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Outsiders Win the IEM Rio Major in Dominant Fashion over Heroic

Zakaria Almughrabi

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s second and final Major of 2022, IEM Rio, has come to a close. In what became the most upset-filled Major in the past five years, Outsiders took the win over Heroic in a 3-0 Grand Finals sweep. Formerly known as, Outsiders at IEM Rio became just the third team to ever win a Major while starting in the Challengers Stage.

Outsiders IEM Rio

Image Copyright ESL | Michal Konkol

The Road to Finals

Outsiders just barely qualified for the IEM Rio Major in the first place. Their 3-2 record and day five win over Team Falcons in the RMR event allowed Outsiders to sneak in as the eighth and last seed from Group B. That’s right, the Major Champions were just one match from not even making it to the Major.

When they actually arrived in Rio, Outsiders turned up the heat quickly. After a round one loss in the Challengers Stage to MOUZ, they won three in a row to qualify for the Legends Stage. These wins included a best-of-one over the top ranked Team Vitality and a best-of-three sweep over Fnatic, an eventual top eight team at Rio.

The Outsiders Legends Stage performance mirrored that of the previous stage. They opened with a round one loss to Heroic on Overpass, followed by a 3-0 run to qualify for the playoffs. While their form was clearly good, there were still too many favorites and higher performers left to really favor them for the Major trophy. That all changed when the IEM Rio Major Champions Stage began.

Cruising through Quarterfinals

The first match of the playoffs was between Outsiders and Fnatic. This matchup already went to Outsiders 2-0 in the Challengers Stage, and would be no different this time around. Starting on Fnatic’s Inferno pick, the series looked like it could have been competitive. Fnatic were down just three rounds on the favored CT side in a 4v3 B site defense. Alexey “Qikert” Golubev then put up four kills on the entry and clutch to help bring Outsiders over the line.

After stealing Inferno, Outsiders had no trouble closing out the series on Mirage with a 16-8 score line. Just like that, Outsiders became the first top four team at IEM Rio, with an expected semifinals match against tournament favorites Cloud9 up next. That was until the unimaginable happened.

The second quarterfinal of the day pinned Cloud9 against the rookie-filled MOUZ roster. Cloud9 opened the series by winning MOUZ’s Inferno pick 16-11, seemingly putting the series on ice. Then, MOUZ fired back with a win on C9’s Overpass before dominating on the Ancient decider 16-9. It would now be a battle between MOUZ and Outsiders for a spot at the biggest game in Counter-Strike.

Grand Finals Bound

MOUZ took their momentum on Ancient into a first map pick. Outsiders expected this and had a great gameplan in order. After holding MOUZ to five T rounds, Outsiders launched an oppressive offense to close out map one 16-10. All that was left was to win on Overpass.

After an average 6-9 T side start, Outsiders got off to a hot streak on defense. They won the second pistol and the first two gun rounds, resulting in a 12-9 lead. MOUZ then started finding avenues into sites, planting the bomb often and winning some rounds. With the score nearing even at 13-11, Dhzami “Jame” Ali pulled off one of the craziest AWP clutches ever.

As caster Jason “moses” O’Toole said, “call it, MOUZ ain’t coming back from that.” Except they did. MOUZ overcame that absolute gut punch to win every remaining round and tie the series with a 16-14 win. It’s admirable of a team with such young players at their first Major to make a comeback of that magnitude. Unfortunately for them, the tank ran out of gas before the finish line.

Inferno was the tiebreaker map. Despite losing the pistol round, Outsiders recovered cleanly on the CT side for a 9-6 lead at the half. They then flattened MOUZ on offense. In their eight rounds of T side, Evgenii “FL1T” Lebedev racked up an insane 2.03 HLTV rating to help Outsiders nearly sweep the second half. The 16-7 result locked in Outsiders for the Grand Finals.

Securing the Lead

The final battle for the Major title would be between Outsiders and Heroic. In this matchup, Outsiders were the perceived underdog. That said, the only players in this match that had been to a major final before were Jame and Qikert, with AVANGAR back at StarLadder Berlin 2019. No matter who won, we’d be having a team of first-time Major Champions.

First up was Mirage, picked by Outsiders. A pistol round 4K out of FL1T helped Outsiders get off to a 3-0 start. Heroic fired back quickly on the defense, taking the lead 5-4. Round 10 saw Outsiders get a bomb plant on A, but with only Petr “fame” Bolyshev remaining and no money in the bank. His 1v2 clutch swung the momentum all the way back in Outsiders favor.

Outsiders would win the half 8-7 from T side. After losing the second pistol round, Outsiders forced up and shut Heroic down in round 17. A huge defensive streak ensued, giving Outsiders a 13-8 lead. Heroic tried to claw back into the map, but couldn’t clutch out the key rounds. Mirage went to Outsiders 16-12.

Taking a Victory Lap

Next up was Heroic’s Overpass. These teams played each other on this map during the Legends Stage, where Heroic convincingly won 16-9. Surely, this was their chance to get back into the series. Instead, Outsiders showed that they were a whole new team on the map.

Heroic started strong by winning the pistol and follow-up on T side. When rifles came out for Outsiders however, the offense came to a screeching halt. Of the 13 remaining rounds in the half, Outsiders won 12. Heroic only managed to plant the bomb three times for the rest of the half. Even when they had a chance to salvage the half, David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan shut it all down.

Heroic looked completely and utterly defeated at the 12-3 deficit. They did win the second pistol round and follow-up, bringing their total count to five. It didn’t matter, the day belonged to Outsiders. Four dominant T rounds later, they took the IEM Rio Major trophy off the back of a 16-5 thrashing. The CIS are back on top of the CS:GO world, but with a team no one expected.

This has been a very interesting Major to look back on. From the unique, first-time location in Brazil, to the countless favorites and top teams falling short, IEM Rio was a tournament to remember. Even though they were far from title contenders coming in, Jame and Qikert were able to conquer their past Major Finals failure to become CS:GO World Champions, the former even earning the MVP award.

One thing is for sure though: in the modern era of Counter-Strike, there are no certainties.