Meet the Challengers – Dark Horses – 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 teams which have the potential to upset the favourites and surprise us in the Paris Major and see how the competition stacks up.
The European mix of OG is a budget FaZe Clan. Alright, that statement, perhaps, is a bit on the controversial side, but there are some similarities between the teams. Just like FaZe, the OG clan has always been a mixed European team that seemingly attracts misfits from other squads. Long gone are the days when teams mostly consisted of one nationality. The team’s five includes players from Denmark, the Czech Republic, Russia, Israel and Poland, so just like with FaZe, all players come from different parts of the world.
CS:GO is a game of communication, so fluent comms are of utmost importance, but OG have managed to make it work, securing their spot in Paris. The bigger competition can be troublesome for OG, but they have the potential to upset even the best if the stars align. Can they be Major winners? That’s highly doubtful, but we’ve seen our fair share of miracles in the professional scene.
OG have been heavily leaning on the firepower that Abdul “degster” Gasanov brings to the table, so OG certainly need to make sure that other players are chiming in as well. Their first match-up in Paris is against Ence, so we’ll be able to witness a mighty duel between two European mixes. Ence have shown greater consistency, but it’s anyone’s game.
Monte was, perhaps, the most surprising team we saw in the RMR. The current roster was put together roughly 3 months ago with the addition of Viktor “sdy” Orudzev. The experienced Ukrainian for a limited time was a part of the legendary Navi organisation. Things didn’t fully work out and the former Spirit player was a free agent once more. That wasn’t for long, as he joined up with Monte this year in January and it finally seemed that sdy found his right home. By sdy’s own words, there is zero “toxicity” in this team, which is something that sdy presumably encountered in Navi.
At the start of 2023 Monte was a tier 2, borderline tier 3 team with an unstable roster, so the fact that they managed to get to the Major is almost unbelievable. If you look at the roster, besides from sdy, you won’t see big names that regular CS fans are familiar with. Of course, those with a more in-depth knowledge of the scene will know the fragging ability of Mohammed “BOROS” Malhas and Volodymyr “Woro2k” Veletniuk – two rising stars.
In the Paris RMR, Monte edged out Ence, Cloud9 and Forze, but fell short to Heroic and Vitality. Cloud9 was in a bad shape throughout the whole tournament, but still, Monte managed to grind it out and secure their spot. It seems that the top competition for Monte is still a challenge, but it’s a team that can be there in the mix, fighting with squads that are on the lower end of the Top 10.
MOUZ is one of those teams that often flies under the radar in the sense that people tend to forget about them, but they’re always there, being able to provide a challenge even for the best. The ranking development for the team’s core has gradually increased throughout the months reaching its peak in last year’s August, securing #5 in the world. Currently, MOUZ are sitting at #10 just behind Virtus Pro, which they managed to beat in the RMR. Additionally, MOUZ secured wins against SAW and even FaZe, which was probably their most impressive win to this date.
Under the leadership of Christopher “dexter” Nong, the young guns of MOUZ have shown their worth, making them one of the hottest young teams in Europe. The title for the best European mix still belongs to FaZe and we doubt that in the long run MOUZ can topple them, but their youth and love for the game can make them shine, just like we saw in the RMR.
The first game for MOUZ in Paris is against Ninjas in Pyjamas. Both iterations of rosters haven’t yet played against each other, so we are stepping into unknown grounds, you could say. Bookmakers currently rate both teams almost equally, so it should be an interesting match between both squads.
There are plenty of teams in the Challengers stage that deserve a shout-out, but we must give an extra loud one to Apeks. In last year November, the team was #129 in the world and now they are making preparations for their journey to Paris. Like many other lower-tier teams, Apeks were making constant roster moves in search of perfection, slotting in players with experience and newbies alike. Now, it seems like Apeks have found that sweet middle road, fielding promising young talents and already proven players.
Back in Hellraiser’s days, there was a young and highly-skilled riffler known by the name of STYKO. Afterwards, STYKO jumped to MOUZ, then to Cloud9, then back on MOUZ again, while later on joining GODSENT and FPX. Never able to find a solid footing, he jumped from team to team until he landed at Apeks. The story is similar with Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad, who has played in 11 different teams in his professional career. The situation for jkaem has been a bit more fruitful, as he twice has managed to reach the Major semi-finals.
Then there is Tim “nawwk” Jonasson, who was a vital part of the old Ninjas in Pyjamas squad until being quite roughly cut by the team to make space for the superstar Nicola “device” Reedtz. As you see, the team is filled with players, who have been cut from their previous homes, but by joining forces, they have managed to summon some of that old magic. With the addition of 2 other, young talents, Apeks are now on everyone’s radar. These players know how it is to play in a Major, so can they use that experience efficiently? Time will tell.
There are plenty of other notable teams in the Challengers stage, which can make a serious impact. Here is the full list of teams in the Challengers stage:
Ninjas in Pyjamas Complexity
Be sure to check out other OlyBetTV Paris Major articles, to fully prepare yourself for the last CS: GO Major tournament!