From Cloud9 to FaZe, here’s every IEM Rio Major CS:GO team ranked

The first Counter-Strike Major in Brazil is right around the corner.

Twenty-four CS:GO teams from all over the world have qualified to play at the IEM Rio Major, the second Valve-sponsored event of the year, including some of the best squads in the scene.

The first Major in Brazil is checking all the right boxes. ESL and Valve increased the prize pool from $1 million to $1.25 million and the event will have a live audience in all of its stages: Challengers Stage, Legends Stage, and Champions Stage. 

The IEM Rio Major will kick off on Oct. 31 with the Challengers Stage, in which only eight of the 16 teams will advance to the Legends Stage and meet the best-seeded squads of the tournament. The event will conclude on Nov. 13 with a showmatch and the grand finals.

Without further ado, heres what makes some teams underdogs and why others are favorites to win the IEM Rio Major and cement their names as legends of CS:GO.

IEM Rio CS:GO Major power rankings

24) Grayhound

Photo by Sarah Cooper via ESL Gaming

The only Australian team attending the IEM Rio Major are not looking great. They’re not the best team in APAC anymore and recently lost the financial support of ORDER, a Melbourne-based organization that entered voluntary administration. Grayhound’s top-24 placing at IEM Cologne, the last big international event they attended, combined with their top-six placing at ESL Challenger Melbourne suggests the team may have reached their skill ceiling. Unless a couple of their players simply start clicking heads out of nowhere, theyre the most obvious underdog at the IEM Rio Major.

23) IHC

Photo by Sarah Cooper via ESL Gaming

The Mongolian team dethroned Grayhound in the APAC region. IHC finished ahead of the Grayhound roster at the PGL Antwerp Major earlier this year and beat them in the Asia Regional Major Ranking (RMR) for the IEM Rio Major. IHC have yet to surprise internationally but don’t think they can’t upset a European or American team at the Major, especially in a best-of-one series.

22) 9z

Photo by Stephanie Lindgren via ESL Gaming

The South American mix of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay made history once again in qualifying for their second Major this year. 9z changed two players after the PGL Antwerp Major and the replacements, Lucas “nqz” Soares and Nicolás “buda” Kramer, showed their skillset in the Americas RMR for IEM Rio Major. 9z have demonstrated they have the right mindset to come back in tough games as they did against Imperial and 00 Nation at the RMR. And although they’re one of the bottom teams in our power rankings, don’t count them out.

21) 00 Nation

Photo by Stephanie Lindgren via ESL Gaming

The organization reached its first CS:GO Major since entering Counter-Strike in 2021 with the help Marcelo “coldzera” David and Epitácio “TACO” de Melotwo back-to-back Major champions in 2016. Qualifying for the IEM Rio Major is already a big milestone for coldzera, who’s been absent from Valve-sponsored tournaments since 2019. This team is still new and evolving slowly, according to coldzera’s interview with HLTV, so its not like fans can expect a deep run at such a stacked event like the Major just yet. Getting some victories under their belts would be a great step for the next events, though.

20) Evil Geniuses

Photo via PGL

EG qualified for the IEM Rio Major with ease after the roster changes that were made for the second half of the season. The team struggled in the first months of 2022 under Jake “Stewie2K” Yip’s guidance and is slowly showing some progress under Sanzhar “neaLaN” Iskhakov and head coach Daniel Vorborg’s orders. EG still have firepower issues, mainly because AWPer Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov remains in a slump. If the Bulgarian can find his groove at this tournament, EG might have a chance to advance to the Legends Stage.

19) GamerLegion

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

GamerLegion entered the history books after eliminating G2 from the Europe RMR despite being heavy underdogs and a new team. If Frederik “acoR” Gyldstrand is capable of hitting his AWP shots and carrying the team in the fragging department as he did in the RMR, GamerLegion have a chance of making the Legends Stage. The in-game leader Kamil “siuhy” Szkaradek will also have the biggest test of his career since he has mostly played at the academy level. It will be interesting to see how much he can adapt when the pressure starts to mount.

18) Bad News Eagles

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Bad News Eagles are one of the dark horses heading into the IEM Rio Major. The PUG style of this star Kosovar team may not impress at first glance, but on a good day, they’re capable of taking out the best teams in the world because of their firepower. If they can do the leg work in the initial best-of-ones, there’s a fair chance they can reach the Legends Stage once again and maybe accomplish even more than what they did at the PGL Antwerp Major, when they reached the Legends Stage but lost all three matches.

17) Imperial

Photo by Stephanie Lindgren via ESL Gaming

The most popular CS:GO team in Brazilhome of back-to-back Major champions Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Fernando “fer” Alvarengastruggled to qualify for the IEM Rio Major. But don’t let their recent mediocre performances fool you. They have the experience, the mindset to come back in tough games, and now additional firepower in Marcelo “chelo” Cespedes to surprise in the competition, especially with a home crowd.

16) Sprout

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Its fair to say Sprout have the lowest stock of any team who’s starting their Rio run in the Legends Stage. Thats not to say that Sprout are helpless, though: They went 3-1 at the RMR and gave the reigning champions FaZe a real scare in a 2-1 series loss. The team are under new in-game leadership following the acquisition of Ismail “refrezh” Ali, but unlike NiP who are in a similar situation under Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, Sprout doesnt have the same pedigree of players.

15) BIG

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

BIG have looked a little shaky heading into Rio. After a 2-0 start in the RMR, including a win over Vitality, they lost two straight 0-2 series to ENCE and Heroic and nearly lost to K23 and missed the entire Major altogether. The German roster have struggled in recent competition before the RMR as well, with losing records at IEM Cologne, BLAST Fall, and ESL Pro League. Theyll need to step up heading into the Major.

14) Team Spirit

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Despite a semifinals appearance at the last Major in Antwerp, Spirit have largely struggled across 2022 following their own academy-to-main roster promotions. But in just the past couple of events, Spirit have started playing their best CS:GO at the best time. They had the second-best overall round differential at the RMR A event, and every player had a K/D of at least 1.09. They picked the perfect time to heat up.

13) MOUZ

Photo by Adela Sznajder via ESL Gaming

The youth movement is on in the MOUZ camp. Since the start of 2022, three of the five starting players and the coach have come from the teams MOUZ NXT academy squad. The original team that in-game leader Christopher dexter Nong signed with last year is all but gone save for David “frozen” Čerňanský, though hes managed to lead this team to a spot at the Major. Frozen has led in player rating and kills at the RMR and in events leading up to the qualifier, and while all the new players have averaged positive ratings as well, theyll need a little more to hang with the top teams in Rio.

12) Fnatic

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Fnatic are returning to the Major scene after missing out on the past three Valve-sponsored tournaments, but there’s a huge question mark around the rosters expectations and possibilities. They struggle with consistency and often make simple mistakes, picking unnecessary fights in advantageous positions, since they lost quite a few clutches in the Europe RMR A. But with three lineup changes in the past four months, that’s natural. Fnatic have the firepower to take the fight to the strongest teams at the Rio Major, but looking at their recent results, its just unlikely to happen.

11) FURIA

Photo by Stephanie Lindgren via ESL Gaming

Unsurprisingly, FURIA are the strongest Brazilian team coming into the IEM Rio Major. Their lineup hasnt changed for the past nine months and FURIA have been consistently participating in the most pivotal tournaments in the world. Still, their form has been more than inconsistent, and their gameplay mostly resolves around aggressive entries and standard bombsite defenses, which might have made FURIA easy to read. Without proper preparation, its tough to imagine a world where the Brazilian favorites advance to the playoffs of IEM Rio Major. But the home crowd might give them the boost they need.

10) Outsiders

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Outsiders are yet another team who have made two significant changes leading into this season, bringing in Pyotr “fame” Bolyshev and David “n0rb3r7” Daniyelyan. Both are stellar additions and have mostly topped the scoreboards of Outsiders recent games in the RMR or ESL Challenger Rotterdam. Besides that, two of the three core members in Evgeniy “FL1T” Lebedev and Dzhami “Jame” Ali have also been producing solid numbers in the past few weeks. Nevertheless, the team seems to rely too much on n0rber7 and fames recent standout performances, making it hard to predict their form at the Major. They are capable of making a playoff run in Brazil if the mentioned duo maintains its star form and the remaining individuals keep their level, but they also could fall flat if they have a bad day or two.

9) ENCE

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

After losing their superstar Lotan “Spinx” Giladi and replacing Aleksander “hades” Miskiewicz with a much better and consistent AWPer on paper, Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia, it wasnt clear what should be expected from ENCE. The team constantly made deep runs last season, reaching the final at IEM Dallas 2022 and the semifinals in the latest Major, cementing themselves as one of the fiercest squads in the world. And, so far, it seems like the new roster is slowly starting to work. ENCE went 3-0 in the Europe RMR B and claimed second place at ESL Challenger Rotterdam 2022. While they clearly need more time to achieve great synergy and communication in the team, their form so far and individual performances firmly indicate that ENCE are one of the most skilled squads in Rio.

8) OG

Photo via BLAST Premier

As we approach the inconsistent mixed bag in the middle of the pack, OG stand out from the contenders, in part because of their win over Outsiders at the RMR where Shahar “flameZ” Shushan posted a 1.29 rating as they put up a wall on the CT sides on Dust II and Inferno. Their current roster achieved great success in the BLAST circuit, finishing top four in the Spring Final and qualifying for the Fall Groups, with impressive wins over FaZe and Astralis along the way. Clearly, most of the teams outside the top five but with a chance of being in the top 10 are plagued by inconsistencies. But in terms of ceiling, OG are up there with the best of them.

7) Ninjas in Pyjamas

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Aleksib hit the ground running with the Ninjas, a sign of great things to come as his initial input turned out to be both effective and instantly accepted by his team. No longer shackled by a significant difference in opinion with his coach, the Finn has pushed a previously floundering team into the Legends Stage of the Rio Major with a 3-0 scoreline after switching up multiple roles in the lineup, including the AWP department. Clearly, they wont yet be the finished article at the tournament, with just a month and a half spent together with their new in-game leader, and this all could turn out to be a flash in the pan. But their ceiling is high enough to warrant attention.

6) Heroic

Photo by Adela Sznajder via ESL Gaming

The team many have grown to love to hate still remains a contender, even if their recent results at IEM Cologne (top 16), BLAST Premier Fall Groups (top nine), and ESL Pro League season 16 (top 12) may suggest otherwise. Their strong showings at the RMR and their win at the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown suggest the squad is still brimming with potential. Casper “cadiaN” Møller and René “TeSeS” Madsen continue to put up big scores despite a year and a half of counter-strats, though the Jakob “Jabbi” Nygaard pickup clearly still hasnt paid dividends for the Danes.

5) Team Liquid

Photo by Stephanie Lindgren via ESL Gaming

The addition of Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis has truly transformed this team, and a well-motivated Keith “NAF” Markovic and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski will always serve as a strong foundation for a deep run in a tournament. Spiking to No. 3 on the HLTV world rankings just as we head into the Major, the chiefly North American side have shown theyve now got the firepower and the protocols to go up against the very best in the world.

4) Cloud9

Photo by Adela Sznajder via ESL Gaming

Its easy to forget how good Abai “HObbit” Hasenov and crew are, if only because they lack the franchise spots in the biggest leagues of the scene. Still, the way they dispatched FaZe in the ESL Pro League season 16 semis with convincing wins on Ancient and Mirage wont be forgotten anytime soonand whos to say they will fail to do so again at the Major? The team clearly made the grand leap from online excellence to strong offline showings in their victory at IEM Dallas and 2021s BLAST Premier World final (still in Gambit colors). And with every added bit of experience gained on the stage, they become more and more dangerous opponents.

3) Vitality

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

It looks like the pieces have finally clicked, and they did so at the right time. Replacing Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier with Spinx turned out to be a masterstroke, as evidenced by the instant uptick in results and the victory at ESL Pro League season 16, and the year spent together with the Danes allowed Dan “apEX” Madesclaire and Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut to establish good communication protocols. Behind them, Danny “zonic” Sørensen continues to be one of the biggest brains in the scene with his four Major titles being an unmatched accomplishment. The team is peaking at just the right time to mount a title challenge in Rio. They rose from No. 10 to No. 1 in the HLTV world rankings between the tail end of September and mid-October.

2) Natus Vincere

Photo via PGL

As evidenced by their 24-tournament playoff streak, a team with Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev on board will always be there or thereabouts, though weve also seen in the same period (and throughout his career) that he cant get the team across the finish line by himself at the biggest events. Its just the nature of the game: Counter-Strike is a five-vs-five affair, and the supporting cast is not as pristine as it was in Stockholm. Though NAVI are down to fourth in the HLTV world rankings on account of points lost to their IGL change, there is still no squad in the world that can match Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi, Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy, and s1mple in terms of pure firepower when theyre on their A-game. Question marks remain around Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev and the future of Denis “electroNic” Sharipov on the roster, and the ever-present cloud of the war in Ukraine means a continuous stressor for the squad.

1) FaZe Clan

Photo via PGL

Though theyve lost some of their shine since the player break, the title holders still remain the ones to beat at the IEM Rio Major. A strong combination of experience and youth plus strong team chemistry and great commitment to the calls of one of the best in-game leaders of all time make this squad a strong contender even on their bad days. The addition of ropz rocketed the team all the way to the stars, but questions remain about their ceiling in the new season. The long matches in the RMR and the elimination at the hands of Cloud9 in ESL Pro League season 16 means they are not a shoo-in for a title defense.

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