The IEM Rio Major is nearly upon us and will be a one-of-a-kind major. Multiple prevalent teams in the scene are not in attendance, like G2, Astralis and others, meanings lots of new teams are in contention for the biggest tournament of the year.
FaZe Clan, the winner from the PGL Major Antwerp, looks to win back-to-back majors, but much has changed in the scene since then, as only FaZe, Furia and Bad News Eagles have the same roster.
IEM Rio kicks off on October 30th on the IEM Twitch channel. Here are our power rankings, put together by our team, ahead of the IEM Rio Major.
1. Natus Vincere
Natus Vincere is one of the favorites to win the IEM Rio Major after finishing first in the IEM Road to Rio 2022 Europe RMR B, going 3-0 and defeating Outsiders and MOUZ. Having won the major last year in Stockholm, and having the best player in the world in Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, they have a very good chance of taking home the trophy.
Even though they lost IGL Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov, who helped win them the PGL Major Stockholm, Denis "electroNic" Sharipov has been performing well in filling that role. Having additional firepower with Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev has been crucial too, as they took home the trophy at the BLAST Premier Spring Final 2022. s1mple will have to prove himself - once again - as the best player in the world and carry his team to the finals to potentially deny FaZe Clan their Intel Grand Slam.
2. FaZe Clan
FaZe clan has a long and storied past, but behind most of their success is one man: karrigan. When all the odds were against him, and everyone in the community kept pointing out that no international team had ever won a major, he and FaZe clan defied them all, winning the PGL Major Antwerp earlier this year.
FaZe clan has what most would call a powerhouse of talent. The trio of Twistzz, ropz and rain have each been top ten players at different points over the past few years. They have a solid AWPer who can perform in big moments in broky and one of the best IGLs ever to exist. This year, FaZe has been amazing, winning IEM Katowice, ESL Pro League Season 15, the PGL Antwerp Major, and IEM Cologne. But, as of late, they haven't looked as great. If not for their lack of consistency in recent months, FaZe would be raked first. If they win this event, however, not only do they win back-to-back majors, but they also secure the $1,000,000 Intel Grand Slam. Can FaZe perform when the stakes are so high?
3. Cloud 9
Since Cloud9’s re-entry into the professional CS:GO scene, the team has seen spurs of success along with sprinkles of failures. It didn’t take long for the CIS roster to lift a trophy. After just two events under the Blue and White banner, the team won IEM Dallas on the organization’s home soil. They did it in a dominating fashion, too, winning the best of 5 Grand Finals against ENCE 3-0 and having their best performance overall as a team and also individually for Ax1Le and sh1ro.
Since then, Cloud9 has struggled to maintain top form, not finishing higher than third in any of the next five events. But were sporadically on par with top dogs NaVi and FaZe Clan, sometimes even taking either down in best-of-three series. Despite some recent struggles, Cloud9 has been consistent and boasts high team chemistry. They definitely have what it takes to fight for the ultimate prize, a Major trophy. They are never ones to be ruled out of contention, especially when the stakes are high.
The recent addition of Israeli rifler Lotan "Spinx" Giladi has worked wonders for the French organization. With his added firepower together with ZywOo, they're a dangerous foe to come up against, as evidenced most recently by their BO5 victory against Team Liquid in the ESL Pro League Season 16 Grand Final.
They're a real contender for the trophy, but they would have to beat the likes of Natus Vincere, Cloud9, and FaZe Clan, all of which are formidable opponents, not to be taken lightly. ZywOo is longing for his first-ever Major victory, and he will fight for it. With so many previous major winners in dupreeh, Magisk and Zonic, expect Vitality to look even better at the major. You can never count Vitality out as long as they have ZywOo.
5. Team Liquid
Team Liquid has had stretches where they’ve been dominant, but it always seems like they’ve been one piece short of winning an actual major. Finally, Liquid has that piece to get them over the hump. Enter YEKINDAR. One of the world's most dynamic and aggressive players, YEKINDAR has elevated everyone on the team, as shown in their recent results. In their first event, the team placed 5-6th at IEM Cologne, followed by a 2nd place finish at ESL Pro League before a clean sweep of the America RMR.
Liquid has all the pieces they need to contend for a major title. The trio of YEKINDAR, Naf and EliGe provide all of the firepower the team needs. They have a reliable AWPer in oSee and an experienced IGL in nitr0. The short amount of time they’ve been together keeps Liquid from being ranked higher - close to four months - but the entire team is hungry for a major title and has the skill to take down any top team in attendance.
6. Ninjas in Pyjamas
Over the past year, NIP struggled to find a consistent roster and players who could contribute. After dev1ce stopped playing in early 2022, the team had a big hole to fill and couldn’t figure out how to. But, the team made a questionable move bringing in AleksiB, but it paid off.
Now not having to deal with IGLing, hampus went off at the recent Europe RMR, posting .88 kills per round to only .56 deaths per round: the best numbers of his career against top competition. That new firepower, combined with Brollan and es3tag, provides a strong big three for the team. However, there are a lot of question marks about this team that needs answering. How deep is their map pool with the short time the team has been together? Can REZ be a good enough AWPer for the team? The roster has a lot of upside and with their strategies still being unknown, they present themselves as a strong dark horse for the IEM Rio Major.
Spirit was one of the teams that emerged as a dominant team during the online era of Counter-Strike. They came out of nowhere and at IEM Katowice, upset many top teams to earn a 3rd-4th place finish at the tournament.
However, following that, the team declined as LAN events started to return. That is until the PGL Major Antwerp earlier this year, where the team made it all the way to the semi-finals, beating Astralis, Heroic and Furia along the way. With their coach unbanned and in attendance, Spirit will look to pull off another miracle run, and perhaps make it even further than they did last time.
For Heroic, IEM Rio Major 2022 is the third CS:GO major. The team advanced to the quarterfinals at the previous event and reached the semifinals at PGL Major Stockholm 2021. Both times Heroic was super close to the next stage but lost mostly lacking experience.
After winning the Pinnacle Cup Championship 2022, the Danes significantly changed and invited jabbi to replace refrezh, which proved to be a great addition. Since then, things have been on the up, and Heroic did well at BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022 and ESL Pro League Season 16. The team’s play was perfected at IEM Road to Rio 2022 Europe RMR B and BLAST Premier Fall Showdown 2022 Europe. Jabbi dropped his two best HLTV ratings in Heroic at those events: 1.11 and 1.17, respectively.
It'd be a mistake to underrate these Danes; they perform exceptionally at BO1s and can smash any opponent. Heroic is only 8th in these rankings, but has the potential to be a dark horse of IEM Rio if they can overcome their LAN issues.
OG is a team that have yet to hit their full potential. Following their failure to qualify for PGL Antwerp, the team hit the reset to invest in younger talent. In doing so, the team rid itself of all the founding players. Another move that the team did that seemed questionable at the time was the switch of AleksiB and nexa. While the move seemed questionable at the time, it seems like the switch to a more free style of calling has paid off, as OG is back to contend.
If OG can continue to perform ahead of their expected schedule, they will be amazing at IEM Rio. However, if they can't be that dark horse candidate we expect them to be, there is no need to make changes as the core of the roster is one that will be even better by the time the next major cycle comes around.
ENCE recently was forced to make some crucial moves in their roster, with the loss of Spinx. At first, things didn't look too good. The team won only two maps at ESL Pro League Season 16 and failed to reach BLAST Premier Fall Showdown 2022 Europe. But, starting from the IEM Rio Europe RMR B, ENCE showed confident gameplay, easily gained three wins, and advanced to the Legends stage. Soon after, they finished second at ESL Challenger Rotterdam 2022. The squad lost to Outsiders, but still looked very strong.
Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia and Valdemar “valde” Vangså perfectly fit in the team, which helped ENCE replace the previous players and turn into something different from the squad that reached the semifinals at PGL Major Antwerp 2022. The Spaniard is a solid aggressive AWPer, while valde brought more experience and flexibility, so now the team can rely not only on powerful aim but also on tactical versatility. As a result, ENCE are expected to advance to the playoffs, but it’s hard to name them the contender for a title, so 10th place is perfect for the European squad.
Following the departure of Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis, Outsiders have been in surprisingly good shape, reaching the quarter-finals of ESL Pro League Season 16 not long after losing arguably their best rifler. The team also finished first at the ESL Challenger Rotterdam 2022.
At the RMR, Outsiders went 3-2, securing themselves a spot at the Challengers Stage of the IEM Rio Major. They only lost to Natus Vincere and OG Esports, but regardless of their recent showings, they aren't very likely to make it deep into the major, given the caliber of teams they'll be facing against. Will Jame be able to save his team like he saves his AWP? Only time will tell.
Furia have long been a dark horse in the scene of Counter-Strike. However, they haven't found much success on the game's biggest stage, or any LAN stage. With no LAN win since 2019, Furia also hasn't won a tier-one international tournament ever, winning only smaller regional tournaments.
It seems like Furia has always been one step away from being a true contender but has yet to fill that hole. The internal pressure must be mounting, and IEM Rio may be this core's last chance together. Hopefully, home turf will help out, and Furia can prove the community wrong, but they sit at 12th place in our rankings for now.
After missing PGL Major Antwerp 2022, MOUZ will finally participate in their 12th CS:GO Major. But, even after 11 tries, MOUZ has yet to reach the playoffs. Now the team has an excellent chance to reach at least the Legends stage.
At the IEM Road to Rio 2022 Europe RMR B, MOUZ finished with a 3:2 score, with losses against two strong opponents: NAVI and Vitality. However, the team developed a solid playstyle at three maps, where they can outplay any opponent: Mirage, Nuke, and Inferno.
Being a young and passionate squad helps them ignore the tags and fight any team until the end. On the other side, lack of LAN experience may cause difficulties in Rio, especially while playing against Brazilians. The 13th place, which is the golden mean, fits MOUZ the most – they can completely fail and get eliminated at the Challengers stage or may enter berzerk mode and qualify for the playoffs.
The Last Dance enters at 14th place. The Brazilian roster, led by one of the game franchise’s most impactful and decorated players, FalleN, is a team that no one dares to overlook. Inconsistency is something that they often struggle with, but when it matters most, you can count on all of the Imperial players to put up exceptional numbers. Imperial has what fans call the “major buff” because they’re the biggest underdog, the slickest dark horse, and the most feared opponent on the big stage.
With many years of experience behind their backs on the player and coaching side as well as the original roster’s core previously being the best team in the world, Imperial has a lot of firepower and a lot to deliver. As we near a Major that will be on home turf for Imperial, all eyes are on the Brazilian squad.
The international squad has received a significant boost in firepower after acquiring the services of Nico “nicoodoz” Tamjidi and Fredrik "roeJ" Jørgensen from Copenhagen Flames. The Danish duo have both been at the top of their game in the orange and black jersey as spearhead averages 1.16 while the AWPer holds a 1.10 rating to his name in the last three months. Additionally, William "mezii" Merriman's individual prowess has also seen massive growth since he transitioned to the IGL role. The fact that the lowest rated on the team is Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson, with a 1.07 HLTV rating, speaks volumes of the team’s success after the overhaul.
The problem for fnatic is that most of the success has come against low-tier opponents in events like REPUBLEAGUE Season 3 and Steelseries Nova Cup Western Cup Fall 2022. The team is ranked 15th on our list, as they have not proven themselves against top-tier opponents.
16. Bad News Eagles
What started as five people from Kosovo playing FPL together dramatically ramped up, following their surprising qualification to the PGL Major Antwerp earlier this year. Since then, the team has chosen to remain independent of any organization and pave their own way in the scene.
Since the PGL Major Antwerp, Bad News Eagles have gotten much better. In any match they go into, they have the ability to upset, but we'll have to see if they can actually advance this time around and put wins together.
IEM Rio Major 2022 will be the second Major event for the German organization. The first happened at ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018, where Sprout finished 19th-21st. This time they advanced directly to the Legends stage after a fantastic run at IEM Road to Rio 2022 Europe RMR A, a victory over Spirit, and a close game against FaZe.
The team is ranked 17th, even lower than they can fall, but honestly, it’s difficult to imagine a situation when Sprout advance to the playoffs. The team is young (with an average age of 20.6 years) and will definitely experience pressure in front of the crowd. Also, for refrezh, this will be a debut S-tier event as an IGL, which puts more pressure on him.
During recent months, the German squad has been on the decline. Ever since defeating FaZe to win the Roobet Cup 2022, Big has fallen. While most of their losses have come against strong opponents like FaZe, G2, Heroic, and Outsiders, the team led by Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz is expected to make a dent in a few of these. They suffered early exits at IEM Cologne 2022 Play-In, BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022, and ESL Pro League Season 16. Going into Rio, expectations will be low as Josef "faveN" Baumann, who has looked promising for BIG, is sidelined from the major due to his medical condition. Consequently, they are ranked 18th on our list.
19. 00 Nation
00Nation has been on the cusp for a while. A blend of old and new blood, the South-American mix certainly possesses the capacity to turn tides on their best days. However, due to recent mediocre results in big events, they find themselves at the 19th spot on our list.
With three of the five players making their major debut, it’ll be up to Marcelo “coldzera” David and Epitácio "TACO" de Melo to foster their talents in front of a packed crowd. IEM Rio Major 2022 will also see coldzera return to the biggest stage after a three-year absence. To add the cherry on top, playing on home soil may stir up vigor within the team. The ace up their sleeve is their star AWPer Santino “try” Rigal, who has maintained a stellar 1.15 rating in the past three months. But due to inexperience being their major handicap, making it past the Challengers Stage may end up being too tall of an order for them.
20. Evil Geniuses
Having experienced a series of misfortunes, including the departure of Jackie “Stewie2K” Yip, William "RUSH" Wierzba and Malek "maleK" Bennouioua, the North American team seems to have found some stability with the new roster. Adding two new brains to the team, including IGL Sanzhar "neaLaN" Iskhakov and coach Daniel “vorborg” Vorborg, has allowed the team to reset its mentality after what can be deemed as a disastrous season. As the new roster cruised past the RMRs in a 3-0 defeat, signs of positivity were evident. These victories have come against the likes of Nouns, Furia and 9z. Even though some hope remains for Evil Genius, getting past the challenger stage in Rio will still be difficult, considering the only European teams they have beaten this year are Movistar Riders and Eternal Fire.
9z is the definition of a young team. They have a lot of talent to develop, but lack experience at the tier-one level. The team practices a lot and could certainly pull off a few upsets, but with so many players making their major debut, mistakes will be made, and some will fold under pressure. 9z will eventually rise to the grand stage, but their time isn't now, which is why they're at 21st in our rankings.
22. Gamer Legion
Most people weren't expecting GamerLegion to survive the RMRs. In an astonishing run, however, they managed to make it past after stunning G2, Aurora and B8. They proved to be a handful even for the best team in the world, as they narrowly lost after a grueling 53-round match on Mirage. This hard-fought success came on the back of Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand who held a 1.21 HLTV rating in the event. Even against G2, he ensured victory by recording an undaunted 1.62 rating on the final map. While making the major in itself is certainly a big achievement for GamerLegion, how far the team will go will largely depend on how well acoR performs.
At PGL Major Antwerp 2022, IHC became the first fully Mongolian team to reach CS:GO major. The squad finished with a 1:3 score in the swiss after a win over Renegades and a close match with Imperial. This is a promising young roster with leading positions at the Asian stage. Thus, like any team from Asia, IHC mostly plays against local opponents and lack tough competition. Recently the team lost to Lynn Vision at ESL Challenger League Season 42 Asia-Pacific, which raises some questions concerning their current shape. Grayhound, who looks even less confident, is the only reason the Mongolian side isn’t the last.
Australian Counter-Strike used to be on top of the world. Renegades dominated the world before the pandemic shut down international events. Although the roster, then with 100 Thieves, tried to stay together, the team was isolated and returned home.
Now, Australian CS is a shell of what it used to be. With the formed 100 Thieves roster gone, it left Grayhound, who then played under Renegades, as the sole dominant team in the scene. However, with no tough competition to help them improve, they have little chance against European or NA teams, which results in their unfortunate ranking of 24th.