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Credit: PGL

Legends rise

The big boys arrive – IEM Rio 2022 Legends preview




With the IEM Rio 2022 Challengers Stage now behind us, 8 teams will be advancing to the Legends Stage in Rio de Janeiro. The Legends stage will be a taller task, however, especially with no Brazilian or Asian teams possible to farm wins against.

With the big boys of CSGO (and Sprout) now entering the competition, IEM Rio 2022’s Legends Stage looks to be one for the ages. Even without Astralis and G2, the field is one of the most competitive at a Major in recent memory.

The biggest of those is of course FaZe and NAVI. The two teams have been neck and neck for the top spot in CSGO’s team rankings all year and many of the year’s finals have been contested between them. For FaZe, it’s a chance at a second Major of the year and taking home the Intel Grand Slam. For NAVI, it’s a chance to reclaim their spot at the top and prevent FaZe from winning the last big event of the year.

Funnily enough, however, we don’t think either of them will win. Always the contrarians, our money is on NA’s last hope, Team Liquid. They may only have reached their current heights due to EU influence in Mareks “YEKINDAR” Galinskis, but NA’s most successful team is a force to be reckoned with once more. They didn’t win when they were meant to in Berlin three years ago, but Rio might just be their moment.

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Vitality will also be hoping they can take home the event. As HLTV’s number one ranked team and already warm from playing the Challengers Stage, despite their difficult run in that stage, they’ll feel well prepared to go further.

The only other real contender is Cloud9, well, if they could get over their fear of crowds at least. Dimitry “sh1ro” Sokolov was the best player in the Challengers Stage and at some points seemed like a one-man army. Unfortunately for Cloud9, with IGL Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov preferring to play 4v5 simulator than CS and star rifler Sergey “Ax1le” Rykhtorov afraid to take 1v1 fights, it feels like the Legends Stage may be the end of the road for Cloud9 at IEM Rio 2022.

NIP will be looking to put on a strong showing in the IEM Rio 2022 Legends Stage. After impressing at the RMR, NIP looks an entirely different outfit after switching Frederik “REZ” Sterner to the AWP and bringing in Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen to IGL. They’ll also be feeling they have one of the more favorable first-round draws with Fnatic, who, for what it’s worth, won’t go very far at this stage.

MOUZ and Bad News Eagles were the two teams to go 3-0 in the Challengers Stage, but only one of those stands a chance here. Bad News Eagles may be phenomenal on CT side, but their T sides are woeful. At the end of the day, they’re also nothing more than a FACEIT five stack, so don’t expect them to do too much damage. On the other hand, MOUZ finally has a threatening lineup with the inclusion of Dorian “xertioN” Berman, they could do some real damage here.

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Rounding out the CIS teams at the event are Outsiders and Spirit. With all the saving they do, Outsiders are typically painful to watch, but Petr “fame” Bolyshev is currently doing his utmost to subvert those expectations. At 19, he seems as much of a future star as xertioN. Speaking of future stars, Spirit is full of them. In particular, they have Robert “Patsi” Isyanov, who is Major-form Egor “flamie” Vasilyev reincarnate. One of these teams will qualify for the Champions Stage, we’re sure of that.

There are two German teams at the event… sort of. Sprout now has a Danish core and that Danish core looked great at the RMR, but we feel like they won’t look so great here. As for BIG, Florian “syrsoN” Rische might have performed above his usual LAN average, but we’d rather watch paint dry than BIG so we hope they go out early.

With Astralis’ pitiful RMR performance, Denmark’s sole representative in the IEM Rio 2022 Legends Stage is Heroic. Things haven’t gone quite as well as Heroic may have expected them to since signing Jakob “jabbi” Nygaard. The move was meant to alleviate the issues caused by Ismail “refrezh” Ali’s lack of working hands, but unfortunately, it has failed to do so. They look less like a team than they did with refrezh and we really don’t expect much from there here.

The last team representing the home crowd is FURIA. In all honesty, we feel quite good about FURIA’s chance here in the Legends Stage of IEM Rio 2022. Home crowd advantage might be a myth, but this crowd is something else entirely and FURIA is the only team they have left. It also helps that their players are playing at levels far above their average so far, most importantly their IGL Andrei “arT” Piovezan, who needs to perform to ensure FURIA aren’t just 4v5 every round.

Finally, there’s ENCE. ENCE was fun once. They had a rising star in Lotan “spinx” Giladi and a team of players all hitting purple patches at the same time. Now they have Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia, the most overrated AWPer in all of tier-one CSGO. We like Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer, so we hope they aren’t terrible, but just don’t expect them to reach the semis as they did at PGL Antwerp.

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Sam McKenzie covers a variety of competitive first-person shooters, with an emphasis on Valorant and Counter-Strike esports. He also has a passion for football in both the real and virtual worlds, and contributes his expertise in FIFA esports.

Jaxon's Take

This could be an incredible Major, there's no clear favourite apart from Liquid and it's really hard to see who the weakest team is

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