Round one of the Swiss format group stage sets the tempo for the Major

With the sixteen teams attending the year’s first CS:GO Major, things are looking to get very exciting this weekend – Saturday, January 22, marks the beginning of the ELEAGUE Major group stage, where the 16 best teams in competitive CS:GO will be competing for the $1,000,000 prize pool and CS:GO’s most prestigious title.

The group stage will be the first time the Swiss format (3 wins grants a slot to the final to eight teams, three losses mean an instant elimination from the tournament) is used for a CS:GO major, and it’s sure to show some intense match-ups from the get-go.

Here are the matches for the first round:

SK Gaming vs. HellRaisers

The underdog CIS squad will have their work cut out for them facing the defending Major winners of SK Gaming from the outset of the major – but HellRaisers was also able to take a win from NiP at the Major qualifiers, so though it might be a much greater challenge this time, they certainly shouldn’t be counted out to cause another upset here.

Team Liquid vs. EnVyUs

This match-up seems more even than the first – with Liquid struggling to find the same success since the loss of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev to Natus Vincere earlier last year, and most analysts counting out EnVyUs from true contention here at the major, both teams are coming in with something to prove. EnVyUs might have a slight advantage with their winner’s momentum from their WESG though.

Fnatic vs. G2 Esports

Who would’ve thought Fnatic would be rated as an underdog coming into this year’s major after their dominant showing early last year? The ELEAGUE Major is actually the LAN debut for Fnatic’s current roster, so we can’t make many assumptions about their current form. G2 are coming in from a solid performance in the qualifiers, but they didn’t match up with very heavy competition there except for Dignitas, so they might be looking forward to facing an untested team first.

Virtus.Pro vs. OpTic Gaming

While Virtus.Pro has placed higher on the leaderboards for a longer time last year, OpTic is coming into the Major on a hot streak after winning ELEAGUE Season 2 and their second place at ECS while Virtus.Pro have been largely inactive at the tail-end of last year, only returning to the scene at WESG and taking a respectable third place. If Virtus.Pro has managed to keep up their past form, this could make for a very interesting match-up.

Astralis vs. GODSENT

Most analysts are calling this Major Astralis’ one to win, after showing such great form at the closing tournaments of the past year, so GODSENT is certainly the underdogs in this first-round matchup – they shouldn’t be counted out however, as they are coming into the Major after a perfect 3-game win streak versus G2, Dignitas (now playing under North) and HellRaisers.

FlipSid3 Tactics vs. FaZe Clan

Both these teams are coming into the Major from some good performances – FlipSid3 especially, from their win at DreamHack Leipzig only last weekend, and FaZe as the only other team with a perfect three wins at the ELEAGUE Major Qualifiers. Winning this first matchup might set either of these two teams up for some success as the tournament goes on.

Gambit Esports vs. North

The past Dignitas roster is now playing for North, and will be facing the rejuvenated Gambit after acquiring ex-Na’Vi captain Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko at the first round. North is looking stronger on paper, and this is their first tournament under their new brand, but after cooling down by the end of the year, a Gambit coming in from a championship win from DreamHack Winter might be looking to upset.

Natus Vincere vs. mousesports

The eighth match-up for the first round is between all-star team Natus Vincere and mousesports. Odds are slim for mousesports here, despite Na’Vi being quite a question-mark coming into the Major – they certainly have the strength on paper, but inconsistent performances since s1mple came into the roster (from great heights winning ESL New York, and great lows bombing out of ELEAGUE Season 2 groups) and opting out of 2016’s last few tournaments, things aren’t clear-cut for Na’Vi either. Mousesports’ star Nikola “NiKo” Kovac, and his teammates have to step-up for this match-up however.   

The five-round long Swiss group stage will see the top eight teams into the single-elimination playoffs, so scoring those coveted three wins will certainly be challenging against the caliber of competition here.

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