It’s the classic David vs Goliath story, But in this story, David is the crowd favorite.

As thousands of fans take their seats at the Jeunesse Arena arena, the majority will be supporting one team in the IEM Rio Major playoffs. FURIA might not be the world favorites, but at the venue, they will have the full support of the loud Brazilian crowd. The NAVI vs FURIA game will be one of the most anticipated games of the IEM Rio major playoffs.

FURIA: Underwhelming year but crowd buff incoming?

FURIA started the IEM Rio Major in the Challengers stage, their first match against BIG. Despite the overwhelming support of the crowd. FURIA lost its inaugural match. But they bounced back and how. After that one loss, FURIA has not lost a single map at Rio. 

They won their matches versus 00Nation, OG and GamerLegion to qualify for the Legends stage. They had much tougher opponents in the Legends stage, but they sailed through it to book their appearance at the Jeunesse Arena. FURIA will be the only home team at IEM Rio Major playoffs, clearly the crowd favorites.

Yuri “yuurih” Boian has continued to impress at the Major with his mindful plays and exceptional positioning. The 22-year-old has a 1.42 rating so far and shows a clear understanding of the enemy’s gameplay.

KSCERATO is not far behind with a 1.29 rating.. Considering FURIA has been playing against top tier teams at the CS: GO Major, this rating becomes all the more impressive.

FURIA’s roster has been around for quite a while. Saffee joined the squad in January this year and the players have been together ever since. 

However, the team is not in great form, despite their performance in the Legends stage. Often comfortably finishing outside the top 4, FURIA esports has not made a mark at international events. They did win Antwerp Major Americas RMR as well as a top 4 finish at IEM Dallas. But these victories stand out in a sea of relatively disappointing performances. 

But IEM Rio is not the same. Regardless of FURIA’s form till date, the crowd buff is bound to impact their performance. With the IEM Rio Major crowd clearly rooting for FURIA, they do have a slight buff coming into the series. And for NAVI, it’s been a while since they would be facing such an overwhelming favorite of an opponent.

NAVI: A strong 2022, but they need a win

FURIA might be the favorites, but S1mple holds a special place for the Brazilian crowd. The world’s best player made a special request to Brazilian fans after the Legends stage.

The humble request stems from a realization that FURIA will have nearly 100% of the crowd’s support. It is a reality and the fact that NAVI players acknowledge this should give them enough time to prepare.

NAVI might not have had a similarly dominant performance in 2022 as they did last year. However, they have consistently placed in the top four, often losing in the Grand Finals.

Their list of accomplishments this year highlights how victory has often been just out of their grasp:

  • 3-4th at IEM Katowice 2022
  • 5-8th at ESL Pro League Season 15
  • 2nd at PGL Antwerp Major
  • 1st at BLAST Premier Spring Finals 2022
  • 2nd at IEM Cologne 2022
  • 1-3rd at BLAST Premier Fall Groups
  • 5-8th ESL Pro League Season 16

They have not won a single top-tier tournament this year, but no one in the CS: GO community will count them out for this Major.

S1mple is the only NAVI player in the top eight at this Major. With a 1.31 rating across seven maps, S1mple has definitely been pulling his weight. But the same cannot be said for the other players who seemingly are struggling to find the same level of synergy that they did last year.

A lot of clutch situations do not go NAVI’s way and they end up losing crucial rounds as a result. While NAVI is still the favorite in this match, the crowd favorite FURIA will come roaring into the series.

The IEM Rio Major playoffs are in their final stage. All matches are best-of-three series with a single-elimination format. The winner of this match goes to the semifinals, the loser will join the crowd for the rest of the event.

Stay tuned for the latest esports news and updates.

Rohan - Content Editor

Rohan

Content Editor | Twitter: @rohan_esports | Twitch: rohan_3105

Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2 and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, have spent hours in Cities:Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Love travelling, an admirer of fine movies, writing a sci-fi novel in spare time and coding (Javascript)