Meet the Challengers – Biggest Names – Paris Major 2023
The official Paris Major RMR (Regional Major Ranking) tournaments are done, and we now have a clear image of which teams are proceeding forward to the main event. It was an eventful qualifying phase with plenty of drama and unexpected twists and turns. Teams fight through ruthless open qualifiers, and the winners then proceed to these regional RMR’s where they must secure 3 match-up victories to solidify their spot on the Paris roster.
Teams with perfect or near-perfect runs proceed straight to the Legends stage, while the rest are down in the Challenger stage. From there 16 teams battle it out and only half join up with the other teams in the Legends stage. Still, to qualify for any Major stage is a big feat. Let’s have a look at our most notable Paris Major Challengers and see how the competition stacks up.
The Challengers stage is pretty stacked, to say the least, and you could argue that the raw skill and power of Challengers teams may even be more significant than the teams on the Legends stage. Why is that? Well, because the current Nr.1 and Nr.2 teams are in this mix.
G2 Esports have held the number 1 ranking position for 11 straight weeks, making them a force to be reckoned with in 2023. They started the new season with a bang, winning the IEM Katowice 2023, while ending the previous year on a high, securing an additional win in Blast Premier World Final 2022. But for G2 there is one box that is yet to be ticked, and that’s winning a Major.
For Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and the squad this is, perhaps, the most promising moment to this date. They have all the right pieces, all that’s left now is to close it out. NiKo is known as one of the best players who’s yet to win a Major and with the likes of Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov alongside him, Paris 2023 is where they need to make it count.
The loss they suffered against Vitality during RMR could put some doubts into fans’ heads, though, and this is also the reason why G2 are in the Challengers stage, while Vitality made their way to Legends. Of course, it’s not how you fall that matters, it’s how you get up, so keep your eyes close on G2.
One of the most dominant CS: GO teams of the modern era found themselves at the very bottom, reaching the Last Qualifier stage in the latest RMR. In other words, there was zero room for mistakes, as even a single loss would strip off their chance to see Paris. The toughest moments test your mettle the most, and FaZe proved to the world that one setback won’t stop them.
During the initial RMR phase, FaZe lost three Best of 3 series to Navi, Bad News Eagles and MOUZ. This knocked them down into the Last Chance Qualifier where they needed to beat Eastern European squads of Aurora and Cloud9. They did it convincingly and it seemed like the world was right once again because a Major without FaZe is like a party without music.
Even with this little fiasco, FaZe are still one of the favourites to win it all. Times and times again they have shown us their resilience, experience and sheer skill and you can never count them out. Other teams are looking extremely competitive, so FaZe will need to summon all their might if they wish to run deep into the tournament.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
In the Challengers stage, the NiP organization has the longest and, perhaps, the richest Major history. They won their sole title in 2013 but multiple times they have been the runner-ups or at least quarter-final finishers. Of course, that was a seemingly long time ago, when the core of the team was much different. The old guard was mostly sacked or left on their own accord, and new talents came aboard, with promises to take NiP to unseen heights. Well, that promise was short-lived, as the new squad failed to imitate the success of the past.
Players themselves don’t hold all the responsibility though. NiP organization went through some mismanagement and unfortunate roster changes. Most notably, Ninjas in Pyjamas acquired the star awper Nicolai “device” Reedtz, with hopes that this legendary player will be the leading force, but device sat out of action for a whole year, due to medical reasons and when he returned to action, he decided to take his talents back to his former team of Astralis.
NiP and Astralis rivalry is additionally fuelled by the fact that Astralis quite harshly cut ties with their star Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, who was later on given a chance by no other than NiP. And so, the drama reached its culmination in the RMR where Astralis squared up against NiP in the fight for the remaining spot on the Paris roster. The result? Four-time Major winner device and his squad is staying in Denmark while NiP are participating in the last CS: GO Major. Karma, some might say.
This might be the most memed team in CS: GO, but their performance is no laughing matter, as Ence can go head to head with even the toughest competition. Once proud Finnish organization now fields only a Finnish coach, while 5 main players all come from different regions. We have players from Spain, Poland, Montenegro, Denmark and Israel, it’s a real mix of personalities and cultures, but somehow Ence have made it stick. The team is currently ranked #8 in the world, but since last summer it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Last year in June, this same core managed to peak at #2 in the world, then dropped to the low #20 in this year’s March, and then bounced back up after the RMR.
This iteration of Ence hasn’t yet claimed any trophies, but it’s a promising team, with a rich history. When the team was fully Finnish, they once came very close to securing a Major victory, so can we see glimpses of that brilliance once again? Ence certainly have the right assets to go deep in the tourney, so don’t put all your chips against them.
North America’s pride and joy still is and remains Team Liquid. Of course, back in the day, it was Cloud9 and other players, which brought NA their one and only Major title, but since then things for American teams have been a tad bit shaky. The North American CS scene has always been turbulent, so Team Liquid is one of the most solid teams we’ve seen from the region in a good while.
Their journey to Paris has been a lot calmer if we compare it to European counterparts. As you know, North and South American teams have a separate RMR, and the competition in it is far less severe than on European servers. Brazilian teams usually cause the biggest headaches for American teams, which was again the case in this RMR. Liquid dropped two maps against the Brazilian side of Furia but they closed out the rest of the games, securing the path to Challengers.
Team Liquid’s last notable tournament win was in 2019 when they won IEM Chicago with 3 players from the current core. Their headline signing in 2021 has been the Latvian entry-fragger Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, who seems to have been a good pick-up, bringing in plenty of European fragging power and game knowledge to the Liquid camp. Currently sitting at #7 in the world ranking, can the NA-based team finally bring glory to the homeland? It would take one hell of preparation and anti-stratting, but we’ve seen before what American magic can do.
Be sure to check out other OlyBetTV Paris Major articles to fully prepare yourself for the last CS: GO Major tournament!