The IEM Rio finals are almost over for 2023, with the Heroic CS:GO team and Vitality fighting it out in the Grand Final. It’s been a remarkable run, with incredible comebacks and individual plays that’ll make a hell of a highlight reel.
Heroic Face Their Demons
Pre-tournament, Heroic’s prospects were a key talking point in our IEM Rio 2023 preview. The last IEM Rio Finals was the 2022 Major, where Heroic lost in the Grand Final to an Outsiders team they ought to have beaten. Now just six months on, cadiaN and his Heroic CS:GO team have the perfect chance to exercise those demons once and for all.
Heroic deserve a lot of credit for how they’ve handled their run so far. After dropping to the Lower Bracket in the groups, they faced adversity to persevere further. A Quarter-Finals berth against FURIA in IEM Rio 2023 was the nightmare draw. In front of the home crowd, FURIA becomes a different team. It was huge pressure on Heroic’s shoulders, especially with the crowd very much against them. Heroic, and cadiaN, made themselves the pantomime villain after a 1v3 clutch left the entire arena silent. The team embraced the role, creating one of the best moments we’ve ever seen on the big CS:GO stage.
Neither FURIA nor the home crowd needs reminding that it was this Heroic CS:GO team who sent them packing at the Rio Major too, so this was their chance for revenge. It’s a credit to Heroic’s mental fortitude that they didn’t allow the pressure to get to them.
Heroic’s individual performances in this tournament are indicative of their team as a whole. There hasn’t been one huge star, making IEM Rio news headlines by fragging like crazy in every match. Every player has had their moment in the spotlight, stepping up when others are having an off day. It’s a team composition that just doesn’t exist anywhere else in competitive CS:GO.
The playoffs have been a perfect example of that – across five maps against FURIA and NAVI, the only player on the team to not top-frag a map was cadiaN, and he had his share of highlights. This is what could be key to getting Heroic over the line this time around. They never all seem to falter at the same time, making them tough opponents.
The performance against NAVI was nothing short of remarkable. NAVI had five map points on the first map, and couldn’t close a single one in a game that went to triple overtime. Once Heroic got Overpass out of the way, Ancient was a non-contest. A 14-1 CT-side saw Heroic dominate NAVI, whose mental game was utterly destroyed. Heroic, with the crowd against them once again, were in the Grand Final.
Vitality’s Grand Run
This CS:GO Vitality team has had their own great run to the IEM Rio Finals. They also had to battle through the Lower Brackets, where they dumped MIBR, FaZe Clan, and OG from the competition. They’ve arguably had an easier playoff run than Heroic, facing BIG and Cloud9 along the way.
Don’t let that detract from the individual brilliance we’ve seen from this CS:GO Vitality squad. In current form, ZywOo is undoubtedly the best player in the world and a shoo-in for MVP of IEM Rio 2023. Meanwhile, Spinx has found a new level in his game. In dupreeh and Magisk, Vitality has had two stars struggling to find their past form in recent tournaments. But not here. The duo has looked back to their Astralis best, stepping up especially during the playoffs to take Vitality to the Grand Final.
This CS:GO Vitality team hasn’t won anything since ESL Pro League Season 16. It’s a clear underachievement from the French squad, with the talent at their disposal. Getting this one over the line could be essential. With their home Major upcoming in just a few weeks, they need the confidence boost of winning the IEM Rio finals.
The upcoming Grand Final has the makings of an instant classic. Pre-playoffs, we expected a resurgent NAVI to have too much for Heroic in the Semi-Finals. But now that they’re here, we can definitely see them getting the win in Rio. The Brazilian crowd has taken to ZywOo and his CS:GO Vitality team, so we’re unsure how they’ll react if Heroic do get the trophy in the IEM Rio finals. However, that’s how we expect it to go down – the next-level team play of Heroic will prove much to handle for Vitality.