The first section of the IEM Rio Major is over, and we’re taking a look back before we move on to the next.
There’s always a lot of hype surrounding any CSGO Major, and Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major 2022 was no different. In the course of its Challengers Stage, it has lived up to its promise and proven to be one of the most exciting Majors in recent times. This is only the second Major in history to hold the Challengers Stage in front of a crowd, and boy was it worth it. People came out in droves and hundreds watched and cheered as the teams went at each others’ throats.
There were a few utterly shocking results, barely anything went the way it was expected to, and many hearts were broken. Without further ado, then, let’s take a look at what the Challengers Stage offered.
Promising newcomers GamerLegion began the tournament by thumping local favorites 9z 16-6 on Inferno, but what was more shocking was MOUZ doing the exact same thing to CIS veterans Outsiders.
Up next, Brazilian teams’ poor run of form continued as 00 Nation were massacred 16-3 on Vertigo by up-and-coming underdogs Bad News Eagles. This was followed by OG taking out Aussie stack Grayhound Gaming 16-5 on, once again, Inferno.
German hopeful BIG made a statement and a half with a 19-16 win over regional powerhouse FURIA Esports on Vertigo, and American side Evil Geniuses eased past Chinese outfit IHC 16-9 on the first Nuke of the tournament.
World number one Vitality trumped Brazilian stack Imperial 16-9 on Inferno, and Cloud9 vs Fnatic was the most intense game of the first round, with the final score being a 19-17 win for the latter.
EG vs MOUZ was, at one point, a lot closer than the final score of 16-10 to the latter would suggest, but MOUZ were never really in any real danger. Meanwhile, IHC gave Outsiders a run for their money but couldn’t conquer their mountain as the Russian squad won 16-12 on Overpass.
BIG looked dominant in their first half against Bad News Eagles on Dust 2, but the youngsters completely shut their opponents out on the CT-side to win the match 16-11. Meanwhile, 00 Nation were brutalized 16-6 by FURIA on Mirage.
On the lower end of the table, Vitality’s second match didn’t pan out as they might have hoped, with the French and Danish team losing 16-10 to GL on Vertigo. Meanwhile, in the second local derby, 9z beat out Imperial 16-11 on Mirage.
Fnatic vs OG was a hard-fought affair, but the Swedish organization managed to edge their opponents out 16-13 on Mirage. At the same time, Grayhound Gaming shocked the world by handing C9 their second defeat 19-17 on Dust2.
Among the High teams, MOUZ vs Fnatic involved the two sides exchanging comfortable 16-8 and 9-16 victories on Vertigo and Inferno respectively, but the former managed to close the series with a 16-9 win on Ancient. Afterwards, BNE outclassed GL with straightforward 16-9 and 16-7 wins on Ancient and Mirage.
EG vs 9z in the Mid category was a thrilling struggle between North and South America, with the southerners winning the game 19-17 in Overtime. Next, Vitality failed to overcome Outsiders and lost 12-16 on Overpass.
BIG proceeded to trounce Grayhound Gaming 16-6 on Dust 2, but OG vs FURIA was an extremely close affair with the latter winning 19-16 in overtime on Overpass.
The closest match of the tournament so far took place between elimination-threatened 00 Nation and IHC, with the winning Ancient 16-14 but the Chinese side striking back with absolutely identical 19-16 wins on Inferno and Overpass. This was followed by two more Overtime games — both of which were won by C9 against Imperial. The first finished 19-15 on Overpass, and the second ended 22-19 on Vertigo.
In the first High match, BIG stomped 9z 16-4 on Nuke, but could only take Dust 2 19-15 in Overtime. It was a similar story between Outsiders and Fnatic, with the former smashing the Swedish outfit 16-1 on Overpass before taking Mirage 16-14. Lastly, FURIA kept their region’s hopes alive with 16-9 and 16-11 wins over GL.
Down below, IHC proved that they belong in the Major by pushing OG to the limit. The Europeans took 16-11 on Inferno and 16-14 on Ancient, but the Asians earned massive respect from the fans. Vitality took out Grayhound Gaming comfortably, with 16-6 and 16-12 triumphs on Inferno and Mirage. Finally, C9 kept their own tournament dreams alive while sending EG packing with a 16-5 bashing on Dust 2 and a comfortably 16-11 win on Overpass.
With everything on the line, Vitality and OG fought tooth and nail on Vertigo, but the former emerged victorious with a scoreline of 19 to 17. However, OG knocked the stuffing out of their opponents with a dominating 16-6 win on Inferno. Vitality had the last laugh, though, as they outclassed OG 16-8 on Dust 2.
C9 took twin 16-13 victories over GL on Overpass and Mirage. The first was a tenacious comeback after a disastrous start, but the second saw both times locked in a war of attrition before one pulled slightly away.
Lastly, 9z’s hopes were snuffed out by Fnatic, who won 16-11 on Mirage and 16-14 on Nuke. Once again, both matches were tight games, but experience spoke over spirit.
MOUZ and Bad News Eagles might just shake some Legends Stage teams to the core when they get there, and after their recent performances, very few people will be surprised if they make it to the playoffs.
It’s good to see Outsiders and BIG finally hitting at the level they are expected to hit at, but the jury’s out on whether they’ll be able to replicate such results moving forward. FURIA on the other hand have made a great recovery after a poor start, and we see them conquering some higher-level foes.
Fnatic have faced some seriously meaty opponents and gotten the better of most, and they’re undoubtedly capable of causing some damage up ahead. Vitality on the other hand have a lot to prove after a thoroughly underwhelming show so far. Lastly, C9 are on the rise, and if they can find their stride in time, we all know what they’re capable of.
It was a disappointing ending for GL and OG. Both look like they’re not quite ready for top-level opposition yet, although OG certainly seems to have more firepower. The same can be said of 9z, who would have qualified right at the top if they had been able to win against GL.
Grayhound and IHC will leave the tournament cherishing their singular wins, but EG will leave thoroughly disappointed after having shown some good form in recent times.
Sadly for the fallen local heroes (pun fully intended) Imperial and 00 Nation, their tournaments were nothing short of disasters. They will have to reflect and rearrange plenty before they can regain their morale again.
Join us again when we recap the Legends Stage once that’s over.