Missed the action from the second round of the IEM Rio Major? Worry not. We’ve got you.
Following a shocking, unpredictable Challengers Stage, the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major returned for an equally surprising Legends Stage. As has become the norm for this Major, there were plenty of surprises and upsets to add to the pre-existing drama, with perhaps the biggest shock of all being that the defending Major champions are no longer in the running. The crowds were bigger, the noise was louder, and the games were more hype. Here’s a quick look at all the stuff that went down.
The Bo1s began with a jaw-dropper as MOUZ absolutely dismantled Liquid with a 16-2 thumping on Inferno, picking up no fewer than a whopping 13 rounds on the T-side. Afterward, Team Spirit welcomed the youngsters of Bad News Eagles to the Legends Stage with a comprehensive 16-8 victory on Ancient, ignoring their opponents’ defensive efforts to get 9 straight rounds on the T-side to close the game.
Defending champions FaZe Clan took the first of their Ls against Cloud9 16-14 on Overpass, with the CIS players coming back after being down 13-4 at one point. Following this, German outfit BIG continued their form from the Challengers Stage with a 16-11 triumph against surprise Legends Sprout on Vertigo.
As expected, Natus Vincere vs Team Vitality was an absolute thriller that went all the way and then some. The match finally ended in the third bout of Overtime with the Ukrainians closing Mirage 25-21. Meanwhile, Heroic began their journey with a commanding 16-9 victory against Outsiders on Overpass.
FURIA made short work of ENCE on Vertigo to the delight of the crowd, conceding only 6 rounds in the course of a win featuring a brutal 10 rounds on the T-side. The final match of Round 1 saw the oldest El Classico of CSGO in the form of Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Fnatic — on Inferno no less — which the latter took 16-13.
Among the High matches, MOUZ’s dream run at the Major came to a crashing end as they lost 16-7 to a resurgent BIG on Mirage. Meanwhile, C9 made yet another CT-side comeback — from 13-7 down against Na’ Vi on Mirage this time — to emerge victorious by the barest of margins in regulation time.
Despite a rock-solid CT-side on Mirage consisting of 11 rounds to their name, Spirit hit a brick wall called FURIA while attacking, and lost 16-13. A strong Mirage CT-side was also the main feature of the final game of the High group, in which Fnatic were humiliated 16-2 by an unstoppable Heroic.
On the lower side of the matches, Liquid took out their frustration from the previous day on Sprout, thrashing them 16-5 on Inferno. Next up, to the surprise of many, FaZe could only score one more than Sprout on the same map except against Vitality, who took a whopping 12 rounds on the T-side.
ENCE picked up their first win of the Major 16-7 on Ancient against a hapless BNE after displaying an ironclad defense, and Outsiders took out NIP comfortably despite a relatively close scoreline of 16-12 on Mirage.
With the Legends Stage heating up, two teams were ready to take their spot in the playoffs. Cloud9 simply outclassed Heroic on both Vertigo and Inferno for twin 16-9 victories, taking a whopping 20 total T-side rounds over the course of the two maps. In the other High match, FURIA were even more dominant as they subjected BIG to 16-9 and 16-6 defeats on Nuke and Vertigo, respectively.
The last of the Bo1 matches were extremely intense as Liquid just about edged out Na’ Vi on Ancient after coming back from an awful 12-3 first half. MOUZ and Vitality went the distance and a bit more as the French side lost 19-17 in Overtime on good old Mirage.
The CIS clash between Spirits and Outsiders ended in climactic fashion on the 30th round on Dust 2, with the latter just about pulling in clutch at the last moment. Fnatic vs ENCE, however, was much simpler as the Swedish side won 16-7 on Nuke.
Down on the Low side, Faze’s horror Major continued (or rather, ceased to continue) as, despite an inspired comeback in the second map, they lost the series 16-19, 16-8, and 22-20 to BNE on Vertigo, Nuke, and Mirage respectively. The last match of the day saw another team that a lot of people expected in the playoffs crashing out 3-0 in the form of NIP, who were beaten 16-11 and 16-14 on Vertigo and Ancient by a tenacious Sprout.
With qualification to the Playoffs or facing the dreaded Round 5 being the options, the High teams had a lot on the line. Outsiders went 16-10 in consecutive games on Overpass and Inferno to skip past MOUZ and into the Champions Stage. Next up, Fnatic continued their good form to push regional rivals BIG into the fifth day after taking Overpass 16-14 and Mirage 16-7. Finally, Heroic swept Liquid aside 16-8 on Vertigo before the Americans bounced back with a 16-5 stomp on Mirage, but the former would have the last laugh with a 16-11 win on Overpass.
On the spicier side of things, Na’ Vi showed their mettle with a comfortable 16-3 (Ancient) and 16-9 (Nuke) sweep to knock out BNE. Meanwhile, ENCE disposed of the number one ranked team in the world, Vitality, with results of 16-12 on Vertigo and 19-15 on Nuke. Finally, Spirit lived to fight another day after taking out Sprout 16-9 and 16-8 on Nuke and Vertigo.
This deep into the Legends Stage, only 6 teams remained, with half having a shot at ultimate glory. MOUZ crushed ENCE on Ancient 16-5, the Finnish team with no Finnish players came back with a 16-8 bang on Nuke, and MOUZ closed out the series with a 16-9 win on Mirage to qualify for the playoffs of a Major as an organization for only the second time in history.
BIG said arguably the hardest goodbye to the Major, losing only one of their first six matches only to crash out across the last 3 series. They certainly gave Na’ Vi a run for their money, but the CIS squad made it to the Playoffs with comfortably 16-12 and 16-11 wins on Mirage and Dust 2 back to back.
Finally, any remaining hopes the NA region may have had were snuffed out by Team Spirit, who beat Team Liquid 2-1 in their series to reach their first-ever Major playoffs. The Eastern European side beat their opponents 16-10 on Vertigo before losing 16-12 on Mirage, but they clinched the third map, Ancient, 16-13 to close the series and ensure safe passage into the Champions Stage.
IEM Rio Major Analysis
With the top seed secured thanks to their Buchholz Score, C9 has outdone any expectations anyone may have had after seeing them lose their first two games way back in the Challengers Stage. Those blips are but a distant memory now as they move into the Playoffs to face MOUZ with sky-high morale. On the other end, the youngsters of MOUZ have nothing to lose, and will look to do their best regardless of any other factors.
The organizations of both Fnatic and Outsiders may be almost as old as competitive Counter-Strike itself, but Outsiders’ current squad doesn’t have much Major experience, with only one player has played a Major final — which he lost to Astralis. The same is true for Fnatic, except their only Major final player actually won two of them while also losing one. Both teams have everything to prove and have already surpassed most peoples’ expectations — especially Fnatic.
Heroic have looked very strong during their run through the Legends Stage, but there were some cracks. Spirit will be looking to exploit said cracks in any way they can, and they’ll be doing so free from the burden of expectations, but full of the anxiety and stress of an experience they are unfamiliar with.
FURIA has enjoyed immense, borderline ridiculous support in Rio, and will be a force for a shaky Na’ Vi to reckon with as long as momentum is on their side and they have the crowd chanting. That’s not to say that the ever-popular Ukrainian side won’t have a barrage of support in Rio, though, and it’ll eventually come down to individual performances and team strats.
Make sure you check in after every Playoff day for a recap of the day’s play.