The Underdogs of IEM Rio 2023

IEM Rio 2023 is finally underway, the sequel to last year’s incredible Rio Major. It’s great seeing the best of the best play against each other, but for many, an underdog story is even better. We’re previewing The MongolZ and OG, two teams with an outside chance of making deep runs at the latest IEM Rio CS:GO tournament.

IEM Rio 2023

OG could overperform in Rio. Credit: Adela Sznajder | © ESL

OG’s Resurgence

The OG CS:GO team has started the latest Intel Extreme Masters tournament strong. They faced an extremely tough opening draw against Vitality, but OG emerged victorious, with key players massively showing up.

Over the last couple of months, OG has struggled for consistency. After niko replaced nexa as IGL, they’ve spent time finding their feet again, with their form in the meantime depending on the sporadic form of star AWPer degster. He seems to have finally fixed his CS:GO pro settings, as he’s worked to put the team back on the right track.

Luckily, form seems to have found the OG CS:GO bunch at just the right time coming into IEM Rio 2023. They’ll need it in their next matchup, against a Cloud9 team still licking their wounds after not qualifying for the Paris Major. It could be the most dangerous time to play Cloud9 – but it could also be the perfect time. The last few weeks will have taken an emotional toll on the team, and degster and OG can definitely capitalize.

Victory against Cloud9 would see the OG CS:GO team automatically qualify for the Playoffs. That would already be a huge overperformance from this underdog. Lose, and they drop down to the Lower Bracket, where one of fnatic and 9z awaits. Either way, there’s a clear path to a great IEM Rio CS:GO tournament for OG.

From IHC to The MongolZ

The next interesting underdog to watch is The MongolZ. This roster made a name for themselves under the IHC Esports mantle, but after a legal dispute are bringing their talents to IEM Rio 2023 under The MongolZ team name.

After replacing top talent sk0R with hasteka, there are lingering concerns over this team’s ability at the top. So far, their performance at IEM Rio 2023 has done a small amount to dissipate those concerns. They faced an impossible task in NAVI in the opening game, losing a respectable 16-9 best-of-one.

However, in their second match, we got a great look at The MongolZ’ mental resilience. Facing latecomers to IEM Rio 2023, Imperial, it would have been easy to crumble against a team fighting for the chance to play in front of their Brazilian home crowd once more. And after losing the first map 16-3, it looked like they had. But The MongolZ are made of sterner stuff, reverse-sweeping the Brazilians to send them immediately packing.

Now in the Lower Bracket facing Heroic, the path to the playoffs won’t be simple for The MongolZ. In this tournament, they’re perhaps the biggest underdog of them all, and that’s exactly why we’re rooting for them to go far here.

With IEM Rio 2023 underway, it’s the perfect opportunity to jump into watching Tier-1 Counter-Strike. Sadly, we can’t offer you a reward for tuning in – there won’t be any CS:GO free skins for watching. But we can guarantee these players will put on a good time in the coming days.

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