PGL Major Krakow preview: The Favorites (3/3)

Striker
July 15th, 2017 13:53

PGL Major Krakow is less than 24 hours away, kicking off tomorrow with the first round of the Swiss group stage. We have already explored the four Underdogs and nine teams of the Mid-tier, so it's now time to present the three Favorites: SK, FaZe, and Astralis.

It has been six months since the ELEAGUE Major, and now it is that time again as we are approaching PGL's first Major, which is taking place at Krakow's Tauron Arena from July 16-23, with the popular Swiss format in use for the group stage during the first four days.

Eight Legends, who earned their spot by placing in the top eight at the ELEAGUE Major, and eight Challengers, who came from the Main Qualifier at the beginning of July, are now ready play at the prestigious event. 

We separated the 16 teams into three groups as usual, based on their recent results and, incidentally, our ranking: the Underdogs, the Mid-tier, and the Favorites. Here's what those three groups look like:

Underdogs Mid-tier Favorites
Germany BIG France G2 Brazil SK
Europe PENTA United States Cloud9  Europe FaZe
CIS FlipSid3 CIS Natus Vincere   Denmark Astralis 
Russia Vega Squadron   Denmark North  
  Brazil Immortals  
  Sweden fnatic  
  Europe mousesports  
  Poland Virtus.pro  
  Kazakhstan Gambit

As a comparison, here's what EGB.com's, the Major's partner, betting odds are as of July 15:

Team Rate Ratio
Brazil SK  2.766  32.54% 
Denmark Astralis  3.946 22.81%
Europe FaZe 7.785 11.56%
France G2 10.909 8.25%
United States Cloud9 19.190 4.69%
CIS Natus Vincere  21.687 4.15%
Sweden fnatic 23.077 3.90%
Europe mousesports 27.607 3.26%
Denmark North 28.939 3.11%
Other Other teams  15.707 5.73%

We've already released the first two parts of the series of previews ahead of the Major, covering the four Underdogs, and the nine teams of the Mid-tier.

As we enter the last 24 hours before the Major kicks off, we take an in-depth look at the top three teams, SK, FaZe, and Astralis, who are considered Favorites at PGL Major Krakow:

Ratings used are from the past three months on LAN

SK (#1)  Age  Rating 2.0  Highest placing at Majors
Brazil Fernando "fer" Alvarenga  25 1.26 Winner (2x)
Brazil Marcelo "coldzera" David  22 1.23 Winner (2x)
Brazil Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo 26 1.17 Winner (2x)
Brazil João "felps" Vasconcellos 20 1.11 Rookie
Brazil Epitacio "TACO" de Melo 22 1.00 Winner (2x)

Offline placings in the last three months
1st  Germany ESL One Cologne
1st United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals
1st Sweden DreamHack Open Summer
3rd-4th  United States ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals
1st Australia IEM Sydney
1st United States cs_summit

SK feature four of the 13 players holding multiple trophies, with both of them coming from 2016's Majors, MLG Columbus and ESL One Cologne. The core members have also always made the Major playoffs, with six in a row for FalleN and fer, five for coldzera, and three for TACO.

Only felps is coming into PGL Major Krakow as one of the 16 rookies, as he got signed by SK after the ELEAGUE Major, where he couldn't play due to competing in that Major cycle with another team (Immortals).

After being forced to field a stand-in in Atlanta, Portuguese veteran Ricardo "fox" Pacheco, and still managing a semi-final finish, the Brazilians return to the Major map in full force. With five trophies from the last six events plus a third-fourth place at the ESL Pro League Finals, where coldzera went missing in the G2 semis (relative to his inhuman consistency), there is little doubt SK are the number one favorite.

coldzera is the only two-time Major MVP

The Brazilian side has a clear advantage over the second Favorite, FaZe, as they won two of their last four grand finals over the European side and one semi-final (four matches in a row and eight out of ten maps since IEM Sydney). When it comes to Astralis, the two have not met each other nearly as often, but SK have an upper hand there as well, with the last series and best-of-one going their way, albeit by the slightest of margins (28.5 rounds played on average across four maps).

The only match-up which SK have struggled with recently are G2, who won four out of the last five maps in their rendezvous' (including the aforementioned 2-0 series in Dallas) and thus pose a threat to FalleN's squad's task to bring home their third Major.

Why follow SK at the Major: A triumph at the PGL Major Krakow would confirm the Brazilians as the undeniable best team in the world, who would be making history by winning three out of the last four Majors, as well as six out of the last seven events.

FaZe (#2)  Age  Rating 2.0  Highest placing at Majors
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola "NiKo" Kovač  20 1.22 Group stage (4x)
Norway Håvard "rain" Nygaard 22 1.13 Semi-finals (Cluj '15)
France Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey 22 1.02 Winner (2x)
Finland Aleksi "allu" Jalli 25 0.99 Runner-up (Katowice '15)
Denmark Finn "karrigan" Andersen  27 0.95 Semi-finals (2x)
Sweden Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström (coach)

Offline placings in the last three months
3rd-4th Germany ESL One Cologne
2nd United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals
2nd Australia IEM Sydney

The two most decorated and experienced players on FaZe, karrigan and kioShiMa, have both been to nine out of ten Majors, as the in-game leader missed only DreamHack Winter 2014, when he departed the Danish scene for a short period of time to join up with mousesports, and the Frenchman was left out in the cold by EnVyUs ahead of MLG Columbus.

As the last standing member of the original Kinguin roster that went on to join G2 before transferring to FaZe, rain has attended seven, two of which from his days in the Norwegian London Conspiracy/LGB lineup. Thanks to his time in NiP, allu sits at four, just like NiKo who has yet to advance from the groups at a Major after four attempts with mousesports.

As the PGL Major Krakow nears, FaZe set their sights on their best showing at a Major so far, as they belong to the trio of Favorites that are expected to duke it out between themselves for the title.

The pioneers of international rosters are looking to make history

karrigan's squad has been fantastic ever since the Bosnian superstar boosted the team's firepower. As one-time champions, three-time runners-up, and one-time semi-finalists with this lineup, FaZe are the second Favorite of the Major, on paper. They've been within arm's reach of being the best team in the world for months, and yet someone snatched it away, the someone being SK.

karrigan has been able to figure out Astralis, over whom FaZe hold a perfect record from their last two series (4-2 in maps), but the European mixture fell to FalleN's squad in two finals and one semi-final. For FaZe to reach the highest step at the Major, they should be hoping for Astralis to take down SK in the playoffs, because, at this moment, it doesn't seem likely FaZe will be able to break their curse against the Brazilians.

Why follow FaZe at the Major: FaZe have always been the pioneers of international lineups, and now they're looking better than ever to become the first of their kind to win a Major.

Astralis (#3)  Age  Rating 2.0  Highest placing at Majors
Denmark Nicolai "device" Reedtz  21 1.15 Winner (ELEAGUE '17)
Denmark Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye 19 1.13 Winner (ELEAGUE '17)
Denmark Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth 21 1.09 Winner (ELEAGUE '17)
Denmark Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen 24 1.09 Winner (ELEAGUE '17)
Denmark Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander  22 1.04 Winner (ELEAGUE '17)
Denmark Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)

Offline placings in the last three months
3rd-4th United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals
1st United States ELEAGUE Clash for Cash
3rd-4th Australia IEM Sydney

The Danish powerhouse are one of only two teams (alongside Virtus.pro) that have stuck to the same core throughout all 10 Majors, as device, dupreeh, and Xyp9x are heading into their 11th.

PGL Major Krakow will be gla1ve's seventh, after he attended the first four under three different banners and went missing until he stood in for Astralis at ESL One Cologne 2016 in place of Kjaerbye, who is the youngest player to have ever played at a Major (at 16 years old during DreamHack Winter 2014 with Copenhagen Wolves).

The defending Major champions have put all of their focus on this next week, having only attended three events in the last three months (one of which being the Cash for Clash, one best-of-three versus Virtus.pro). 

Astralis are looking to join fnatic and SK as back-to-back Major champions

Astralis stayed at home and practiced in hopes of getting in the best shape they possibly can in time for the Major. It's just a matter of time before we find out whether prioritizing this heavily will pay off or not — after all, SK have grinded for months now, traveling from event to event, and managed to stay on top, and perhaps even improved throughout that period.

If anything, the break from offline events will help the Danes figure out how they need to approach FaZe, who have been a pain in their side at a few events, as well as the aforementioned Brazilians, both of whom left loads of data behind them from the tournaments they've played recently. That will not be the case for Astralis, who could have something up their sleeves for the Major, new setups, defaults, and strategies that the other Favorites may not have seen.

Why follow Astralis at the Major: As defending champions from the ELEAGUE Major, Astralis are looking to become the third team to have won back-to-back Majors alongside fnatic (ESL One Katowice and ESL One Cologne in 2015) and SK (MLG Columbus and ESL One Cologne in 2016).

Brazil Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.22
Maps played:
667
KPR:
0.82
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.12
Brazil Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
576
KPR:
0.63
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Sweden Robert 'RobbaN' Dahlström
Robert 'RobbaN' Dahlström
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.91
Maps played:
3
KPR:
0.47
DPR:
0.55
APR:
0.03
Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
20
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
480
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Denmark Markus 'Kjaerbye' Kjærbye
Markus 'Kjaerbye' Kjærbye
Age:
19
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
870
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.15
Denmark Danny 'zonic' Sørensen
Danny 'zonic' Sørensen
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.75
Maps played:
20
KPR:
0.49
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.11
Denmark Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
1166
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.17
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
707
KPR:
0.82
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
France Fabien 'kioShiMa' Fiey
Fabien 'kioShiMa' Fiey
Age:
23
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
985
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.15
Denmark Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen
Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1109
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
Brazil Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
713
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.11
Denmark Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.16
Maps played:
1011
KPR:
0.78
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.95
Maps played:
1094
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
Denmark Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossander
Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossander
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
832
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.17
Brazil Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.13
Maps played:
709
KPR:
0.78
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.17
Portugal Ricardo 'fox' Pacheco
Ricardo 'fox' Pacheco
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
607
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
Finland Aleksi 'allu' Jalli
Aleksi 'allu' Jalli
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1030
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Norway Håvard 'rain' Nygaard
Håvard 'rain' Nygaard
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
732
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.15
EGB sellout?
2017-07-15 13:53
#67
 | 
Mongolia Tendies 
Shady af imo
2017-07-15 18:49
Only sk is good like really
2017-07-15 13:53
#11
 | 
Finland kappaboi 
nice bait
2017-07-15 13:57
"coldzera is the only two-time Major MVP" its good to know hltv have picked MVP award majors b4 ...
2017-07-15 16:31
Yeah but Olof would have only won one because during ESL Cologne the MVP was Krimz.
2017-07-15 18:14
? ? ?
2017-07-15 18:40
3
2017-07-15 13:53
#4
bodyy | 
Australia Wanga0 
yay
2017-07-15 13:53
mousesports will win entire major anyway
2017-07-15 13:54
#16
rain | 
Germany k1nG1337 
0/8
2017-07-15 14:10
I know but I hope thay will at least reach playoffs ;-------D
2017-07-15 15:13
Oskar is one of the 5 best players of this upcoming major, beside Coldzera, FalleN, Niko and kennyS. Maybe we can put fer is this list too. I love to watch oskar playing.
2017-07-15 15:40
Lets hope for best for them
2017-07-15 16:33
#84
 | 
United States kelpyG 
Yeah I hope mouz make it to the playoffs too
2017-07-16 02:45
oskar is far away from top 5 players from major, he's overrated af
2017-07-16 07:39
Id honestly put fer over FalleN due to his inhuman brain of being super smart while being aggressive at the same time.
2017-07-16 08:31
yeah, but fer is not a clutch master, like cold and Fallen can do.
2017-07-16 16:59
But most of the time he has more game impact than FalleN
2017-07-17 00:38
#64
rain | 
Germany k1nG1337 
Lets chill m8 and watch naruto!
2017-07-15 18:44
I watch both series and I won't watch Boruto. Its boring in my opinion
2017-07-15 18:47
#82
rain | 
Germany k1nG1337 
+1
2017-07-16 01:53
Lets GO ASTRALIS
2017-07-15 13:54
#7
 | 
Armenia cGev 
Astralis lul
2017-07-15 13:54
#8
 | 
Finland jemixD 
kys
2017-07-15 13:55
#9
 | 
World shreddeR/A/ 
Ez for fnatic
2017-07-15 13:55
Izi 4 olof
2017-07-15 22:25
#10
 | 
United States jekl 
Door
2017-07-15 13:56
Ez money betting in SK
2017-07-15 14:01
faze favorite after that cologne blunder rofl
2017-07-15 14:08
#27
 | 
France Antreas488 
ikr
2017-07-15 14:31
So what? Thats 1 bad event they were in like 6 finals of the last events lol.
2017-07-15 17:36
faze lmao
2017-07-15 14:09
#17
 | 
Moldova OptimusBlyad 
gg
2017-07-15 14:10
#19
 | 
Czech Republic Lister 
allu rating 0.99XDDDDDDDDDDDD
2017-07-15 14:14
Fuck off oskar
2017-07-15 14:23
#24
 | 
Czech Republic Lister 
nice bait
2017-07-15 14:25
ok exitfragger
2017-07-15 14:25
#26
 | 
Czech Republic Lister 
nt 0.99 allu master of missXDDDDD
2017-07-15 14:26
its hard to have good rating, if you are playing against top teams and easy to have great rating if you are playing against t2-3 teams. Best example VP in late 2016 and very early 2017 have average rating around 0.99 and still ran into finals of major and won next event.
2017-07-15 14:33
#63
 | 
Netherlands ItsKBS 
its way easier to get a higher in a big team tho than a top 15 team for example. Allu just sucks accept it lmao
2017-07-15 18:41
Rating is not important, you can have rating 1.2 and you are still stuck in t2 team like oskar or kennys
2017-07-16 01:37
#83
 | 
Netherlands ItsKBS 
but both oskar and kennys are still better, but KennyS is never gonna go for a non-french team and Oskar is starting to shine rn and wouldn't expect Mousesports to sell him to FaZe
2017-07-16 01:59
lol kennyS is bad? if so, allu is a piece of trash
2017-07-16 07:40
Lister, I think FaZe is really needing a better awper. Maybe they should sign with oskar. He's being the best awper IMO currently. allu misses so many easy shots, and he's definetely not a clutch master as well. But oskar, Niko, rain, kio... wat a team!
2017-07-15 15:42
#55
 | 
Netherlands ImKuru 
And karrigan..
2017-07-15 17:33
#56
 | 
Canada Yoseikanben 
Even then allu is still amazing.
2017-07-15 17:34
#20
 | 
Poland crz31 
too ez for Astralis
2017-07-15 14:15
EZ 4 favourite VP Oh wait
2017-07-15 14:18
#22
 | 
Russia alabar 
ez4faze #fazeUp
2017-07-15 14:19
#29
 | 
Poland trancemeister 
SK ERA Ez SK - thank me later.
2017-07-15 14:33
or VP 3-0
2017-07-15 14:37
#36
 | 
Poland trancemeister 
Please...................... :D VP need new blood :) - TaZ / Neo / Pasha + Michu
2017-07-15 15:18
#31
Germany [ml] 
Gambit forever Undergods
2017-07-15 14:37
yea f this major
2017-07-15 14:40
Are you just disappointed none of the favorites are Swedish?
2017-07-15 18:16
That would be a weird thing to be dissapointed about. Its stats, so i obviously know the rankings before some hltv admin write about it
2017-07-15 20:21
#33
 | 
Brazil humakimak 
ferGOD top1 sk 3x major champions
2017-07-15 15:00
#35
f0rest | 
Germany xeeeoN 
BiG underdogs LUL... they will win this shit
2017-07-15 15:17
allu is so shit
2017-07-15 15:18
#38
 | 
El Salvador Xyt0 
ez penta fagget
2017-07-15 15:18
#39
 | 
Brazil vass28 
1st Germany ESL One Cologne 1st United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals 1st Sweden DreamHack Open Summer 3rd-4th United States ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals 1st Australia IEM Sydney 1st United States cs_summit BEST TEAM OF 2K16 AND 2K17 BY FAR
2017-07-15 15:21
Early 2017 and late 2016 were the worst months for sk
2017-07-15 16:28
still they were 2nd and 3-4nd in almost all tournaments
2017-07-16 04:46
#40
 | 
Sweden SodermanP 
vega going 2 play offs!
2017-07-15 15:21
#41
FalleN | 
World Vechnyp 
vega dark horse FeelsGoodMan
2017-07-15 15:35
#43
 | 
Poland general007 
LUL VP gonna win this major, ez money :)
2017-07-15 15:40
VP win
2017-07-15 16:06
ez for astralis #1 team of all time #astralisera #untaggable #denmarkbest #deviceGOD#1 #majorchampions
2017-07-15 16:07
HAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAH
2017-07-15 17:41
#68
NiKo | 
Serbia quartzSRB 
fakeflagger confirmed
2017-07-15 19:24
what? why i'm not fakeflagging kkkkkkkkkkkkk
2017-07-15 20:18
#73
NiKo | 
Serbia quartzSRB 
>HAHAHAAHAHHAHA >brazilian's laugh pick one
2017-07-15 22:19
I pick asuduashduahdahdadhadhuasdhuasdhuasdhsaU
2017-07-15 22:24
I agree
2017-07-15 19:52
#47
 | 
Brazil Charizaldo 
#RunSKG
2017-07-15 16:27
It's gonna be an excellent Major! #runskg
2017-07-15 16:31
#52
 | 
Sweden stew2k 
ez for sk
2017-07-15 16:48
#53
 | 
Paraguay lel0x 
If you have a good critical, you need to know, SK have a Score of all team. You here the people is hater coz dont like brasilians player and dont want to see the good game. GG for all team and i hope to see a great show!
2017-07-15 17:27
#53
 | 
Paraguay lel0x 
If you have a good critical, you need to know, SK have a Score of all team. You here the people is hater coz dont like brasilians player and dont want to see the good game. GG for all team and i hope to see a great show!
2017-07-15 17:27
here = aquí hear = ouvir / Oír
2017-07-16 04:49
#59
 | 
France kennySsSsS 
Offline placings in the last three months 1st Germany ESL One Cologne 1st United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals 1st Sweden DreamHack Open Summer 3rd-4th United States ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals 1st Australia IEM Sydney 1st United States cs_summit bro, this is huge from sk
2017-07-15 17:53
ez with cheats. n0thing special
2017-07-15 18:47
#85
 | 
Brazil erfur 
Man you cry a lot.... Only accuses but shows no concrete evidence.... you dont like ok but dont belittle what they do
2017-07-16 03:34
G2 should definitely be there HLTV, what a joke to put them on the mid-tier. They are by far the worst matchup for SK.
2017-07-15 22:08
#77
NiKo | 
Serbia quartzSRB 
EZ 4 FNATICFNATICFNATICFNATICFNATICFNATICFNATICFNATIC EZ 4 JWonderchild GODolof dennismonster Senor Vac KRiMZSnus #AlwaysFnatic
2017-07-15 22:27
#78
Edward | 
Sweden Phoqe 
ez navi
2017-07-16 00:28
#79
 | 
Germany Kura_ 
Virtus Pro wins this easely!
2017-07-16 01:29
1st Germany ESL One Cologne 1st United Kingdom ECS Season 3 Finals 1st Sweden DreamHack Open Summer 3rd-4th United States ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals 1st Australia IEM Sydney 1st Summit /Closed
2017-07-16 09:11
#94
 | 
Austria punkyx18 
c'mon dosia gonna win this
2017-07-17 10:19
FaZe LUL
2017-07-18 12:51
#96
 | 
Sweden AstralisEzRa 
FaZe Lul
2017-07-18 13:31
FaZe favorites nice meme
2017-07-18 13:57
#98
 | 
Finland Tusku 
well the "Other teams" won the major i see
2017-07-22 19:28
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