Which eight teams are making it through to the Champions Stage? We offer our picks for the IEM Rio Major Legends Stage.
With the Challengers Stage laid to rest, the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major is now moving on to the Legends Stage. There were numerous surprises in the former, with very few — if anyone — correctly predicting the teams that would make it through, let alone the order.
Now the Legends Stage is all set to be a brutal melee where nothing is certain and just about anyone can beat anyone, but we’ll try our hand at making a forecast about which teams are going through to the playoffs anyway. We’ll also touch upon whether each team will win their first matchup or not, which has already been determined.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the event, these are the 16 teams in the Legends Stage:
- FaZe Clan
- Natus Vincere
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Team Spirit
- Team Liquid
- Bad News Eagles
- FURIA Esports
- Team Vitality
Legends Stage Predictions
Rarely has the Legends Stage lineup of a CSGO Major looked this juicily unpredictable, and we reckon almost every match is going to come down to individual popoffs, the tiniest of misplays, and of course, luck. Here are our picks for the Champions Stage.
1. Natus Vincere
Quite predictable, we know. When a team has been at or near the top for so long, it’s hard to ignore that kind of consistency. Sure, they’re no longer as dominant as they were about a year ago, but they still pack a punch and a half. Most importantly, we think this break between EPL 16 and this Legends Stage will have given them time to regroup and increase their team chemistry with their relatively new teammate.
Their first matchup is the new CSGO El Classico of Na’ Vi vs Vitality, but with the latter looking like a shadow of their in-form selves, this shouldn’t pose much of a problem for the Ukrainians. Moving forward, as long as they don’t get matched up with an unknown but powerful quantity such as Sprout or Spirit, they should be fine.
The Danish dynamites don’t have the best of seeding, but they are in decent form and we have a hunch they’re going to step up big at this tournament. René “TeSeS” Madsen and Casper “cadiaN” Møller have been rock solid as of late, and if Rasmus “sjuush” Beck can find his stride, this team has the potential to make it deep at this competition.
Heroic’s first game is against an inconsistent Outsiders squad. The play styles of these two teams are very different, with Heroic being far more aggressive and Outsiders being extremely careful and calculating. That being said, we think Heroic is much more dynamic and adaptive and should take the win.
3. FaZe Clan
The recently dethroned world number one will be keen on taking back their top spot and claiming the Intel Grand Slam by winning this event. On paper, no team can rival the sheer firepower FaZe has, and although they have been relatively shaky lately, that firepower alone is enough to get them through to the playoffs.
FaZe’s first opponent is Cloud9, and although this is going to be a tough one for both teams and could go either way, FaZe should be able to come out on top 3 out of 4 games to take the third spot, if not better.
It’s not every day that you lose the first two matches of the Challengers Stage — the second to one of the lowest ranked teams at the event — and bounce back to qualify. C9 may have had a poor beginning to the tournament, but their strength seems to be growing and they now look ready to handle the very best of teams.
It’ll be a big ask for them to emerge triumphant against the likes of FaZe, but it’s not like they haven’t won that matchup before, having taken the defending Major winners out in the Quarterfinals of ESL Pro League 16. Anything’s possible for a team that has this much talent and years of building chemistry.
5. Team Liquid
After losing the Grand Final of EPL 16 by barely more than a hair, Liquid will be hungry for some success. We don’t have them going past teams of such caliber without struggle, but we definitely see them going through relatively comfortably, especially if Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski is in form.
Liquid’s first opponent MOUZ has looked to be in terrifying form, but we believe they’ll find the Legends stage much more difficult than its Challengers variant. Moreover, the American side simply outclassed the mixed European stack when the two met in the EPL a few weeks ago.
While they will undoubtedly struggle more as we just mentioned, MOUZ do look terrifyingly strong and should be able to make themselves a berth in the playoffs. Dorian “xertioN” Berman and David ”frozen” Čerňanský are both in scintillating touch, and if their teammates rise up alongside them, MOUZ have a very real shot at making it to the top four or even higher at this event.
Their initial grudge match against Liquid may not go their way, and they might not win if faced with the likes of Na’ Vi or FaZe, but it’ll be hard for the other teams to keep MOUZ down as long as they can swallow any choking tendencies.
A relatively unknown quantity at this level of CS, Sprout have the advantage of having the element of surprise on their side. Among their players, only Ismail “refrezh” Ali has played at the top level before, and he should be instrumental in leading what is a relatively inexperienced squad to the hallowed Champions Stage of a Major.
Initially, they are set to go up against German outfit BIG. While the clan has looked to be in much better form than they’ve shown for the rest of the year, Sprout should still be able to get the better of them. They might face stiff competition afterwards, but we have them pegged for the Playoffs.
8. FURIA Esports
Considering the sheer amount of support local teams are getting from the crowd, it would be utterly disappointing if the only remaining South American side didn’t make it to the final stage. FURIA certainly have the skills, but they are as unpredictable as most Brazilian sides and they will have to lay those demons to rest and play their best game in order to be one of the eight Champions.
The South Americans start off their campaign with a fight against fellow mercurial side ENCE, who have their own inconsistencies to address. Given that home “advantage” depends a lot on momentum, we think that a lot will depend on whether or not FURIA can prevent their opponents from getting long streaks of rounds.
Catch the Legends Stage starting November 5, and join us after the proceedings for a full recap.
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