their eyes on the Mareks ‘YEKINDAR’ Gaļinskis, who boasts a 1.40 Impact rating at the Major. The electric Latvian star will hold the key to unlocking the potential within the CIS giants.

Dexerto Prediction: 2-1 Virtus.pro

DJ Esports odds: Heroic 1.509 to Virtus.pro 2.454

G2 v NIP – November 4

There’s no doubt that the Avicii Arena will erupt with passion when hometown favorites NIP step onto the stage. They are the only Swedish representation left in the tournament after Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer and his FaZe team were eliminated in the last round of the Legends Stage.

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The Ninjas should thank their stars for reaching the playoffs as they were on the brink of missing out on the last-eight stage after being pushed to their limits by the combative Copenhagen Flames.

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NIP will have the support of the crowd at the Avicii Arena – can that tip the scale in their favor?

In the end, NIP pulled through, but worrying signs remain. They were not a match against NAVI and Gambit, and had to be bailed out by in-game leader Hampus ‘hampus’ Poser, the team’s best performer in the Legends Stage.

Meanwhile, G2 showed why talk of the team’s “LAN buff” is accurate as they went 3-0 in the last-16 stage, though it must be pointed out that none of the teams they beat – Copenhagen Flames, FaZe and Entropiq – are in the playoffs, which shows that they have had a relatively easy route so far.

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Nikola ‘⁠NiKo⁠’ Kovač believes that every team bar NAVI is beatable, a statement that will be put to the test in this thrilling match. G2 have momentum after three convincing wins and go into this match as the heavy favorites, despite NIP’s home factor.

Players to watch: NiKo and Nemanja ‘huNter-‘ Kovač have been G2’s best performers in Stockholm, but it will be interesting to see how François ‘AmaNEk’ Delaunay will fare with the AWP as he will go up against Mr. Consistency, Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz.

On the side of NIP, Fredrik ‘REZ’ Sterner will need to step up for his team to have a chance to reach the semi-finals. He has a tendency to blow hot and cold, and he was nothing short of underwhelming in the Legends Stage. Are we going to see a different version in the playoffs?

Dexerto Prediction: 2-0 G2

DJ Esports odds: NIP 1.861 to G2 1.876

Gambit v FURIA – November 5

Gambit and FURIA lock horns in a match between two 3-1 teams, but that’s where the similarities end. They played vastly different levels of opponents in the Legends Stage, with the Brazilians not facing a single team that has made it to the playoffs.

Heading into the Major, expectations for FURIA were low. They have struggled to remain relevant since losing Henrique ‘HEN1’ Teles, handing out appearances to academy players after briefly experimenting with an international roster featuring North American AWPer Paytyn ‘⁠junior’ Johnson.

Most of the weight of the team has been left on the shoulders of Kaike ‘KSCERATO’ Cerato and Yuri ‘yuurih’ Santos, who carried the team to the playoffs in Stockholm. Getting to the stage is an achievement in itself for FURIA, but it’s impossible not to feel that this is where their journey will end.

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Gambit are expected to move past FURIA without too much trouble

Gambit, one of the best teams of 2021, showed class and composure in their 3-1 run in the Legends Stage. Now that they have reached the playoffs and a weight has been lifted (at least according to Vladislav ‘nafany’ Gorshkov), they will be relatively stress-free for the remainder of the tournament, ready to play to their full potential.

Despite their lack of stage experience, Gambit should fancy their chances heading into this series. They are expected to make their individual superiority tell and should already have an eye on a semi-final clash against CIS rival NAVI.

Players to watch: Expect Dmitry ‘sh1ro’ Sokolov to tear through FURIA in the series and exploit the Brazilians’ lack of a world-class AWPer. His right-hand man at the Major has been in-game leader Vladislav ‘nafany’ Gorshkov, who has had the highest Impact rating on the team (1.35) and is joint third overall for opening kills per round (0.18).

Dexerto Prediction: 2-0 Gambit

DJ Esports odds: Gambit 1.239 to FURIA 3.794

NAVI v Vitality – November 5

Counter-Strike fans are salivating at the prospect of another mouth-watering clash between Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev and Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut, even though this will be a match between two sides in distinct moments of form.

NAVI coasted through the Legends Stage with such poise and perfection that it’s hard to see anyone taking a map off them, let alone beating them.

They have been firing on all cylinders as they look to claim their first Major crown and cement their status as the undisputed No.1 team in the world after already winning IEM Cologne and the Intel Grand Slam title.

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s1mple has his eyes on winning his first Major title

Vitality had shown signs of recovery before the Major, but they looked disjointed in the Legends Stage and barely made it into the playoffs. With his team against the ropes, ZywOo stepped up massively in the elimination matches and showed his best form, aided by veterans Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire and Richard ‘shox’ Papillon.

That paints a bleak picture for Vitality against the red-hot NAVI. The French team’s youngsters, Jayson ‘Kyojin’ Nguyen Van and Kévin ‘misutaaa’ Rabier, have underperformed in Stockholm, and pressure will only get higher once they step onto the stage and experience first hand the noise and the roar of the crowd.

ZywOo may have found his mojo at just the right time, but he will need help from his teammates to contain NAVI. However, it’s simply hard to see anyone up to the task, which could leave the two-time player of the year alone against the world once again.

Players to watch: The battle between s1mple and ZywOo dominates the headlines, but there is one other player who could be a major factor in the series: Valeriy ‘B1T’ Vakhovskiy.

João Ferreira/Dexerto
B1T has been in stunning form at the Major

The 18-year-old Ukrainian has been an instrumental piece in NAVI’s set-up this year and heads into the playoffs in the form of his life. He is first for tournament rating (1.44 HLTV rating) and headshots per round (0.60), and only YEKINDAR comes ahead of him for opening kills per round (0.19).

Dexerto Prediction: 2-0 NAVI

DJ Esports odds: NAVI 1.241 to Vitality 3.778

Odds correct at the time of writing.