From Berlin to Stockholm - What has changed?
What have the teams that attended the last CS:GO Major been up to and just how much has changed in those two years?
It has been more than two years since Astralis were crowned the champions of the StarLadder Major Berlin on September 8, 2019. A lot has changed since our last world championship, not only for the game itself but the teams and the players that attended the event.
With all the teams attending the PGL Major in Stockholm confirmed, now it's a good time to take a look at some of the biggest changes among the teams that are returning from the last CS:GO Major.
NIP - Departure of the legendary duo
Ninjas in Pyjamas are one of the squads with the highest turnover since their 15th-16th exit from the Berlin tournament. The Ninjas saw the departure of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund — two legendary figures of the game and staples of the Ninjas in Pyjamas roster since the organization's entrance in CS:GO. Maikil "Golden" Selim was a stand-in for the event as Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Zamora was ineligible to play and thus left after the Major, while GeT_RiGhT left the team shortly afterward with Simon "twist" Eliasson being brought in.
In early 2020 Björn "THREAT" Pers returned as the head coach, and Ninjas in Pyjamas began a period of rebuilding with f0rest leaving to join the Dignitas project and Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson being moved to the bench. In their place came young guns Hampus "hampus" Poser and Tim "nawwk" Jonasson.
Since Reedtz's arrival, the ninjas have been inconsistent in their performance but have seemingly picked up steam and consistency ahead of their home Major after the latest change in the squad saw ztr being moved back to the academy squad, as Linus "LNZ" Holtäng took his place in the senior lineup.
Fredrik "REZ" Sterner
Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund
Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg
Maikil "Golden" Selim
Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson
Faruk "pita" Pita (coach)
G2 - From French to international
G2 made some headlines of their own since the last Major. As tier 1 talent from France became difficult to come by, the team acquired the Balkan duo of Nemanja "nexa" Isaković and Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač from CR4ZY to replace Richard "shox" Papillon and Lucas "Lucky" Chastang. The disappointing 11th-12th placement at the Major the year prior seemed to be behind them and the future looked bright, as G2 completed several deep tournament runs, most notably reaching the finals at IEM Katowice 2020, ESL One: Road to Rio, and DreamHack Masters Spring 2020.
Despite reaching multiple finals, G2 were unable to take any trophies home, but no changes were enacted until the last quarter of 2020. Autumn saw reports of Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer coming back to practice with FaZe instead of Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, and from that moment it was clear that G2 had pulled off the heist of the year. NiKo was brought in to be the superstar of the team, seemingly completing the G2 puzzle with all the pieces necessary to become a force of nature.
The results did not come immediately. It took several disappointing tournament exits before the team decided to bench Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and reinstate Audric "JACKZ" Jug to the team, leading to an exciting run of tournaments in the leadup to IEM Cologne 2021.
The German event was the first LAN tournament in more than a year and the offline setting seemed to suit G2's players. A convincing run to the final before the player break confirmed the potential that this team possessed despite not fielding a dedicated AWPer.
However, G2 are coming into the Major in a truly atrocious form following the end of the player break, with a series of poor results at EPL 14, BLAST Premier Fall, and IEM Fall behind them as the team barely cling to their Legends spot.
François "AMANEK" Delaunay
Richard "shox" Papillon
Audric "JACKZ" Jug
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub
Lucas "Lucky" Chastang
Damien "maLeK" Marcel (coach)
FaZe - The everlasting olofmeister
NiKo departing the squad was only one of many changes in the FaZe lineup over the last two years. Originally participating at the event trialing Filip "NEO" Kubski, the European team quickly reached into the market after their 12th-14th exit at the Major. In the aftermath FaZe parted ways with NEO and sold Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács to Natus Vincere, and in their place came a young AWPer named Helvijs "broky" Saukants and star rifler Marcelo "coldzera" David.
The following year was no less turbulent for FaZe after olofmeister left the active lineup in May, leaving the team looking for the right fit, as they had Aurimas "Bymas" Pipiras step in before settling on Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye. FaZe remained more or less stable and even able to win IEM New York Europe a month before the next change in November, when G2 acquired NiKo and olofmeister returned to the lineup.
The first six months of 2021 saw Kjaerbye moved to the bench to make space for Liquid's benched star Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken and olofmeister again leaving the active lineup to make space for Finn "karrigan" Andersen's return. Alongside the new signings, Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström returned as the head coach following the expiry of his ESIC ban. The star-studded squad was unable to deliver on its potential, however, resulting in coldzera's departure and the veteran Swede making his return again.
Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer
Håvard "rain" Nygaard
Filip "NEO" Kubski
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač
Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács
Janko "YNk" Paunović (coach)
ENCE - A second eureka?
None of the players fielded by ENCE in Berlin will be making a comeback in Stockholm. Even before the Major had taken place, it was confirmed by the Finnish organization that Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen would be leaving after the event in favor of Miikka "suNny" Kemppi, in a move the team would come to regret.
With interpersonal issues between Aleksi "allu" Jalli and the rest of the team growing impossible to deal with and good results coming few and far between, the second half of 2020 saw the majority of the squad exit the team, starting with Sami "xseveN" Laasanen leaving for HAVU in August. Jani "Aerial" Jussila, suNny, and Jere "sergej" Salo soon followed, stepping down from the active roster in the next couple of months.
As the Finnish core left, ENCE moved around in the market trying to sign new players, eventually forming a European mix that would have an unexpected run to the finals of IEM Fall 2021, qualifying them for the Major.
The first additions were Joonas "doto" Forss and Eetu "sAw" Saha from HAVU in November 2020, before Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, and Lotan "Spinx" Giladi were acquired in February from c0ntact alongside Paweł "dycha" Dycha from Sprout. The last piece of the puzzle came in the form of Olek "hades" Miskiewicz, as the young Polish AWPer took the place of allu.
Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen
Jere "sergej" Salo
Aleksi "allu" Jalli
Jani "Aerial" Jussila
Sami "xseveN" Laasanen
Slaava "Twista" Räsänen (coach)
Liquid - FalleN's first international foray
The squad that dominated the summer of 2019 and speedran the Intel Grand Slam did not make it past the semifinals of the Berlin Major, falling to eventual winners Astralis in the quarterfinals.
Changes did not come immediately for Liquid. The North American team waited until August of 2020 before benching Nick "nitr0" Cannella in favor of Michael "Grim" Wince, with the IGL making a transition to VALORANT after being sidelined. Liquid also parted ways with Eric "adreN" Hoag, and player-turned-analyst and commentator Jason "moses" O'Toole was brought in as the new head coach for the squad, only to see Hoag return in May 2021.
With the team's performances declining throughout the year and Twistzz not performing to his usual standards, Liquid moved the Canadian star to the bench and brought in Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, who has been exchanging leadership duties with Jake "Stewie2K" Yip back and forth ever since.
Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski
Jake "Stewie2K" Yip
Keith "NAF" Markovic
Nick "nitr0" Cannella
Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken
Eric "adreN" Hoag (coach)
Vitality - Au revoir, RpK
Another one of the favorites going into Berlin having their run cut short by underdogs AVANGAR were Vitality. The consequences were felt in the roster shortly after, with Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt being benched only a couple of days after the Frenchmen were knocked out of the Major. In the end, Vitality reached to G2's bench to find a replacement, bringing in shox to complete the roster.
2020 was no kinder to the stability of the roster. Alex "ALEX" McMeekin stepped down from the active roster in early March, quoting burnout and the amount of travel time in the previous year, unbeknownst to the fact that the latter problem would cease to exist just weeks later. Despite being linked with a few established names in the French scene, Vitality decided to take a gamble with rookie Kévin "misutaaa" Rabier.
The French roster was also one of the first to seriously integrate a six-man roster after acquiring Nabil "Nivera" Benrlitom from Heretics, subbing the young Belgian on several maps, effectively expanding the French map pool.
Despite their success in the online era, Valve's decision to punish player substitutions in the Regional Major Ranking circuit forced Vitality to bench Nivera in March. A month later, the team announced that French veteran and legend Cédric "RpK" Guipouy would be departing the team and that Jayson "Kyojin" Nguyen Van would take his place.
Vitality have consistently improved since Kyojin's arrival and with misutaaa performing better over the last six months, the Frenchmen could be set for a very good Major. Of course, you cannot forget the ever-excellent Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, who has looked strong as ever despite the team's occasional woes.
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire
Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut
Cédric "RpK" Guipouy
Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt
Alex "ALEX" McMeekin
Rémy "XTQZZZ" Quoniam (coach)
NAVI - s1mple's best chance yet?
StarLadder Berlin was the last Major Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko played in before retiring from CS:GO, and in anticipation of the move, Natus Vincere had already brought in Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov with the explicit aim of passing on in-game leadership to him. After spending more than two years on FaZe, veteran AWPer GuardiaN made an exciting comeback to the CIS team, and this new era of Natus Vincere would be overseen by Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy, as Mikhaylo "Kane" Blagin departed alongside Zeus.
Early 2020 saw Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy take GuardiaN's spot following a poor series of performances from the Slovakian sniper while the new roster failed to live up to expectations. After integrating the young Russian, the squad took time to click but peaked at just the right time, able to take home the trophy at IEM Katowice.
On the eve of the new year 2021, Valeriy "b1t" Vakhovskiy was promoted to the main squad from NAVI Junior, initially only playing a few maps for the senior roster before transitioning to a full-time spot in the squad instead of long-time member Egor "flamie" Vasilyev.
Since then Natus Vincere have taken the crown at IEM Cologne and ESL Pro League Season 14, conquering the third ever Intel Grand Slam and making them one of the favorites going into the Major.
Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev
Denis "electroNic" Sharipov
Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov
Egor "flamie" Vasilyev
Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko
Mikhaylo "Kane" Blagin (coach)
Astralis - A dynasty without their prince
The four-time Major champions managed to hold out before making any changes for longer than most squads. Most of Astralis' activity in the 2020 market came during the early months of the online era, as Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth took temporary medical leave while Jakob "JUGi" Hansen and Patrick "es3tag" Hansen slotted in for the absent players. Meanwhile, the organization communicated their intention to eventually create an extended roster.
Spring 2021 saw one of the biggest transfers in the game when star AWPer and long-term member of the squad device was acquired by Ninjas in Pyjamas. Reedzt left some big shoes to fill, and after experiencing concerning woes without a real AWPer, Astralis decided to take a gamble on a young Philip "Lucky" Ewald.
The squad remained more or less stable, with Bubzkji previously subbing in occasionally on Nuke until he was able to play on a full-time basis following uncertainties over Xyp9x's future in the squad. However, ahead of the Stockholm Major, it was announced that Andersen would not play at the tournament after helping Astralis qualify.
Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander
Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen
Emil "Magisk" Reif
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
Nicolai "device" Reedtz
Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)
MOUZ - dexter's laboratory
The international mix's exit from Berlin in the New Legends stage was a harsh one to take for the then-karrigan-led squad, as they were in a solid position to advance to the next stage with a 2-1 record before facing the tournament favorites Vitality and Liquid for their deciding matches.
Disappointment at the Major did not lead to any immediate changes as the same roster went on to appear on and win several LAN finals in the last quarter of 2019, including EPL Season 10, cs_summit 5, and the CS:GO Asia Championships 2019.
The online era was, however, not kind to the roster. Despite early successes in the year the team, and especially Özgür "woxic" Eker, were unable to find consistency, and thus the first changes started to come in. The Turkish sniper was benched in August 2020 in favor of Bymas as the young Lithuanian rifler had recently joined the team as a developmental player following the end of his trial ta FaZe.
After suspending Allan "Rejin" Petersen for a month during ESIC's investigation of the coaching bug scandal, MOUZ parted ways with the coach after his culpability in the affair was confirmed, signing Torbjørn "mithR" Nyborg the following month.
2021 saw the benching of long-term member Chris "chrisJ" de Jong after a poor series of performances with the squad, with the Dutch veteran replaced by Danish Sniper Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand from MAD Lions. Rumors of a possible karrigan return to FaZe were confirmed after the team's decision to acquire Australian IGL Christopher "dexter" Nong from Renegades.
The dexter-led team went on to win the Flashpoint 3 event but has failed to reach the quarterfinals of any of the big tournaments they attended since their victory at the RMR event.
Robin "ropz" Kool
David "frozen" Čerňanský
Finn "karrigan" Andersen
Özgür "woxic" Eker
Chris "chrisJ" de Jong
Allan "Rejin" Petersen (coach)
Same players, different organizations
Among the returning teams who signed for a different organization in the meantime are Virtus.pro, after the Russian giant acquired the former AVANGAR roster that reached the final of the Berlin Major. The CIS squad has only made one change since, parting ways with veteran Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev and bringing in a young and aggressive rifler in the form of Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis.
NRG's top-four finish at the major was enough to attract interest from other organizations to acquire the roster, with Evil Geniuses being the ones able to bag one of the most promising squads in North America.
But despite successes in late 2019 and the first months of the online era, Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's men failed to maintain consistency. Since the acquisition of the roster, Evil Geniuses saw the departure of Ethan "Ethan" Arnold and Chet "Chet" Singh to VALORANT as well as the benching of Tarik "tarik" Celik. In their place came Owen "oBo" Schlatter and Michał "MICHU" Müller, while the coaching spot was initially filled by Wilton "zews" Prado for more than a year, before Damian "daps" Steele took the mantle of coach in June 2021.
The ones that missed out
The players representing the Renegades organization at the Berlin Major failed to requalify for Stockholm. The Oceanic core changed organizations twice between the two Majors, initially competing under the 100 Thieves brand before moving to EXTREMUM after the North American organization released the roster.
The Renegades brand will however return to Stockholm after qualifying through the Oceanic RMR circuit, with most of the players that had attended the New Challengers stage in Berlin under the Grayhound banner.
Representing DreamEaters are Vladislav "Krad" Kravchenko and Igor "Forester" Bezotecheskiy as the duo will compete in the Challenger Stage of the Major for Entropiq after joining the squad in May 2021.
Only one of the players that represented North has made a comeback for this Major following the organization ceasing operations in February 2021. Nicklas "gade" Gade joined BIG after Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş' departure and is set to make a return in the Challenger stage of the Valve-sponsored event.
MIBR failed to qualify through the South American RMR circuit, losing out to Sharks. Out of the players that had represented the organization in Berlin, only two have made a comeback, with Epitacio "TACO" de Melo leading GODSENT and FalleN captaining Liquid.