This article is part of our CS:GO series.
It's that time of year -- the next CS:GO major is upon is with the best of the best from around the globe clashing to take the title. With three grueling stages in store there are sure to be upsets and heartbreaks across the board. Kicking off the tournament is the Challengers stage, where the top eight teams will advance to the Legends stage and the IEM Rio Major main event. Here's a look at some players to target and fade.
Players to Target
When I sit down to write these, putting this man first seems like a free space at this point. The top player in the world with a 1.37 rating over the past three months on one of the tournament favorites, but in the Challengers stage due to seeding? It's really easy to overthink this, just don't do it. ZywOo is the best player in the world and nobody in this stage can even think of matching him on the day. ZywOo is a slam dunk in any possible matchup in the Challengers stage.
Ax1Le has been in some brilliant form of late and gets to open his Challengers stage in a very favorable clash with Fnatic. The rifler has a 1.22 rating in the past three months despite playing in exclusively top-tier competitions during that time. Ax1Le and sh1ro are the superstar duo of a Cloud9 side who will expect to qualify with a 3-0 record and anything short of that would be a disappointment. Ax1Le was the fifth ranked player coming into 2022 and he's done nothing but prove that he deserves that ranking and even more under the Cloud9 banner.
KSCERATO struggled earlier in the 2022 campaign, but all of that is behind him as he's caught fire in the past three months. The superstar rifler will be back in front of a home crowd and boasts a 1.31 rating as well as 0.80 kills per round over the past three months. Those type of stats make it impossible to ignore KSCERATO, and make him one of the top options in all formats throughout the Challengers stage. FURIA are among the heavy favorites for the Challengers stage and KSCERATO leads the way alongside his long-time superstar duo yuurih, both of whom are brilliant options in all fantasy formats.
Players to Fade
GamerLegion are one of the feel-good stories coming into the Challengers stage after an improbable qualification campaign saw them just scrape through the RMR. That said it's hard to trust a feel-good story over stats and siuhy is the perfect example. With a 0.95 rating and just 0.62 kills per round, there's simply not enough there for fantasy managers. Even when at their peak successfulness, this isn't a roster that plays through siuhy. acoR and iM both are worth considering on Gamer Legion, especially in a favorable clash with 9z to open the tournament.
MOUZ's in-game leader dexter is a common member of these articles, specifically in the red section, and yet people still roster him. You don't get points for good communication and impeccable strategies, and dexter offers little more than that. The in-game leader is in some of the best form of his life... and boasts a 1.02 rating with 0.66 kills per round. That is his absolute ceiling, and it's barely reaching acceptable levels. dexter and MOUZ should make it through the Challenger stage, but he's not the player to target from this roster.
NEOFRAG and OG are one of the most debated teams in the Challengers stage. Some will point towards their wins over Outsiders as proof that they are world class. Others will look at the fact that they qualified by beating Falcons and Illuminar and stay far away from this roster. It's hard to say either side is correct but NEOFRAG certainly hasn't shown enough to be a major fantasy play. With a 0.95 rating in the past three months and just 0.62 kills per round there's nothing there for fantasy managers in any formats. NEOFRAG's peak value would be in an opening match against Greyhound, which should be as close to a free space as possible in the Major, but even then F1KU could be a better sleeper play.
Stats courtesy of HLTV.org