Haavard (28) is to defend the World Championship title in Counter-Strike

PGL eSports

Håvard “rain” Nygaard and FaZe Clan start their journey towards another Major trophy in the mighty Riocentro, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

You can follow our only Norwegian and his FaZe Clan in Rio from 16:15 on Saturday already, via ESL’s Twitch channel.

The first obstacle on the road is Cloud9 – a team FaZe Clan has had trouble against several times before. The last two times the teams have met, Cloud9 has run away with the win, knocking out the world’s best teams from both IEM Dallas and the ESL Pro League.

Cloud9, on the other hand, has had a surprising opening in the Challenger Stage, losing their first two matches against Fnatic and Grayhound – both 17-19 after overtime. Since those peels, the team did indeed clean sheet and beat Imperial, Evil Geniuses, and GamerLegion by the numbers 2-0 in front of the Brazilian home crowd.

Just after FaZe Clan and Cloud9 battle it out to see who will take the first step toward the playoffs, it’s certainly ready for another treat when Vitality meets Natus Vincere.

For several years, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut and Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev have been fighting for the title of the world’s best player. Kostyliev took HLTV.org’s ranking last time out, while Herbaut ran away with the title the previous two years. So far this year, the two stars are more or less equal in terms of individual statistics, and both teams have one trophy each so far this year.

Home ground did not have the desired effect

In the Challenger Stage, there were probably many who had greater expectations than what the local teams showed in front of the wild crowd in Riocentro.

Furia, Imperial, and Norwegian-owned 00Nation all lost in their first match, and the home crowd had nothing to cheer about until Furia finally beat 00Nation in a straight Brazilian duel. Furia also became the only Brazilian team to advance in the tournament as both 00Nation and Imperial exited after three losses in the preliminary rounds.

GamerLegion got off to a good start, taking two strong wins over 9z and Vitality, but when the matches went to best-of-three, they found themselves struggling. It was also tough for Fnatic, Cloud9, and Vitality, but the three big teams narrowly advanced in the end.

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