Paris Major: Last CS:GO Leaves with Plenty of Upsets – Trader’s report May 2023 by PandaScore

For PandaScore’s May trading report, Trading Operations Leader Clay Bartolo dives into the Paris Major and the tournament's implications for future Counter-Strike competitions.

The Paris Major was many things: it had the largest prize pool ever for a BLAST tournament, it was the last Major to be played on CS:GO and it was Counter-Strike phenom Zyw0o’s first Major title win.

It was also a tournament that was filled with upsets and unexpected results from start to finish thanks to a combination of seeding, the challenges of playing in the Swiss format and straight-up overperformance. We’ll have to wait until next year for the next Counter-Strike Major which will be taking place on the new game – Counter-Strike 2 – but it was undoubtedly a tournament for the ages.

Seeding curveballs

The Paris Major included an extensive list of qualifying tournaments across every region of the globe, commonly referred to as RMRs (Regional Major Ranking). Ordinarily, you’d expect the best teams to make their way through qualifying without issue, but some upsets in qualifying saw teams like Bad News Eagles, the UK’s Into The Breach and the hot and cold Fnatic seeded highly in the Legends bracket – skipping the first stage of the competition.

This proved advantageous, as some of the bigger names in pro-CS like FaZe Clan and G2 Esports had to wade through the opening Challengers stage. Even in the opening phase of the competition, we saw some mid-tier European teams showing early signs of their quality.

Both Apeks and Ukrainian side Monte were playing good CS from the get-go: Apeks taking a 16-12 win over NA stalwarts Team Liquid, while European juggernauts FaZe Clan needed all 30 rounds to narrowly avoid being scalped by Monte.

These early stages set the tone for the tournament, which only got juicier when it got to the second phase: the Legends stage.

Swiss format poked holes in big teams

The combination of another round of Swiss format games and the rising stock of middle-of-the-road squads lead to a number of shocks and underdog wins.

Into the Breach took full advantage of their early rest and managed to beat FaZe Clan, Apeks took a win off #1 ranked Heroic, Monte beat s1mple’s Na’Vi to secure their spot in the playoffs and GamerLegion began to try and run the table.

The rise of these teams meant something had to give, and that looked like G2 stumbling out of the second group stage at the hands of Fnatic, and the likes of FaZe Clan and Na’Vi fighting over the last qualifying spot.

Despite so many underdog wins, there weren’t super dramatic odds changes as we saw with Rare Atom at the ESL Pro League in March. While these mid-tier teams were taking some names, they were still racking up some losses to the bigger-name teams along the way. There was no seamless run.

Come playoffs we started to see some changes in odds. Liquid vs Apeks was a great example of the shift: in the opening match Liquid was 1.57 to win but when it came to their matchup in the playoffs, Apeks’ form had shifted the odds so that Liquid were still favourites, but now sat at 1.74.

Vitality’s strength and form were still very much recognised despite these underdogs nipping at the big names, they were still heavy favourites against Into The Breach at 1.09, and 1.27  against GamerLegion in the final. Much of Vitality’s success came from star player Zyw0o, who was so dominant that he shifted the needle on his Player Kills Over/Under market from the standard 21.5 kills to 22.5 over his run. Such was his form that when it came to the final, the line was being offered at 23.5 – the very first time this line has ever been offered at this rate.

Many of the headlines have understandably been about Vitality and Zyw0o’s historic performance on home soil in Paris. Still, the tournament has another major lesson for fans, traders and bettors alike: a rising tide lifts all boats.

Lower league development pays dividends

We’ve all learned from the tournament that these mid-tier teams – particularly from Europe – are much better than we thought. There’s less of a gulf between the best teams in the world and the second layer of players and organisations.

It’s largely down to the Champion of Champions Tour (CCT), which has given second-tier teams enormous benefits. At first, the CCT was a bit overwhelming with so many matches happening in so many places, but now that teams are playing in an organised competitive circuit it’s giving them the practice and playtime that the previous patchwork of tournaments couldn’t.

The performances at Paris speak for themselves, with half of the teams in the Champions Stage making regular appearances in the CCT. Europe is of course still the home of Counter-Strike but it’s not just the top dogs anymore.

With the help of some structure we’re starting to see a broader opening of the field, and moving forward expect to see more fresh names and faces because these teams are something to be taken seriously.

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