IEM Rio Major 2022: Breaking down second CS:GO Major of the year

by Brian Bencomo

The next Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major heads to Brazil for the first time as the IEM Rio Major is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro beginning on Halloween. The Rio Major will bring together 24 of the best CS:GO teams in the world for one of the biggest tournaments of the year. The 24 teams will be competing for a share of the $1.25 million prize pool and a shot at glory. The teams have been divided into three groups: Legends, Challengers and Contenders and competition will take place across three stages from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13. To get you prepared for the tournament, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know ahead of the Rio Major.

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Qualified teams

Legends

  • FaZe Clan
  • Natus Vincere
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • ENCE
  • Sprout
  • Heroic
  • Team Spirit
  • Team Liquid

Challengers

  • OG
  • Team Vitality
  • Evil Geniuses
  • Cloud9
  • BIG
  • Bad News Eagles
  • MOUZ
  • 9z Team

Contenders

  • Team GamerLegion
  • Outsiders
  • 00 Nation
  • FURIA Esports
  • Fnatic
  • IHC Esports
  • Imperial Esports
  • Grayhound Gaming

Schedule and format

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

The Rio Major kicks off on Oct. 31 and continues through Nov. 13. From Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, the eight contenders and eight challengers teams will face off in the Challengers Stage in a Swiss System Format. The eight initial matchups will be on Oct. 31 and the results will dictate the next matchups, with the eight teams that win three matchups advancing and the eight that lose three getting eliminated. Elimination and advancement matches are best-of-three, while all other matches are single games.

The Legends Stage takes place Nov. 5 to 8, and will include the eight teams that advance from the Challengers Stage and the eight Legends teams. The matches in this stage will also be in the Swiss System Format.

The top eight teams from the Legends Stage will advance to the Champions Stage, which is a single-elimination bracket to determine the Rio Major champion.

All of the matches will take place in front of an audience, with the Challengers and Legends Stages taking place at Riocentro and the Champions Stage being held at Jeunesse Arena.

Storylines

Will FaZe win back-to-back Majors?

Photo credit: PGL

FaZe not only won the Antwerp Major earlier this year, they also have won IEM Katowice and IEM Cologne, two of the most prestigious and competitive non-Major CS:GO tournaments of the year. They did only finish 5th-8th in the recent ESL Pro League and are no longer ranked No. 1 in the world (they’re No. 2 now), according to HLTV, but FaZe are still the team to beat. Not only are FaZe going for their second consecutive Major, but if they win it, they would win the Intel Grand Slam too, which would be a sweet extra $1 million on top of the $500,000 prize for winning Rio. Finn "karrigan" Andersen & Co. know what’s at stake and will surely be on top of their game in Brazil.

Besides FaZe, who has a shot of winning the Major?

Photo credit: Adela Sznajder / ESL Gaming via ESPAT

Looking at the rest of the field, Natus Vincere, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Team Vitality are all legit Major contenders. NAVI were the best team in the world and won the Stockholm Major at this time last year. They’re not too far removed from that form, as they won the Blast Premier Spring Finals and finished second to FaZe in Antwerp and Cologne. Plus, they have arguably the best player in the world, Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev. Their biggest hurdle this year has really just been beating FaZe. They did have a lackluster showing in the recent ESL Pro League, which doesn’t bode well for them, but so did FaZe.

Read more: Team Vitality CEO on VALORANT partnership: ‘FPS is a part of our DNA’

Team Vitality won the recent ESL Pro League Season 16, finally delivering on the promise of the hybrid French-Danish roster that combined the old Vitality core with former Astralis players. Team Liquid have had a good run of form of late ever since adding Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis to the roster, first on loan and now permanently. They were runners-up to Team Vitality at ESL Pro League 16 and finished as the top team from the Americas RMR to qualify for the Major as the only non-European Legends team. They’re ranked No. 1 in the world and heading into the Major with a lot of momentum. Cloud9 won IEM Dallas earlier this year and have beaten FaZe in their last two matches, though they have had trouble beating Team Liquid.

Which Contenders team can make a run to the Champions Stage?

Every Major there’s usually a lower ranked team that makes a run to the knockout bracket. At this Major, it has to be one of the Brazilian teams: 00 Nation, FURIA or Imperial. Buoyed by Brazilian crowds that will be behind them the whole tournament, one of these teams will likely reach the Champions Stage.

FURIA are the highest ranked (No. 9) of the three teams, but 00 Nation have looked better of late. 00 Nation beat Complexity and Imperial in the Americas RMR and FURIA at DreamHack Valencia this summer. FURIA haven’t looked as good since the last Major, but they did beat Team Liquid in the ESL Pro League Season 16. Imperial, the Brazilian “last dance” team filled with former Major champions did go on a run at Antwerp Major, so they shouldn’t be counted out. FURIA and 00 Nation also have the advantage of having much easier matchups to start the Major. While FURIA and 00 Nation will face BIG and Bad News Eagles, respectively, Imperial get Team Vitality to start the tournament.

Can a Brazilian team win the Major on home soil?

Photo credit: ESPAT

It would be magical if a Brazilian team won the Major in Rio. Earlier in the year, FURIA certainly would have been a legit contender. They were a Legends team at the Antwerp Major as the top team from the Americas, but heading into Rio, neither they nor 00 Nation or Imperial appear likely to really contend. As mentioned above, FURIA and 00 Nation certainly appear more likely to go on a run to at least reach the Champions Stage and play in front of fans at Jeunesse Arena. Regardless, these teams should put on a good show for the home fans and might even pull off some upsets.

Will we get a new viewership record?

Brazilian streamer Alexandre "Gaules" Borba routinely brings in tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of viewers in his CS:GO tournament co-streams. What Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek is to VALORANT, Gaules is to CS:GO. In short, with the Major being in Brazil, he is likely to bring in even more viewers to the tournament, helping to perhaps set a new record for CS:GO tournament viewership.

The Stockholm Major set a record last fall with a peak of just over 2.7 million viewers. The highest so far this year has been the Antwerp Major with 2.1 million. The Rio Major should top 2 million, and there’s a chance peak viewership could reach 3 million, especially if the Brazilian teams do well and go deep into the tournament.

Lead photo credit: Alexander Dumon / ESPAT

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